30 January 2005

30/01/05. The Corruption Of Economics (excerpts)

The Corruption Of Economics

by M. Mason Gaffney (Univ. of Calif. - Riverside) excerpts
Source: http://www.henrygeorge.org/science/gaffney.htm

Bibliography - "Neo-classical Economics as a Stratagem against Henry George" http://homepage.ntlworld.com/janusg/coe/cofe10.htm

Text on Ezra Cornell/Alvin S. Johnson:

To understand Johnson, it helps first to understand his matrix, Cornell University. Cornell was named for and in part funded by Ezra Cornell, the creator of the new Western Union monopoly (Gates, p.97), and its appendage, the AP news monopoly. These organizations had victimized a San Francisco journalist, Henry George. He, in turn, had attacked them bitterly. Cornell's attitude toward George may be surmised from the fact that George in 1869 campaigned to have Western Union socialized (Barker, pp.118-19 et passim). Ezra Cornell was its major owner.

Cornell (both Ezra and his University) also speculated in western lands on a massive scale (Gates). The major obstacle to their financial success was that local governments taxed their lands, something they fought hard for decades. Ezra Cornell "located more than half a million acres of rich lumber (sic) lands in the Northwest with New York Agricultural College scrip" (Hacker, p.394, citing Gates, 1943). To the robber baron, a state University with land scrip was an integral part of the basic business of seizing public domain, the chicane on which George had been first to blow the whistle (George, 1871).

Cornell University was molded by its wealthy first President Andrew Dickson White (q.v., below). Young Richard T. Ely, being scouted by White in Germany, "was interested in his psychology and the way he worked cleverly with Ezra Cornell and with Mr. Sage, [1] a benefactor, and one of the trustees of Cornell University" (Ely, 1938, p.57). Western Union - AP was not only the source of Cornell's fortune, it was an instrument of thought control, used for planting stories and bending news, including news about itself (Myers, p.493). We would underestimate Mr. Cornell to imagine he did not understand his University could be used the same way. If he did not, President Andrew Dickson White certainly did.

The power of controlling higher education is greater than merely slanting news stories. The "silver cord" draws us back to love and support alma mater. She becomes a thing of worship and purity, a secular Virgin Mary that rises above human failings. She symbolizes our best ideals and aspirations. She is the scene of newly opening vistas, society at a higher level, sparkling friendships, tender sentiments, exciting memories, lifelong loyalties formed "High above Cayuga's Waters" or "'Neath the Elms" or at "Alt Heidelberg," singing "Thy Sons Shall Ne'er Forget," "A Song by the Fire," "Stand, Navy down the field," "Going Back to Old Nassau," "Gaudeamus Igitur," "To the Blue and Gold," "Fair Harvard," "Lord Jeffrey Amherst," and, in the donative years, croaking out "Golden Days, full of innocence and full of truth." Woe to the messenger bringing news that The Virgin of our Golden Memories was procured to condition our minds for the gain of another. Yet, that is what we must do to understand who created NCE, and why. Truth is also a positive value. It is not always pleasant nor pretty; it is just what shall make you free.

The Morrill Act of 1862 gave land scrip to the states in proportion to their populations, so New York State got the most. Most states sold out their scrip for quick cash, but not New York (Gates, p.245). State land offices were quite corrupt, even for that tainted era, so New York handled its scrip in a very clubby way. New York sold Ezra Cornell (E.C.) its scrip at somewhat less than market. E.C. agreed to use it to enter lands to benefit a Morrill Act College (Agricultural and Mechanical). [2] In general, he seemed to merge and identify his interests with the college. By 1867 he had more agricultural college scrip than any other individual: 500,000 acres (Gates, p.31). The figure later rose to a million acres.

E.C. was, among his other interests, an Ithaca real estate promoter, investing in railways to boost the town. Very likely he had a sincere interest in promoting education, as he professed, but good works and self-interest need not be at odds: he also understood the effect on Ithaca land prices of snaring the new Morrill Act funds. So did rivals around the state, but E.C. had an edge: he was loaded with money from the Western Union monopoly he had created. He gave $500,000 to start the college, and thus secure the Morrill scrip for Ithaca, under his control.

New York State Senator Andrew Dickson White had wanted Syracuse to be the place. He and E.C. both regarded the Morrill scrip inadequate for more than one campus. E.C. won White to the Ithaca site by his large donation of cash (Gates, pp.52,55). White then became President of Cornell University. Would we be too cynical to suspect that was part of the deal? E.C. had not forged the Western Union monopoly without mastering David Harum's credo, "If you can't lick 'em, j'ine 'em."

In 1867 E.C. was preparing to sell some scrip, but paused to join with other states to "manipulate the market" to raise the price first (Gates, p.58). Monopoly was in his reflexes. He retained most of the scrip, however, and slowly bought up western lands. He specialized in pine lands in northwestern Wisconsin. His purpose was to create - again - a monopoly (Gates, pp.95, 97). This was not to be a monopoly of production - there were no mills, no timber culture, no roads built, no river drives - but just a regional monopoly of virgin timber and timberland held for sale at advanced prices. E.C. was a pure speculator and land monopolist, without exception or apology - the very antithesis of Henry George. Gates rates him as a weak business administrator because some of his funds leaked away to grafting agents, but he seems to have understood synergy: everything he did supported everything else. Land speculation and monopoly and higher education went hand in hand.

A speculator's ultimate goal is to sell, but some prefer quick gains, even though small, while others favor big gains, even though slow. E.C. was the second kind. His fortune had come from hanging onto telegraph stock for the long pull (Gates, p.97), and he applied the same model speculating in Wisconsin land.

This way of investing University funds brought E.C. into intense, prolonged conflict with new towns and counties in Wisconsin. It was not just an adversary but a hostile, emotional relationship, with a high level of dishonesty and self-righteousness on both sides. Georgism was not invented by Henry George, it was endemic throughout the middle border, as Gates' many books have brought out. Local taxes "threatened to swallow up the enterprise" (Gates, p.106). These local property taxes were pure land taxes because land is all E.C. owned in Wisconsin. Gates devotes a full chapter, pp.137-76, to "Tax Warfare" between E.C. and Wisconsin. Apparently Cornell won out: "in proportion to the price for which its lands were held the taxes were exceedingly light" (Gates, p.175).

If E.C. won out, it was because back in Ithaca it was an obsession: "When high taxes were threatened ... Cornell's (sic) university's officials acted promptly to protect its rights. Cornell's interests were identical with those of other large holders of pine land, and frequently they all worked together ... the greatest concern of the Cornell officials was the burden of taxation on the property ... " (Gates, pp.137-38).

That is the atmosphere that prevailed in the Cornell administration in an era when administrators hired and promoted and fired with no checks and balances whatever. It is most unlikely that President Andrew Dickson White or his immediate successors would have tolerated any professor of economics who defended the Wisconsin towns and counties; it is most likely they would have hired someone to defend their position as absentee land speculators. Such a person was Alvin S. Johnson of Columbia, a student of and personal secretary to J.B. Clark.

Alvin S. Johnson (1902) expounded the new definition of rent that NCEists were substituting for the original. As part of this shift, the unit of analysis used in economic theory was shifted to "the firm," or at largest "the industry." The society and the economy as a whole got lost. Formerly, rent was simply the return to land. NCEists redefined it as the surplus over opportunity cost of any resource at any time, thus removing any difference of land from labor or capital. It would have been courteous had they chosen a new word, since they were talking about something different, but courtesy was not the idea. The idea was to remove from land the dangerous stigma of yielding unearned values, targetable as taxable surpluses. (We dispose of this issue below, under Pareto.)

Further to the end, in 1914 Johnson published "The Case against the Single Tax" in The Atlantic Monthly. The influential, topical Atlantic would not have been devoting its scarce space to such an arcane topic unless it were alive and impendent at the time. This sea was rising, and Alvin Johnson put his finger in the dike. His theorizing was highly supportive of his political position. That is not uncommon, per se, nor necessarily unproductive. At least his ideas, like those of Adam Smith, Ricardo, and Keynes, were relevant to a real issue, unlike most of what is published today. Rather, we should not remain innocent of why NCE is what it is, and what it has done to us.

Was it really a live topic? Belittling, even sneering allusions have become standard, suggesting otherwise. In fact, single-tax initiatives were run and running in several western states. A few cities (Bellingham, Pueblo, and Houston, for example) moved to levy property taxes exclusively on land. In California, a "pure single-tax" initiative won 31% of the votes in 1916 (Large Landholdings in Southern California, 1919). The Manhattan Single Tax League was knocking on the door (Marling), and was to get part-way in the door in 1921 (see below under Ely). Cleveland elected two single-tax mayors, over a string of terms, roughly synchronized with the Liberal Party string of Governments in Edwardian England. The first, Tom Johnson, was Henry George's chief political lieutenant and financial angel. The second, Newton D. Baker, was to become a power and Secretary of War in Woodrow Wilson's Cabinet. Toledo, Ohio, had two single-tax Mayors, Samuel "Golden Rule" Jones, and Brand Whitlock. Pennsylvania's Legislature opened the door for Pittsburgh's enduring "graded tax plan," initiated in 1913 (Jorgensen, p.162). Four western provinces of Canada were won over almost completely, helping, among other things, to make Vancouver and Victoria two of the most beautiful cities in the world. Sydney, Brisbane, Wellington, Johannesburg, and other cities were exempting capital completely from the property tax, raising all their local revenues from land alone (Madsen, 1936). The AAAPSS devoted 78 pages to it (1915); the National Tax Association devoted 64 (1915); Great Debates in American History (1913) devoted 51. Robert Murray Haig delivered his three reports on it in 1915; the Committee on Taxation of the City of New York delivered its final report (Marling, 1916). California's Georgist irrigation districts were revolutionizing state and national agiculture. Yes, it was a hot wire. [3]

Johnson's major theme is that the single tax is "a device for the spoliation of the middle class" (1914, p.30), because they own most of the urban land, and all the farmland. Like Willford King later, Johnson's image of America is an idyllic small town, unnamed, where everyone owns the same amount of land.

Johnson's image of egalitarian landowners is projected without benefit of data, and without referring to the earlier well-known exchange between George and Walker. It overlooked the fact that his own employer, Cornell University, had for years sat on over half a million acres of western lands, completely idle (see above). The level of scholarship demanded by NCE editors of those who derided George is seen in the following.

