The case for conflict
From the perspective of a country like Iraq or Iran (OPEC generally) there is actually a very good reason to desire ongoing conflict, be it regional or worldwide. They make a lot of money from oil, and the largest stingle consumer of oil is the United States Department of Defense. If you can increase the amount of oil needed by the DOD, you can effectively raise demand worldwide, and thereby make more money.
I’d be very surprised if this hasn’t been raised before, but I hadn’t personally encountered it.
Zoning for parking
One way to begin to reduce sprawl and increase exercise is to simply require new parking lots be built a sizable walk away from any structure and to disallow new structures to be built near the lots. The tricky problem here is the accommodation of disabled persons that drive themselves, but that shouldn’t be too difficult if such a regulation allowed a few spots to be near the structure and fines for using them were increased.
I swear that it can’t be much of an exaggeration to claim that most suburban businesses and institutional buildings I can think of spend half of their land (plus or minus 10%) on parking. It gets really bad when you’ve got two such buildings next to one another, with their parking lots separating them. Simply relegating parking to a distance from anything would mean the actual buildings would be closer together, and it would allow for denser land use that would accommodate public transit in time.
Turn the Midwest into the Modular Construction Capital
One thing that’s ever-clear is that the US economy cannot forever depend on automobiles, and that we should begin to transition to other manufacturing. The best way to do that is to plan for denser cities by growing a modular building industry. Properly designed, building modules could be easily moved and reassembled. If over a generation we replaced demolished buildings with module-based ones, we would soon find ourselves in a much more adaptable environment. Density changes would be much less expensive, and efficiency improvements would be much easier to assimilate into existing structures.
There are already more cars than licensed drivers, we need to diversify the manufacturing centers in the Midwest, as well as the smattering of automobile factories spread throughout the rest of the nation. Building small doesn’t get us the right balance of old economy and new, so we need to be building bigger things like trains and modules.