Social Engineering - The Greatest Threat Ever

Social Engineering

The Greatest Threat To Our Society Ever?

Dark times are upon us.

Our society is being hijacked by extremists who wish to impose their dangerous way of life on us by means of expensive social-engineering experiments.

Alright, before I get carried away with this, I'll admit I'm playing devil's advocate here, please bear with me.

Bike lanes are destroying our city. How dare we sink tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars into constructing a few lanes around the city including a single median-separated track in the city to service the commute of an increasing number of Calgarians? This is a text-book example of social engineering, that is, the government is trying to change how we as Calgarians live our lives by incentivizing some wacky new life style. I won't stand for it. The Car™ is the only way to get around in Calgary.

Closet

Observe what a closet might look like if it were owned by militant extremists hellbent on destroying the foundations of society as we know it through their fold-up bicycles.

Another dangerous experiment being imposed on us by big government? Density. Just like we like our cars, we like our big houses, big back yards and our privacy. Why would the government start forcing Calgary to build up and not out? We don't need politicians telling our developers how to develop, we instead need the free-market to reign! Again, density, is just another extremist social engineering experiment, one that will destroy Calgarians' way of life.

Calgary is a sprawling, car-happy city, and our glorious free-market has made it this way not government subsidy. We don't need government to fight the free-market by wasting our tax dollars to subsidize a dense, bicycle friendly city that very few of us would actually want.

 

Wait, what's that?

Alright, I'm done playing the role of a foaming-at-the-mouth news site commentator. It was fun but now I feel dirty. Here are the facts. Government is using our taxes on massive social-engineering experiments. Big time. But it's not bike-lanes or density that is the culprit, but rather car-friendly urban sprawl. Urban sprawl is only able to exist through massive government subsidy from all three levels of government. Some examples:

  • The federal government has ripped up environmental legislation to encourage oil development that increases supply and lowers cost. There's no price on pollution so we are essentially borrowing money from our future generations who will need to clean up the mess in order to keep oil prices artificially low in the present. 
  • Canada post can barely afford to service new communities and are realizing they can't subsidize that sprawl any more.
  • The City of Calgary subsidizes the sprawl by stretching transit to these far away communities, paying most costs associated with getting water, power, police and fire coverage to the sprawl, and spends hundreds of millions on building and maintaining all the roads for the sprawl to keep Calgary 'car-friendly'. 
  • The amount of taxes going to roads over bicycle infrastructure is disproportional to the number of commuters cycling instead of driving - disproportionate in favour of drivers of course. The costs of bike infrastructure seem to get negative press, but as Portland has seen, their entire bike infrastructure budget cost about as much as a mile of highway.

If the free-market wants sprawl and the car infrastructure to support it, why is it so heavily subsidized? The simple answer is that the free-market doesn't want it as much as we think it does. Sprawl has been perhaps the largest and most expensive social engineering experiment of all time, and unlike experimenting with density and pedestrian and cycling friendly infrastructure, the sprawl experiment is failing. Car infrastructure and sprawl are only able to appear as attractive as they currently do because subsidy keeps them from playing on a level field with density and pedestrian/cycling infrastructure.

It's not that we shouldn't ban growth outwards in favour of upwards, but we should all recognize that it isn't density that's the social experiment, it has been sprawl, and it's now time to level the playing field.