Saturday, March 13, 2010

The American Conservative » Sprawling Misconceptions

The American Conservative » Sprawling Misconceptions: "For the 101st time: sprawl — an umbrella term for the pattern of development seen virtually everywhere in the United States — is not caused by the free market. It is, rather, mandated by a vast and seemingly intractable network of government regulations, from zoning laws and building codes to street design regulations. If Stossel wants to expand Americans’ lifestyle choices, he should attack the very thing he was defending, namely, suburban sprawl.

It’s odd that self-described libertarians such as Stossel are so slow to grasp that government planning makes sprawl ubiquitous. You would think that libertarians would instinctively grasp the deeply statist nature of suburban development."

Libertarian John Stossel thinks (scroll down to his pet peeve #2) that the market created sprawl. Here is a different take on it--government policies are largely responsible for the way people live in suburbia--something that I have been saying for a long time. Seems that some conservatives don't buy the libertarian magic beans.

1 comment:

Fred Pilot said...

I don't agree that suburbs and suburban sprawl are largely creatures of public policy. I see them as the sum of a number of value choices made by society as a whole. One of the biggest choices that drives the burbs is a mindless adherence to a 1950s office/industrial age model of work that is no longer appropriate for most information-based jobs. (Plus a consumerist culture that has driven a quest for bigger -- but not necessarily better -- homes even beyond one's ability to pay for them.)

Better deployment and utilization of advanced telecommunications infrastructure can greatly reduce the need for commuting between bedroom suburbs and offices, allowing people to work from their homes or shared offices (and even coffee shops) in their communities. This would also likely accelerate a migration away from the burbs to what Jack Lessinger described as "Penturbia" in his 1991 book of the same title -- less densely populated communities located outside major metropolitan areas. Lessinger predicted the the surburbs would crash and become blighted as part of the shift in settlement patterns toward the Penturbs -- a prediction that has been borne out in the current real estate crash.