The Road We've Taken

| July / August 2005

In a land with no speed limit on economic growth, how do we hit the brakes?

A long car trip is an American summer rite, a chance to glimpse the continent's natural splendor on the fly. But if you're not a fan of smog, cell phone towers, and runaway sprawl, the journey becomes more trroubling by the day. As described by one roving economist, the country's natural splendor and love of fairness are threatened by inequality and environmental decline. It's time for ordinary Americans to look deeply into both problems, he says, and get the the nation back on track. -- The Editors

My wife, Karen, and I left Portland, Oregon, in late April last year and spent five months driving about 9,000 miles through 16 states. We visited 13 national parks, 7 national monuments, and towns large and small. We walked on streets and hiked on trails, talked to people, read local newspapers, watched local television, and shopped in local markets. We observed the economics, politics, and ecology in the places we stayed. What follows are some of my impressions.