Paying Price Now for Past Policy Decisions

Paying Price Now for Past Policy Decisions
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
By Jayne Carroll
The Hillsboro Argus, Special to The Argus

In a back office of Portland City Hall almost 40 years ago, a young aide to then Portland City Commissioner Neil Goldschmidt took pen to pad and wrote “Disincentives to the Automobile.”

This left-wing blueprint of environmental social engineering became the bible of Portland’s urban utopian planning. Eventually, when Goldschmidt became the U.S. Secretary of Transportation in the Carter Administration, the dogma of “disincentives” went global.

The aim of “Disincentives to the Automobile” was to make the driving of cars so cost-prohibitive, so miserable and so inconvenient that the populace would minimize or stop driving altogether. Meanwhile, the liberal “smart growthers” spent billions of our dollars on non-petroleum consuming, mass transit options.

Their goal: Once we the people cannot afford or tolerate to drive our cars, we will flock to their utopian preferences of bicycling, walking, telecommuting and taking light rail.

Included in their Democratic dream to get people out of our cars were: high fuel costs, massive gas tax increases, reducing available urban parking and drastically raising parking fees on the few remaining spaces.

As population and traffic congestion increased, Disincentives called for taking money necessary to repair and build more roads and diverting our tax dollars into their “greener” options. The plot also called for taxing drivers based on their mileage and car weight. Gas rationing was considered another good motivation for getting us out from behind the wheels of our pollution machines.

Even though the liberals have been inordinately successful in making driving cost-prohibitive and miserable, the public has not rushed in adequate numbers to their transportation alternatives. Even if we had, their exorbitant commuting options could barely handle 10 percent of us.

And so, after decades of plotting to create the exact transportation nightmare we have today, who complains the loudest about the problems “they” intentionally orchestrated?

“Blame those oil company-loving Republicans who couldn’t care less about the impact of gas prices on the little people,” they piously bellow.

The same folks, who have furiously fought to prevent increasing domestic oil drilling and processing, pompously scream the loudest about America’s reliance on foreign oil.

Their deliberately charted utopia has become reality, but because their scheme has had extreme negative economic and political ramifications, they disavow any responsibility for the sorry consequences of their purposeful plot.

The biggest irony of all is that their conspiracy to get us out of our cars has done little for either our livability or our environment. So what? Let’s blame the Republicans.

After all, liberal utopians mean well; it would be wrong to hold them responsible when their bad ideas result in disaster.

Therefore, when the social engineers at TriMet claim they need to raise fares to cover high gas prices, we must condemn President Bush.

Jayne Carroll hosts The Jayne Carroll RadioTalk Show Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. on KUIK AM1360. Her e-mail address is [email protected] For comments or questions, call her at 503-648-0101 or at 503-640-1360 during show hours.

©2008 The Hillsboro Argus

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Posted by at 04:01 | Posted in Measure 37 | 29 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • David

    Jayne, have you seen the documentary “Taken for a Ride – How General Motors Conspired to Destroy Rail Trolley Systems?”

    Please don’t act like there aren’t forces pushing from all different sides, at all different levels of society and government, to advocate or discourage auto transportation or mass transportation or whatever.

    The world is far more complex than the simple picture you paint here, and if you don’t understand that you really have no business pretending to be some kind of pundit.

    And funny: I see hundreds of thousands of cars all around the Portland area, just as I see them everywhere else in the world. I guess the conspiracy to get rid of them has escaped me.

    • Steve Plunk


      GM is in the car business and has a responsibility to it’s stockholders to make money by selling and promoting automobiles. They do what they are supposed to do and do it legally, above board, and with oversight.

      Our elected officials and hired administrative officials should represent all citizens and be forthcoming with any policy agendas so the public can review them. Jayne’s column points out the nefarious nature of what went on. The attitude of the public not being worthy of full disclosure and giving input. The public trust being violated.

