Misc items of the week: school choice and sprawl, transit savings, taxes, and affordable living space
Again, a collection of minor items that aren't big enough for their own posts.
- An interesting argument (abstract) that school choice/vouchers could help reduce sprawl by making the core more attractive to more affluent families. Not your typical argument from the left. Of course we don't have full school choice vouchers in Houston, but HISD does offer quite a few choices with magnet and Vanguard programs, which might help explain why our core has stayed somewhat healthier than a lot of other cities.
- An article (abstract) noting that high gas prices aren't pushing as many people to transit as you might expect, because most of the costs of owning a car are fixed (insurance, depreciation, etc.). Unless you can get rid of a car, the savings aren't really that much - and of course transit does cost some money, which eats into the savings. Doesn't cover the "transit car" strategy though: have an old, cheap used car to get to and from commuter transit rather than a more expensive, nicer car for full-length daily commutes.
- Houston comes out pretty well in the CNN/Money rankings of state and local tax burden, ranking a low 46 out of 51 states + DC - about $4,612/6.1% of a $75K household, which is well below the $6,800/9.1% national average. Thanks to Erik for the link.
- NY Times has a piece talking about the accelerating domestic migration out of California (and Boston, NY, DC) because of high housing and living costs. Houston is listed as one of the more popular destination cities. A running theme throughout the article: the quest for more space - both in the home and around the home. More evidence that density is a niche desire/lifestyle (albeit a growing one), not the average. We're like gas molecules, always trying to move further apart unless some external force puts us under pressure in a confined space (which seems generally unlikely as long as we remain a free society).
Have a great weekend, see ya next week.