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Thread: Abolishing planning

  1. #1

    Abolishing planning

    Hey, I'm new. I'm a schoolkid thinking of reading Land Economy at Uni, which involves a lot of planning issues.

    I was thinking though, why do we have to plan? In the UK it's quite restrictive, eg you can't get permission to rebuild your house if it burns down and it's on protective land. Why do we need this - can't we leave it all to the free market?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Leaving urban development an growth to the free market is one of the most insane ideas that has ever occured to mankind. For an example, here in Chile in the 80s the land market was totally free and as a result came an explosive suburbanization and the destruction of many historical centers. Sure, excessive regulations are bad too, but lack of regulations is just as bad.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Check out this thread first:

    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=16037

    and this thread second:

    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showt...bashing+zoning

    Lots of cyburbians contributed to this, and I think its one of the best threads I've read on cyburbia. Make sure you read both threads!

  4. #4
    Some of the best examples in town planning that we have were built under free market development. The problem is to allow private property over all the elements of a city (in essence to privatize the city), so that developers will take every variable into account when building it.

    When a government planner decides what size a street needs to be, he has to balance pressure from traffic engineers, state DOTs, business interest, residents, etc. Pretty soon it becomes a bureaucratic mess. When a private planner decides what size a street must be, he has only one calculation to make: what size creates the most value for himself? He can ignore all the pressure and make the decision that maximizes value. This is how we get a Toyota Camry, or Microsoft Windows. The planners at Toyota and Microsoft judge for themselves what their clients really want and then make an investment based on this judgement.

    Free market planning doesn't mean total deregulation, it means to allow the private sector to come up with its own regulations in a competitive framework.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally posted by jaws

    When a government planner decides what size a street needs to be, he has to balance pressure from traffic engineers, state DOTs, business interest, residents, etc. Pretty soon it becomes a bureaucratic mess. When a private planner decides what size a street must be, he has only one calculation to make: what size creates the most value for himself? He can ignore all the pressure and make the decision that maximizes value. This is how we get a Toyota Camry, or Microsoft Windows. The planners at Toyota and Microsoft judge for themselves what their clients really want and then make an investment based on this judgement..

    Cities are not Toyota Camrys. Microsoft is a quite buggy mess. As for allowing the only thing that matters in decisions on how and where and what to build the maximization of each property owner's profits-we'll have to agree to disagree.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Cities are not Toyota Camrys. Microsoft is a quite buggy mess. As for allowing the only thing that matters in decisions on how and where and what to build the maximization of each property owner's profits-we'll have to agree to disagree.
    You have to agree to disagree because you have no other system for calculating value, because there is none.

    Microsoft software may be buggy, but it's a hell of a lot easier to use than anything else out there. Maybe Microsoft calculated that its customers would put convenience first and stability second, and got it right.

  7. #7
    Member vaneau's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    You have to agree to disagree because you have no other system for calculating value, because there is none.

    Microsoft software may be buggy, but it's a hell of a lot easier to use than anything else out there. Maybe Microsoft calculated that its customers would put convenience first and stability second, and got it right.
    m

    Calculating value?

    Dear Sir, having witnessed the largest expansion of the government sector in American history by those purporting to be for smaller government, I must warn you that a paradigm shift is under way on all levels.

    Having prefaced my point, Form based codes and other means will change the way we as planners, do business. However, the controls placed on the private sector while innocent on the outside they may seem, will be a lot stronger and comprehensive, and none too soon.

    I could be wrong.......

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by vaneau
    Dear Sir, having witnessed the largest expansion of the government sector in American history by those purporting to be for smaller government, I must warn you that a paradigm shift is under way on all levels.
    That's the problem with democracy, liars and thieves get on top. Since we both agree on that point, does that really support more democracy, or more freedom?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    Microsoft software may be buggy, but it's a hell of a lot easier to use than anything else out there.
    Ever used a Mac? Or Corel? The market makes bad decisions as often as anyone else, unless you define the "right" decision to be the one the market picks.