"The Single Tax philosophy originated with a city man, ... a sound agriculture is based on ... the farmer, his ... love of the countryside, the jollity of the country picnic and dance, the fresh cheeked maidens who eagerly accept the role of sweethearts of country boys and develop into contented farmers' wives" (Johnson, 1927, p.224).

This publication was sponsored by the American Economic Association. The publication committee consisted of E.R.A. Seligman, R.T. Ely, J. Hollander, B.M. Anderson, Jr., and J.M. Clark (son of J.B. Clark). It was reprinted in 1967: apparently the leaders of The American Economic Association still considered it exemplary scholarship.

Johnson is the link between Clark and Frank Knight. Johnson was a student of, and personal secretary to J.B. Clark. He was soon to be the mentor of Frank Knight at Cornell. One finds "much of Knight's mature thought" in his 1916 Cornell thesis (Stigler, 1987), with extensive credit given to J.B. Clark (Dewey, 1987). The title of Knight's popular 1953 article, "The Fallacies in the Single Tax," is interchangeable with Johnson's 1914 title. Even the "fresh cheeked maidens" of Johnson show up in Knight, who, in turn, molded the Chicago Department in his image. The chain is unbroken from Seelye to Clark to Johnson to Knight to Stigler, Friedman, Harberger, and now thousands of Chicago-oriented economists. They dominate much of current doctrine and policy, metastasizing through government posts, high banking, academia, editorial boards, granting agencies, and the burgeoning think tanks subsidized by rent-takers to mold opinion for the deepest and most generic of their "deep lobbying."

Richard L. Biddle, Director
Henry George School of Social Science
Henry George Birthplace Museum
413 S. 10th Street
Phila., PA 19147
Web: http://www.geocities.com/henrygeorgeschool
Email: HGSPhila@comcast.net
(215) 922-4278 office
(215) 407-9555 cell

22 January 2005

22/01/05. Road design? He calls it a revolution - Hans Monderman, The Netherlands

Program: New Mobility Agenda

NOTE: I could not be more pleased than to post this terrific piece to
A Day, since it is right in the middle of our 20/20 strategy. Read on.
Then if you will, think about it. And share your ideas with us all.

Road design? He calls it a revolution Article

by Sarah Lyall The New York Times, Saturday, January 22, 2005

DRACHTEN, Netherlands "I want to take you on a walk," said Hans Monderman, abruptly stopping his car and striding - hatless, and nearly hairless - into the freezing rain.

Like a naturalist conducting a tour of the jungle, he led the way to a busy intersection in the center of town, where several odd things immediately became clear. Not only was it virtually naked, stripped of all lights, signs and road markings, but there was no division between road and sidewalk. It was, basically, a bare brick square.

But in spite of the apparently anarchical layout, the traffic, a steady stream of trucks, cars, buses, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians, moved along fluidly and easily, as if directed by an invisible conductor. When Monderman, a traffic engineer and the intersection's proud designer, deliberately failed to check for oncoming traffic before crossing the street, the drivers slowed for him. No one honked or shouted rude words out the window.

"Who has the right of way?" he asked rhetorically. "I don't care. People here have to find their own way, negotiate for themselves, use their own brains."

Used by some 20,000 drivers a day, the intersection is part of a road-design revolution pioneered by the 59-year-old Monderman. His work in Friesland, the district in northern Holland that takes in Drachten, is increasingly seen as the way of the future in Europe.

Variations on the shared-space theme are being tried in Spain, Denmark, Austria, Sweden and Britain. The European Union has appointed a committee of experts, including Monderman, for a Europe-wide study.

His philosophy is simple, if counterintuitive. To make communities safer and more appealing, Monderman argues, you should first remove the traditional paraphernalia of their roads.

That means the traffic lights and speed signs; the signs exhorting drivers to stop, slow down and merge; the center lines separating lanes from each other; even the speed bumps, speed-limit signs, bicycle lanes and pedestrian crossings. In his view, it is only when the road is made more dangerous, when drivers stop looking at signs and start looking at other people, that driving becomes safer.

"All those signs are saying to cars, 'This is your space, and we have organized your behavior so that as long as you behave this way, nothing can happen to you,"' said Monderman. "That is the wrong story."

The Drachten intersection is an example of the concept of "shared space," a street where cars and pedestrians are equal, and the design tells the driver what to do.

"It's a moving away from regulated, legislated traffic toward space which, by the way it's designed and configured, makes it clear what sort of behavior is anticipated," said Ben Hamilton-Baillie, a British specialist in urban design and movement, and a proponent of many of the same concepts.

Highways - where the car is naturally king - are part of the "traffic world" and another matter altogether. In Monderman's view, shared-space plans thrive only in conjunction with well-organized, well-regulated highway systems.

Monderman is a man on a mission. On a daylong automotive tour of Friesland, he pointed out places he had improved, including a town where he ripped out the sidewalks, signs and crossings and put in brick paving on the central shopping street. An elderly woman crossed slowly in front of him.

"This is social space, so when Grandma is coming, you stop, because that's what normal, courteous human beings do," he said.

Planners and curious journalists are increasingly making pilgrimages to meet Monderman, considered one of the field's great innovators, although until a few years ago he was virtually unknown outside of Holland. Hamilton-Baillie, whose writings have helped bring Monderman's work to wider attention, remembers with fondness his own first visit.

Monderman drove him to a small country road with cows in every direction. Their presence was unnecessarily reinforced by a large, standard-issue European traffic sign with a picture of a cow on it.

"He said, 'What do you expect to find here? Wallabees?"' Hamilton-Baillie recalled. "'They're treating you like you're a complete idiot, and if people treat you like a complete idiot, you'll act like one.'

"Here was someone who had rethought a lot of issues from complete scratch," Hamilton-Baillie said.

"Essentially, what it means is a transfer of power and responsibility from the state to the individual and the community."

Dressed in a beige jacket and patterned shirt, with scruffy facial hair and a stocky build, Monderman has the appearance of a soccer hooligan but the temperament of an engineer, which indeed he trained to be. His father was the headmaster of the primary school in their small village; Hans liked to fiddle with machines. "I was always the guy who repaired the TV sets in our village," he said.

He was working as a civil engineer building highways in the 1970s when the Dutch government, alarmed at a sharp increase in traffic accidents, set up a network of traffic-safety offices. Monderman was appointed Friesland's traffic safety officer.

In residential communities, Monderman began narrowing the roads and putting in design features like trees and flowers, red brick paving stones and even fountains to discourage people from speeding, following the principle now known as pyschological traffic calming, where behavior follows design.

He made his first nervous foray into shared space in a small village whose residents were upset at its being used as a daily thoroughfare for 6,000 speeding cars. When he took away the signs, lights and sidewalks, people drove more carefully. Within two weeks, speeds on the road had dropped by more than half.

In fact, he said, there has never been a fatal accident on any of his roads. Several early studies bear out his contention that shared spaces are safer. In England, the district of Wiltshire found that removing the center line from a stretch of road reduced drivers' speed without any increase in accidents.

While something of a libertarian, Monderman concedes that road design can do only so much. It doesn't change the behavior, for instance, of the 15 percent of drivers who will behave badly no matter what the rules are.

Nor are shared-space designs appropriate everywhere, like in major urban centers, but only in neighborhoods that meet particular criteria. Recently, a group of well-to-do parents asked him to widen the two-lane road leading to their children's school, saying it was too small to accommodate what he derisively calls "their huge cars."

He refused, saying that the fault lay not with the road, but with the cars. "They can't wait for each other to pass?" he asked. "I wouldn't interfere with the right of people to buy the car they want, but nor should the government have to solve the problems they make with their choices."

Monderman's obsessions can cause friction at home. His wife hates talking about road design. But work is his passion and his focus for as many as 70 hours a week, despite quixotic promises to curtail his projects and stay home on Fridays.

The current plan, instigated by Mrs. Monderman, is for him to retire in a few years. But it is unclear what a man who begins climbing the walls after three days at the beach ("If you want to go to a place without any cultural aspect, go to the Grand Canaries," he grumbled) will do with all that free time.

"The most important thing is being master of my own time, and then doing things that we both enjoy," he said. "What are they? I don't know."

21 January 2005

21/01/05. Beyond the Home Zone: Towards the Legible Street

Program: New Mobility Agenda

Note: There is a long background of deep interest here at EcoPlan, The Commons and the New Mobility Agenda on matters involving new and better ways of using our built transportation infrastructure. If you click the word “Woonerf” for example in any of the Search boxes, you will come up with references as early as 1968. We are convinced that these approaches are critical components of the New Mobility Agenda, and the 20?20 remedial programs, by whatever name. This article dating back to summer 2001 has recently been brought to our attention, and will be found in the website of Ken Hamilton-Baillie at http://www.hamilton-baillie.co.uk/articles.htm, More will be posted on this in the days and months ahead.

NCR Handelsblad - by Tys van den Boomen. July 2001. (Translated Sept 2001 London)

Beyond the Home Zone: Towards the Legible Street

A new approach to traffic engineering emerges from Denmark and The Netherlands. Out go all the signs, traffic lights, kerbs and zebra crossings of traditional street design. Instead enlightened traffic engineers rely on ambiguity and uncertainty to reduce speeds, encourage eye contact and integrate drivers into the social realm of the street.

"Has the Council gone nuts?" "Does a child have to be run over before the barriers are replaced?" Incredulous parents in Amsterdam's Floris Versterstraat discussed the recent removal of all the barriers, speed humps and signs on the short street that runs between two primary schools. In their place, an undifferentiated raised road surface invites children to play with friends on the other side of the road. "Typical of a council officer with no children" was the general opinion.

But after a few weeks, opinions shifted as the new approach dramatically changed traffic behaviour. Motorists, confused by the absence of familiar road markings, slow right down to figure out who has priority and how they should proceed. It is precisely this confusion that appears to calm traffic and reduce speeds without conventional bumps or controls. And the children themselves are more street-wise, knowing that they cannot rely on barriers.

