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Tom Toles
Posted at 07:15 AM ET, 11/05/2012

Off-track betting

I guess it depends if you like cities. I don’t mean just like living in them. There are good things and bad things about that. And I don’t just mean having interesting cities to visit. I mean like the IDEA of cities. Here’s what I like about cities, and always did, even before I moved into one.

You do the things you like to do. You have a family, of one sort or another (is ‘familenemy’ a word?), friends, activities, a place to live. Great! Congratulations! You got a life! All well and good. But each society generates a larger culture, and if I were to be more grandiose than a Monday morning warrants, I’d call it a civilization. Do you like the idea of being part of a civilization? (correct answer: “Yes, why, yes I do!”). Me too. And a civilization is, in part, the economic/cultural nodes called cities. When people visit another country, they want to see their cities. When people come to visit the US, and we like it when they do!, don’t we want to have exciting, interesting cities for them to see? Would that be something we might all take pride in? Might be! Wouldn’t you like to visit some of those right here in your own country? I mean, come on, shopping malls, swell as they are, fall just shy of the category “civilization”.

I do a lot of cartoons about the Metro here in DC, but it’s complaining born of affection. I love that we built it, and loved it even before I started using it. It’s what cities do! It’s part of what makes them interesting, even possible. It’s what civilized people want to have there. So why is the nation so down on transit, and so down on cities? Why isn’t our conversation more along the lines of this?

By  |  07:15 AM ET, 11/05/2012

 
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