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Old July 22nd, 2011, 08:59 PM   #2721
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Put down the crack pipe.
My oh my! :squeals: is that suburban-speak?
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Old July 22nd, 2011, 11:57 PM   #2722
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Put down the crack pipe. Amtrak is heavily subsidized. They are not "profitable."
Neither is the highway system (which actually requires more funds to maintain and expand the highway system than rail) or air traffic control. In fact no transportation system is entirely "self supporting".
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Old July 23rd, 2011, 10:25 AM   #2723
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Not to mention the issue of induced demand, where more roads increases usage of them, which is to say that increasing roadway capacity is unlikely to reduce congestion. The only convincing argument I've heard against passenger rail expansion in the U.S. is a contemporary issue, not one endemic to the U.S. or its economy. Passenger rail may be an expense that is additional to those we currently have, but that's not really a good argument against it; transportation expenditures will continue to expand on the state and federal levels as long as population continues to expand, which it's supposed to do for the forseeable future. So why not develop transportation in a way which curtails sprawl, undoubtedly the least materially- and financially-efficient pattern of development, in the long-run if increased spending is inevitable regardless?
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Old July 23rd, 2011, 12:59 PM   #2724
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquaticko View Post
Not to mention the issue of induced demand, where more roads increases usage of them, which is to say that increasing roadway capacity is unlikely to reduce congestion. The only convincing argument I've heard against passenger rail expansion in the U.S. is a contemporary issue, not one endemic to the U.S. or its economy. Passenger rail may be an expense that is additional to those we currently have, but that's not really a good argument against it; transportation expenditures will continue to expand on the state and federal levels as long as population continues to expand, which it's supposed to do for the forseeable future. So why not develop transportation in a way which curtails sprawl, undoubtedly the least materially- and financially-efficient pattern of development, in the long-run if increased spending is inevitable regardless?
Cut out the fantasy! Induced demand is a mantra overused, over-believed and repeated well beyond its (limited) implications. It is the transportation version of trickle-down (voodoo) economics - on steroids -: makes a nice slogan, producing effects taken by totally different reasons!

There might be many reasons to put, or not to put, high speed rail projects forward. If its operation is not profitable, one could argue that fast rail travel will cause induced demand, putting a further strain on public budgets.

That is really not a good point to exert in defense or objection of long-distance rail travel.

As for sprawl: high-speed long-distance travel irrelevant in promoting or deterring sprawl on real estate market grounds. It is mostly irrelevant to urban trends, as are their main competitors, airports.
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Old July 23rd, 2011, 07:47 PM   #2725
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Cut out the fantasy! Induced demand is a mantra overused, over-believed and repeated well beyond its (limited) implications. It is the transportation version of trickle-down (voodoo) economics - on steroids -: makes a nice slogan, producing effects taken by totally different reasons!
Oh all-knowing Suburbanist, please tell me what the true meaning of these things that cause the pseudo-phenomenon of "induced demand" is.

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There might be many reasons to put, or not to put, high speed rail projects forward. If its operation is not profitable, one could argue that fast rail travel will cause induced demand, putting a further strain on public budgets.

That is really not a good point to exert in defense or objection of long-distance rail travel.
Profit is your favorite word, isn't it? Please, name for me one instance in which any method of passenger transportation, specifically the construction, operation, and maintainance of the infrastructure that allows it, has been profitable.

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As for sprawl: high-speed long-distance travel irrelevant in promoting or deterring sprawl on real estate market grounds. It is mostly irrelevant to urban trends, as are their main competitors, airports.
This doesn't even follow logically. If it's possible that I live in a major, well-developed metropolitan area that facilitates my not having to pay all the expenses necessary to own, maintain, and use a car, nevermind being able to avoid the inherently-dangerous operation of one, why would I then leave said area for somewhere without this infrastructure? Note, I said that my argument involves logic, something that I know the pro-sprawl argument often eschews in favor of pure pathos.

Must I always have a point-by-point argument with you?
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Old July 23rd, 2011, 08:46 PM   #2726
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For the past decade, the Dutch have been busy playing a *VERY EXPENSIVE* game of catch-up from several prior decades of basing their transport policy on the fallacy of 'induced demand' highway traffic modeling.



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Old July 23rd, 2011, 11:28 PM   #2727
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Induced demand is a fallacy

Road use will increase along with population and wealth.

