God knows what Reihan Salam is doing blogging at the National Review’s conservative clusterfuck The Corner. He’s far too sensible.
Commuting and congestion should be taken much more seriously then they are at present. Long commutes are a big source of misery for individuals and families. Encouraging telecommuting along the lines of Utah’s state government should be an urgent priority, on environmental, productivity-enhancing, and well-being grounds.
Trickle-down is actually a pretty useful way of thinking about contemporary economic life… the wealth that we’re generating increasingly derives from the creation of knowledge capital. So a large and growing number of us cater to the small number of people who create the most valuable knowledge capital… It is really useful to actually live in close proximity to these people.
This leads us back to commuting. The places we should worry about are the rural and urban places that are most disconnected from concentrations of great wealth.
Big cities have high poverty concentrations because they attract poor people with the promise (and reality) of economic opportunity. This is also why poor people cluster near mass transit. More low-cost mobility means more access to economic opportunity. The disconnected poor are a huge problem. Why? Because they’re too far away for benefit from trickle-down.
It’s a commonly forgotten fact that the majority of poor people in America are not urban blacks or latinos, but rural whites. In America as in much of the developing world - the most visible poverty may be urban, but the most entrenched and hardest to address is rural.