      But again people like Goldschmidt make the mistakes and we all pay the price. The weave a tangled web of rules, regulations, goals, and standards that make it near impossible to change course or adapt to new conditions. The fact of the matter is these people are trying to accomplish in stealth mode what the citizens have rejected at the ballot box.

      The utopian planners have failed us time and again so it is time to start holding them accountable. Someone has to start acting grown up. We can thank Jayne for pointing that out.

      • Alan

        Thank you Steve for reminding people about the Motors in general Motors. Great point.

    • Some Myths never die


      *General Motors and the Demise of Streetcars*

      In February 1974, Bradford Snell, a young government attorney, helped create the myth that General Motors caused the demise of America’s streetcar system and that without GM’s interference streetcars would be alive and well today. GM may have conspired with others to sell more of their automotive products to transportation companies, but that is irrelevant to his contention that GM helped replace streetcars with economically inferior buses. That they had done—just as they had earlier sought to replace the horse and buggy with the automobile.

      more at

  • David Appell

    Steve Plunk wrote:
    > The attitude of the public not being worthy of full disclosure
    > and giving input. The public trust being violated.

    I agree that politicians, and government branches — on all levels — could better communicate with the public.

    On the other hand, Sam Adams, who supports increased bicycle transport — was democratically elected by the people of Portland. So was Randy Leonard. Kulongowski was democratically elected too. All of these politicians advocate alternative transportation and have been very open about it. I fail to see how they would have been elected had their positions been opposed to the majority of their constituents. It appears that in Portland and most of Oregon, people *want* more emphasis being put on mass transit and alternative transportation, including bicycling.

    I cannot fathom why automobile drivers are so opposed to bicycling. Every bicyclist means one less car on the road, which means clearer roads for you.

    Or is it the philosophy you don’t like?

    • Crawdude

      think it the disproportionate amount of limited financing spent on bike infrastructure as opposed to our already decaying and over crowded streets.

      I’m not sure why bikers are so opposed to better roads, it means that many better and safer routes on which to ride.

      • David

        No government expenditure is ever proportionate to it constituency. Nonetheless, voters democratically voted for the liberal city council of Portland, who advocate increased use of bicycles. They therefore get to decide how much to spend on bicycle transportation (which is not *that* disproportionate to automobile expenses, especially when you include state and federal expenditures.

        Don’t like it? Run for office or support candidates who advocate otherwise.

        Personally, I’m happy to have leaders who recognize that the era of the automobile is ending.

        • Jerry

          If, as you say, the era of the auto has ended, why is GOVERNMENT proposing a new toll bridge across the Columbia? Who will use it?
          Maybe your “leaders” are not so smart after all.

        • Joey Link

          “Personally, I’m happy to have leaders who recognize that the era of the automobile is ending.”

          Yeah, right. And everyone in Europe uses mass transit too, huh?

    • Steve Plunk

      As a cyclist myself I have learned a thing or two about how planners approach cycling. I am far from against cycling but I understand it’s limitations as an alternative transportation mode.

      My point was mainly in response to a critique of Jayne’s column. here is no doubt the Goldschmidt era was one as I described. Perhaps Sam Adams is open about his support of bicycling but like most politicians I suspect he is working on other projects without full notice to the public.

      Democracy is a grand thing but I think we can agree it has been corrupted by our modern media to a degree. Instead of actual policy positions we get nonsense slogans and promises from the politicians. When a more direct democracy of voters deciding policy we get a more conservative result.

  • Bob Clark

    I have observed progressives in Portland and Oregon as having significant mental disorders. I know of several of them who drive low mileage vehicles everywhere and live as dual income earners in large energy intense homes. Yet they vote against their life style favoring higher energy taxes and lower energy supplies. In a word they talk environmental but live exactly opposite. This could be said of fat boy Al Gore as well, only he makes money off the scheme whereas these other schmucks are stuck having little to show for their retirement years.

    Michael Savage at least on this score seems to have it right: Liberalism is a mental disorder.