Building more roads does not "generate" more cars...
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Old July 23rd, 2011, 11:43 PM   #2728
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There is no such thing as "induced demand"... only pent up demand. If road usage increases, inhibiting congestion relief, when they are expanded, it is because the congestion is artificially reducing overall road usage. You can build your way out of congestion if you are smart and make massive investments... but we don't want to do that in today's "a nickel rise in the gas tax is the end of our way of life" (according to the MN GOP).

We need to attack this from both sides. We need to make cars smarter so that we can drive closer together, thus increasing road capacity. We need to make smart freeway investments that remove bottlenecks and ensure traffic flow even if it's slow (like variable speed limits). Also, in areas with HOV lanes, it is prudent to convert them to HOTs... though I am not in favor of creating toll lanes just for the sake of generating revenue.

High speed rail can be profitable in certain parts of the U.S... but only if you make the trains run frequently enough to make it worthwhile. Amtrak's biggest problem is that it runs many long distance trains only once a day. They get stuck in a rut because people say no to increasing service because "it's not profitable"... but a prime reason it's not profitable is because of infrequent service.

But we shouldn't fool ourselves. Dressing up diesel trains to run at 110mph is not "high speed rail". High speed rail would run at least 150mph for large stretches of the journey. There's no reason all Amtrak trains shouldn't be running 110mph right now, except for our ancient and ridiculous FRA regulations.
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Old July 23rd, 2011, 11:49 PM   #2729
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strandeed View Post
Induced demand is a fallacy

Road use will increase along with population and wealth.

Building more roads does not "generate" more cars...
http://www.npr.org/2011/07/09/137708...o-more-traffic That should buck the 3rd claim.

Also check this from your local library sometime. There are numbers for before and after the AVE, it shows that 600k more people travelled between Seville and Madrid. If HSR ridership continued to grow, then how is it pent up? I say it is induced.


Coto-Millán, P., V. Inglada, and B. Rey. "Effects of network economies in high-speed rail: the Spanish case. " The Annals of Regional Science 41.4 (2007): 911-925. Research Library, ProQuest. Web. 12 Aug. 2010.

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Old July 24th, 2011, 01:21 AM   #2730
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Because a road is built/widened people don't suddenly go out and buy a car.

Road use will increase naturally along with population, and a particularly well designed and capacious road will attract more people looking for the quickest/best route from point A point B

Perhaps that is what you are referring to?
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Old July 24th, 2011, 06:27 AM   #2731
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That's not what induced demand is, necessarily. It's a simple fact that I think we can all agree on, one not just applying to this argument: the more available a good becomes, the more of it is likely to be consumed. This applies particularly well to roads, when if you already own a car, you assume the cost of gas in ownership, so why not use your car when the price of using the road generally almost nil?

Yes, road use will tend to increase with population in wealth, but so will use of all forms of transportation, given that they're all equally-well developed. It's as if we have some sort of data distortion in the U.S. because here, they're not.
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Old July 24th, 2011, 11:30 AM   #2732
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Flawed logic...

People will use their car regardless as it is expensive to keep it sitting there.

Insurance, tax and depreciation mean that it is more cost-effective to actually use your car, since you are paying to own it anyhow

People will NOT use their cars more, if more roads are built.
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Old July 24th, 2011, 12:07 PM   #2733
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Originally Posted by strandeed View Post
People will NOT use their cars more, if more roads are built.
Well, people may use their car more, if there was congestion, wich drove some of them to alternate, congestion-free modes of transportation (BRT. LRT, subway, railway...)

If there was no such alternative modes of transportation, grows won't be that prominent - e.g. everyone is already using the damned car, so someone only will use car 16 times/week instead 14, instead of rapid grow like 2 or 3 times.
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Old July 25th, 2011, 02:14 AM   #2734
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On transportation supply and demand

Transportation, like any other service that can be bought for money, is subject to laws of supply and demand.

The fallacy of the "induced demand" argument is that it ignores the fact altogether, treating transportation, in general or in any specific mode, as something inherently bad that needs to be restricted/limited.

For a given cost (here taken not only as the direct cost of use, but all its modifiers like comfort, travel time, availability and predictability, perceived safety - things that you can model mathematically), there will be a certain demand for transport. Take an extreme example: if Concorde-like supersonic jets were available for $ 100 round-trip (fares included) to Australia, there would be much more people wanting to travel from US to Australia? But would it be induced demand? No! There is a wide spectrum of demand for transportation, according to the options (supply) offered.

When you build any infrastructure (like high speed rail) and more people travel between two points, it is not that the new project "induced" demand: it merely made viable journeys that otherwise wouldn't happen because there were no infrastructure in place!

