In his last two urbanism-related posts, Matthew Yglesias makes great points only to dissolve them in a vat of unrelated statements posed as conclusions. His logical inconsistency seems to invalidate his otherwise pretty good blogging on urbanism.
A couple days ago, Matthew blogged about regulation of neighborhood retail, quoting a DC blog:
“In DC, zoning laws make that idea [mixed-use retail] prohibitive, and what the zoning laws don’t cover ANC and neighborhood groups do in their zealousness to protect residents from interspersing residences with commercial activity.”
I really and truly wish libertarians would spend more time working on this kind of issue. And I also wish that ordinary people would think harder about these kind of regulations.
Yes! More, please? But then, the next sentence leaves me saying, “huh?”:
I’m a big government liberal. I believe business regulations are often needed. But still, there ought to be a presumption that people can do what they want.
So, I really don’t understand what this post has to do with libertarians anymore – why even mention them. It seems logically inconsistent to presume people can do what they want, while presuming a big government can regulate their economic choices.
Now, on to today’s post:
Randall O’Toole is a relentless advocate for highways and automobile dependency in the United States. Consequently, I don’t agree with him about very much. But the thing I consistently find most bizarre about him, is that the Cato Institute and the Reason Foundation have both agreed to agree with O’Toole that his support for highways and automobile dependency is a species of libertarianism.
Central planning, of course, is the reverse of libertarianism. So if promoting alternative transportation is central planning, then building highways everywhere must be freedom! But of course in the real world building highways is also central planning. The Long Island Expressway is not a free market phenomenon.
It’s just a field that, intrinsically, requires a lot of planning. The question is about what kinds of plans to make.
So, libertarians should agree with you, but they’re wrong anyway?
Either Yglesias has some hidden respect for free-markets and has to add caveats to maintain his progressive street-cred, or he has some kind of chip on his shoulder and has to call out the hypocrites in circles he doesn’t respect anyways… (the latter, I would interpret as a rational fear of the potency of free-market philosophy – at least not the impostor brand)
Also check out c4ss: Libertarians Against Sprawl:
Fighting sprawl isn’t a matter of imposing new government mandates. It’s a matter of scaling back existing restrictions on mixed use development, and prying the mouths of the real estate industry and the automobile-highway complex off the taxpayer teat. It’s not clear that can be done without abolishing government completely.