Life in Austin (1)

You may have heard that Austin, Texas, is the “Live Music Capital of the World.” That dubious, self-promoting title points to only one of Austin’s many noteworthy characteristics. Most of them, unfortunately, make Austin an unsuitable locale for those of you who may be in search of a better place in which to live and work.

If you haven’t been keeping track of such things, let me tell you that Austin ranks among the worst cities in the nation for traffic congestion. There are four contributing factors worth mentioning here:

  • There is a powerful cycling lobby that represents (at most) 2 percent of Austin’s residents but which has gobbled (and continues to gobble) road space for bike lanes.
  • Then there is the foolish belief (common among Austin’s green-hued elites) that an urban rail system will somehow absorb the influx of new residents, despite the fact that the system (as it stands) is mainly a means of subsidizing businesses and yuppies by transporting low-wage workers from outlying (low-rent) areas. And, like the city’s bus system, it does this by running almost-empty coaches most of time. The proposed expansion of the system will do more of the same, while also compounding traffic problems during construction (as roads are torn up and blocked) and afterwards (as more almost-empty coaches cause traffic backups at grade crossings).
  • Austin’s rapid growth has been spurred by the insistence of its elites on promoting growth (often through tax breaks that rebound onto current residents). Austin’s elites may be green-hued lefties, but they are just as irrationally attached to the idea of a “greater Austin” as any jingo is attached to the idea of “national greatness” and protectionism.
  • The preceding factors militate against clear thinking and the expenditure of tax monies in ways that would actually relieve traffic congestion. One such way, which seems never to have occurred to Austin’s elites, is the conversion of existing, stop-and-go east-west thoroughfares into high-speed, controlled access highways. The lack of such highways undoubtedly accounts for a goodly share of Austin’s ungodly traffic mess.

All of this is lost on Austin’s multitude of guilt-ridden, SUV-driving yuppies who — together with Latinos and blacks — represent Austin’s Democrat super-majority.  That super-majority, which takes its intellectual cues from the leftist academics at the University of Texas (UT), consistently elects a Democrat mayor and city council, whose adherence to political correctness trumps every tenet of economic sensibility. In addition to the aforementioned bike lanes, dysfunctional transit system, and growth for its own sake, Austinites “enjoy” (and pay through the nose for) a recycling program that loses millions of dollars a year; electricity that (in obeisance to the prevailing, antiscientific religion of “warmism”) is generated in significant part by high-cost “sustainable” resources; a health-care agency that, in a few years, has expanded its mission from the administration of tax-funded medial services for the poor and lazy to the extortionate, tax-funded subsidization of a medical school for football-rich UT.

You will, by now, be unsurprised to learn that a recent revenue windfall (higher sales tax revenues arising from economic recovery) led Austin’s rulers to ask for ideas about how to spend the additional money. Was a tax reduction considered? Ask a stupid question. This is, after all, the Peoples Republic of Austin, with government of the left, by the left, and for the left and its dependents.

If all of that isn’t enough to deter you from moving to Austin, stay tuned.