This applies to ALL modes of transportation. If you built new highways and they were soon congested, what is actually happening there is that demand is so hindered by high costs of transportation (in the form of time lost in congestion) that once you increases capacity, a greater number of people are able to, even precariously, take advantage of increase capacity. If you built new high-speed lines and they suddenly increased the total movements between its initial and end points more than it subtracted from other modes of transportation, what is happening is that the offer of a new faster service, at a given cost, is being able to supply the market with lower cost transportation (again, taking cost as a comprehensive measure including how people value time, comfort, stand-by availability etc etc).

Of course, all these factors are in play simultaneously and they interact all the time, making it tricky to segregate and isolate them.

What doesn't make sense, any sense, is to single out one particular mode of transportation (car) and assume it and its users are like freak automats that will use new infrastructure aimlessly just because it is there. Even more wicked, tantamount to economic witchcraft, is to be "marveled" that things like "taking down freeway capacity actually reduces traffic". This would be like saying that if Amtrak took down its Acela Express service, ridership on rails from NYC to Washington, DC would "plummet" instead of clogging all the regional services; or like saying that if transatlantic air service stopped, cruise liners in the area would not be busting with people overflowing their decks.

So what leaves me angry at activists disguised as "technicians" is that they want to promote certain modes of transportation at the artificial expense of others in the forms of things like lowering speed limits on highways to make trains more competitive, introduce aviation taxes and airport operational limitations that go beyond technical justification to "shift passengers to rail" and the like. This is the equivalent of artificially increasing the cost of other modes of transportation (directly or indirectly) to make other more competitive, and such measures are inherently wrong.

Of course, the trickiest part of the whole debate is that transportation infrastructure is usually a costly enterprise to build, and one that takes lengthy construction time to be completed. Hence, its capital and operational costs can't escape political, defense and electoral choices. The problem is to introduce bogus, flawed economic factors to conceal them. My favorite pick to bash is the worn-out "externality" argument.
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Old July 25th, 2011, 06:37 PM   #2735
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More point-by-point-y-ness, although you've made my job easier by making the same mistake for most of your points:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Transportation, like any other service that can be bought for money, is subject to laws of supply and demand.

The fallacy of the "induced demand" argument is that it ignores the fact altogether, treating transportation, in general or in any specific mode, as something inherently bad that needs to be restricted/limited.

For a given cost (here taken not only as the direct cost of use, but all its modifiers like comfort, travel time, availability and predictability, perceived safety - things that you can model mathematically), there will be a certain demand for transport. Take an extreme example: if Concorde-like supersonic jets were available for $ 100 round-trip (fares included) to Australia, there would be much more people wanting to travel from US to Australia? But would it be induced demand? No! There is a wide spectrum of demand for transportation, according to the options (supply) offered.

When you build any infrastructure (like high speed rail) and more people travel between two points, it is not that the new project "induced" demand: it merely made viable journeys that otherwise wouldn't happen because there were no infrastructure in place!
Your argument makes no evaluation of the necessity of these journeys, which is subject to evaluation, and no acceptance of the fact that even in a totally laissez-faire economic system (which no country has), acting to increase supply has a corresponding effect of "increasing" (inducing) demand by making a good/service available to those for whom it isn't always necessary. The phrase of yours I've bolded says this explicitly: extensive transportation infrastructure allows journeys that otherwise needn't necessarily have occured.

Quote:
This applies to ALL modes of transportation. If you built new highways and they were soon congested, what is actually happening there is that demand is so hindered by high costs of transportation (in the form of time lost in congestion) that once you increases capacity, a greater number of people are able to, even precariously, take advantage of increase capacity. If you built new high-speed lines and they suddenly increased the total movements between its initial and end points more than it subtracted from other modes of transportation, what is happening is that the offer of a new faster service, at a given cost, is being able to supply the market with lower cost transportation (again, taking cost as a comprehensive measure including how people value time, comfort, stand-by availability etc etc).
Again, you in no way account for whether or not this "demand" is of actual economic value. The reason why I'm for mass transit and against automotive "mass transit" is the consumption of resources--fiscal, economic, material, etc.--of using automobiles as a means to move everyone around is significantly greater than that of using trains and buses, and the ROI is bare minimum not appreciably greater, if not significantly less by simple virtue of the fact that automobile ownership in the U.S. is a type of mass consumption. If you think that in order for mass transit, specifically high speed rail, to be truly usable in the U.S. we'd need much greater population density or greater specific concentration, you'd find no argument from me, but I see no reason to wait for this to happen instead of preparing for the possible eventuality, specifically when it can be made to happen, as you say it can in the quoted section after the next.