    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    This is how we get a Toyota Camry,
    I love it that you use that example because, in fact, the Toyota Camry is the product of many hundreds (probably thousands) of laws and regulations, most pertaining to enviromental and safety concerns. You'd be hard-pressed to find a consumer product in whose manufacture the heavy hand of government is not more involved than that of automobiles. And there's a reason for that: without government controls, the market has a nasty habit of letting stuff like the Ford Pinto succeed.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Ever used a Mac? Or Corel? The market makes bad decisions as often as anyone else, unless you define the "right" decision to be the one the market picks.
    I was once a Linux user, so I've come to appreciate what Microsoft has done for their consumers. The market doesn't make bad decisions. It makes the decisions that people want to make. Maybe you think that all Windows users are a bunch of happy idiots, but what matters is that they are happy with the product provided to them. By saying that Apple is better than Microsoft (not very relevant since Microsoft owns Apple), you are making a subjective calculation of value. The problem is that you wish to apply the results of your subjective calculation of value to everyone else, even though their own calculations would be entirely different, and result in selecting Microsoft.
    I love it that you use that example because, in fact, the Toyota Camry is the product of many hundreds (probably thousands) of laws and regulations, most pertaining to enviromental and safety concerns. You'd be hard-pressed to find a consumer product in whose manufacture the heavy hand of government is not more involved than that of automobiles. And there's a reason for that: without government controls, the market has a nasty habit of letting stuff like the Ford Pinto succeed.
    The U.S. car industry was cartellized before the Pinto came on the market, so it's really no evidence of anything. The Japanese manufacturers fought for years to get fair access to the U.S. market so they could provide a better, safer product to Americans, and the U.S. government allowed them only reluctantly. "Voluntary" export restraints, ha ha ha!!

    Regardless Unsafe At Any Speed would have solved the problem without resorting to regulation. No one would drive a car that could explode under them unless they had absolutely no choice, and no one would allow someone on their roads to drive a car that could harm their clients. Of course the roads are all owned by the government, so that last point is moot.

  11. #11

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    The notion that Microsoft products originate in a classical free market is just plain silly. They have a near monopoly. They'd be better if there was true competition. And I take jordanb's point about cars. One wonders if the terms public and private sector have any meaning at all any more. I think those terms, along with liberal and conservative, have outlived any usefulness and now serve primarily as ways to hang pejorative labels on people, or to divert and obscure arguments.

    I was reviewing the threads vaughan re-posted. I don't think there's much to add from my perspective, except to wonder why it is so hard to get the different points-of-view together in a synthesis that makes sense.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    If the free market and the people who ended up living where they "bought" were willing to pay the free market costs associated with their choices, then maybe this would be a valid option. However, when I as a tax payer help pay for your road, your schools, your hospitals, your sewers, your water, your public transit, your mail etc should the general population not have a "say" in planning. The say comes from the politicians we elect and the "vision" they have.

    Here are a few real life examples of where "market forces" pretty much control planning and the cost is has been on society.

    Trans Canada Highway in New Brunswick Canada. Had to be rerouted and rebuilt for about 100 million dollars due to uncontrolled and market driven subdivision of land.

    McLeod's Hill, New Brunswick. Gorgeous view, just no water. about 100 homes are now askinig to be serviced from the City of Fredericton. Only issue, it is about 10 km from the nearest line. Who is going to pay for that and would we have had to pay for it if it was planned?

    Walkerton, ON. Lot sale near well head, town had to buy the land to prevent a house on a septic system locating within the 20 day recharge area.

    I can go on........
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  13. #13
    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    The notion that Microsoft products originate in a classical free market is just plain silly. They have a near monopoly. They'd be better if there was true competition. And I take jordanb's point about cars. One wonders if the terms public and private sector have any meaning at all any more. I think those terms, along with liberal and conservative, have outlived any usefulness and now serve primarily as ways to hang pejorative labels on people, or to divert and obscure arguments.
    Microsoft does compete in a classical free market. There is nothing preventing anyone from offering competing products other than material scarcity, and in fact many alternatives exist to Microsoft products (several named in this discussion alone). That people don't opt to use these alternatives testifies to their preference for Microsoft.