A quiet revolution in urban design and traffic engineering is taking place in the Netherlands. It eschews the conventional traffic measures of control and separation of users such as traffic signals, pedestrian crossings, speed humps and bicycle lanes. Instead it employs lessons from design psychology to influence behaviour through the deliberate mixing of different types of road users. No hierarchies, no defined space for pedestrians, cyclists or drivers. Subtle visual tricks replace signs and street markings, requiring all users to interact and negotiate. The new approach has yet to be named, but has its roots in the Dutch "woonerf" principles established in the early 1970's. These principles are beginning to be applied in the UK as "Home Zones" in certain residential areas. But the Dutch and Danes have moved far beyond the limited borders of 1970's woonerven.

"The Dutch underestimate the contribution made by the introduction of the woonerf or home zone", says Ben Hamilton-Baillie. He is a specialist in urban design and movement, and has recently returned from a year's fellowship at Harvard University following research into traffic and street design in North West Europe. He has become convinced that the new approach represents a means to reconcile the needs of vehicle movements with the potential to return streets to the social fabric of cities.

Urban developer Niek de Boer coined the term woonerf during a large-scale expansion of Emmen in the Netherlands at the end of the 1960's. Early examples were mainly concerned with reallocating space from cars to pedestrians. A few years later his students, including Joost V‡hl, interpreted the concept differently. V‡hl and his contemporaries challenged the principles of road hierarchies, welcoming the car on an equal basis to all parts of the city, but on pedestrians' terms. Only on motorways and major freeways did the car retain its clear priority.

The first phase of the revolution started in Delft, where V‡hl introduced a speed hump in 1970. For the first time an obstacle was deliberately placed in the road. It provoked much indignation. A Delft councillor who ranted that the bump nearly broke the beer bottles on his back seat was advised by the Highways Director to either drink less or drive slower. New style home zones (not named as such at the time) were introduced in Delft, Utrecht and Eindhoven. V‡hl developed a new language of street design using sandpits, sleepers, concrete pipes and odds and ends, becoming skilled in slowing cars and extending the public domain into the traffic zone. Experiments in Gouda, Rijswijk and elsewhere across Holland, playful, intriguing, imaginative and quixotic, reflected the spirit of the age and the challenging of conventions.

And it was not long before governments took the ideas seriously. Shocked by increasing numbers of fatal traffic accidents (at their worst in 1974), the Dutch government introduced a whole range of measures in 1976. Alongside the breathalyser and safety belt legislation, the Dutch government gave home zones a formal legal status. Urban developers were required to comply with tight guidelines and introduce traffic restraining measures every fifty metres, limiting urban design options to prescribed traffic engineering solutions.

So while visitors from Germany, Denmark and France flocked to the Netherlands to study traffic calmed streets, Dutch developers themselves gradually lost interest, ceding the streets to traffic engineers' standard devices of signs, bumps and sleepers. The architect Carel Weeber dubbed such streets "railway accidents".

The final blow to the original woonerf in Holland came in 1983 with the introduction of the thirty kilometres per hour zone (approx. 18 mph). Here was a cheaper compromise for municipalities, which retained traditional pavements and reduced casualties through the use of the odd speed hump. Parents could still admonish children to "play outside but stay on the pavement". By 1988 the word woonerf had been dropped; instead legislators referred to the erf or erven (safe zones) so that shopping streets and business parks could be included.

So just as home zones start to appear in the UK, they are vanishing in The Netherlands. According to the Dutch Statistical Office, more than 2,500 woonerf disappeared in the second half of the 1990's - a reduction of nearly forty- percent. Developers have returned to long sightlines and boulevards, either as a conscious choice or as an admission that they have resigned themselves to the authority of traffic engineers in street layout. Traffic flows are established and designed for, and only then are buildings and public spaces considered. Car traffic on main roads is subsequently restrained through signs, speed humps and gateways.

Steven Schepel is convinced that much has been accomplished in the past decades. He is responsible for safety within the Dutch Ministry of Transport and Public Works. For many years he was chairman of the pressure group Stop de Kindermoord (Stop Child Murder), and is a passionate advocate for change. "The home zone has established 30 kilometres per hour as the appropriate traffic speed for residential areas." However he acknowledges that conventional traffic measures, engineering, education and police enforcement are no longer bringing down accident statistics and that new approaches are needed. "Towns and villages need to be designed in such a way that slow driving comes naturally. This cannot come from me, from the top down. It requires designs planned metre by metre for each specific location, from local solutions. Just look at what is happening in the province of Friesland in the north of the country."

The silent revolution of the new style woonerf seems to be gathering particular momentum in Friesland. But do not mention the term woonerf to Hans Monderman at the Friesland Regional Organisation for Traffic Safety "A woonerf is a traffic-engineering measure that incorporates signs and uniform standards. What I want is to employ architectural and urban design techniques to guide, suggest and modify behaviour. Ultimately the traffic code should be replaced by a social code." Monderman senses an anti-car element in old-style woonerf designs. As a car enthusiast and owner of a driving school, he dislikes anything that smacks of "war against drivers". And yet he strives for all the same objectives as the ideologists of yesteryear. Streets where children and the elderly can cross safely, diversity and mixed traffic flows. The means to achieve such objectives are also the same; designing in confusion to ensure that people are forced to make eye contact. "The biggest mistake that we can make as traffic engineers is to give people the illusion of safety," says Monderman.

He proudly shows us a place called 'The Brink' in the Friesland market town of Oosterwolde, popularly known as the Red Junction. Until 1998 this was a standard asphalt intersection with lanes, zebra crossings and right-of-way signs. Now it is a junction made of red clinkers, nothing more and nothing less. No signs, no pavement, no bicycle tracks, nothing, not even a sleeper in sight. It takes a while to comprehend the subtlety of the detailing, such as the surrounding green railings and the studied absence of traditional borders.

"An old man with a shopping trolley muddles along diagonally over the junction; a mother parks her car, gets out and changes her child's trousers; a truck lets a group of cyclists have the right of way even though they come from the left. "It is great that so many 'traffic offences' can take place simultaneously," says Monderman, "and still there have been no accidents involving physical injuries since the redesign, even though 4,500 cars drive by every day. We used to have on average three serious accidents a year."
A strong sense of place and history is evident at The Brink in Oosterwolde. It's not really a village green, more a sandy hillock in the surrounding peat moor. The start of the old peat canal, the church, the town hall and the shops all provide strong landmarks that inform the design and influence the space. This is the heart of the town. The junction or Town Square took more than 18 months to redesign, and many months in practice until it bedded in. Monderman spent hours observing the new arrangements in use, watching how people make eye contact and react to each other's mistakes. It was not immediately popular, and it took months for many people to adapt to the new arrangements and responsibilities.

Indeed the new generation of home zones often encounter much opposition. Living without the illusion of safety provided by light-controlled crossings and familiar devices takes some getting used to. Barriers and laws give comfort in an uncertain world. New approaches require patience, much discussion, and considerable political bravery. This was certainly the case in Drachten where Monderman redesigned an intersection used by 10,000 cars a day into a junction where everyone walks, cycles and drives higgledy-piggledy across in seeming anarchy. But to demonstrate the safety of the new arrangements, Monderman walks backwards across the junction as we talk. It is unnerving, but illuminating. No shrieking brakes, no horns; cars just drive quietly around us. As a compromise, Monderman will add zebra crossing stripes to increase the sense of safety of elderly people, but insists that they are not necessary.

The Drachten junction has been taken as far as it can for the time being, feels Monderman. It is safer, undoubtedly more attractive, and traffic flows have improved despite the reduction in speeds. It is no longer a piece of traffic engineering but is part of the town's public space.

Monderman estimates that the number of fatal traffic accidents could be halved with this approach that focuses on social behaviour. This would mean five hundred less victims each year in the Netherlands. But we know that safety and accident reductions are not the same thing, and we should not concentrate on casualty figures alone. A much more important advantage is the recovery of public spaces. The traditional separation of traffic flows and the corresponding separation of public spaces is making way for areas that have their own identity and where people are able to meet again. Instead of trusting rules and regulations set by impersonal authorities, people have to agree on their own rules to determine the use of their street or junction. Monderman: "Our society still seems to rely on the state for social conventions. If people in Oosterwolde have a problem with the fact that drivers are allowed to park in the Red Junction, they have to consult each other to find a solution. If they do not feel inclined to raise the issue, why should we place signs and police the area to solve the problem for them? All those traffic measures only lead to unnecessary lawsuits." This hands-off approach was implemented in the village of Makkinga to the extent of eliminating all traffic signs, even the Dutch AA signs; no road markings, no stop lights, no traffic engineering. It's only signs are at its entry-points, proudly announcing its sign-free status!

New style home zones offer designers a lot of freedom. They can create austere village junctions but also rustic and idyllic streets. Incorrigible fans of the 1970's may even pull out all the stops and use railway sleepers. Only one element remains taboo and that is the radiused kerbstone beloved of traffic engineers. Streets and public spaces are no longer based on the turning circles of vehicles - that would send all the wrong signals. Every element in the new approach is based on behavioural psychology, and the details are critical.

Fundamental to the new approach is seamless co-ordination of traffic engineering with architecture, urban design and landscape architecture. This requires a realignment of the professional institutions and design education. Merging urban design objectives with safety engineering offers an opportunity to end the absurd position which until now has left traffic engineers alone responsible for more than half the space between buildings in European cities, and often 70% of urban land in the United States. If anywhere should reflect our urban values and priorities, it should be our streets.

Ben Hamilton-Baillie lights up with enthusiasm about the new approaches to road design in Friesland. "Self-explanatory streets of this kind are a distant dream for the USA or for the United Kingdom. We still have to get through the first stage of old-style home zones as part of the learning curve - it is not possible to skip this step." But eventually he sees movement in urban areas guided by design and context rather than by traditional traffic engineering devices.

"Ultimately our behaviour and interaction as humans is governed by our surroundings and the cultural signals that go with them. After all, nobody needs a sign in the living room saying "Do not spit on the floor"! The architecture of your house and the values it reflects is enough to explain appropriate behaviour."

18 January 2005

18/01/05. Plain-speaking on carsharing strategies and support in Brussels next week

The need for innovation is not being met by the top-down, highly bureaucratic and geopolitical funding offered by the EU.

