ruminations about architecture and design

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

noam chomsky is wrong

In a recent interview in Salon Noam Chomsky held forth on a variety of topics, including the recent housing bubble and the creation of American suburbs. Although Chomsky gave credit to Dean Baker for calling out the housing bubble while most economists were prostrating themselves before Wall Street and Alan Greenspan, he went astray when he discussed how the American suburbs came into being. He cites the post war era as the break-out period for American suburbs, and while the volume of housing starts during the period is staggering, the essential geometry of low density residential development had been worked out by the end of the 19th century. He also cites the conspiracy of GM to get rid of electric streetcars--which I am skeptical of because Boston still has electric streetcars and they are just as crummy a form of mass transit now as they were a hundred years ago.

Also, Chomsky states that he lives in a suburb "by choice" and by implication, condemns the choices of most other American families to coercion on the part of governments and corporations. I suppose that is partly correct, but he went along with the coercion by choice. I'm going to go admire my vinyl siding now.

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