    I don't know what "true" competition is other than freedom of competition. If what you mean is the mathematical perfect competition model, then that model does not apply to the software industry, only to an industry with decreasing returns to scale.

    It's funny that you should mention that public and private sector have no meaning anymore, because they largely never had any. There is no such thing as the public sector. The people at the top, elected or not, are only in it for themselves. Public property is not really "public", it is state property. Try to walk into a state DOT and ask to see the books, and you'll find out how much the public really owns it.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    It doesn't strike me that Jaws is saying there is no role for government in anything, ever.

    In planning/construction, especially, there are substantial externalities which may require regulation. I think the point he is making is that regulations should be fairly minimalist, since many desirable results would flow from people's rational self-interest.

    It is, for instance, often argued that the suburbs exist 'because that is what people want' and that (government) planners need to try to restrict the sprawl. In fact it seems fairly obvious that government subsidy of utility/road extension and zoning/codes requiring separate uses and road-engineer-determined traffic patterns probably made sprawl a lot worse than the mere invention of the car would have.
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    It doesn't strike me that Jaws is saying there is no role for government in anything, ever.
    That has been his consistent theme across the threads. Unless someone has a preference for a modern design in architecture (and, given the horrors of modern attempts to be traditional, you could maybe count me among that number).

    Throw in the "the only thing that matters in deciding what to develop is what my own private economic benefits" argument, and he loses me.

    Even if, as you point out, one could make an argument that many regulations are misguided. Heck, I'll certainly agree that requiring a Conditional Use Permit for a hair salon is silly.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    ...Unless someone has a preference for a modern design in architecture (and, given the horrors of modern attempts to be traditional, you could maybe count me among that number).
    I think people like Stern and Simpson do traditional really, really well. Better looking than most modern stuff. That wood/concrete/and grille thingy look nowadays is enough to make me a fan of Gropius' early houses.
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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    I think people like Stern and Simpson do traditional really, really well. Better looking than most modern stuff. That wood/concrete/and grille thingy look nowadays is enough to make me a fan of Gropius' early houses.
    Off-topic:
    Too bad his local example (Gap Headquarters) is so awful and bland. Give me the sleek Chicago School Internationalism of I.M. Pei' bank tower on Mission Street anyday.

    You need to come to San Francisco area, Luca. I'd love to give you a tour/engage you in an on-site debate.

    (I actually like the wood/concrete/grille thingy look, myself. Better than the Bloated Georgian-with poor-proportions (or out here the really bad "Mediterranean" houses) that seem to be the only alternative.)

  18. #18
    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    It doesn't strike me that Jaws is saying there is no role for government in anything, ever.

    In planning/construction, especially, there are substantial externalities which may require regulation. I think the point he is making is that regulations should be fairly minimalist, since many desirable results would flow from people's rational self-interest.

    It is, for instance, often argued that the suburbs exist 'because that is what people want' and that (government) planners need to try to restrict the sprawl. In fact it seems fairly obvious that government subsidy of utility/road extension and zoning/codes requiring separate uses and road-engineer-determined traffic patterns probably made sprawl a lot worse than the mere invention of the car would have.
    And there you have condemned externalities as a justification for state control of cities, then pointed the many externalities state control of cities has created. The history of 20th century planning is one long list of immensely wasteful externality after another. Aimless freeway construction, fire trucks dictating street size, lot size requirements, the application of democracy to urbanism is just asking for new externalities. The very process is what causes it: people are making decisions on property that doesn't concern them. Of course they're not going to care if it costs more.

    Private property has always been the solution to externalities. It goes all the way back to the Enclosures Act. When you give someone exclusive access rights to a property, they can plan its use efficiently, and economize all resources involved in it. That is the source of wealth in any enterprise, and it is also the source of wealth in cities.

    The best example of urbanism we know have been built either by the private sector or back in the days of monarchy. Modern monarchies have been some of the most succesful at urbanisation. Monaco and Dubai come to mind, and to a certain extent Hong Kong's heavy urbanisation was a result of the limited monarchy it existed under.

