Or alternatively: if your car died, would you still be able to get to work (somehow – by foot, bicycle, bus, etc.)?
Dave sent me a link to a Stirling Newberry essay on BOP News. Very interesting structural analysis of the nature of the conflict we’re immersed in.
His comments on the need to placate and ensure the financial security of a important “conservative” segment of society (homeowners) in order to recruit them to the progressive side in the fight against the forces of monopoly/incumbent rent and to overturn the status quo prompted this train of thought:
We all know that the whole “red state”/”blue state” dichotomy is a gross, gross, gross oversimplification which obscures how the country is actually split along the lines of ideology and geopraphy… when you break down the electoral result in a more finely granulated fashion (feel free to suggest a better source of graphs – I just picked the first one I could find), you see that the split is really more of an urban vs. suburban/rural one… the less urbanized a county is, the more “red” it is, and vice versa. Gore and Kerry won many urban areas by overwhelming majorities (and Bush many rural areas by similar margins).
Stirling’s analysis has many elements, but the one I want to zero in on is his point that the biggest asset that most Americans have is the equity in their house, and that the value of that equity is very much dependent on the fact that cheap oil makes long distance single occupancy vehicle commutes and the infrastructure that supports them economically viable. His theory is that somehow, despite the progressive community’s distaste for urban sprawl, we need to develop some alternative mechanism that maintains it’s economic viability, in order to win these forces over to our side.
O.K. There’s the set up… now here’s the punch line, the thought that was inspired by the Newberry article:
Perhaps the real conflict here isn’t between “red state” and “blue state” voters, or even “urban” vs. “suburban/rural” voters (these being co-related factors), but between those with a stake in the status quo, whose livelihood and equity is dependent on cheap oil vs. those who don’t. “Sprawlites” (“oilers?”) vs. “sustainables” (need a catchier name for our side).
Thus the question in the subject line: where do you live, relative to your place of work?
I’ll start off by saying that the office that my wife and I maintain for our small business is within walking distance of our home, and even closer (midway between) to the two schools (elementary and middle) that our daughters attend, and is also located directly across from a super-market and drug store (most of our shopping is done on foot).
This is not to say that we don’t have two cars (we do), or that having only one car functioning (as is the case at the moment) is not inconvenient, or that having no car is a realistic option (boy would I love to cut that expense out of our budget)… while there are reasons other than economic for our dependency on ownership of an automobile, it would unquestionably be difficult to operate our business and earn a living without a car. The public transit system in this county is very limited (due to the general lack of population density) and difficult to use for general transportation purposes. Nevertheless, if somehow we had to abandon the use of automobiles, I believe it could be managed.
It should also be said that, at the moment, we are renters, so we have no equity stake in our home, and aren’t tied down by a mortgage.
Perhaps not coincidentally, my wife and I fit the theory outlined above (we both could be termed radical progressives). I’m curious as to how many readers of this blog do so as well (or don’t).