As we prepare to join next week’s “Keys to Carsharing: Moving the City of Tomorrow” meeting of the European Commission’s moses program in Brussels (see yesterday’s mail on this subject and for meeting details), we have an opportunity to do some creative international expert-based plain-speaking on how the EC can best help in both the specific area of supporting and extending carsharing where it is showing that it can do the job, and indeed the whole matter of supporting creative innovation in the New Mobility Agenda more broadly. Important stuff and a fine opportunity to make our voices heard.

Without wishing to seem to be overly cruel or argumentative, it is my bet that in a world where sustainability is treated as a REAL PRIORITY (as opposed to the usual costless posturing and rhetorical messages) our hosts should be gearing their loins to take advantage of this occasion to get real feedback as to what is working, what is not, and what is needed to do better in this chosen sector of sustainable transportation. Coming to Brussels after all are quite a collection of capable people, a number of whom have real hands-on experience at the operational level, and who in many cases have some pretty sharp views on what is needed from the public sector… views that need not only to be aired in public but also somehow made to stick.

I got to thinking about all this in particular this morning as I read an article about another attempted innovation here in Europe, the recent failure of the MIT spin-off Media Lab Europe (details at http://iht.com/bin/print_ipub.php?file=/articles/2005/01/17/yourmoney/medialab.html ). And in particular the comments of the always ebullient, always provocative Nick Negroponte:

"The need for innovation is not being met by the top-down, highly bureaucratic and geopolitical funding offered by the EU," Nicholas Negroponte, Media Lab's founder, said in an e-mail interview. He said that he had hoped that the Dublin operation would be "a virus," spurring innovation and prompting reviews of legislation like bankruptcy rules that handicap entrepreneurs.

My point is that this is equally valid for much that is going on in the transport sector as well, carsharing included, and that this approach of “top-down, highly bureaucratic and geopolitical funding” now needs to be challenged.

But OK, what do we propose to put in its place? We can see for sure that their old model of how to go about this is not only truly old (at best a 1960’s concept with a bit of 1990 sauce), but it is creaking and truly ready for the dustbin of history. So… it will not be enough just to drink their beer in Brussels next week and whine among ourselves, we need to step forward with a positive set of suggestions when it comes to putting carsharing to work in the cause of the sustainability agenda. And who better to come from than this group.

Our friends at the Commission need a whole new model for their operations in this area I am afraid; it is not just a matter of applauding what they say they have done and eventually suggesting a bit of fine tuning here or there. But a major overhaul and new thrust of both policy and practice. Let me see if I can suggest one, just to get the ball rolling over these next days.

A No-Fault Grassroots Carsharing Grant Program for the EU – to start immediately: (A first cut outline for discussion)

Objective: Program to respond in a timely and creative 21st century, Open Society fashion to requests from specific cities or groups to carry out specific initiatives to advance the carsharing agenda in their city or more broadly.

1. All grants of a single amount: € 50k (we call this a no-brainer approach)
2. Funds to be made available as a lump sum within 60 days of grant application.
3. Whole thing to be mediated on the net with a low overhead, low interference, zero policing structure.

The core idea is to seek out worthy projects, competent people, give them the money and get out of their way.

Also worth a thought or two:

* Local partners must be prepared to put up at least x2 this amount in local support, including in kind from NGOs.
* All requests to be made in 2 pages or less, counter-signed and actively supported by at least three local partners, including local government and the core group to whom the planning and implementation reasonability for actually getting the local carsharing operation up and going.
* Grant to be “countersigned” by at least two recognized members of an independent international expert panel to be named not by any bureaucratic or political organization but by this consortium in cooperation with, say, two other highly thought of, independent non-governmental groups with deep expertise in the transportation/sustainability agenda (for example the Sustran group and Gender and Transport network, among others). (Panel members to be compensated at a standard rate of € 500 for intitial study, verification and support of the grant application. From the overall panel, two more members will be chosen for their final independent assessment and views for future projects and work. Also be to be compensated by a likewise non variable € 500 honorarium for a final independent assessment.
* Entire process is to be publicly traced real time on a central website open to all comers, and supported by commentaries, views and suggestions.
* Grant recipients engage to report results in a timely fashion on their web site, and in enough details so that the lessons of this taxpayer-funded experience can be viewed and learned from, world wide.

Okay, fair enough. This is still pretty hairy, but suppose that we really put our brains together and come up with an improved version of this – or some better proposal for them – what might we anticipate would be their reaction. Among the first things we could expect to hear would be an exhaustive listing of all the reasons why this will not be possible. Hmm.

But will we make any mistakes with this?

You bet we will. Inevitably and no matter how tough minded and creative we manage to be with our slimmed down non-bureaucratic process. But at worse these will be very small mistakes, and if we get it right they will also be made in the bright light of the public domain where all can see and learn from (nothing being stashed away in drawers and kept from any eventually prying eyes).

Indeed in this particular sub-set of sustainability policy and practice, we need more and more honest feedback – and often as not we have more to learn from failure than success. But not is we are forever going to hide away the failures.

On the other hand in barely more than one month the Kyoto Protocol becomes operational and this at a time when virtually all of our cites are moving steadily and without a murmur of apology in the opposite direction. Here is a chance to get the ball rolling in the right direction and with minimum delay.

There you have it, a modest proposal for next week’s meeting, and an equally modest challenge to you all to do better. And once again please be sure that all of this will be conveyed to the meeting in one form or another. And you and turn will be kept informed of what if anything happens next.

Eric Britton

The New Mobility Agenda at http://newmobility.org

16 January 2005

16/01/05. Keynes, Laffer and taxes...

Program: Land Cafe

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Dodson [mailto:ejdodson@c...]
Sent: Monday, January 17, 2005 11:14 AM

John Maynard Keynes was right about much, but he was wrong in one critically important area. He thought that the expansion of industrial production and the service sector meant that the central importance Adam Smith, David Ricardo and even John Stuart Mill had given to "land" as the primary factor of production no longer applied. He failed to recognize that the owners of natural resource lands and prime urban locations were becoming increasingly powerful "rent-seekers."

A key reason was (and is) that many entities holding large amounts of land as assets are engaged in some other activities besides being landowners. With only a handful of exceptions (Nobel Prize winner William Vickrey being the most notable), economists have joined Keynes in this error in judgment. The result has been almost no pressure from the economics community for changes in tax policy that would significantly reduce the "rent-seeking" rewards derived from land speculation and land hoarding.

All societies pay a very heavy price for this failure in the form of periodic land market crashes after a prolonged period (as the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States are currently experiencing) of rising land prices, fueled by cheap and readily available credit.

The Japanese have been going thru the consequences of just such a land market crash since the late 1980s. Japanese tax policy regarding land was -- and remains -- exactly opposite of what ought to be public policy. The Japanese impose no annual taxation whatever on land values at all, allowing the rental value of land to be fully privatized and capitalized into the selling price of land. Japan then imposed a confiscatory rate of taxation when land parcels changed hands, greatly discouraging a competitive market for land (and causing land to be leased rather than sold for development to avoid taxation).

Some years ago, I engaged Arthur Laffer in correspondence over this very issue. Mr. Laffer expressed agreement with me that at the core of "supply-side" economic performance was the Henry George proposal for society to collect "rent" as public revenue.

Political scientists use the term "disjointed incrementalism" to describe how public policy is made in the United States. This term applies well to the United Kingdom as well. Economics professor Paul Samuelson, in his basic text on economics, concludes that the taxation of "rent" -- and a policy of reducing and/or eliminating the taxation of material assts (e.g., buildings, equipment, fixtures), earned income flows and commerce -- make perfect sense from the standpoint of economic theory. He put the decision outside the realm of economics and into the realm of politics.

Edward J. Dodson, Director
School of Cooperative Individualism
United States

08 January 2005

8/1/05. From New Regionalism to New Urbanism: Changing the Paradigm of Growth

Program: New Mobility Agenda

This article by Peter Calthorpe is the base of a presentation he is to make to "a Smart Growth" conference to take place in Riverside CA on 21 January. We propose this for consideration by and comment to our New Moblity community, with the thought that creative interaction between ourselves and the New Urbanism group and proponents might yield some useful results at both ends.

From New Regionalism to New Urbanism: Changing the Paradigm of Growth

- By Peter Calthorpe

For many Americas the everyday environment of freeways, subdivisions, malls, and office parks is a given—an inescapable reality that covertly structures their time, associations, and opportunities. This landscape is so familiar that it is practically unseen and often goes unquestioned. But when questioned, it is framed as the inevitable consequence of market forces and cultural desires—a destiny in which public policy plays merely a supporting role. For many it is an unassailable expression of the American Dream.

But in reality this landscape is not just the product of free market forces, but also of a distinct planning paradigm supported by highly coordinated policies. The planning paradigm is a collage of low density, single-use areas connected by a road network dedicated to the car – otherwise known as sprawl. The policies that support this paradigm are numerous to many obscure: state and federal road standards and funding that favor autos over transit or pedestrians; secondary market financing and mortgage tax deductions that bias our housing types; a fiscal structure in suburban towns and counties that directs land use away from denser housing to tax-rich commercial development; and a set of underwriting standards within most banks that has no place for mixed-use developments. It adds up to a self-reinforcing system of public policies and institutional bias that is tenacious and entrenched.

This system delivers a standardized product, one that varies little across the country. It is driven not by a conspiracy or even ideology, but ossification -- old habits institutionalized and self-reinforcing. As conditions shift with new demographics, new technologies, and new environmental challenges, this old pattern inhibits innovation and much needed change.

But cracks are appearing in this system. Traffic congestion, lack of affordable housing, environmental pollution, loss of open space, and fractured communities are now normative in most metropolitan areas. Like its segregated land uses, sprawl’s problems are treated in isolation by specialists with single purpose policies. Because of this ‘stove pipe’ approach, the problems fester and are rarely treated in a systemic manner. And our assumptions about the inevitability of this land use pattern are so powerful that we think the solutions to these problems are just more of the same: more highways to cure congestion, more subdivisions to provide affordable housing, and lower density development to stave off pollution, crime, and loss of community.

Sprawl’s roots are thought to be an organic expression of our culture, but much in our culture has changed and the old paradigm has not kept up. New planning models are emerging—alternates that can satisfy market needs with less environmental impact, less cost, less congestion, and perhaps stronger communities.

These new models must be conceived at both the regional and local level – large scale strategic planning connected to a new sense of urban design. They will involve new codes, new technical standards, new policies, new financing mechanisms, and new land use patterns. Guiding these sifts in policy, standards, and local planning will be the emerging practice of regional design.