Quote:
Of course, all these factors are in play simultaneously and they interact all the time, making it tricky to segregate and isolate them.
And yet we have numerous regulatory agencies that do just that, nevermind the network of lobbyists, marketers, engineers, planners, and politicians who do the same for a living.

Quote:
What doesn't make sense, any sense, is to single out one particular mode of transportation (car) and assume it and its users are like freak automats that will use new infrastructure aimlessly just because it is there. Even more wicked, tantamount to economic witchcraft, is to be "marveled" that things like "taking down freeway capacity actually reduces traffic". This would be like saying that if Amtrak took down its Acela Express service, ridership on rails from NYC to Washington, DC would "plummet" instead of clogging all the regional services; or like saying that if transatlantic air service stopped, cruise liners in the area would not be busting with people overflowing their decks. (This the part that reinforces what I said two responses ago.)

So what leaves me angry at activists disguised as "technicians" is that they want to promote certain modes of transportation at the artificial expense of others in the forms of things like lowering speed limits on highways to make trains more competitive, introduce aviation taxes and airport operational limitations that go beyond technical justification to "shift passengers to rail" and the like. This is the equivalent of artificially increasing the cost of other modes of transportation (directly or indirectly) to make other more competitive, and such measures are inherently wrong.
You act as those cars have been constantly victimized by U.S. politicians and urban planners everywhere. On the contrary, we have gas taxes which are low by most countries' standards and the largest interstate highway system in the world specifically because the automobile has been considered the sole viable means of transportation for decades. I'm not seeking to give trains an unfair leg up; I'm trying to level the playing field. If you continue to deny that our transportation policy has been unjustifiably tilted to the car, I'll just give up on this whole discussion and try to politely ignore any of your future posts.

Quote:
Of course, the trickiest part of the whole debate is that transportation infrastructure is usually a costly enterprise to build, and one that takes lengthy construction time to be completed. Hence, its capital and operational costs can't escape political, defense and electoral choices. The problem is to introduce bogus, flawed economic factors to conceal them. My favorite pick to bash is the worn-out "externality" argument.
I'm sorry, but what??? In what school of economics have you been taught that ignores externalities? I've never heard of one, nor have I ever heard any reason to convince me that externalities don't exist, nevermind that you can find them logically in most situations, economic or otherwise. Hell, I've never even heard that they don't exist; that's like saying there's no such thing as unintended consequences. Please again sir, I ask you to enlighten me.
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Old July 25th, 2011, 07:10 PM   #2736
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extensive transportation infrastructure allows journeys that otherwise needn't necessarily have occured.
But, then, we can enter a dead spiral of ever-raised bar.

Suppose US in the aftermath of Civil War: there were no fast connection between East and West coasts. The fastest way for a written message to get from California to Chicago was via the Pony Express. By that time, shipping between two coasts took weeks and weeks, as they required a trip around MAgellan Strait or Drake Passage on Argentina!

Then, they built the first continental railroad, completing work in 1984 in Utah. Gosh! How many journeys that otherwise needn't necessarily have occurred have it enabled? What about the 5 other major transcontinental rail links? They opened vast areas of US to easy transportation! NY-SFO in "mere" 68 hours with the fastest express services of the day.

I am absolutely sure that, in the process, transcontinental railways displaced almost all West Coast-East Coast shipping, at least until Panama Canal opened in the 1910s.

My point is: CA-HSR (or other projects) will likely make viable journeys that otherwise wouldn't, and it is quite patronizing to argue that certain journeys are worth doing, others not! In a free economy, the agent (passenger, cargo shipper) decides whether a certain trip is worth its cost.