    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    That has been his consistent theme across the threads. Unless someone has a preference for a modern design in architecture (and, given the horrors of modern attempts to be traditional, you could maybe count me among that number).
    A private city can exclude modernist architecture within its property, if it believes that it is the preference of its clients, thus will create more wealth for the city. The use of state power is not necessary, and in fact state power has more often been used to impose modernist architecture on an unwilling public.
    Throw in the "the only thing that matters in deciding what to develop is what my own private economic benefits" argument, and he loses me.
    You don't understand. When someone decides what to develop on his own private economic benefits, he is making a judgement of what his clients want him to build, balanced by the costs involved in delivering the result. The more accurate his judgement is, the more rewarded he is by the market. A democracy cannot make such judgements. Democracies cannot calculate costs.

    Ironically the outcome of private enterprise is more democratic than state enterprise because it more accurately reflects the desires of the buyers.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 18 Jan 2006 at 8:31 AM. Reason: DOUBLE REPLY

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Off-topic:
    Too bad his local example (Gap Headquarters) is so awful and bland. Give me the sleek Chicago School Internationalism of I.M. Pei' bank tower on Mission Street anyday.

    You need to come to San Francisco area, Luca. I'd love to give you a tour/engage you in an on-site debate.

    (I actually like the wood/concrete/grille thingy look, myself. Better than the Bloated Georgian-with poor-proportions (or out here the really bad "Mediterranean" houses) that seem to be the only alternative.)
    I've only seen Stern's website's own pics of the GAP headquarters, which do not include close-ups. I'm not sure why you judge it so harshly, though. The relief of mass / surface materials / set-backs are fairly skilful, the building seems to 'read well', and it seems to be broadly in-scale with the surroundings. Maybe you can add some info about what makes it 'bland'?

    Do you have a link to Pei's building / images? Other buildings of his I've generally found wanting, but I'm open-minded.

    To Jaws: I didn't say or imply that only private enterprise produces aggregate utility sub-optimal externalities. Indeed, whereas in consensual/commercial exchanges externalities are usually an 'accident' or by-product, pretty much ALL government intervention in the economy consists of 'releasing' ('good') or capturing ('bad') externalities.

    My original training is in economic history. While every iteration of a well-known 'game' is potentially different, I believe that past evidence is the best guide available. The historical record suggests that some typical externalities like pollution, rolling/endemic bank failures, pseudo-fraudulent practices in asymmetric information-dependent markets, etc. can only be released/eliminated through coercive community action (i.e. a political/'state' intervention.).

    The problem, overall, is that ‘public choice’ dynamics tend to result in the state typically whoring out more externalities than it ‘solves’.

    On another level; I have an example for you. I have two nice compact/NU/wonderful, etc. viable cities. They are doing OK but we think they would do better if instead of rutted tracks, they were united by a nice high-speed highway. Most people will benefit directly or indirectly from it. HOWEVER, we also believe that sprawl is bad and don’t want the landowners adjacent to the new transportation corridor to capture the externality of the new (virtually free to them) road to build subdivisions were cornfields used to be. What would you propose?
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 18 Jan 2006 at 8:32 AM. Reason: DOUBLE REPLY
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    I've only seen Stern's website's own pics of the GAP headquarters, which do not include close-ups. I'm not sure why you judge it so harshly, though. The relief of mass / surface materials / set-backs are fairly skilful,
    Photographs can, as we all know, be deceptive. Now, these are only MY opinions, of course (opinions that seem to be shared by the local arhcitetcural critics, for what that's worth (LOL) But, to my overly pernsnickety eyes, the materials appear cheap, the relief of mass, to my eyes appears lumpish and unpleasant-(the building reads like a Mayan stump), the setbacks are better than just having a massive block, but the building overall is very graceless. It's no Mariott (gag), but it's not the wonderful addition to the Embarcadero skyline I hoped for from seeing Stern's other published works in photographs. The local critic described it as a "building that was just phoned in" by the architect.