A region is unconsciously “designed” by its highway structure, road standards, finance systems, tax structure, environmental regulations, and zoning types. Local planning is largely at the mercy of these forces. Towns are reduced to determining the quantity of development, more than its type or overall impact. Smaller jurisdictions and counties can downzone residential, over-zone tax producing commercial, and sift troublesome uses to other parts of the region, but can do little more. They do not and for the most part cannot overhaul the type of development that can be financed, the nature of the infrastructure that passes through their area, or the economic context that defines the range of choices they have in land use. All of that is in the domain of regional design, state programs, and federal policy.

Regional planning and innovative forms of urbanism are the keys to opening up new directions in development. And they must happen simultaneously. A progressive regional plan without new forms of development at the local level will be an empty set of goals, while land use change at the local level without regional coordination will be anecdotal. Luckily we have several good examples of this interdependent process and important emerging results.

Emerging regionalism

We are in the embryonic stage of regionalism, testing different approaches, ideas, and implementation strategies. In the past decade a range of regional strategies and design structures has evolved in several states across the country. One lesson is already clear from these early trials: there is no one solution or process. In each place differences in history, scale, ecology, geography, economics, and politics produce many forms of regionalism.

In all U.S. metropolitan areas, many regional institutions are already coordinating critical infrastructure, investments, and policy—but in a piecemeal fashion. Regional transportation investments are already controlled by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) as part of the process of allocating state and federal money. But these organizations have no control over the land-use patterns that drive the transportation demands – a key disconnect. Other single-purpose regional entities have evolved to deal with unique regional assets. A good example is the San Francisco Bay Area’s Bay Conservation and Development Commission, which controls development along and in the Bay. But land use typically remains the singular domain of local jurisdictions and is at the heart of the greatest controversy surrounding regionalism.

Many think that effective regional design implies a top down approach. But regionalism does not imply that each town give up land-use control. It does imply that a larger strategic plan be developed by all involved; local jurisdictions, environmentalists, business interests, and developers to name a few stakeholders. Board policies, goals, and infrastructure criteria can be established by MPOs or regional civic and business groups in cooperation with local governments. The region can establish goals and policies in several key areas: preservation of open space systems, efficiency of infrastructure, location of major job centers, transportation investments, and the fair distribution of affordable housing. Using these parameters, local governments can still design a unique plan that defines all the elements of its community: housing, circulation, open space, land use, urban design, and so on.

In fact, without such regional policies, many local initiatives can be frustrated. For example without regional open space designations individual towns may be unable to preserve the adjacent open space systems they want. And clearly the major transportation improvements that cities need can only be coordinated at the regional level. Furthermore regional policies to support reinvestment in lower income communities may encourage redevelopment where local jurisdictions are unable to sift direction. The land-use decisions that compliment such fundamental strategies must be adopted at the local level while they are coordinated at the regional level . No regional plan will succeed without local participation and buy in.

Oregon and Washington provide two alternate approaches to such regional participation in land-use decisions. In Oregon a more top-down approach was implied in the creation of a regional government with district elections for local representation. This governing body has primary responsibility for the regional “Framework Plan” that sets overall growth, infrastructure, and land-use policies, as well as the placement of an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB).

Contrary to popular belief, the UGB in Oregon was not created to limit growth or stop sprawl but to protect farmlands from destabilizing land speculation. The 1972 legislation called for a boundary that would contain a twenty-year supply of developable land and for periodic line adjustments to ensure such capacity. Were it not for a 1992 regional visioning process, called Metrovision 2040, the elastic UGB would have had little effect on outward growth. Metrovision 2040 organizers asked if the region should “grow up” or “grow out” and they engaged considerable community input. Given the choices and the trade-offs, the plan to “grow up” with more compact forms of development was selected by a wide margin.

The significant aspect of Oregon’s growth management law is not that a top-down regional bureaucracy dictates land use to local governments, but that the area must collectively analyze the impacts of future growth at a regional scale and come to a comprehensive decision as to what direction to take. When allowed to see clearly the impacts of more sprawl on their quality of life, the cost of infrastructure, and the impact to the environment, a majority of citizens opted for a more compact, transit-oriented growth pattern. These are trade-offs and choices people can only make when shown the cumulative impacts of different forms of growth at a regional scale.

In Washington the process started with, rather than resulted in, such a regional visioning effort. Called 2020 Vision, it produced a plan that configured the region with a hierarchy of centers and a complex set of growth boundaries that respected the needs and aspirations of individual communities. The plan was so successful that it led to state legislation for growth management. Under Washington’s Growth Management Act, the local governments remain the proactive force in land-use decisions, with the regional entity acting primarily as a board of appeals. Local decisions can be challenged for either unreasonably breaching the UGB or undermining the general allocation of jobs and housing within each community. In other words, environmentalists have recourse if a district begins to sprawl beyond its growth boundary, and developers have recourse if NIMBYs constrain appropriate levels of development within the boundaries.

Maryland’s approach is different. It sets economic efficiency standards for public investments such as highway, sewer, water, housing, and economic development assistance. Rather than prescribe the location and pattern of development, the state’s new “Neighborhood Conservation and Smart Growth Initiative” limits its investments in infrastructure to “priority funding areas.” The concept is not to control the market or constrain private property rights but merely to spend public dollars cost-effectively. Significantly, the county governments, not the state, designate these areas. The areas, however, must meet several standards, such as a minimum density and coherent infrastructure plans, along with a demonstrated need for growth. Areas outside the priority areas can be developed but at the local government’s or property owner’s expense. This is a fair approach; the state seeks fiscal efficiency and the private sector develops areas appropriate to the market. State subsidized land use is over.

Maryland has several other programs to protect open space and encourage job growth in existing centers. Its Rural Legacy Program uses sales tax dollars and bonds to purchase conservation easements for critical open space and farmlands. This program acknowledges that some lands would not be protected by the priority area designation alone. The Job Creation Tax Credit program provides tax benefits to employers who create jobs in the priority areas and the Live Near Your Work program offers home-buying assistance to areas in which the employers are willing to provide matching assistance. The goal is to create more compact, efficiently served communities while preserving the state’s open space and farmlands. These means form a sophisticated mix of incentives and limits that support reinvestment in the places that need it the most and avoid inefficient new infrastructure.

In Salt Lake City, a new initiative lead by a civic group, Envision Utah, created alternative growth scenarios for their fast-growing area. For the projected one million-population growth they span from a compact transit-oriented alternate of 112 square miles of new development to a sprawling 439 in more standard forms. The infrastructure cost difference between the extremes was extraordinary, close to an additional $30,000 per new home. In addition the low-density option didn’t meet the market demand for multifamily housing or first-time homebuyers. This low-density option reflected a growing trend in the region’s smaller suburban towns toward exclusionary zoning that allocated residential land primarily for large lot single-family homes.

People tend to oppose denser development on a project-by-project basis, but when shown the cumulative loss of open space, affordable housing, and the additional tax burden at the regional scale, their response can be quite different. A mail-back survey included with a newspaper insert describing the Envision Utah alternatives showed that only 4% of the 18,000 respondents preferred the low-density growth alternate, while over 66% voted for the more compact alternatives. While many of these voters may have opposed higher density development in their neighborhoods the regional alternates process provided them a different perspective, one that has the power to reframe the issue and allow new preferences.

In addition the respondents voted in similar proportions for more walkable forms of development with increased transit investments. The most-preferred alternate matched the market demand for multifamily and small home opportunities while reducing the average lot size of a single-family home by less than 20%. This option also placed three fifths of the new residents within a half a mile of rail transit stations and supported mixed-use neighborhoods that made walking convenient in 70% of the new development.

Since these alternates where analyzed and public preferences polled, the state legislators passed and the governor has signed the Quality Growth Act. Like the land management approach in Maryland, this legislation puts into place a commission to designate “quality growth” areas that will become the focus of new development and redevelopment. The state and federal government will make these areas priorities for new infrastructure and services. Other areas, although not specifically outside of a UGB, will have to pay their own development costs.

In addition individual communities are following the regional plan on a volunteer basis. South Jordon, a town dominated by large lot single family homes approved a progressive mixed use plan for 10,000 new homes in an area to be served by an extension of the light rail line – at average densities twice that of their existing community. In addition, Kennecott Copper, the largest property holder in the region with over 90,000 acres, is developing a plan based on the concepts of Transit Oriented Development. And a recent study across multiple jurisdictions to add a freeway on the west side of the valley included yet another transit line along with appropriate land uses.

The most important aspect of each of these plans is the recognition that a definitive regional plan is a necessary step to a healthy future and that community participation is key to its success. When given clear information and a picture of the aggregate impacts of piecemeal growth, most citizens opt for very progressive policies. Seeing the growth in terms of its total impacts rather than one project at a time is a critical shift in perspective. Regional questions get different answers than local questions.

The Urban Network

Within these regional design efforts lies the need for a new model of mobility, a new vision of streets, arterials and expressways that compliments the emerging land-use patterns. The movements of New Urbanism, Smart Growth, and Transit-Oriented Development have each defined these new more compact and walkable land use forms. But too often the regional plans that call for New Urbanism and Smart Growth are forced to grow within a transportation network designed for sprawl. Our assumed transportation network is still a suburban grid of arterials punctuated with freeways.

A new circulation system to match the emerging mixed-use development patterns must be developed. One that accommodates mass transit as well as the car and that reinforces, rather than isolates, walkable places. Bringing daily destinations closer to home is a fundamental aspect of urbanism, but is not the complete solution to our access needs. Even if we double the percent of walkable trips in a neighborhood and triple transit ridership, there still will be growth in auto trips, not to mention an explosion of truck miles. We need a circulation system that accommodates all modes efficiently while it supports differing densities of urbanism throughout the region.

The old paradigm is simple [ill. 1]: a grid of arterials spaced at one-mile increments with major retail centers located at the intersections and strip commercial buildings lining its inhospitable but very visible edges. Overlaying the grid in rings and radials is the freeway system. The intersection of the grid and freeway becomes fertile ground for malls and office parks. This formal system is rational, coherent, and true to itself, even if increasingly dysfunctional. Its sprawling land-use patterns matches the road network in a way that New Urbanism, when dropped into this framework, cannot.

