More on Illich, Energy and Equity

Further to our recent posting on “Climate Change 101: Thinking about Illich, Energy and Equity” we have just received he following commentary from Chris Bradshaw (See author note below.)


Illich book covve - toward a history of needsI used your post to re-read — after, I estimate, 25 years — this delightful essay. I own two copies, one which is part of “Towards a History of Needs” published four years later in 1977).

In that volume, there is an introductory note, which might be useful to add (see end, along with the forward for the 1974 publication — Perennial Library — of this essay by itself). Two things come from these two extras: a) this essay first appeared in Le Monde (yes, probably in French), and b) his defined audience included, equally, the under-developed world.

He, of course, missed global warming as an issue that would fit nicely next to “energy crisis.”

I would add that he missed the link between high-speed and high-power and the formalities of control — rules, regulations, resources — that also disenfranchise those with less speed and power.

Peter D. Norton’s recent book, “Fighting Traffic” does a yeoman effort to show how the transition from “transit” to “transport” in North American cities took place 1915-1935.

I will continue to muse over Illich’s brilliant thinking.

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Op-Ed: Critiquing the Penang Transport Master Plan

Mayllasia Penang blog top page - local traffic

The following  strategic commentary appeared in the form of a long letter responding to an invitation by the chief transport planner of Penang with the State Government Office to comment on a strategic presentation and commentary he was about to make at end year in Kuala Lumpur reflecting back on the  Penang Transport Master Plan (2013-2030) carried out for the State by Halcrow and AKC Planning   and published in a final version in October 2-12. Mr. Lim’s commentary. Cross Roads, Game Changers & Bulls’ Horns, is available here

Update. My quick six-point “Summer 2015 Executive Summary” follows:

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6 July Greek Crisis Endgame: The abyss stares back

Alexis Tsipras

If you gaze long enough into an abyssthe abyss will gaze back into you.  – F. Nietzsche

On the early morning of 27 June when reading that the leader of the Greek coalition government, Alexis Tsipras, called for a national referendum to get the views of Greece’s population on the bitter on-going disputes with Europe and the IMF, and in particular whether or not  to accept the Troika’s uncompromising  bailout conditions to settle the country’s government-debt crisis, I decided to see if we might do our bit by providing selective daily summary and international commentary on this unfolding  the topic – and, more importantly, the uncertain evolving process behind it.

This quickly took the form of a series of daily summaries of a certain number of what I regard as the key points, issues, ideas, attitudes and players shaping this debate.  You will find just below the dozen-plus articles that were posted in the pages of World Streets since the 27th. They appear here in the order written, and each is hot-linked to facilitate your access.

The core of this story is the huge gap between the level of understanding of leading members of the economics and policy community and that of the troika members. The ever combatative Paul Krugman put it like this in a 5 July article in the New York Times.

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Greek Crisis: As the polls close . . .

Greek flag - man holding Euro flag up top

18:00, Sunday 5 July 2015 in Greece and the polls have just closed on this momentous day for democracy. The outcome of the unexpected but oh so important referendum will not be known for several hours yet.  So what better time to pour a glass of cool retsina white, sit down with some friends, and sort through the accumulated evidence of these last ten days in which the eyes of the world have turned to Greece.

Here are a few observations and thoughts about the future which come most immediately to mind to this ever-curious observer:

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Greek Crisis: Last night I dreamt I wandered the stacks . . .

thinking about economy - fb top page - versailles treaty

Signing of Versailles Treaty imposing ruinous economic sanctions on the defeated Germany

Last night I dreamt I was wandering the stacks of the great Butler Library at Columbia, in a search to see if I could identify a certain number of what I would like to call “leading political economists” who have through their work and contributions over the last several centuries helped to shape our understanding of the relationship between economy, efficiency, democracy and governance. In particular I was looking for indications in their work that would allow me to make an educated guess as to what their position might have been in the case of the Sunday Referendum in Greece.

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Greek Crisis: Learning from the Referendum


Athens, 27 June 2015. The leader of the Greek coalition government, Alexis Tsipras, who had previously indicated that he might be obliged to call a referendum, or even national elections, if Greece was not able to secure an acceptable agreement in the restructuring negotiations, announced this morning that a national referendum on the topic would be held on Sunday 5 July.

Click here for offical Greek Government website for the Referendum (Ministry of Communications)  –

In the face of what he and his team considered wrong-minded, punitive and impossible to meet conditions set out in the last round of unbending proposals on the part of their negotiating partners, the “troika” of led by the European Commission (EC), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB), Tsipras announced that his government was going to turn to the Greek people and ask them, Yes of No, whether to accept the latest troika’s terms.

Within hours the swords were drawn and the harsh words started to ring out, almost always with more passion than reason.

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From Nantes: Three Little Words to Shape the Future of Cycling

Philippe Crist - with bike but no nameWe are pleased to be able to share with you the speaking notes prepared by a friend of many years and emerging pillar on the international transport policy scene, Philippe Crist of the International Transportation Forum for his opening keynote address to this year’s Velo-City conference in Nantes.

Philippe, who for years has spent more than an hour each day peddling through Paris traffic to work at the OECD,  takes a few steps back from the immediate concerns of the many workshops and events, and invites us to contemplate the big picture and hopefully in the process remember three words that he has chosen for the core of his presentation, three words that he proposes can help us understand, shape and support the future of cycling in our cites, smaller towns and rural communities around the world. The words are: Serendipity (stumbling on something important by keen eye and happy chance); the concept of Resilience; and the initially puzzling neologism “Supernormal”. To put this presentation to work, we invite you to review it in parallel enjoying the illustrated 12 minute video of his address which you will find at the Opening Plenary Part 3 at (start viewing at 36:30).

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