Does alcohol lubricate Putnam’s social capital?

Minnesota ranks among worst in DWIs, study shows
“Minnesota has one of the nation’s worst drunken driving rates, said a government report that says 15 percent of adult drivers nationally report driving under the influence of alcohol in the previous year. Here are the states with the worst records:
1. Wisconsin, 26.4 percent
2. North Dakota, 26.4 percent
3. Minnesota, 23.5 percent
4. Nebraska, 22.9 percent
5. South Dakota, 21.6 percent”
Note, these are also almost exactly the states with the highest social capital according to Robert Putnam’s index (see the book Bowling Alone)
Table 4.1 Social capital scores by state
Rank State Score
1 North Dakota 1.712
2 South Dakota 1.693
3 Vermont 1.424
4 Minnesota 1.325
5 Montana 1.296
6 Nebraska 1.157
7 Iowa 0.988
8 New Hampshire 0.779
9 Wyoming 0.6710
10 Washington 0.6511
11 Wisconsin 0.5912
12 Oregon 0.57
(Source: Putnam 2000)
(Kevin Krizek and I discuss Putnam’s social capital idea in the book Planning for Place and Plexus
This raises the interesting question: does alcohol lubricate Putnam’s social capital?
From a social perspective, drinking alone at home may be better than drinking away from home. But what do I know, I am a teetotaler.

Government to release proposed fuel economy rules

Government to release proposed fuel economy rules
These rules implement the law that requires Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards of 35 mpg by 2020.
Historically CAFE standards seem to correlate with progress in fuel efficiency, rising from 12.9 MPG for new cars in 1974, though the present standard has been unchanged since the early 1980s and as a consequence, with the shift from passenger cars to light trucks, the combined fleet fuel economy has dropped slightly from a peak in 1987 of 26 mpg to about 25 mpg presently.
See Automobile and Light Truck Fuel Economy: The CAFE Standards for more background information and discussion as of 2006. See especially Figure 1.
For some historical reason CAFE standards were the provenance of NHTSA, the safety agency. (probably because the agency regulated vehicles).
I suspect the CAFE standard could be raised higher, which would push technology faster, and more toward battery-based and hybrid systems. It is too bad the market can’t do this on its own, (i.e. why don’t people buy their own fuel efficient vehicles rather than relying on govt. standards and forced cross-subsidies by automakers between gas guzzlers and gas sippers) and this is a very inefficient way of internalizing externalities, but it is apparently politically easier to regulate automakers than to raise gas taxes.

Clinton Joins McCain on Gas-Tax Holiday; Obama Opposes

From WSJ: Clinton Joins McCain on Gas-Tax Holiday; Obama Opposes
One more reason Clinton should not be President. Think about it this way, imagine there were a road utility, which was a separate non-profit (but also non-loss) organization that managed roads, and received revenue from users, revenue which could only be spent on roads. We wouldn’t let politicians take away its revenue because some other price went up.
Perhaps this is the model we should consider to help depoliticize road management.

Patenting Roads

As I was thinking about a new road design, I found a number that had been patented. The idea of patenting a road may seem a little strange, but it has happened a number of times. In very few cases have the patented designs become widely used. Some references below:
Continuous flow intersection
Traffic intersection – Patent 3915580
Simultaneous left turn vehicular intersection – US Patent 5795095
Vehicle highway system having single-level uninterrupted traffic-flow intersection – US Patent 5897270
Traffic interchange – US Patent 5921701
Some additional prior art cited in patents above:
1173505
February 1916 – Hale
1515251 November 1924 -Graves
1543080 June 1925 – Graves
3107590
October 1963- Cedeno
3272097
September 1966 –
Gazis et al.
3394638 July 1968 –
Burrell
3915580 October 1975 – Kaufman
4592673
June 1986 – Lee
4630961 December 1986 – Hellwig
5049000 September 1991 – Mier

a blog about Networks and Places

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