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Sunday, December 9, 2007


posted by on December 9 at 11:31 AM

In today’s NYT story about Radiohead’s online thing and 2007 as a tipping point for the music industry, the band’s singer, Thom Yorke, is talking about how the band turned down a multimillion-dollar major label deal (after their previous EMI contract expired), and he says this:

“It’s tempting to have someone say to you, ‘You will never have to worry about money again,’ but no matter how much money someone gives you—what, you’re not going to spend it? You’re not going to find stupid ways to get rid of it. Of course you are. It’s like building roads and expecting there to be less traffic.

OK Groovy.

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Once again proving Radiohead to be the best band of our generation. Mad respect to these guys.

Posted by Cale | December 9, 2007 11:36 AM

labor deal?

Posted by johnnie | December 9, 2007 11:45 AM

Its a lot easier to turn down a multi-million dollar deal when you've already had a few of them.

Posted by giffy | December 9, 2007 12:38 PM

What a dim-bulb answer. Of COURSE you're going to spend it -- that's the WHOLE POINT of having more money, so you can increase your standard of living. The point of earning isn't to have the most when you die. Whether you spend it on something stupid or not depends on how stupid YOU are, not the money.

If Thom Yorke thinks his life will be just as comfortable without the money as with it, he's just a fool.

Likewise, the road argument. It's always presented this way, as "new roads don't reduce congestion, because traffic expands to fill them", which rather misses the point. Congestion is the same, but traffic volume is much increased. Only idiots worry about traffic congestion for its own sake. Businesses WANT MORE TRAFFIC -- it's a retail term. And if there are more roads, there will be more cars coming across them, and volume will go up.

This is a fundamental flaw in the way The Stranger thinks about road-building -- they don't understand the point of traffic in the first place. If you build a new bridge with twice as many lanes as the old bridge, and traffic still moves at the same crawl, you're still getting TWICE AS MANY PEOPLE ACROSS.

Posted by Fnarf | December 9, 2007 12:56 PM

in rainbows is boring.

apparently being on a label helps keep the rock in your records.

Posted by maxsolomon@home | December 9, 2007 12:58 PM

"Roads just fill up" expresses a well known economic principle relating to roads: vastly diminishing returns.

Sure once you have a 2 million widgets a day widget factory, you can invest another $10 billion and get more widget making capacity, but that does not mean it is still a good investment.

Certainly the first $10 billion was a better investment.

This is where we are with roads.

After the road system is built, you can add to it, and get more cars creeping forward, but after spending billions no one's travel time is any faster, and there is no systemic increase in capacity if all you made were spot improvements like one bridge.
In fact, the greater # of cars means all other roads are more clogged.

You'd have to build an entire duplicate system of freeways, bridges, arterials etc. everywhere to get that doubled capacity with roads, system-wide.

Not gonna happen.

No room.
And bad use of dollars.

Building rail -- in contrast -- potentially can bring 10x more folks across that bridge (far more than adding a couple of SOV lanes).
BRT also can increase mobility more efficiently than new SOV lanes.

Of course any particular plan could be good, or bad, and likely you need a whole network of rail and BRT to see the very best returns or potentially, increasing returns (every line added, makes all the other lines that were already built, more used and more useful).

Posted by Cleve | December 9, 2007 1:35 PM

Ethical lapses in the past have surely diminished the bargaining position of the major record labels. Besides that, the same article tells us that Radiohead makes more money this way:

"Under a typical recording contract, a band receives royalties of about 15 percent of an album’s wholesale price after expenses are recovered. Without middlemen, and with zero material costs for a download, $2.26 per album would work out to Radiohead’s advantage — not to mention the worldwide publicity."

Posted by David R. | December 9, 2007 1:45 PM

Fnarf ~ evidently "Induced Demand" is lost on you, as has been explained before, more lanes on a bridge doesn't mean twice the traffic, you'd need TWO bridges to accomplish that.

Think of it this way: how many times have you scheduled, on purpose, a flight out of Sea-Tac that left just before rush hour? Seldom I presume, because it'd be crowded as all heck to get there during rush hour to make your flight, and who wants to go early and have to wait at the airport all that extra time?

People use roads depending on their perception of how crowded they are, they prefer them to not be crowded and try to drive then.

Now I have to admit it SEEMS to make sense that if you build more roads things will get 'better' but when you build more roads and increase capacity you only encourage people who normally would just not drive then and wait for later; you get people driving to Sea-Tac during rush hour because all those extra lanes makes it possible for them... and they are all on the road with YOU as you try to get to work during rush hour, making it crowded again. Until the roads fill up AGAIN, and people start demanding MORE roads... get it?

It's not the commute, but the length of the commute. Make more lanes, and reduce your commute from 45 minutes to 20 and you only encourage people to live 20 minutes FARTHER OUT from the city, where they can commute 45 minutes from. More people use that road when they would just stay at home and NOT drive during the rush-hour, until the roads fill up again.

