Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mysteries of Modern America

Indians and Chinese by the millions annually turn in their pushcarts and bicycles for motorized transport, surfing on a wave of newfound prosperity and oblivious to the carbon treadprints they leave behind. Yet at least one major American metropolis, Salt Lake City, is plotting a bicycle-centric makeover that will have its streets looking more like Shanghai or Mumbai. Read all about it here: Denizens of the developing world, when they can afford it, want to stretch out and give themselves room to breathe, while America’s professional and amateur master planners envision densely packed downtowns where denizens walk, bicycle, and commute to work in slightly sanitized versions of Third World transport.

I'm surprised there's no accomodation for donkey carts and rickshaws in Salt Lake City's plan.

Many Americans, no doubt, share in this vision and are willing to surrender their car keys, squeeze onto mass transit, cut down on their living space, go grocery shopping with burlap bags and in all other ways conform to the master planner’s vision of the ecologically-correct lifestyle. No one at the moment is preventing anyone from doing this. But it’s doubtful the Eco-Utopians, as zealous as they are to remake the world, will be content to live and let live -- meaning they’ll use what levers of powers they can to make the rest of us conform.

These are what Thomas Sowell called the “coercive Utopians.” And they are a clear and present danger to our personal liberties and lifestyle choices. These tyrants will arrive not with the obnoxious clanking of tank treads, but come quietly and stealthily, riding the crosstown bus.

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