This is part-2 of a series that breaks down the “sustainability” movement, and explains how some in NH are working to constrain individual liberties with it. Read part-1 here.
The consummate community organizer, President Obama, knows the value of urban voters. He knows that urban living, with its clustered, infrastructure-heavy, and herd-like nature, depends on government more than suburban life, and far more than self-sufficient, independent rural living. He knows that more urban (or urban-like) voters mean utter dominance of the Progressive political class, at all levels.
He also knows that people have flocked away from cities, especially since the 1970’s, forming concentric suburban rings, referred to as “sprawl” (a word you will hear used quite a bit), which provide resistance to his urban, democratic-socialist ideals.
“The suburbs will define the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election”
Continuing to use the environmental movement as cover, and using the Presidency for credibility and funding, Barack Obama and his fellow community organizers are advancing the simmering ideology of “sustainability” by attacking the suburbs.
Picking up where Clinton’s PCSD left off, and realizing that he cannot simply eliminate them, Obama’s aim is to restrict suburban expansion and to compress these demographic rings into regions or “metropolitan” areas, surrounding a central urban center, modeling them in his image of “liveable” inner-cities.
“Urbanize the Suburbs”
Directly connected to the urban center, these metropolitan areas, with their wealth and resources, will be forced to pay, through the new concept of regional taxes, for continued urban renewal. In 2008, Senator and Presidential candidate, Barack Obama, made this statement to the US Conference of Mayors, telegraphing his belief that regions must be transformed into support systems for the inner-cities:
“Because strong cities are the building blocks of strong regions, and strong regions are essential for a strong America. That is the new metropolitan reality and we need a new strategy that reflects it – a strategy that’s about South Florida as much as Miami; that’s about Mesa and Scottsdale as much as Phoenix; that’s about Stamford and Northern New Jersey as much as New York City. As President, I’ll work with you to develop this kind of strategy and I’ll appoint the first White House Director of Urban Policy to help make it a reality.” — Senator Barack Obama, June 21, 2008
Obama also knows that the suburbs are currently in a position of weakness, as a result of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown and the subsequent bottoming-out of tax revenues, leaving suburban and rural towns in dire fiscal straits – and that urban life is making a comeback, thanks to rising gas and home heating prices. There has been no better time for Obama to turn his ideas into reality. According to Stanley Kurtz in this eye-opening article, it is the “pocketbook” of the suburbs that Obama is after, as well as their votes.
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Obama’s grand Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI), signed a few short months after he took office in 2009, is the prime, yet subtle, agent of remodeling the suburbs and promoting regionalization. A three-way partnership between HUD (housing/development), EPA (environment/health), and DOT (transportation), this program “coordinates investments and aligns policies” along six “livability” principles, namely:
- Provide more transportation choices
- Promote equitable, affordable housing
- Enhance economic competitiveness
- Support existing communities
- Leverage federal investment
- Value communities and neighborhoods
According to this online statement by HUD’s Secretary, Shaun Donovan, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities (organized under the White House’s “Office of Urban Affairs”) is “about asking communities what they need from the federal government, and helping them bring all the stakeholders to the table so they can realize their local visions for success.” He also stresses that this program will “create jobs and speed economic growth”.
Not just another federal stimulus program – coordinated federal overreach and mass-scale social re-engineering.
The SCI goes further and defines a “sustainable community” as one where “people can live closer to jobs or have easier access to more jobs in a wider region thanks to public transit. Sustainable communities include a variety of housing types near workplaces, schools, parks, stores, and amenities, making it convenient to walk, bike, take transit, or drive short distances to daily destinations.”
This, in effect, creates “mini-urban” zones, where businesses are incentivized to locate within designated areas, in collective proximity to living centers which co-house people of all economic, social, and ethnic levels. It wants to engineer towns that have walkable distances to school, shopping, and work, eliminating automobiles and preserving large tracts of undeveloped (restricted) land outside the zone.
According to DOT’s definition of SCI, “this partnership will expand every American family’s choices for affordable housing and transportation”. The justification for this effort is the fact that the “average American family spends nearly 60% of its budget on housing and transportation costs”.
This all sounds wonderful and comforting, and is meant to bring to mind the utopian image of a sublime, safe neighborhood collective (think “Sesame Street”); but keep in mind that this is Barack Obama’s Executive Branch of the Federal Government granting unelected, unrepresentative regional commissions money to implement their agenda by holding a honey-glazed carrot (string attached) in front of hungry, unsuspecting communities.
Bypassing “traditional” state government, this program follows the “Type II Partnership” method, which is blatantly unconstitutional and will nefariously skid towards the dilution and stripping of individual private property rights – the core ingredient to economic liberty and true freedom of choice.
Since 2009, the SCI partnership has provided $3.5B in assistance to more than 700 communities, through 152 grants, in all 50 states. According to the partnership, almost $102B has been requested.
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The former Soviet Union had a similar concept; they called it “communal living”. Each person was assigned a number of square meters, and rooms were distributed (sometimes within an apartment itself) by the municipal authorities, with no choice of location by the tenant. Housing projects (also known as “workforce housing”) were built near the factories and work centers, and people walked or biked to work or anywhere else they needed to go; only the wealthy or well-connected owned an automobile.
In a country with a population density of 84 people per square mile (one of the lowest in the world, with much of Western Europe in the 200-500 range), how could anyone rationally advocate for the compression of American populations into more compact, urbanized areas? In the end, this methodology is more about affirmative action, wealth distribution, and being able to control and regulate human activity in almost every way, than it is about protecting the environment or reducing housing and transportation budgets.
Oh, and the votes.
In the next installment, we will expose the 6 “livability” principles, and we will see how the Obama administration, and its army of community organizers, are injecting their global ideology on us – at the local level – in our home towns.
Play Buzzword Bingo: affordable housing, sprawl, visioning, livability, sustainability, consensus, workforce housing, equity, regional, metropolitan, opportunity, environment, prosperity, development, transportation, community, smart growth.