White Paper – TristanB50

Thesis: The auto industry has caused more harm to the American public than any other industry possibly could, forcing a nationwide dependence on their products.


Source 1: LA Transit Study Finding

Background: Study of how Los Angeles’ rail systems have effected the community, economically, socially, and through politically. Asserts that public transit projects provide communities with long-term success, but do not generate income quickly. They are also known to increase the land-value of an area, which could be seen as a good or bad thing depending on whether the people living in an area are homeowners or not.

How I Intend to Use It: Good for evidence of rail contributing to an areas success, both economically and socially. It makes powerful assertions on how rail should be implemented, providing clarity that could back up my argument. 

Source 2: Car-Centric Cities

Background: Takes a look at how cities and towns are based around accommodating cars, citing specifics like lacking sidewalks, including high speed multilane roads, and no clear crosswalks. Looks at how walkable infrastructure can be implemented, through mixed use zoning, pedestrian safe walkways, and and bike able infrastructure. Argues that living in an unworkable area inherently has a higher cost of living, as car ownership and all it’s tendrils are prerequisites for living there.

How I Intend to Use It: Good starting point for my research introducing some rabbit holes to dive into like mixed use zoning, cost of living, and decongesting rural areas. Also has some good economic information to back up my argument.

Source 3: Texas Sized Pavement Problem

Background: Investigates Collin County’s new highway widening project, breaking down the costs year by year. Collin County is one of the many counties included in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro center. They look into how much the project would cost taxpayers, an estimated $420 million/year over the next 3-4 decades, not accounting for maintenance. Argues the same talking points for walkable cities as the previous argument, and cites jobs being centralized as a way to fight congestion.

How I Intend to Use It: Arguing for centralized jobs could be useful, as this would cut commuting times a lot. This could be a useful rabbit hole, examining the benefits of centralized job, as well as plans to help implement them. The cost analysis of highway construction could be used as a way to refute any cost-based arguments against rail, showing the outrageous costs and tax dollars needed for construction of new highway infrastructure. 

Source 4: Eliminating Public Transit’s First Mile/Last Mile Problem:

Background: Takes a look at the publics view on public transport, using a case study from North Carolina, noting people are generally comfortable walking 1/4 of a mile to public transit. It introduces some possible solutions to the issue of reaching public transport, such as demand-response system, which would implement technology to allow more flexible and effective transit systems.

How I Intend to Use It: The percentage of people who use public transport and how far people will go for it could be useful for looking into the general populations views on transport. I intend to look deeper into some of the possible solutions presented, such as point-to-point and demand-response service. 

Source 5: MIT Analysis of New Automobiles:

Background: This article overviews a study comparing the emissions of gasoline vehicles to different electric and hybrid models. It studies the lifetime of the different cars to determine their emissions at all points of production, and points out that at the moment, hybrid cars are actually the best for the environment (irrelevant to my argument, as they are still personalized cars) Fossil fuel usage is not reduced to make “green” cars, just reallocated to the point of manufacturing.

How I Intend to Use It: Useful in quickly dismissing the belief that electric cars will solve all the problems caused by gasoline cars. The article portrays both as faulty, which will allow me to introduce the benefits of public transport. This topic isn’t the main focus of my essay anymore, so if I do use it, it will likely be in passing.

Source 6: Spencer R. Scott, P. D. (2021, February 17). A grand theft: Auto industry stole our streets and our future. Medium. Retrieved March 6, 2023, from https://spencerrscott.medium.com/a-grand-theft-auto-industry-stole-our-streets-and-our-future-a2145d6e10e2 

Background: Addresses how cars were implemented into cities in the first half of the 20th century. Discusses the auto industries efforts of making public transit redundant, lobbying to implement highways, and shifting city planning away from our social needs.

How I intend to use it: Provides a good historical background on how the auto industry became intertwined with modern city planning efforts. This could help portray the world before car-centric infrastructure took over, as well as providing a necessary before and after for the rise of interstate highways. 

Source 7: Alan Fisher. (2021, August 16). Electric Cars are Not Sustainable and they’re Terrible [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiI1AcsJlYU

Background: Criticizes electric cars for their pollution during production, faulty batteries that take years of ownership to pay off, leading to grader road degradation, prolonging the issues of unwalkable infrastructure, and creating a false sense of sustainability. Ultimately asserts that trains should replace cars for both personal and commercial use. 

How I intend to use it: Could be useful for denouncing the idea that electric cars can easily patch up the issues brought on by the auto industry, and the missed opportunity of investing in replacing gas vehicles with electric cars. Ultimately I want to shift my focus away from electric cars in the essay, but dismissing them could help readers follow my line of thinking better.

