Recastings, #1

–The minute you take the significance of the car to be something other than the source of traffic congestion; the minute you see how luck matters in that congestion;. . .

the minute you understand that there are real reasons why the advocates and opponents of the car need traffic congestion to justify their own positions; the minute you know it’s a miracle there aren’t more agencies and groups fighting over stewardship rights in better addressing traffic congestion;. . .

the minute you see that no one is going to compensate you for being stuck in traffic, that life is sometimes unfair because other parts of it aren’t, and that situations, like congestion, can be improved, though not for very long; . . .

the minute you see that the traffic jam is the herd behavior of a people intent on imitating others; the minute you see that those strategies and arguments in favor of reducing congestion (privatization of public infrastructure, congestion tolls,  full-cost pricing of cars) lead to pressures to increase wealth and thus economic growth and along with it having more cars;. . .

. . .that is the minute you start to rethink traffic congestion.

–The language of risk is now so naturalized that it seems the obvious starting point of analysis, as in: “Ok, the first thing we have to do is assess the risks of flooding here…”

No. The first thing you do is to identify the boundaries of the flood system you are talking about as it is actually managed and then the standards of reliability to which it is being managed (namely, events must be precluded or avoided by way of management) and from which follow the specific risks to be managed to meet that standard. (Note a standard doesn’t eliminate risks but rather identifies the risks that have to be managed in order to meet the standard.)

–Isn’t there an under-acknowledged symmetry here? The tanker hits the dock and clearly the Coast Guard needs to investigate the incident from the vessel and waterway side it regulates. But isn’t there the “dock-side” as well? Isn’t the dock more reliable if better armored against such incidents? Isn’t one response to accidents within the Coast Guard’s anchorage area to redesign the area to make it safer?

–Experts insist that CO2 emissions must not exceed an atmospheric threshold of 450 parts per million or lower; other experts insist the standard should in fact be 350ppm. But there exists no global cadre of managers nor is any being trained nor is there any global control room for them to work in that could ever reliably realize any such threshold standard. The same holds for globalized carbon tax schemes and international cap-and-trade protocols (e.g., proposals for an “international target carbon price”).

–While the slavery of millions of Africans certainly remains “the foulest crime” yet of the US (Walt Whitman’s term), our Civil War was also about Southerners objecting to wage slavery in Northern factories, not just Northerners reviled by odious chattel slavery. The fighting issue over wage slavery has been largely effaced from US history both by the winners and by the economists who say their theories prohibit any such thing as wage slavery. (No risk of fresh air getting into that latter vacuum!)

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