Happy New Year everyone!  I spent New Years evening at the movies and would recommend Valkyrie.  It was a good Tom Cruise movie - lots of action and suspense.  Here is this week's news digest.

  • As an advocate for Strong Small Towns and a member of Generation Xthis op-ed by Tom Friedman struck a cord with me.  Speaking as a Baby Boomer, Friedman writes, "Our kids will remember the Obama stimulus as either the burden of their lifetime or the investment of their lifetime."  Since much of our current dilema in Small Towns America stems from poorly planned and uncoordinated infrastructure spending, much the same could be said about those areas as well.
  • We have worked for years in communities with shoreline properties and heard this complaint in each of them.  It is very real, but while it is tough to feel strong empathy for people who are having their property values increase by hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, it is a warning sign of a much bigger problem - the economically unsustainable development pattern of most small towns.
  • I routinely drive the stretch of road described in this article, and the improvements made there are wonderful.  Quite a contrast to an article in the same paper we linked to a couple weeks ago. European-style development is not the answer to all of our problems, but they seem to get how to do transportation in an efficient manner.
  • And in contrast to the previous link, we present this article.  There is something a little awkward about the lubricant of our inefficient development pattern creating similar excesses in other countries.
  • While this move is not being made to bring about a more efficient development pattern, it perversly would have that effect.  "Perversly" because we have built a transportation system and, through it, induced a very inefficient development pattern.  Now we over-tax people for maintaining that system.  So in summary - we've taxed ourselves just to have the luxury of taxing ourselves even greater amounts to address the problem our initial spending created.
  • There is always a silver lining to every dark cloud, is there not?
  • It is stories like this one that make me truly love small towns.