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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 4, 2012 12:47 PM. The previous post in this blog was Mutt picture muddled. The next post in this blog is Too cozy with Kim?. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Denmark's got nothing on Portlandia

We noted the other day that when it comes to cycling, Portland's got a bad case of Copenhagen Envy. But hey, we outdo the Danes in one area: We hand out more tax dollars to the Vestas windmill company than its home country will.

Comments (15)

Well, gosh, maybe the Danes would be willing to subsidize Portland instead. Tusend tak, Søren!

There is a big difference between people that cycle in Copenhagen and the Portland cyclists. A huge difference. The topography of Copenhagen is flat, their taxation of automobiles and fuel is extremely high. The citizens look at bicycling as a means of transportation equal to walking and public transit. They aren’t fanatic about bicycling and would rather drive if it were affordable. They aren’t cultish about bicycling, don’t think they are saving the planet, nor do they dress in funny bicycling outfits. They don’t hold critical mass protests nor do they think they are better than anyone else. They tend to be very law abiding and follow traffic rules while riding.

John, having been to København several times for an extended period, and having several friends who also have lived or spent time there, you are spot on.

Portlanders need to look beyond the city hype espousing the cycling lifestyle!

We hand out more tax dollars to the Vestas windmill company than its home country will.

I guess that means we either know more than than the Danes or our politicians are more corrupt and vain. I wonder which?

As regards to cycling, I know a native Portlander who has a couple of kids with his European wife. They travel to Denmark and the Netherlands frequently for lengthy stays with family and friends and love to cycle everywhere. He says Portland cycling policy is insane they prefer to drive when here.

A non story. The US has decided to invest in future energy alternatives, the Danes have decided not to. Big whoop.

I know this feeds into the 'government blows too much money on bullcrap' narrative, but is there something else to it?

Jo wrote: I know this feeds into the 'government blows too much money on bullcrap' narrative, but is there something else to it?

Yes, but blowing money we don't have is quite enough. We owe 16 trillion dollars. We borrow half of what we spend. Government is singularly awful at legislating technology into existence.

Last but not least, all of the money ends up in big campaign donors' pockets, and the promised jobs never materialize. Yes, that is QUITE enough, thank you.

Downtown - Debt and corruption are bad. Investing in the future is great. I have no knee jerk reaction to government doing this. In this case it might be foolish and corrupt, but it's a bad example.

"Government is singularly awful at legislating technology into existence."

This statement is incorrect.

The citizens look at bicycling as a means of transportation equal to walking and public transit.

The difference between Portland, and everywhere else, is Portlanders who like to espouse how what they do is so great, have to preach it to the world and demand everyone listen to them as if they are God.

Everyone else...they don't give a rat's ass. They just do it.

I didn't hear New Yorkers proclaiming how great density is - and that was BEFORE the big storm.

The Dutch are years ahead of everyone when it comes to bicycling. I give you heated bike lanes:

http://www.treehugger.com/bikes/winter-cyclists-heated-bike-lanes-would-be-true-bliss.html

Now *that's* what Portland needs, stat. Damn the cost, it's a bargain at twice the price. I hope somebody seriously suggests this.

Jo wrote: This statement is incorrect.

Of course I may have missed something, so please list the successful technologies invented by Government.

I can only think of one (see below), but I can think of plenty of recent counter-examples. These all are big money losers:

Solar, wind, hydrogen, electric cars, corn ethanol, non-corn biofuels. Why, just recently:

www.nytimes.com/2012/10/26/business/energy-environment/bp-ends-plan-to-build-a-biofuel-plant.html

Successful inventions are rarely developed by the government; but they can be co-opted, taxed, and otherwise exploited after they are developed.

The Manhattan Project is a recent notable exception. In that vein, I would love to see more nuclear power. It makes environmental sense, too. See:

http://www.amazon.com/Environmental-Case-Nuclear-Power-Considerations/dp/1557787808

How about the myriad inventions developed for the space program that rippled into the mainstream.

Legislation is used constantly to create technological innovation, to prop up existing tech or set up high tech infrastructure.

Nuclear power is a good example, as is the power grid, every energy company for that matter, the internet, jets, guns and other military tech, the rail lines and the trains that run on them. Every oil company on the planet is based on the national highway system, American oil companies are given LOADS of money through legislation.

Any technology you can think of would not exist but for government support and legislation. No high tech society, no first world modern economy, has come into being but through the partnership between government and industry.

We can also talk about the public education system's role in creating a society able to use, demand and create high tech devices.

I realize this doesn't fit into the "government is bad" narrative, but there it is. If you want to live in a hands off government free zone I suggest Somalia, maybe Liberia. Those are great examples of free societies through lack of government involvement.

The more valuable discussion is not about getting government out of these businesses, but to do it better, with less waste.

If we stop investing in the future because of a bunch of boneheaded fiscal mistakes and corruption then we slip behind those countries that do not make those mistakes.

We'll never catch back up with Canada if we stop putting resources into innovation. I'm not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater due to instances of corruption.

We'll never catch up with Canada if we don't use our natural resources, as well.

Instead of exploiting other taxpayers and demonstrating a freeloader mindset as if they were God’s gift to the environment; what Portland needs is to require bicyclists to pay their own way with user fees that will fund the bicycle focused infrastructure they rant for and rage about. The likelyhood is the current excessive spending on bicycle projects will come to a screeching halt and be tempered when sanity is imposed.

From Where I Sit wrote: space program

Thanks for reminding me, fuel-cell technology (developed for NASA missions) most definitely should be on the "economically unfeasible on a large scale without heavy government subsidy" list.

Car manufacturers (with a lot of happy-juice from Uncle Sugar) tried for years, and threw away billions. It just isn't ready yet. Where's the big Government invention to get us over the hump? They should just invent it already.

IMHO the fallacy here is that government is somehow wanted or needed to foster or support invention. I think it's closer to the converse. Government is just an expensive way to squander good ideas.

My thesis: Most often, government stands in the way of innovation, and only occasionally (and even then, usually accidentally) moves the ball forward. Private investment is by far the most efficient way to develop and deploy a new technology.



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