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31.5.06

Conservatives Seeing The Root of The Problem

The New York Times has an excerpt from Roger Kennedy's new book, Wildfire and Americans. I've seen Kennedy give a talk on the themes in the book, so I have high hopes for it. Unfortunately the NYT excerpted a lot of scene-setting introductory material, so they never get to the real heart of Kennedy's argument. He says, in a nutshell, that our current fire problems are the result of a deliberate post-WWII strategy of subsidizing exurban sprawl -- both making it easier to build, and propping up communities through, e.g., expensive firefighting. So if we want to really solve the problem, we have to look at that underlying structural level.

Kennedy is a self-proclaimed Republican (albeit strongly anti-Bush), so his preferred solution is a "tax revolt" against subsidizing sprawl. I'm skeptical of that approach, but I think it's encouraging that some conservatives are seeing the kind of root-level issues of the geographical structure of society that environmentalists have long been concerned about.

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