Livability and All That

Alan Pisarski onLivability and All That

Livability is one of those once innocuous words, like sustainability, that now receive almost unquestioned acceptance in the bureaucracy, academia and the media. After all, words like sustainability and livability have no acceptable negative form. Who could be in favor of anything unlivable, insensitive, unhealthy or unsustainable?

Back in the late seventies, when I served as Special Assistant for Information Policy in the Office of the Secretary, our shibboleth was “balanced”. Can anyone be in favor of unbalanced transportation? It didn’t matter that the word had no meaning and we couldn’t explain it to others, it still became standard in the rhetoric of secretarial officers. In an unkind moment a reporter asked the present DOT Secretary Ray LaHood what he meant by livable, given that the department had just added it to its criteria for giving away money. He replied vaguely it was something about being able to walk to work and the park and a restaurant, to a doctor and a few more things.

well worth reading the rest … a full dismantling of the flavor of the month.