    • David

      And I have observed conservatives all around the country with what I would — if I were you — call mental disorders. Greed. Selfishness. Anticommutarianism. Lower-than-average intelligence. Lack of ability to project into the future. Belief without evidence. Militaristic. Jingoistic. War-mongering. Xenophobic.

      Need I go on?

      • David

        But, I don’t call label them with an obviously bogus term like “mentally disabled.” I call them… human.

      • jim karlocik

        Your’e projecting, David.


  • Anonymous

    What deficiency do you have that you can’t even grasp the simplest of points?

    “I cannot fathom why automobile drivers are so opposed to bicycling.”

    Moron, no one is opposed to bicycling. It’s the policy making that irrationaly elevates bicycling to a greater impact and benefit than it really represents. Which is not so much.

    “Every bicyclist means one less car on the road, which means clearer roads for you.”

    No, every bicyclist doesn’t mean one less car on the road. That’s rediculous. Many bike riders do and would take take transit or their ride is short and again the numbers are so low their is no recognizable benefit to traffic.

    “Personally, I’m happy to have leaders who recognize that the era of the automobile is ending.”

    Lunatic. There’s no such ending occuring at all.

  • dean

    “This left-wing blueprint of environmental social engineering became the bible of Portland’s urban utopian planning.”

    Thats a lot to digest isn’t it? First…is it “left wing” to want to conserve energy and retain communities instead of ramming new highways through them? Is it “social engineering to build mass transit systems?” Is there a “bible” that captures this as the word of God that cannot be changed? Is all this “utopian?”

    What if “it” isn’t any of these things. What if “it” is a societal choice made by a succession of Portland leaders in response to the requests and demands of increasing, not decreasing numbers of Portland residents who want to live in a less car oriented city? But it can’t be that, because then there would be no “conspiracy,” and we all know that this would never happen without back room plotting and scheming, because after all, it is un-American to want to live in ways not dominated by cars.

    Grow up. Portlanders have made their choice and it is working. With oil at $135 a barrel and rising, there is no going back, and Goldschmidt is beggining to look like a prophet.

    Republican conservatives had their chance to run this nation. You had 20 of the last 28 years of the Presidency, and you had 12 years of Congressional majorities. Shifting the blame for our energy crisis to those who actually did something to provide alternatives in one city is not going to work. Be true conservatives and take personal responsibility for something. Your leadership failed.

    • jim karlocik

      *Dean:* there is no going back,

      *JK:* So you suddenly got a crystal ball?

      Did it predict the current global cooling?

      *Dean:* and Goldschmidt is beggining to look like a prophet.
      *JK:* How nice, you admire a repeat, chronic, child rapest.


      • dean

        Jim, I was limiting my admiration to his policy ideas, but you already knew that.

        No…no crystal ball, but we did just have an election. 4 metro Councilors were re-elected with no or only token opposition. Sam Adams won by a large margin. I did not see Portlanders rising up to protest pro transit and bicycle policies. Even here in Clackamas County a very “green” slate was elected to the County commission. I would say the tide is still very much against you Jim. But you seem a relentless swimmer. Hang in there.

        Global cooling….right.

        • jim karlocik

          *dean:* Global cooling….right.
          *jk;* Right that is what all major temperature records now show. Time will tell if it lasts the typical 30 years. The well respected USHCN had its peak in 1998 and has been level/cool since. Other major records have turned down later, with most/all now being down.

          Get over it – global warming has likely ended for years. Al Gore is a money grubbing idiot, alongside Jim Hansen.

          BTW, I’m still waiting for that peer-reviewed paper that proves that CO2 causes significant warming from today’s levels.


    • Jayne Carroll

      As the writer of this column, it is interesting to note that the Goldschmidt devotees still don’t get my basic point. Rather than resorting to name calling, why don’t you negate the main contention of my article which is: Today’s high gas prices, congestion, poor roads, miserable downtown parking conditions, etc. were all part of a grand plan…so why is it that the very same folks who desired these conditions are trying to put the blame on everyone else? You wanted it, you’ve got it, so stop trying to blame everyone else when the public is in an uproar…this is the world you wanted, take responsibility for it.

