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currently stashed in: Cheshire Street, London
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June 06, 2005 || 7:35 pm

Gotta love this defence of sprawl (thanks to Urban Cartography for the link!). Dolores Hayden, take that! But before all you liberal Europeans spit with fury at the excesses of right-wing America, I think this article raises many points that cannot be so easily dismissed. It's true that the car does give you independence and allow you a freedom to escape and be yourself that is important. And are salmon really more important than humans? and that use of an Ayn Rand quote on the value of privacy is pretty genius too. OK, I think saying that government provision of water, sewage, schools and other infrastructure is a 'violation of individual rights' may be going a bit far, but I will agree with the author that the right to be able to live the lifestyle you choose, however sprawling, the right to drive a car and have a huge manicured front yard between you and your neighbour are valid choices.

But of course, the one issue that the author doesn't address is the good ol' sustainability caboodle. How to preserve all these inalienable American rights for future generations, to ensure that they too can have cars, freedoms, and the civilisation that he values so highly. Salmon probably aren't more important than humans, and one can easily argue that there is no legitimacy to preserving the natural world per se. But to preserve it as a stockpile of resources so that we can continue to live the life we choose to live without compromising our basic freedoms - one would have thought that this would be an argument that the Right over here could buy into.

Perhaps in some weird way, the tide is turning - the Christian Right is starting to argue for environmental awareness on the basis that it is abusing God's creation to be so reckless with the world he gave Adam in trust. But the political Right continues, because of its allies in business chasing short-term profit, to claim that American's consumption-pollution culture is not a problem, because in the future, technological advances will mean we can solve these problems, and improved oil extraction techniques mean we our dwindling reserves don't matter. Meanwhile, the rhetoric on so many other issues is all about making the world safe for our children...

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