The boomers escaped cities in decline, investing sweat equity earned in office parks into a house and two cars, the gas taxes they paid into epic interchanges, and their high property taxes into excellent schools.
And the little bastards who went to those excellent schools don’t want that inheritance. They want to ride their car shares from their rented apartments to mass transit, making the last-mile commute on shared bikes (they don’t even own bikes!) to virtual startups in work-share spaces.
From the perspective of postwar America, it looks like a whole lot of nothing, an unsettled and rootless future. Where they’re going, they don’t need… roads.
Again, I’m skeptical. A lot of policy has to follow to make Ehrenhalt’s vision, much less Klein’s, a reality. Cities have to claim a greater share of declining federal infrastructure money; urban schools have to attract Millenial children while keeping housing prices from driving them back out to the suburbs, no small feat for a system funded by property taxes and shrinking under austere budgets.
But it’s the future we’re being promised by a lot of people in position to make it happen, who threaten to reverse—to invert—what their parents spent a lifetime building. It’s scary, and not just on a merely economic level. And the people out there who are so angry about it aren’t just trying to outrun a few three-speed, step-through shared bikes; they’re trying to outrun the future, and you’re in the way.