    Even worse, the plaza/gardens area that Gap installed at the foot of the building are barren and not inviting modernism. You can't blame Stern for that, I'm guessing. Plus, the building is a single-use structure. There are no shops or cafes along the street frontage, just billboard-sized window advertisements for Gap clothing.

    ... it seems to be broadly in-scale with the surroundings.
    I'll grant you that. It follows the street wall/scale rather well.

    Do you have a link to Pei's building / images? Other buildings of his I've generally found wanting, but I'm open-minded.
    Not a good one. Check out San Francisco Cityscape http://www.sfcityscape.com/highrises...pgs/built.html JP Morgan Chase Building.

    Here's a perhaps better site that doesn't quite do it justice.

    http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=100482

    Bottom line: you wouldn't like it It's very chilly, but very, very cool. I much prefer the infinity sheet pool fountain. The building actually, though, looks like it belongs in Chicago, not San Francsico.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    To Jaws: I didn't say or imply that only private enterprise produces aggregate utility sub-optimal externalities. Indeed, whereas in consensual/commercial exchanges externalities are usually an 'accident' or by-product, pretty much ALL government intervention in the economy consists of 'releasing' ('good') or capturing ('bad') externalities.

    My original training is in economic history. While every iteration of a well-known 'game' is potentially different, I believe that past evidence is the best guide available. The historical record suggests that some typical externalities like pollution, rolling/endemic bank failures, pseudo-fraudulent practices in asymmetric information-dependent markets, etc. can only be released/eliminated through coercive community action (i.e. a political/'state' intervention.).

    The problem, overall, is that ‘public choice’ dynamics tend to result in the state typically whoring out more externalities than it ‘solves’.
    You're contradicting yourself again. If the "public choice dynamics" (a.k.a. politics) creates more externalities then it solves, then that implies the opposite of "pretty much ALL government intervention in the economy consists of 'releasing' ('good') or capturing ('bad') externalities". What you list as historical record of free market externalities actually has the not so invisible hand of government in all them. The answer to these problems is not more state control.

    On another level; I have an example for you. I have two nice compact/NU/wonderful, etc. viable cities. They are doing OK but we think they would do better if instead of rutted tracks, they were united by a nice high-speed highway. Most people will benefit directly or indirectly from it. HOWEVER, we also believe that sprawl is bad and don’t want the landowners adjacent to the new transportation corridor to capture the externality of the new (virtually free to them) road to build subdivisions were cornfields used to be. What would you propose?
    Build them yourself? If adjacent landowners can profitably urbanise their land, it means there is latent demand for more towns. If you're so worried about sprawl, you should even buy their land yourself and urbanise it the correct way.

    Off-topic:
    And the Gap building sucks. Compared with the excellent 15 Central Park West, it's obvious Stern ought to give up postmodernism.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    ...Plus, the building is a single-use structure. There are no shops or cafes along the street frontage, just billboard-sized window advertisements for Gap clothing.
    While overall I think it amkes sense to sue the ground floor of large office buildings for retail (Starbucks anyone?), I think that the HQ of a large company, in a central busines district, can forgivably be single-use

    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Bottom line: you wouldn't like it It's very chilly, but very, very cool. I much prefer the infinity sheet pool fountain. The building actually, though, looks like it belongs in Chicago, not San Francsico.
    Your're right. I don't much like it (again, from limited photo exposure). There is NO releif of mass through either geometry or sinificant surface detail. Like all of Mr Pei's work that I've 'seen', it is plain to the point of banality. I'll take Pelli any time (well...almost). Plus, the Pei building is "not of its time"

    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    What you list as historical record of free market externalities actually has the not so invisible hand of government in all them. The answer to these problems is not more state control.
    Riiight. What is the practical non-state solution to my neighborhood hatter dumping raw mercury into the water table? What about spivvy/fraudulent financial intermediaries?

    "Build them yourself? If adjacent landowners can profitably urbanise their land, it means there is latent demand for more towns. If you're so worried about sprawl, you should even buy their land yourself and urbanise it the correct way."

