Andrew Dreschel admits that suburban sprawl leads to increased car use – a breathtaking statement from one who supported Red Hill all the way, every way.
By David Cohen
Published February 14, 2008
"Don't you just love statistics that challenge conventions and puncture presumptions?" began Andrew Dreschel's column of January 25.
The statistics on Dreschel's mind were the ones that showed that, more than ever, we are using cars to get around – in spite of all those hypocrites (read: environmentalists, leftists, etc.) out there urging us to mount bikes, walk, and so on.
By way of illustration, he offered another set of stats. They show, Dreschel wrote, U.S. states that permit citizens to carry concealed handguns have lower rates of violent crime - a "mischievous finger in the eye of anyone who wants to ban handguns in Canada."
Like you, me, and Mayor David Miller of Toronto, for example.
Trouble is, Dreschel gave no source for these amazing stats. Digging around a little, I conclude their source is likely John Lott, U.S. economist, author of More Guns, Less Crime, and darling of the gun-totin' right below the border.
Lott's work, unsurprisingly, has come under much critical scrutiny.
Moreover, his contention that carrying concealed weapons reduces crime has been attacked by numerous critics on academic/scientific grounds. One of Lott's critics is Harvard professor David Hemenway. See his article listing many serious problems with Lott's arguments and uses of data. Here's a single example:
Lott'states that: "the few existing studies that test for the impact of gun control laws on total suicide use purely cross-sectional level data, and find no significant relationship." (p. 143). This statement is simply wrong. Lott must not have read the articles by Lester & Murrell 1982; Medoff & Magaddino 1983; Lester & Murrell 1986; Boor & Bair 1990; Yang & Lester 1991; Loftin et al 1991; or Carrington & Moyer 1994, all of which find a significant negative relationship between gun control laws and suicide rates. Lott also must have missed the various review articles on guns and suicide (e.g. Miller & Hemenway 1999; Brent 2001).
But to return to the Hammer and our love affair with cars: granted, the proof is there in the StatsCan numbers.
But we're to blame, says Dreschel. We have been jumping into our cars in increasing numbers "despite all the gum-beating we do about the environment."
In fact, we have a "two-faced, forked tongue love affair" with the car. We rev our engines while fewer of us stretch our "environmentally friendly legs."
Can you remember a Dreschel column urging us to use bikes? To take transit? To walk? To convert one-way streets to two-way? To toll the Red Hill and the Linc? To undertake a stepped-up program of painting bike lanes (as they're doing in Toronto)?
Dreschel admits that suburban sprawl leads to increased car use – a breathtaking statement from one who supported Red Hill all the way, every way.
Then he is quick to add: "People make choices where they want to live," a sentiment that could have been cribbed from Hamilton-Halton Home Builders' Association.
And "choice is freely and happily made by many."
But the fact that we're hooked on suburban living, Dreschel says, "isn't stopping anyone from mouthing pious sentiments about combating greenhouse gas emissions."
Take that, you environmentalists.
Then comes the column's kicker: "No surprise there. It's always easier to talk things up than turn them around."
We're all talk. Andrew is in the camp of those who turn things around. Stephen Harper? Larry Di Ianni?
Or ... might this be a case a little guilt-shifting, from Andrew to us?
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