Our firm developed the concept of an Urban Network (ill. 2) for Chicago Metropolis 2020, a private regional planning effort of the historic Commercial Club for the greater Chicago area. The Urban Network proposes three types of major roads to replace the standard arterial grid: Transit Boulevards, Avenues, and Connectors. The Transit Boulevards combine through auto trips with transit right-of-ways, the Avenues lead to local commercial destinations, and the Connectors provide circulation between neighborhoods.

The Transit Boulevards are at the heart of this network. They are multi-functional throughways designed to match the mixed-use urban development that they support. Like traditional boulevards, they would have a central area for through traffic and transit, along with small-scale access roads on the sides to support local activities and a pedestrian scaled environment. This configuration is a place where cafés, small businesses, apartments, transit, pedestrians, and through traffic mingle in a simple and time-tested hierarchy.

These Transit Boulevards [ill. 3] are lined with higher density development and run to and through town centers. The key is a dedicated lane for the transit so that it can run at efficient speeds and the small frontage road that supports the adjacent buildings and life of the sidewalk. This is in contrast to the typical arterial that rarely provides space for transit or an edge treatment that encourages little other that strip commercial or soundwalls.

The transit system running along the Boulevards and through the towns could be light rail, streetcars, or bus rapid transit (BRT). When Light Rail is not possible, the capital and operational costs of BRT are affordable and make it financially viable for widespread use. New, super-efficient natural gas engines and advanced bus design would make such buses reasonable companions to the urban environment of the Boulevard.

Avenues would intersect the Boulevards at one-mile centers. These Avenues would allow more frequent intersections, just as our existing suburban system does. However, at major intersections they can support a Village Center –a mixed-use transformation of the typical grocery store anchored shopping center into a walkable community focus. Between such centers, Avenues would have a parkway treatment and can be lined by alley-loaded, large lot homes—as in the historic neighborhoods of many American cities.

Finally, a system of Connector streets forms a finer grid of approximately one-quarter-mile spacing, providing direct access to local Village and Town centers. These ‘connector streets’ replace the standard ‘collector street‘, a local street with so much traffic that they are lined with sound-walls and only connect to arterials. In contrast the Connector streets are frequent enough to disperse the traffic so as to create livable environments along them. Because this street type allows direct access to village and town centers, it also functions to relieve the Avenues of local trips, allowing fewer lanes .

In a plan for the City of Merced the old circulation patterns were compared to the Urban Network from a traffic performance point of view [ill 4,5]. The Urban Network held the quantities of the various land uses constant while substituting Avenues at one-mile centers and a central Transit Boulevard for the standard Arterials, and multiple continuous Connectors instead of Collectors. The analysis showed a considerable drop in the volumes on the primary roads as local trips shifted to the connectors; while the arterials system needed 75% four lane and 25% six lane facilities the Urban Network needed no six-lane roads. More surprising was that in the standard system over 67% of the Collectors carried over 5,000 cars a day (more that one would wish to live next too) while the more frequent Connectors dispersed the traffic so that only 5% had that quantity.

In the old hierarchy of functional types, streets serve single functions. The new street types combine uses, capacities, and scales. For example the Transit Boulevards combine the capacity of a major arterial with the intimacy of local frontage roads and the pedestrian orientation that comes with its transit system. The Avenues are multi-lane roads that transition into a “couplet” of main streets at the village centers. Streets, like land-use, can no longer be single purpose and they must change as they move through differing urban environments.

This new circulation system is combined with the new mixed-use land use patterns of New Urbanism and Smart Growth. Walkable town and village centers are placed at the crossroads of Transit Boulevards and Avenues. Residential neighborhoods are directly accessible to these centers through local connector streets as well as the Avenues.

At such commercial centers, the Boulevard and Avenues would split into two one-way streets set a block apart, creating an urban grid of pedestrian scaled streets. No street in such a town would contain more than three travel lanes (typically two), allowing pedestrian continuity without diverting auto capacity. In addition, this one-way system eliminates left turn delays, actually decreasing travel time for cars.

Each mixed-use place has an appropriate location, scale, and type of access. The larger town center is accessible to the Boulevard’s plentiful through traffic and its high-capacity transit line. It mixes major employment with regional retail, major civic destinations, and high-density housing— essentially a suburban ‘Edge City’ given urban and walkable configurations. Village centers contain what the International Council of Shopping Centers calls “neighborhood serving retail,” typically anchored by a grocery store. They mix shops, a bit of office space, medium density housing, and local civic uses. It typically takes four to six neighborhoods, each with a one-quarter-mile walking radius, to support a village center. The villages are directly accessible by foot, bus, car, or bike from surrounding neighborhoods along connector roads, while their couplet streets allow the auto traffic needed to support their retail.

An example of such a village center is in San Elijo, located about forty miles north of San Diego (ill 6,7). This site, originally planned around a standard intersection of two arterials, was redesigned to place a village green at the center of four one-way streets. In one quadrant, the grocery store anchors the primary retail; in others housing and civic buildings line the streets. Two main streets lead up to the green, and mixed-use buildings surround it. In two of the quadrants, a school and community park complete the center. This village center is now largely built and has been both a commercial and community success. Although the traffic engineers were skeptical at first a detailed analysis proved the concept and a visionary developer marshaled the concept through implementation.

In contrast, a town center contains much more retail along with higher density housing, major office development, and a more extensive street system. Issaquah Highlands, thirty miles east of Seattle, is an example (ill. 8,9). This center is placed at the intersection of a major new arterial (projected to carry about 50,000 vehicles per day to a new freeway interchange) and the entry to a new community with about 4,300 units of housing. Some 500 more units are planned in the town center, along with 900,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. In addition the Microsoft Corporation has acquired part of the town center for a major office campus of approximately two million square feet.

Splitting the arterials into one-way couplets allowed an urban grid to organize the site and provided for a pedestrian-scaled environment even with these high traffic volumes. It effectively unified what would have been an isolated office park next to a shopping center. The standard arterial had a primary intersection with a 166-foot pedestrian crossing, while the couplets had two streets, one forty feet wide and the other just twenty-eight feet wide. In addition, the traffic engineers found that the auto travel time through the center was actually reduced by 11% compared to time through conventional intersections. In this case both the developer and the local city of Issaqua wanted a walkable, mixed use town center and pressed the state Highway Department to allow the innovate road configuration. The project is now under construction and the primary road network is complete.

Another example of a large-scale application of the Urban Network is the master plan for the 20,000-acre St. Andrews expansion area north of Perth, Australia. In this case an enlightened metropolitan government seeking a transit oriented community to anchor the northern quadrant of the region worked closely with a developer that shared this vision. The region had put in place urban design standards to insure mixed use development, walkablity, and a rigorous jobs/housing balance. This new town plan for 150,000 people and over 50,000 jobs shows a hierarchy of neighborhoods, villages, and two town centers set into an Urban Network with open space systems preserving the coast and weaving through the community (ill. 10). In this example, the spacing and configuration of the Urban Network conforms to environmental constraints and existing development.

The Urban Network also has a role to play in redeveloping areas. In such areas, existing suburban arterials can be converted into Transit Boulevards and lined with mixed-use development. In fact, the new regional plan for the Southern California Association of Governments envisions many of the major streets in the old arterial grid of Los Angeles converting to Transit Boulevards with a compliment of higher density development along the corridors. Wiltshire Boulevard is the model for its highest density expression. Ironically, many of these arterials were once home to streetcars prior to WWII.

Various cities are simultaneously up zoning areas along the new transit boulevards and at light rail stations. Malibu, Pasadena and other smaller communities are planning for and building excellent TODs. These dramatic changes come from the political awareness that more of the same sprawl will not address the real challenges that the regional confronts and are partly the result of new market forces calling for redevelopment, affordable housing, and transportation alternates. In this case the preconceptions of sprawl are being overturned by a new paradigm of growth and a new set of investments, policies, and demographics. Los Angles was a test of the auto-oriented metropolis and it will be the test of its transformation.


It is short-sighted to think that significant changes in land-use and regional structure can be realized without fundamentally reordering our transportation system. Only an integrated network of urban places and multi-use street systems can support the change needed for the next century of growth. The integration of these strategies forms a new paradigm of development—one that starts with new regional visions, reorders the policies and standards that underlie our infrastructure, and redirects the form of our neighborhoods and towns. It is an intentional and precisely designed system, just like the one it will replace.

There is no such thing as laisser-fare development. All development is planned, regulated, and subsidized. Consumer preference is shaped by history, opportunity, government policy, and expectations as much as by lifestyle needs or wants. The question before us is not planning vs. market forces but different visions of community development and the physical structure and policies that underlie these visions.

07 January 2005

7/1/05. Carsharing in Austin, Texas? (advice for graduate student)

Program: World Carshare Consortium

We have for many years (since 1973 to be exact) been interested both in monitoring and supporting developments in the area of new (and better) ways of using cars, of which toward the top of the agenda is the concept of people sharing cars in various ways. About a decade ago we set up the World Carshare Consortium at http://worldcarshare.com, which has since evolved into what is perhaps the best place on the web to go to get an education in or seek allies and/or counsel in this area. The following exchange from 7 January is a case in point, followed by some comments from one of the leading authorities on the topic. I invite you to read on.

-----Original Message-----
From: Alexandra Ritchie [mailto:gachas3@yahoo.com]
Sent: Friday, January 07, 2005 9:53 PM
To: WorldCarShare@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [WorldCarShare] Carsharing in Austin, Texas? (advice for graduate student)

Dear WorldCarShare Community:

I recently joined your Yahoo Group and wanted to introduce myself. My name is Alexandra Ritchie and I am a second year master's candidate at the LBJ School of Public Affairs (University of Texas at Austin) and I decided that the topic of my Professional Report would carsharing in Austin, Texas.

