I’m not the biggest fan of Yglesias, but he makes a cogent point here.

Matthew Yglesias:

K-Lo proclaimed a “Dubya-Love Moment” over this answer to a question about why he doesn’t support a federal energy conservation program at yesterday’s press conference:

“The American people are smart enough to figure it out. They know the price of gas. They’re already driving less and seeking smaller cars. I don’t need to tell them; they can balance their checkbook.”

[ . . . ]

[W]e all make decisions that are relevant to our energy consumption. But the choices we make are affected by public policy decisions in dozens of different ways. To suggest individual action as an alternative to changing policy is to ignore the fact that different policies would produce different individual choices.

Public policy decisions have, historically, favored sprawl and and the automobile; to-day, for many, not using the car simply isn’t an option. Obviously, in rural communities, public transportation is out of the question, but small-town sprawl exists, too, and makes travel by foot difficult, some-times dare-devilish, if not impossible; the withering of the rail-roads in favor of expanding high-way networks has left country-folk with no recourse, save the car, when they wish or need to visit the big city (or even sub-/ex-urbia). In many cities and suburbs, though, transit could do wonders to alleviate congestion, to encourage density (which is a good thing, at least in moderation), and to make balancing the check-book easier.

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