POINT-COUNTERPOINT. Is there too much commuting in the United States? John at Crooked Timber suggests there might be, viewing favorably the arguments that the modern big-box store shopping cluster leads to more time spent on shopping trips, and more traffic congestion in the large, space-consuming parking lots. Kevin at Truck and Barter suggests that analysts consider the role of zoning codes and other legislation. A jurisdiction can pass a law making the construction of a superstore more difficult. The law does not have the effect of suppressing the demand. The store locates elsewhere, and takes its traffic congestion with it.
Possible dissertation topic: what are the efficiency and equity consequences of making your community a Wal-Mart free zone?