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I'm sorry, but what??? In what school of economics have you been taught that ignores externalities? I've never heard of one, nor have I ever heard any reason to convince me that externalities don't exist, nevermind that you can find them logically in most situations, economic or otherwise. Hell, I've never even heard that they don't exist; that's like saying there's no such thing as unintended consequences. Please again sir, I ask you to enlighten me.
It is not that they don't exist, it is that most of them are not easy to monetize and, more importantly, their mitigation many times doesn't produce taxes to sustain the expenses needed to "fight" them. Finally, some externalities are tied to personal rights and personal entitlement and shall not be addresses at all (bizarre example: marrying someone with a fixed workplace 70 miles away from your fixed workplace will certainly produce most "resource use": should such marriages be banned because of the commute they will generate?).
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Old July 25th, 2011, 08:14 PM   #2737
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It is amazing how this thread becomes debating contest !! Anyways!!!
Suburbanist is trying to debunk the "induced demand" theory which actually is accepted in the economics world. He somehow feels that development of highways is somehow stunted bcoz politicians/transport experts/economist follow this theory and decide to defund highways or make them more expensive vis-a-vis other modes especially railways. I don't see any such example in the US. Have gas taxes been raised recently? Have the airline taxes been increased (atleast till this day)? Have they started tolling otherwise untolled highways? Has the toll in any highway been increased to fund public transit projects? Nothing so far IMK.
But somehow it is been projected that public transit/HSR/railroad projects are being planned at the expense of highway developments which will be preferred by the general public.
I think the general public prefers whatever is convenient and affordable. People have preferred cars and planes because those were the options increasingly available and convenient to them. Now why cars or planes were more available and convenient is not always an inherent quality of these modes. These modes were also made more available and convenient by public policy. How many public dollars have gone to highway & airport developments in the last several decades as against in railroads. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know what the proportion might be. Now successive generations have grown up with the car as the dominant commuting mode and the plane/car combo as a long distance combo. Hence there is a perception that americans prefer the car bcoz of its inherent benefits.
Why many of our friends here support HSR is because it often provides for a more than credible option on many intercity trips. Also railroad being more energy efficient and energy flexible as compared to road and air travel it is good from the whole energy dependence/environment point of view that more and more people utilize railroads for travelling. And there is nothing wrong in having policies which promote something which is in the greater good of the society.
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Old July 26th, 2011, 02:32 AM   #2738
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But, then, we can enter a dead spiral of ever-raised bar.

Suppose US in the aftermath of Civil War: there were no fast connection between East and West coasts. The fastest way for a written message to get from California to Chicago was via the Pony Express. By that time, shipping between two coasts took weeks and weeks, as they required a trip around MAgellan Strait or Drake Passage on Argentina!

Then, they built the first continental railroad, completing work in 1984 in Utah. Gosh! How many journeys that otherwise needn't necessarily have occurred have it enabled? What about the 5 other major transcontinental rail links? They opened vast areas of US to easy transportation! NY-SFO in "mere" 68 hours with the fastest express services of the day.

I am absolutely sure that, in the process, transcontinental railways displaced almost all West Coast-East Coast shipping, at least until Panama Canal opened in the 1910s.

My point is: CA-HSR (or other projects) will likely make viable journeys that otherwise wouldn't, and it is quite patronizing to argue that certain journeys are worth doing, others not! In a free economy, the agent (passenger, cargo shipper) decides whether a certain trip is worth its cost.
Yet that is exactly what has been done by transportation policy in the U.S.; that is what such policy is for, and I'm sure I don't need to remind you that neither the U.S. nor anywhere else is a truly "free" economy. I suppose this conclusion only brings us back to the argument of whether or not HSR is actually economically useful in the U.S., which seems like a debate that never ends.

Although really, I should say that you're missing my point. The idea isn't necessarily for the government to evaluate which transactions (transportation or otherwise) are economically useful, but for the government to ensure that only the most useful and efficient transactions are easy to do. Again, with the proviso of ensuring the correct population distribution patterns, mass transit (HSR included) is universally more efficient than automotive transportation.

Quote:
It is not that they don't exist, it is that most of them are not easy to monetize and, more importantly, their mitigation many times doesn't produce taxes to sustain the expenses needed to "fight" them. Finally, some externalities are tied to personal rights and personal entitlement and shall not be addresses at all (bizarre example: marrying someone with a fixed workplace 70 miles away from your fixed workplace will certainly produce most "resource use": should such marriages be banned because of the commute they will generate?).
I don't think it's necessary that they be "banned', but I do think that that sort of inconvenience is a barrier to a relationship. Not to mention, from a purely practical standpoint, if these people work far away from each other, how did they come to meet one another unless they live far away from their jobs in the first place? The idea of urbanization is to put as many people as is feasible together so that such things needn't be a concern; deal with the externalities by structurally eliminating them and this sort of situation won't occur.

And I guess that this argument is revealing a more fundamental divide between us: you think that personal rights exist without the state and so must be respected by the state; I don't think they do and I don't think that must, although a good government will try its best to respect them, provided doing so doesn't get in the way of national interests.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 05:11 AM   #2739
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Old August 29th, 2011, 10:13 PM   #2740
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