I think Austin, Texas would be an excellent location for carsharing services for the following reasons:

• Austin is a capital city- Decisions made in Austin could have an impact around the state.
• Austin is considered the most progressive city in Texas.
• The City of Austin recently completed its Transit Oriented Development Ordinance and is looking for ways to expand retail development and housing in the downtown area.
• Voters finally approved a light rail measure in November that could be complemented by carsharing (provide necessary transportation hubs to pick up and drop off shared vehicles)
• Austin is developing its own clean air plan so it won't be in violation of the Federal Ambient Air Quality Standards
• Austin is the location of the state's flagship university- UT-Austin, which has it own zipcode (40 acre-campus), enormous student population (between 48,000 and over 50,000 at any given time), and has its own Center for Transportation Research.
• Austin is a vibrant city that attracts many tourists interest in visiting historical buildings, the University, and attending the numerous cultural festivals held throughout the year AND parking is a huge concern year-round.
• Austin is a prominent high-tech center with a strong commuter population and convention business that could benefit from affordable carsharing services.

I know that other graduate students are asking about methodology, but my question to all of you is really about setting some parameters for my research. Given all of these factors that I have mentioned, is it worth conducting research on just one of these potential markets or clients (the University as entity, student population as a market segment, commuter population, Austin residents, etc.)? For example, if I wanted to ask, "What would it cost to establish a carsharing service in Austin?", should I narrow it down to one that would serve the students living on and near campus?

Another reason I ask that, is of course I am interested in the politics of carsharing and would like to know whether carsharing is more successful (the number of users, public support for it, funding, etc.) if it is first utilized by a company, university, government, neighborhood, or by influential citizens?

*** I will be attending the Transportation Research Board 's 84th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. this coming week and will be sure to pose the same questions, but any advice you can share with me this semester would be very much appreciated.

Thank you for your time and interest.

Alexandra Ritchie, Master's Candidate 2005

LBJ School of Public Affairs
The University of Texas at Austin


-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Brook [mailto:dbrook@easystreet.com]
Sent: Saturday, January 08, 2005 12:33 AM
To: WorldCarShare@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [WorldCarShare] Carsharing in Austin, Texas? (advice for graduate student)


You're not the only one who thinks Austin is a good candidate for carsharing, Dana Stidham, who did her Masters Degree in Community & Regional Affairs there, did a lot of research on the subject and wrote a long paper about it several years ago. She did it when carsharing was just getting started in the US so there really were no companies for her to talk to. A version of her paper was published in Planning Forum. She's now a planner for the City of Round Rock, Texas, so you should talk to her first. I think the topic is well worth exploring in greater detail.

> I know that other graduate students are asking about methodology,
> but my question to all of you is really about setting some parameters
> for my research. Given all of these factors that I have mentioned, is it
> worth conducting research on just one of these potential markets or
> clients (the University as entity, student population as a market
> segment, commuter population, Austin residents, etc.)? For example, if
> I wanted to ask, "What would it cost to establish a carsharing service
> in Austin?", should I narrow it down to one that would serve the
> students living on and near campus?

I'd leave the question general and in your conversations with various providers, you'll have a better sense of if/how to narrow the topic.

> Another reason I ask that, is of course I am interested in the
> politics of carsharing and would like to know whether carsharing is
> more successful (the number of users, public support for it, funding,
> etc.) if it is first utilized by a company, university, government,
> neighborhood, or by influential citizens?

Currently, Adam Millard-Ball of the consulting firm of Nelson Nygard is midway thru a large project to get at some of the questions. If
you'll be at TRB be sure to attend the special carsharing meeting at the Hilton, on Tuesday, January 11, 8am to 9:45am. I'm sure you'll be
able to meet many of the players then (unfortunately, I won't be there). You may also want to visit the offices of Zipcar and Flexcar,
both of which operate there.

Dave Brook
Carsharing consultant

Carsharing: Sustainable transport's missing link!
Go to World CarShare: http://WorldCarShare.com
The broader issues behind carsharing? Check out the New Mobility Agenda at http://www.newmobility.org
Free video- and voice-conferencing: click http://newmobilitypartners.org

06 January 2005

6/1/05. James Robertson,Working for a Sane Alternative: News

Program: The Commons

James Robertson, an old friend, sometimes collaborator and respected colleague, has, together with his partner and wife Alison Pritchard, been hammering away at the economic/financial side of the sustainable development and social justice challenge for more years that he would care to remember. He is an original thinkers and important agent of change in these areas. Here you have his latest newsletter, together with the usual information on their website and direct contact details. He welcomes comments.

Working for a Sane Alternative: News - December 2004

(Links to previous Newsletters can be found here)

Newsletter Contents:

1. Money Values and Moral Values
2. Economic Research Council
3. Welcome thinking from the Bishop of Liverpool
4. What's happening to the Dollar? and why does it matter?
5. FEASTA Review No.2
6. A well-being manifesto
7. World Future Council
8. "To Blazes or Jerusalem?"
9. "The Natural Step; Towards a Sustainable Society"

1. Money Values and Moral Values

My last newsletter mentioned a "Markets and Morality" conference planned by the Scientific and Medical Network for 13 November. It was cancelled owing to lack of interest. Perhaps people thought it would just be a sterile debate for and against the facts of economic life.

If so, they were wrong. Two seriously important questions would have been discussed.

(1) Do money values have to conflict with moral values?

(2) Why do they conflict with them now?

The answer to the first must be, Surely not. Are humans so dumb that we can't develop money systems reflecting the values we believe in?

An answer to the second question is that today's money values conflict with moral values because the money system works in the interests of the people and nations which manage it. That is true. But we need to understand a little more, in order to see how to put it right.

Most of the items in this newsletter are concerned with that in one way or another. "The Role of Money and Finance: Changing a Central Part of the Problem into a Central Part of the Solution" deals with it at greater length - see www.jamesrobertson.com/articles.htm.

A version will also be found in FEASTA Review No 2 - see Item 5 below - under the title "Using common resources to solve common problems".

2. Economic Research Council

Recently, going through old papers, I came across correspondence with the then Hon Secretary, Edward Holloway, about a talk I gave to the ERC on "Profits and Social Responsibility" in 1974.

My next involvement with the ERC was 28 years later, when it published "Forward with the Euro - AND the Pound" in 2002 - see www.jamesrobertson.com/articles.htm.

My contact was Aidan Rankin - aidanr@dircon.co.uk - who deals with ERC Research and Publications. (In his recent article on "Punch and Judy Politics" - in the October 2004 Ecologist - he argues that adversarial politics encourages stereotyped thinking, shutting off intellectual and practical solutions, and he calls for an end to point-scoring political confrontation.)

ERC historical publications (1939-1993) are now on its website (http://www.ercouncil.org/), thanks to Dan Lewis (http://www.danlewis.org/). Those reflecting the prime ERC objective, "to promote education in the science of economics with particular reference to monetary practice", will interest monetary reformers.

Among them is "Government Debt and Credit Creation" (1981) - in which Edward Holloway played a major part. It said:

"Recognising that the payment of interest at present high levels places an intolerable burden on the productive sector of the economy, the Economic Research Council decided to initiate an enquiry into the way in which money in all forms comes into circulation. We have been led to the following main conclusions:

(1) That the State should create all the currency and credit needed to satisfy the spending power of the Government and the buying power of consumers:

(2) The power of the banks to increase the amount of credit money in circulation should revert to the State. Had this been done since 1945 some £30,000 million could have been saved by the Government if they had maintained their historic privilege of themselves issuing all forms of money including credit .

It is right that the banks should be fully recompensed for the valuable services they perform, but if we examine these closely we would see that this is essentially book-keeping. It is misleading to describe the banks' services in financing Government expenditure out of newly created credit money as "lending". The word should not have been used in this connection as it creates a false picture of what really happens. As a result we have allowed private institutions to usurp the right to issue our money and to make very handsome profits thereby."

3. "Paying what we owe: People should be taxed on what they use of the earth's resources, not what they earn"

Welcome thinking from the Church. The above article by the Bishop of Liverpool appeared in "The Guardian" on 22 November -

As he says: "The most substantial tax revenue comes from taxing income, especially labour. The time has come for all political parties to rethink fundamentally this balance. We should gradually shift from taxing labour to levying taxes on the use of original resources."

4. What's happening to the Dollar? and why does it matter?

Also on 22 November, in a Times article "The Avalanche is coming", William Rees-Mogg predicted that "the dollar could pitch the world into a financial catastrophe". Since then the dollar has continued to slide.

Sooner or later the world will decide to stop selling goods and services to the US for dollars which it creates out of nothing and can devalue as it decides. Other peoples, poorer and less wasteful than Americans, currently pay them at least $400bn a year for the use of these dollars as international currency.

The experts have known for many years that this "dollar hegemony" could not last for ever. Nonetheless, as Rees-Mogg concluded, "the world exchange crisis is being treated as everybody's problem and therefore nobody's".

But could the dollar crisis be profitable for Europeans? In "Petrodollar or Petroeuro? A new source of global conflict", in FEASTA Review No 2 (see Item 5 below), Coilin Nunan shows that "getting a share of the economic free lunch [now enjoyed by the USA] has been one of the motivations, and perhaps the main motivation, behind setting up the euro".

Nunan's well-documented article is important. So is his conclusion that we should be debating more openly what kind of international financial structure we want to adopt: "A good starting point would be recognition that no country or countries should be allowed to dominate the system by controlling the issuance of currency or currencies used".

Spot on! It would be short-sighted - and unjust - for Europeans to use the euro to grab a share of the "imperial tribute" that the rest of the world has been paying the US for using the dollar.

The only eventual successor to the dollar as the main international currency, other than a new world currency independent of any nation or group of nations, would almost certainly turn out to be the Chinese renminbi.

Could the prospect of China exploiting the world economy later this century, as the US now does, persuade Europeans - and Americans too - that the time has come to replace the dollar with a truly international currency?

5. FEASTA Review No.2

This fine collection of high-quality items (207 double-column pages), edited by Richard Douthwaite and John Jopling, and published in November 2004 by the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability in Dublin, is something special. Items 1 and 4 have mentioned it already. It can be read online at www.feasta.org/documents/review2/index.htm.

On that page, there's also an option to order it for £9.95 from Green Books.

Unlike Feasta Review No.1 (2001), this one has a title - "GROWTH: THE CELTIC CANCER: Why the global economy damages our health and society". But potential readers should not be misled into supposing the Review is about specifically Irish problems or that it is negatively critical.

People everywhere, in search of constructive responses to the damaging outcomes of today's economic "progress", will find a great deal of interest and value in it.

In "Unprecedented growth, but for whose benefit?", Elizabeth Cullen shows that, although the average income in Ireland doubled between 1989 and 2002, the nation's health and the bonds between its people have been seriously damaged.

