Suburbia: Hellhole, Or Not So Bad?

The American suburbs: where old people get trapped, all the houses look the same, and you have to drunk-drive to get home from parties. Or is it not so bad?


While we were discussing failed urban planning ideas that seemed good at the time, many pointed out that they just want a yard, a garage, and a house of their own. Ash78 was one of these voices.

The suburban parts of America, for all its wastefulness and poor planning, is really a pretty nice way to redistribute wealth. (Wait, did I just say redistribute wealth? Like a socialist?) It gives average working people a way to gain some hard equity — price fluctuations included — instead of simply giving their money away in rent to a plutocrat landlord to increase HIS wealth at the expense of yours.

Homeownership isn't perfect (it's a damn headache; and commuting sucks). But it's a part of America that I wouldn't trade for anything. It's like a miniature feudal system where we all get to take part, rather than allowing all land ownership to be relegated to the wealthiest people. Our suburban model could probably never be repeated because it's a product of a unique set of historical circumstances. And it's nice to see that many cities are improving their zoning and incentives so more people can work AND live outside the city, and not mass commute to a central location. And similarly, downtown revitalization projects allow the same, but within the city. Modern construction and infrastructure means we don't have to live like according to the city model of the ancient Romans (or Maya, Aztecs, Babylonians, Greeks...). We just need to figure out how to better use technology to stop wasting resources — namely, oil — if we want this utopia to continue.

I'm all for VOLUNTARY wealth distribution. It's both free market and egalitarian at the same time. Homes and land are still the best method.

I grew up watching Suburbia and thinking that commuting is the worst affliction on the American people since the Civil War, so I've never been into the suburban ideal, magnified by my new and carefully-cultured pompous New York asshole attitude.

What do you think? As a gearhead, do you prefer the city, where you don't have to commute, or do you prefer the suburbs where you have a garage?

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