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Here's the two-party Orthrian system

By Owen Paine on Wednesday June 28, 2006 08:09 PM

Here's the two-party Orthrian system scaled down to one dimension:

Pretend all there is to public life is transportation. And we got two parties: a mass transit rail party vs. a personal transit highway party. The mass transit rail party has the rails already, but the personal transit highway party wants more highways. So -- what else -- the highway party figures out how to "capture" the rail party core and switch the mass transit platform to a me-too strategy of non rail mass transit. So bam! -- the highways get built bi-partisanically, and the future -- always self-fulfilling, when rigged like this -- turns out to be pro-highway! Sprawl begets more sprawl, calling for more highway and leading to -- more sprawl!

And after making a hideous mess out of mass transit -- 'cause cities and masses run better on rails, and sprwal is hard to massify effectively -- the push and pull of it all ends up working like Astaire and Rogers to get us light-footedly to here and now -- where we the commuters, spending ever too many more of our free waking hours listening to the traffic report, suddenly realize "This isn't the future we really wanted. Not at all."

Comments (5)


I have to disagree with JS. Your metaphor about the two-party system made sense in the thirties (party of business versus party of reform), but it no longer makes sense when both parties are feeding at the same trough. It also leaves out the factor that for any single congressman, it's more important that he/she stay in office, than that he gets any program accomplished.

I like the restaurant metaphor better: you can order from the democratic waiter, or you can order from the republican waiter. You'll get the same food out of the kitchen either way.

Sometimes I like to think that Stalinism was a massive cointelpro operation to discredit Marxism.

There really are no political alternatives in this country and the democrats will never fulfill that function.

js paine:

bobw :
i agree the death of the new deal
was the death of substantive choice
except for
a few magic moments
like the one produced
the civil rights movement
and the
shooting of jfk

but that sort of purturbation
where a few pols for reasons complex and contradictory
played for the ages
not for votes
for once in their lives
did something grand

but in general
since say 1944
and the removal of
dearest henry
from the ticket
the waiter model suits me fine

who's is it btw
howie zinn's ??

i'd suggest they've gone
to the effort of producing
two menus as well
so the repub fare don't send the demos else where

actually nix that
the two waiters figure won't do

no economy of scale
in fact a dis-economy
thru the externalities
of side by side tables

section ing off

like the 60's non smoking won't do either

"whats that shit he's eating over there waiter ?"
is bad enough


"could there be more f in smoke in here"...

so maybe we do have to have
two seperate restaurants
but sharing the same kitchen
one on left street
the other
on the parallel
right street
joined at their backs
by the kitchen
where scale economies abound

js paine:


perhaps not stalin

but surely Brezy

ever read secrets of the politburo
by i p strong ???

tells quite a tale
of the kold wars second act

ie from brezy
to the gorbacule


I'll take your variant on it, JS, but I dont see the need for it. Stop in at any Starbucks and tell me who are the conservatives and who are the liberals. We even get the highway patrol hanging out at ours.

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