      • dean

        Jayne…I’ll bite on that.

        How could today’s high gas prices have anything to do with whatever Goldschmidt planned or did in the 70s? Is he responsible for the growth in world oil consumption outrunning supply? If anything, his “grand plan” as you call it may have reduced the need to drive for some at least, and thus was a useful strategy that anticipated the current problems.

        “Congestion” would be with us regardless of whatever strategy Goldschmidt pursued. There has not been enough money to build highways fast enough or wide enough to eliminate congestion, given a near doubling of regional population over the last 40 years. Growing sunbelt cities like Atlanta that chose highways over transit, are as or more congested than Portland. Cities that lack congestion lack growth (Cleveland, Buffalo, etc…).

        “We the people” elected Goldschmidt and a succession of progressive politicians who have balanced investment in roads with investment in transit, cycling, and neighborhoods that are walkable. “You the people” who want to drive everywhere and anywhere can’t seem to elect anyone to give you what you want. Stop whining and go build yourself a majority.

        I’m not “blaming others”. I’m glad that some elected leaders had the foresight to invest in transit, cycling, and so forth. Portland is one of the most appealing cities in the nation in part because of what has been done by the people you complain about. It’s not perfect. Not a utopia. But it has become a magnet for young, well educated people from across the country, and they are going to shape the future from the seats of their bicycles.

        Oil driling in ANWAR and offshore has been opposed by Democrats AND Republicans. Jeb Bush had his brother put a stop to drilling off the Florida coast. McCain, Gordon Smith, and other Republicans voted against opening ANWAR.

        It is you that is avoiding taking responsibility. Conservatives for decades have advocated using up finite oil stocks as if there were no tomorrow. They ridiculed those who promoted conservation, who drove hybrids, and so forth. Well tomorrow appears to have arrived, and those who made lifestyle adjustments are better positioned to deal with the present and future than you are.

        “Conservative utopians” appear to believe that doing away with government, or most of it, doing away with environmental regulation, drilling for the last bits of oil wherever they might be and “sod” the consequences, and doing away with transit and bicycles is going to lead to some Shangrila of no congestion, happy suburbs, and giant personal vehicles. Not likely Jayne.

  • Jerry

    I sure don’t need any proof of global warming. It has been one HOT spring in PDX-land. Even today it seems really, really hot!! And there is no snow in the mountains, either, from the HOT winter we had.
    Man, these warming deniers are really getting to me.
    The poor saps.

    • David

      Jerry, why do you suppose it’s called “global warming” and not “Portland warming?”

      (Actually, these days scientists use the more accurate term “climate change,” but I don’t want to complicate the question.)

      • just wondering

        lets ask the viking how they were able to farm in greenland
        before SUV’s and global warming

        • dean

          They “farmed Greenland” (a branding success) unsuccessfully. An ice cap that is hundreds of thousands of years old covers 80% of Greenland, so how much warmer could it have been when Eric the Red (obviously a commie with that name) settled there?

          The Vikings managed to eke out a precarious living for a while, but relied on livestock, not crops to get them through the year. Every year was a test of getting in enough forage to feed critters over a long winter. They had several bad weather years in a row, ran through their limited food sores, and starved to death.

          The Eskimos, who had learned to live by hunting seals, whales and catching fish, survived and are still up there doing their thing. Apparently the Greenalnd Vikings never bothered with fishing or whaling, and neglected to trade with the Eskimos. Strange. They needed a NAFTA.

          • David

            Or we could ask the Mayans, whose civilization was torn apart by intense droughts of climate change circa 800 AD.

          • just wondering

            what did the live stock eat and could the vikings do it today

            Why did they call it Greenland and not Iceland

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