You may not have noticed, but Hollywood has: you’re miserable.
No, really. According to Census Bureau numbers, roughly 75 percent of Americans live in suburbs. And, according to one of last year’s Golden Globe nominees for best picture, that’s eating away at us.
“Our whole existence here [in the ’burbs] is based on this great premise that we’re special. That we’re superior to the whole thing,” declares the female lead in the movie Revolutionary Road. “But we’re not. We’re just like everyone else. We bought into the same, ridiculous delusion.”
That “delusion,” as depicted in the film, is that a couple can be happily married, own a home with some land and raise children together in the suburbs. Indeed, it’s difficult to conceive of such a crazy notion.
But never fear, suburbanites. The government will ride to your rescue (if it doesn’t get stuck in heavy traffic on the way). The Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have teamed up on a new interagency partnership to create what they call “affordable, sustainable communities.” Hint: the communities won’t look like your current cul-de-sac.
In a news release, DOT and HUD announced they intend “to give American families:
• More choices for affordable housing near employment opportunities;
• More transportation options, to lower transportation costs, shorten travel times, and improve the environment;
• The ability to combine several errands into one trip through better coordination of transportation and land uses;
• Safe, livable, healthy communities.”
Well. We’d all like to think Washington has bigger problems to worry about than whether we make one trip or two to pick up, say, groceries and prescription medicine.
But, just for the sake of argument, consider the fact that it’s much easier to “combine errands” in suburbia than it is in Manhattan. With one trip to the Super Target, one can pick up everything from food to clothing to entertainment. That would require at least three separate stops in a city, imposing a much higher cost in both time and money.
Still, if Washington gets its way, we’ll have more people packed into smaller spaces.
How can we be so sure that’s going to be federal policy? In April Energy Secretary Steven Chu explained to The Washington Post, “You read stories in Europe where there are in small apartments zero-net energy consumption apartments [sic]. There is -- you know, body heat keeps a lot of the apartment warm. You can’t do this in a big apartment with a few people.” No, you can’t.