Brian McNicoll

And what exactly is the problem with further sprawl? Not everyone needs to live in or near the core. The largest cluster of office space between Atlanta and New York is in Tysons Corner, Va., 20 miles from Washington’s core. Spider patterns – suburb to suburb – now involve more commuters than suburb-to-core patterns.

Moreover, some people want a yard. They want chain restaurants in a shiny new town center at the front of their development. They will “experience” the city from time to time, but they are quite satisfied to remain near it – benefitting from it but rarely actually gracing its streets. This is good. This generates growth, healthy schools, safe, successful children, real communities.

They can’t figure out what’s so smart about smart growth. It’s definitely for some people; mostly those without kids, cars or the urge to garden. Smart growth involves stacking development on top of transportation nodes – think high rises at the Metro station. If that’s what you’re for, more power to you. But if it’s not, why should those who live on top of the Metro station get to dictate how others travel?

That’s what is at stake here – some people arrogantly abrogating to themselves the right to determine how others should live. They think if they chose something, it must be the right choice for everyone. They’re that smart. Just ask them.

They also think if they make it hard enough to drive, if they build enough hassle and cost into the experience, others will simply give up and join them on the bus/train. Note that the car people don’t try to pressure the bus/train people to adopt their lifestyle choices.

But the fact remains: by sticking their heads in the sand on energy policy, these Americans will not make our need for energy go away. If we don’t drill in the Gulf, China will – and they are. If we don’t build the pipeline to bring tar sands from Canada, that fuel will go elsewhere.

If we artificially tax ourselves into penury in the name of “encouraging energy conservation,” we will deserve to be the second-rate nation we certainly will become.

Brian McNicoll

Brian McNicoll is a conservative columnist and freelance writer based in Alexandria, Va.