It's understandable that, before when the roads were new and there was hardly any of them, more was better. That thinking is old fashioned; it's like saying 2 beers make me feel good, so 20 beers should make me feel TEN times as good right? It just doesn't work that way anymore.

Posted by Colton | December 9, 2007 2:37 PM

Fnarf -

Ayn Rand in on line one.

She wants to have phone sex.

Get your skyscraper dildo ready.

Posted by patrick | December 9, 2007 2:39 PM

Colton, you cannot read.

I am completely familiar with all of your arguments. That's partly because "induced demand" is a commonplace or truism now, and is trotted out to explain everything, with all the same old knee-jerk arguments every time. You hit all the high points; good going. Unfortunately you didn't get my point at all.

You, like almost everyone addressing this subject, are focused on the questions you have ready answers for -- hence your "get it" and other cliches -- not the question that you're actually being asked.

I didn't say anything about "things getting better". You assume that you're hearing the same argument you've heard before, which has led you to deafness. I'm not interested in your debunking exercise, with which I am probably more familiar than you; I'm talking about something else.

I don't give a shit about congestion: never have, never will. Congestion is fine by me. I understand that induced demand will fill available roads; if you had READ my post you would have seen that. You're too busy battering your straw man to do that, of course.

Posted by Fnarf | December 9, 2007 3:09 PM

Of course more traffic at the same speed means more people are getting places. But you have to compare building roads to building alternatives.

Rail moves just as many people for just as much money with less congestion. A direct comparison is just-rejected ST2 light rail vs. the full 405 expansion project. Each project about $10-11 billion, and each project would add about 300,000 new daily trips. This is with conservative ridership estimates for rail. In terms of moving people, rail's a better deal.

Then there's induced demand, which is more of a marginal effect than often stated but still quite real. You put more people in cars, and you create more demand for parking and sprawling development, which creates more demand. Trips aren't being created out of nowhere--they're being created because highways result in more stuff built further apart, with the very same people having to drive more to get the same things done. And then people crow about the savings at the big box stores without accounting for the extra driving those stores create.

Posted by Cascadian | December 9, 2007 4:37 PM

fnarf, are you completely ignoring the massive increase in pollution that doubling car traffic would have?

Posted by vooodooo84 | December 9, 2007 5:16 PM

I get the mental picture of Fnark red-faced, typing with balled fists. Maybe spit flying out between his lips and onto his monitor, even though he's not speaking.

Am I close?

Posted by Mother | December 9, 2007 5:39 PM

Talk to me, Kfnark.

Posted by Mother | December 9, 2007 5:40 PM

The problem is that when you build more freeways you end up with New Jersey.

Posted by Seattle expat | December 9, 2007 5:44 PM

or a Texas city

Posted by vooodooo84 | December 9, 2007 5:51 PM
Posted by Anon | December 9, 2007 5:56 PM

This is like when the NBA basketball lockout happened and obscenely overpaid Knicks star Patrick Ewing said to the media, concerning why players had a right to ask for higher wages, "Players make a lot of money, but we spend a lot of money too." Ewing made like $10-12 million a year.

He and the players union were raked over the coals for such an ignorantly open statement of greed.

Needless to say, while a similar statement, Thom Yorke's quote comes in a completely different, far less selfish context.

Posted by Gomez | December 9, 2007 7:21 PM

Mother, I have very graceful fingers and a sweet disposition.

Voodoo84, yes, I am ignoring it. I'm not saying that building the roads would be a good idea. I'm merely pointing out that the default argument against carries no weight against road proponents. It's a bad argument. There are good ones, but you don't hear them here very often.

Posted by Fnarf | December 9, 2007 10:13 PM

Fnarf...then why spend anytime debunking bad arguments if you realize there are better arguments to be had. Aren't you in-effect just debunking your own strawman, even if someone did make that argument?

The fact is, congestion-relief is being touted over and over and over again by road advocates. That's the talking point they are always referring to, and probably why you hear many of us speaking over and over and over again to that issue.

Posted by Timothy Killian | December 9, 2007 11:49 PM

@20: I think transit advocates are wasting their time with that line of argument.

New roads almost always provide congestion relief *in the short term*. SR-16 is a good example -- it's been a lot less congested since the new bridge opened. I have no doubt the area will fill in with development and become congested again eventually, but people are mostly blind to long-term effects.

I'm not pointing this out because I don't think your argument is objectively correct. I'm pointing it out because it's why your argument doesn't carry any weight with Joe Sixpack. He knows roads reduce congestion, because he's seen it happen. He's not going to listen to those anti-road types who try to tell him he's wrong when he's seen a new road reduce traffic with his own eyes.

I think "it's bad for the environment" or "we don't want to end up looking like L.A." are probably much more effective.

Posted by Orv | December 10, 2007 12:35 PM

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