The economic system, by polarising income distribution in the interests of economic growth, has become the greatest single threat to everyone's health and well-being. (On well-being also see Item 6 below.)

She recommends, among other things: that a basic income should be seriously considered as a way to reduce inequality and reward work that the present economic system fails to reward; and that we should examine why our economic system needs continuous economic growth to avoid collapsing.

How far, she asks, is that due to creating new money by lending it into circulation rather than putting it into the economy in other ways?

In "Freedom to be frugal", Molly Scott Cato reminds us that Adam Smith was aware of poverty's relative aspects: you are poor if you lack "not only the commodities which are indispensably necessary for the support of life, but whatever the custom of the country renders it indecent for creditable people, even the lower order, to be without".

But she asks us to question today's conventional wisdom that equates poverty with social exclusion. Her message is important: the relative definition of poverty and the dynamic of a capitalist society have a symbiotic relationship, which is catalysed by the advertising industry; getting away from this vicious circle would "represent a move towards development as emancipation, from oppressive economic structures and the ideologies that perpetuate them".

A similarly oppressive ideology equates failure to work for an employer with social exclusion, but "there is no reason why paid work should provide the only basis for our human identity".

Frank Rotering's paper on "Human Economics: putting humanity and the environment before profit" discusses the development of new economic theory and language based on the aim of maximising human wellbeing subject to ecological constraints.

Many difficulties arise - for example, how to decide on what aspect of health should be maximised. There is also the wider philosophical question whether aiming to maximise any particular thing makes sense.

On a different aspect of wellbeing, I welcome Douglas McCulloch's comment that "the division in [conventional economic] thinking between production and consumption may conceal important possibilities for restructuring our economies towards sustainability". Alvin Toffler's "prosumer" theory in "The Third Wave" (1980) still makes an important point.

David Fleming's "The Lean Economy" foresees an inevitable collapse of the worldwide market economy, owing to the depletion of oil and gas, the degradation of the environment and decline of social capital.

In the transformed political economy that could rise from the ashes, a "new domestication" will have to take place in which households will become as productively competent as industry now is.

People and localities will start to provide for themselves most of what they need, and local currencies will be absolutely fundamental. Social cohesion, strengthened by revived local culture, will underpin local economies.

I can mention only one or two of the insights in Stan Thekaekara's three fascinating articles - "People First: Justice in a Global Economy", "Just Change: Humanising Globalisation", and "Globalisation": Who Benefits?".

His many years of work for tribal people in South India have taught him that global economic institutions have aggravated their poverty and deprivation, not contributed to eradicating them.

In the conflict between capitalism and socialism and the concepts of individual ownership and state ownership, "what no one has talked about are the economies of indigenous people, which are based on the concept of NO ownership".

Why does money in one person's hand become capital - a means for investment and the generation of more money - while in another person's hand it is only cash to be spent? He describes his "Just Change" project, now a registered trust both in India and the UK.

It goes beyond Fair Trade to develop a structure of enterprise which involves all the participants - workers, consumers and investors - as shareholders entitled to a share in the surplus.

Richard Douthwaite explains "Why localisation is essential for sustainability". Many of the reasons are connected to the way the money system now operates in a globalised world, "rewarding those countries and companies that consume the Earth's resources most rapidly with incomes that enable them to purchase and destroy even more".

Many of the changes needed are to do with local currencies, local banking, local people investing locally, and other financial aspects of local economies. Once we recognise that "whenever a poorer country or region attempts to satisfy the needs of a wealthier one rather than attending to its own, its dependency and weakness are increased, ... we will begin to think in a radically different way about how our communities can become more sustainable".

Douthwaite is surely right that "there are two possible responses to the inequity, unsustainability and unreliability of the global economy. One is to seek to change the way it works, the other is to build alternatives to it. Both responses need to be pursued simultaneously". Hear! Hear! Those who suppose that this is an either/or, please take note.

Other contributions are about the lack of long-run statistical data for tracking Ireland's social health (Ana Carrie), environmental taxes in Germany (Hans Diefenbacher, Volker Teichert, and Stefan Wilhelmy), the arguments - which I question - for tradable quotas for carbon emissions in preference to energy taxes (The Editors), interest-free banking (Ana Carrie), a democracy for an ecological age (Mark Garavan), and two short pieces - on the need to reinstate political economy (Margaret Legum), and a Socratic dialogue between a Buddhist Lama and a Mainstream Economist (Nadia Johanisova).

Finally, there are eighteen good book reviews. They include a review by Brian Leslie of Bernard Lietaer's and Thomas Greco's recent books on money. If you support alternative currencies or support mainstream monetary reform and mistakenly suppose they are an either/or, please read it!

(John Rogers goes into the same question at greater length in "Two Sides of the Money Coin: Monetary Reform and Complementary Currencies", in the August 2004 issue of "Prosperity" - http://www.prosperityuk.com/. He is Project Co-ordinator of the Wales Institute for Community Currencies. Both camps should take seriously his conclusion that "there is no either/or, only a cosmic both/and".)

To sum up. Feasta Review No.2 would provide excellent material for a whole course on a new economics for a humane, sustainable future. Just dipping into it makes for rewarding reading too.

6. A well-being manifesto

The New Economics Foundation published a well-being manifesto in September 2004 - download free from www.neweconomics.org/gen/z_sys_publicationdetail.aspx?pid=193.

It shows that, although GDP in Britain has nearly doubled in the past thirty years, economic growth has not resulted in increasing life satisfaction, levels of depression have risen, and levels of trust have fallen.

It concludes that "it is clearly time that government stopped focusing on proxies, like economic growth, and sought to address the true ends of policy, the well-being of its citizens, head on".

Among the manifesto's key proposals are that: advertising to children should be banned; environmental "bads" like fossil fuels should be taxed, instead of taxing "goods" like high-quality work; and a universal Citizen's Income should be brought in which would redistribute income to the poorest, end the "benefits trap", and help people to reclaim their time.

There are questions about what constitutes well-being and what affects it, which the manifesto discusses, and some of its proposals may be arguable. Nonetheless, as the UK political parties prepare their manifestos for the general election next year, they should not ignore its underlying message.

7. World Future Council

"Creating The World Future Council" (October 2004, 79 pages, £5.00 from Green Books), by Jakob von Uexkull and Herbert Girardet, reports progress by an inspiring new initiative - "a group of thinkers and activists from around the world working to create the World Future Council. At this defining moment in history, this new global institution will speak out about the things that are essential for a viable future - sustainability, peace and justice".

It plans to set up 24 expert Commissions on such subjects as "Healthy Food for All", "Good Work for All", "Monetary and Tax Reforms" and "Education and Media" - eight within each of three main fields covering Environment, Economics and Politics, and Social Issues.

They would like to "hear from people inspired by ethics, experience and wisdom who know how to make the connections between the many complex problems facing us". Anyone interested should get in touch at http://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/.

I hope many readers of this newsletter will do so.

8. "To Blazes or Jerusalem?" is an 8-page printed pamphlet which is free from Peter Cadogan. To request it, please send your name and address to to petercadogan@aol.com.

Peter Cadogan was one of the people whose ideas jolted my rethinking in the 1970s. His advocacy of direct democracy and the gift economy chimed in with my growing awareness that the existing institutions of politics, government and economy are designed to create domination and dependency, and the challenge of our time is to make them enabling and empowering.

This pamphlet is based on a lecture he gave in June 2004, originally entitled "The End of Imperial War". The US imperial enterprise, dating from the early 20th century, is now clearly self-defeating and doomed, and - because we have become oil-dependent - the people of the world, especially in Western Europe and America, are trapped in a political-military-economic crisis.

An alternative political structure is waiting in the wings, in the shape of "the grossly neglected urban community with its maze of internal neighbourhoods". A new classless alliance of volunteers, authentic professionals and others may help to bring it to birth. Could what emerges "after the self-limiting, materialist, violent disaster we call civilisation" be a society without money, war, church or state - like William Blake's Jerusalem?

9. "The Natural Step; Towards a Sustainable Society", 2004, is Schumacher Briefing No11 (http://www.schumacher.org.uk/), 96 pp, £6 from Green Books. It describes what TNS is, how it works, and what it has been doing with companies and communities since Karl-Henrik Robert set it up in Sweden in 1989.

It is an interesting story, well and clearly written by David Cook, the Chief Executive of TNS International. His enthusiasm comes across.

He emphasises the scientific basis of TNS. The four System Conditions for a sustainable society are that nature will not be subject to systematically increasing

(1) concentrations of substances extracted from the Earth's crust,

(2) concentrations of substances produced by society, and

(3) degradation by physical means; and that

(4) people are not subject to conditions that systematically undermine their capacity to meet their needs.

He describes the TNS methodological framework suggested to organisations wanting to decide and carry out a sustainability strategy.

A chapter on Social Sustainability discusses the fourth of the System Conditions. It is good to see TNS recognising the dynamics of ecological and social interaction - "ecological threats leading to social unrest resulting in greater ecological threats".

David Cook identifies these dynamics as "the basis of deeply unsustainable patterns of behaviour in which humans are currently enmeshed", and recognises that "it is essential that social parameters are seen as intrinsic to sustainable development. They cannot be dealt with separately from the sustainability agenda".

An important part of the TNS philosophy is that "we do not need more science at the detailed level, simply telling us about the impacts, downstream, of our unsustainable behaviour. What we need is a better view of the whole system. We need knowledge about what is going on upstream, where the problems begin".

So it is disappointing that the TNS strategy fails to recognise that a principal upstream cause of unsustainable economic behaviour is the way the worldwide money system now works. It systematically encourages unsustainable behaviour and penalises efforts to change it.

So long as that continues, what initiatives like TNS can achieve will continue to be limited. Until business leaders use their influence to help to change the scoring system for the economic game they - and the rest of us - are forced to play, businesses will have to conform to today's money values in order to survive and succeed.

With that reservation, I commend this Briefing. Perhaps the efforts of TNS and initiatives like it, valiantly swimming against the tide, will help more people to see that the tide itself must be changed.

James Robertson, 13th December 2004

The Old Bakehouse, Cholsey, Oxon OX10 9NU, UK

Tel: +44 (0)1491 652346 Fax: +44 (0)1491 651804

e-mail: james@jamesrobertson.com