Sunday, November 25, 2007


Madison is ruled by believers in Smart Growth which is a marketing name for government planning. The movement, as it currently exists, tends to find justifications for restrictions on private property rights under the guise of saving the planet. Since the planet does not need saving, the Smart Growth bureaucratic machine should be understood as a growing danger to individual rights. IMHO.

Cities Are Trading Places: “Public policy that reinforces autarky only makes matters worse,” economist William Bogart told the Preserving the American Dream conference. Which, naturally, provoked the question, “What is autarky?” The answer is that autarky means self-sufficiency, as in an economy that does not participate in international trade.

Many planners are trying to make neighborhoods more self-sufficient by creating a “jobs-housing balance” and promoting mixes of residential and other uses. The ideal, in planners’ minds, is that everyone can find most of the things they want to buy or do close to where they live so they won’t have to drive long distances.

One problem with this ideal is that competition is an essential factor in ensuring that businesses serve consumers. If we all shop only at the stores nearest to us, that competition is gone and the stores will lose their edge. Anything that restricts that competition — congestion, restrictions on where businesses can locate, ordinances prohibiting chain stores — reduces the health of urban areas and the economy.

What a concept. Competition is good for consumer efficiencies within the economy but may not be the best thing for efficiencies of government control over the economy.