“The U.S. model as it now exists would be impossible without suburban sprawl. If we were efficient, we’d collapse economically. We depend on sprawl, waste, and the bonfire of the malls. People move further out. Why? “It’s for the kids.” “We do it for the schools.” But one might say, “We do it for the sprawl.” Without the increase in inefficiency, our economy would stall. The more I sit in traffic, the bigger out GDP. In terms of GDP, if we aren’t struck in traffic, we can’t keep ahead of France. Yes, it takes me half an hour to drive each way to the mall to get an aspirin, and without all the spending generated by all this chaos and inefficiency, our GDP would be much lower than it is. Don’t we end up earning more? Maybe-but many of us end up lowering our real standard of living or going deeper into debt. In this respect, the neocons are right: weak government and low taxes really do help “growth.” With our lack of planning and infrastructure, we have to spend.
-from Were you Born on the Wrong Continent? How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life by Thomas Geoghegan pp 55-56