Reviews - What do customers think about The Elephant in the Bedroom: Automobile Dependence & Denial : Impacts on the Economy and Environment?
Questionable Research Oct 25, 2005
I was very dissapointed with this book. I did find it interesting, and if the arguments were true they would be very convincing. Unfortunately, the authors use many different facts and figures to support their arguments, but do not cite where these facts and figures came from. These facts could all be made up. They could be all true. The reader has no way to know. Therefore I don't find the book to be reliable.
Readable but not agreeable Mar 15, 2001
I purchased this book in Hardcover from this site directly. Several good points are made with the problems of an automotive dependent society (the kid who spent his inheritance modifying a Van), but the solutions offered are simply incorrect or incomplete (the old 'raise gas tax' ruse). The Authors, however, are dead right in their criticism of the corrupt 'traffic engineers' (if you build it, they won't come!) and 'build, build, build!' method of non-smart development. They also are able to dissect the failed solutions of the others, such as "carpool" lanes and others(if they work and are used, they will also have traffic, causing the carpooling parties to drive solo since they have nothing to gain. Ergo, if they work, the fail).
However it is their demand for a "fair" (exorbitant) level of Petrolleum (Gas) taxation that causes them to lose credibility in my eyes. Yes, fuel taxes alone do not cover the cost of building roads, and yes, non-drivers have to 'pay' for the roads. But it is largely irrelevant given that most drivers, especially commuters pay heavy taxation to all levels of government, far more than they receive, even counting road building and maintenance. Furthermore raising petrolleum taxes will increase the cost of shipping goods in trucks from UPS to Supermarket supply vehicles, raising the price on everybody. Also, as much as 80% of all emissions are from COMMERCIAL vehicles (i.e. trucks), not passenger cars.
Whether they like it or not, the Internal Combustion engine has allowed a level of prosperity that horses could have never given us.
3 stars for being long on what's wrong, and short on what to do about it.
The Elephant in the Bedroom: How much is it costing us? Jun 14, 1999
The Elephant in the Bedroom is a concise analysis of the automobile as a sugarcoated transportation system that has been sold to our country without any justice given to other transportation systems. One of the key questions brought up by the authors is "How much does the use of the automobile as the primary transportation system actually cost?" The authors bring up the seldom-discussed issue of "Who actually pays for the 'free parking' offered by commercial stores and restaurants?" Other issues discussed include gasoline taxation, political land use, automobile-driven economics, and various inefficiencies related to the current transportation system.
The hidden subsidies that make an automobile a "requirement" May 5, 1998
This is an excellent book that shows how the "highway lobby" (real estate developers, highway construction companies, politicians, trucking companies, automobile manufacturers) has gotten the American taxpayer to subsidize the use of automobiles. Fuel taxes in 1993 (when the book was written) amounted to $0.28 per gallon, while the subsidies (borne by sales and property taxes) are estimated at an additional $3.50 per gallon! The authors go on to show that the subsidies lead inevitably toward insolvency of public transporation systems, which require *further* subsidies from the taxpayers. Many societal ills are shown to be directly or indirectly due to this one fact -- that the *true cost* of operating a vehicle is hidden from the user.
Their solution would make Adam Smith proud: lower the property and/or sales taxes dramatically and raise the fuel tax and cost of parking so that users pay for the services they receive. This would lead to increased ridership on public transportation (to the point where these could once again become private companies instead of publicly supported agencies -- heck, there might be multiple companies *competing* for the privilege of transporting you!)
It's time for me to finish this review so I can start writing my congress-critters! Buy this book and join in the fun.