Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Would you put Rex Burkholder in charge of your happiness?

You just have to read this to believe it. Over on, Rex Burkholder indulges in his latest fantasy about how his transportation agenda is proven by research to increase our happiness.

Go ahead - click on it and read it, because you really have to hear it in his own words to get a full measure of what this guy is all about. Remember - he is a publicly elected official, thought to be square in the mainstream of the Portland political firmament.

His starting point is that when we decide public policy (such as transportation) we should care less about economic efficiency and more about increasing the "happiness" of our citizens.

From there, just ask people what makes them most happy, then we can design a transportation system to fulfill those needs! It's simple. According to Rex, tops on the list of happy factors is time spent with family and friends. (Actually, he says sex is #1, but he avoided suggesting a way to accomodate carnal urges in transportation policy.)

So, Rex says, the "obvious" policy is to decrease commute times by having jobs located near where people live, and - get this - make commuting more "sociable." (Meaning, force people to crowd themselves into busses and light rail, so they can enjoy the community.)

What a coincidence! It just happens to confirm the smart growth agenda!

If we want to reduce commute times for the most people, maybe having a road system that is built for current use patterns might be a good idea. But Rex and his smart growth buddies have made sure that the bulk of transporation dollars go to non-road projects such as light rail, streetcar, riverwalks, and bike lanes.

Rex writes: "If the purpose of government is to meet the needs and desires of its citizens, shouldn't we be asking them what makes them happy?"

No, Rex, that is not the purpose of government, at least not in our country. But Rex thinks that such a notion is somewhere in our founding documents. He writes: "If we really want to meet the most basic of human values, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, to increase satisfaction with our lives...."

This is scary stuff. I always thought the basic human value expressed in the Declaration was that we have the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." I'm pretty sure the Founders didn't say the government was responsible for making us happy.

But the irony is that Rex's policies do the precise opposite of what he pretends. Skyrocketing housing prices and ever worsening traffic jams - those aren't exactly high "happy factor" phenomena, but Rex's policies have brought them about.

He's not talking about what will make the vast majority of us happy. We just want to be able to move around the region without too much hassle, and to be able to afford a nice house and yard for our families in a nice neighborhood.

That is not how Rex wants us to live. Rex will make us happy. We will use transit and be thankful for the chance to have social interaction during our commute. We will live in little boxes close to where we work and shop. We will play catch with our kids in the public park, so we can be part of the community. We will love big brother.


Dare!PDX said...

I wonder what Rex would say if 60% of those asked answered that a twelve lane I-5 with more entrances and exits is what really makes them happy?

Rex isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer from what I've seen. He really likes to play intelectuall but he doesn't understand the history of his own philosophy.

The concept of a utilitarian government whose purpose is to maximize your happiness went out with WWI. This approach also has a bad habit of placing the blame on a boogey man segment of the society as well.

Anonymous said...

I was booted off the PortlandTransport blog (along with many others) because I wasn't a Koolaid drinker.

Burkholder et al obviously can't handle reason and logic.

Steve Schopp said...

It's nearly laughable that Rex ackowledges time with family is most important but then reccomends more time with strangers on transit. Community family?

Rex and company are the enemy of living close to work for most people as they have forced through horrific planning affordable housing further and further away from jobs.

Housing as in NOT the stacked up transit oriented developments they lie about helping their cause.

There is plenty to slice up about Rex and
but not on that blog.

Any and all opposition and challenge is quickly banned from participating.
Please do go there and voice any opposing opinion and see how long you last.
Rex is not about to engage and dialogue with the public at a large.
Chris Smith the blog master will play keep it cool for Rex and his freinds.
While driving the "it's for our own good bus".

The exact same game Rex and company play in their control freaks planning world.

No voting on light rail any more. They banned that.
Same for most of the Urban Renewal districts including the 12,000 acres of districts in Portland.
Every boondoggle from the Beaverton Round to the Tram and Convention Center Hotel has the voters well distanced from any influence.
Yes go to
and tell the totalitarianists you don't want their medicine.

Dave Lister said...

"Would you put Rex Burkholder in charge of your happiness?"

Only after my lobotomy.