Source 8: Pattison, J. (2022, December 28). The growth ponzi scheme: A crash course. Strong Towns. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2020/8/28/the-growth-ponzi-scheme-a-crash-course :

Background: In this reading, the expansion of roads, suburbs, and new developments in general are compared to a Ponzi Scheme. Most new projects are financed by the profits of new projects, leading to a continual growth of developments that are built on very little. It doesn’t explicitly blame the government or the auto industry for this issue, but rather views it as a flawed experiment.

How I intend to use it: This article could help prove the lasting impacts of the auto industries advances in the early 20th century, and how the issue is expanding to this day. Focusing on the governments role in this could help stress how the issue has been exacerbated. I don’t want to portray the auto industry as expressly malicious in all of it’s actions, but rather just a large factor in several modern issues. This article acts as a portal to other sources, linking several case studies and proposed solutions in the bottom.

Source 9: Weingart, E., & Schukar, A. (2023, January 6). Widening Highways Doesn’t Fix Traffic. So Why Do We Keep Doing It? The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2023, from https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/06/us/widen-highways-traffic.html 

Background: States the issues with widening highways, a popular response to decreasing congestion. Notes how the majority of federal funding for transport goes towards highway renovation/upkeep, leaving public transport to fend for itself with local funding. Cites a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research noting that road capacity grows 1:1 with number of cars, or in other words, widening highways eventually cancels out. Compares how certain states are adapting to the problem compared to states that are prolonging the issue.

How I intend to use it: I intend to use this article to stress how we need to stop expanding our highways and invest in mixed-use development and public transit to reduce the amount of cars on the road. Goes hand in hand with the growth ponzi scheme, looking into the inefficiencies with our highways. 

Source 10: What is A Flex Route? Tri-County Transit. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2023, from https://www.tricountytransit.org/understanding-the-flex-route.html 

Background: Discusses flex routes, bus routes that have fixed stops while being able to reach off point locations (up to a ¼ mile off the fixed route) preventing delays for the other passengers. While standard buses utilize a path with multiple fixed stops, this service circulates between popular destinations on a (in this case) ~2 hours schedule, picking up passengers along the way. Riders schedule their stops at least 24 hours in advance, allowing people in rural or unwalkable areas to reach public transit. This can be ran alongside standard bus lines, and does not necessarily need to “replace” fixed bus route systems. 

How I intend to use it:  Offers a sensible option of implementing public transport to get cars off the road, without requiring an immediate reconstruction of transportation systems. Viable solutions like these are definitely something I will need to present when writing this essay, as criticism without possible alternatives may likely to alienate readers on this topic.

Topics for Smaller Papers:

Causal: Basing living spaces around roads makes them unwalkable, increasing the pedestrian need for cars, requiring planners to better accommodate them by expanding roads and furthering the dependance on cars.

Rebuttal (Option 1): Compare the auto industries consequences to another industries, specifically one widely considered to be harmful (would give the readers a better idea of why the auto industry should be considered among the worse, give a better understanding for the scrutiny surrounding cars)
Rebuttal (Option 2): Take a closer look at how the auto industry astroturfed support (denounces the argument that roads were incorporated for public support, would have to shorten the section discussing this from my definitional argument to avoid repeating myself)

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3 Responses to White Paper – TristanB50

  1. davidbdale says:

    Your sources seem useful, Tristan, but your Summaries are very incomplete. I can’t get much of a sense from them of what the articles actually say. I can tell what they’re ABOUT, but that’s not the purpose of the White Paper. Until you actively engage with the material and explain to yourself in detail HOW THEY CONTRIBUTE to an argument, the Summaries are incomplete.

    Reading your White Paper SHOULD feel like ready a very early rough draft of your paper, broken into sections. It’s where you practice your arguments to see how they sound, and tinker with them to make them more persuasive.

    Does that help?


  2. davidbdale says:

    When you first posted it, this was a preliminary assignment. It passed then, but now it’s far behind where it should be, Tristan.

    Use this White Paper to take Notes and record your impressions of your sources AS YOU READ THEM, the best way to begin converting your research material into language of your own that you can export to your short arguments when it’s time to draft them. You don’t appear to have investigated your sources any further than when you first posted them.

    This post will be regraded from time to time, or on your specific request.


  3. tristanb50 says:

    Hey professor, I updated my white paper to match my new argument. I added some of the sources I’ve been reading, and re-annotated my older sources. I also got some better ideas for future papers.
    If you could take a look at it again, that’d be great.


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