lunes, 25 de agosto de 2008

Feedback Time Sinks

I’ve been getting feedback.

If I don’t like something, it’s my duty to discard it by all non-violent means within my reach. My essay may be a little exaggerated but was aimed for people who, eventually, will have the choice (for they will also have the economic power) to live in one these things. It doesn’t mean I will segregate those people from my life because it will be doing the exact same thing they do, I will be lowering myself to their level.

One subject is that driving long distances is not linked to living in “cotos”. True: any one may need to drive long distances without living in concealed urban developments. Once we’ve accepted that driving is dangerous, the main point is to prove if driving long distances is or is it not directly linked to “cotos”.

Most of these developments have only one entrance (maybe more if they’re very rich and big). So your backyard may be next to an avenue but you must make a very long detour and go thru several ‘security’ checkups. This means that if you live in these ‘cotos’ you have to drive a daily average of 5 minutes more. 5 minutes times 365 days: 30 hours 25 min of extra driving per year. So if you live in a ‘coto’, specially in ‘coto’ inside a ‘coto’ (it happens very often) you will need a bigger iPod, remember to preprogram your music before all the driving, we don’t want your attention sucked by these gadgets.

“I live in a ‘coto’ and my friends drive more than I do”. Is this your fault or theirs? Probably you’re richer than they are, because you chose the nearer most-expensive one, forcing your friend to live in cheaper and more remote areas. Let’s go back to the origins. The first development was built on the outsides of the city, and the next one a little bit further, and the next one still further. And surrounding them grew normal houses. This is called urban sprawl. People now need transport for long distances because the city is divided by secluded islands with only one entrance. Your friend drives more because he lives behind you.

The main reason people who can pay a car don’t use mass transportation is because we think it’s faster. It is faster if: A) you are not at a walking distance from the bus (metro, tramway) stop. B) There is no traffic. I usually hear “if there were a Metro I would use it” Clearly there will never be a metro station near enough if you have a distance of a five minute drive to the entrance. How will it be no traffic if everyone needs a car? We would eventually have traffic even if we had the Californian highways. So the reason there is no metro is because this people live in ‘cotos’.

We know these developments are strictly for housing. That means commerce and services must be located far away. That means jobs are far from your house. Do you want to reach them? Buy a car! Drive more, expose yourself more. And we’re just focusing in the risk of a direct car accident. We are not internalizing all the values. Drive more and you will eventually have to deal with stress-related health issues, acid rain, global warming, wildlife losses.

Even though people living in “cotos” seems not to be my problem, it is! Because I’m fed up with traffic and kidnappers. And it concerns me because I watch my city sprawl, more and more to unreachable limits and this costs me my (and your) money taxes.

Other reason is that it may seem that these enclosed habitats do not affect wildlife because they are within the city limits where it was already affected. But how about the “cotos” near a protected area (i.e. forest, lake, wetland)? The ecosystem is broken and has a terrible effect on wildlife. Most of private property (specially this kind) is nice, but not fare to all the creatures.

“To chose where I want to live is part of our God’s given free will”. Someone might say it is free will to decide where you want to live, but what about the people who don’t have the money. What happens when a poor guy looks at rich people driving their Hummers entering to “Puerta de Hierro” (one of the wealthiest ‘cotos’ in Guadalajara) and says, “whoa, I want to live in there!”. The only chance they stand to earn that kind of money is selling drugs. That’s why some of these “cotos” are full of drug dealers. And when a president faces them, and tries to stop the dealers, they run out of money and turn their heads to other profitable criminal activities: prostitution, kidnapping…

But who is in charge of changing this? We all are, but more important: rich people are. We are not forced to accept what we don’t like even if we don’t have the money. But when powerful people yell, there is a huge echo to those words and the odds of changing are grater. What happens if some poor guy raises his voice and says “I don’t like that”? The society (specially the first sectors) will only laugh and raise their shoulders. But what would happen if it was Carlos Slim who wrote this?

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