    I build the road privately? Without quasi-govt. powers it's unlikely I'll be able to assemble a sane ROW. Without some subsidy or govvie give-away it's unlikely that the tolls will be sufficient to pay for the costs at a decent return on capital. If they are that high, then effectively the time savings to transport are erased by the extra cost. I don't think it is a historical accident or evidence of human perversity that most infrastructures has resulted from public action.

    If I did build it, can I charge a developer to have access (connection) to that road? What if my road crosses any pre-existing roads, I suppose I have to grant them crossing rights, even access? Then the developer puts his subdivision off the old road but still captures some of the value that I built. And if I charge then they'll want to maximize density per hookup (to defray costs).

    Not straightforward at all. Not to mention the litigation. If the only laws are criminal laws and the resolution of disputes is always up to the courts (as opposed to being pre-empted by clear rules), the resulting social costs are huge. I'll give you an example. In Britain many/most people share a wall with a neighbor. Issues relating to this have traditionally kept small claims and other courts clogged with litigious and ornery sh!theads. At some point, Parliament passed the Party Wall Act. It sets out common sense rules that automatically defuse most typical issues insofar as the law is clear about what the outcome would be, the Judges are clear and it would not pay to go to court when you KNOW the outcome. A traditional "libertarian" would say: why does the government Have to tell us that the left-hand wall on my property has to be maintained by me and the right-hand one by my neighbor (if there is one)? Why can't we work it out by ourselves?
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 19 Jan 2006 at 8:42 AM. Reason: DOUBLE REPLY
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  23. #23

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    I am too tired to deal effectively with this nonsense about the market as a way to handle externalities. There is a fantasy world in which that argument holds some water (as long as you are willing to make assumptions that should give one pause, and that still differ in significant ways from the way the market works in our reality), BUT, what capitalism has always been all about as a practical matter is capturing revenues while making sure that someone else bears the costs.

    It is interesting that you should cite the Enclosure Acts, which were the prelude to one of the darkest chapters of recent history as folks were forced off the land and out of relatively self-sufficient communities (often at the point of a bayonet - which I guess is an acceptable government intervention in the economy?) to work in the mills where profits were based on the misery of the workers (and the import of cheap materials, a lot of which were produced by slaves) and to live in cities that were unspeakably grim. In fact, I would say that the Enclosure Acts were the beginning of the end of the myth - which was just then being propagated - that everyone pursuing his or her (oops, women didn't get to play back then) self interest will lead to an ideal state. The rise of the industrial city led us directly to the whole package of government interventions we are dealing with today.

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    I am too tired to deal effectively with this nonsense about the market as a way to handle externalities. There is a fantasy world in which that argument holds some water (as long as you are willing to make assumptions that should give one pause, and that still differ in significant ways from the way the market works in our reality), BUT, what capitalism has always been all about as a practical matter is capturing revenues while making sure that someone else bears the costs.

    It is interesting that you should cite the Enclosure Acts, which were the prelude to one of the darkest chapters of recent history as folks were forced off the land and out of relatively self-sufficient communities (often at the point of a bayonet - which I guess is an acceptable government intervention in the economy?) to work in the mills where profits were based on the misery of the workers (and the import of cheap materials, a lot of which were produced by slaves) and to live in cities that were unspeakably grim. In fact, I would say that the Enclosure Acts were the beginning of the end of the myth - which was just then being propagated - that everyone pursuing his or her (oops, women didn't get to play back then) self interest will lead to an ideal state. The rise of the industrial city led us directly to the whole package of government interventions we are dealing with today.
    Thank you, Lee. I saw the reference to the Enclosure Act and blanched a bit.

    The biggest problem I have with arguing "libertarianism" is similar to arguing with Creationists. It is easy for them to point out multiple examples of evolution "failing" and "government failure." Nonetheless, I just don't see how a stateless society can exist outside a few Stephenson novels and the fervid imaginings of online communities.

    That doesn't mean that I believe in every aspect of the regulatory State. But, for every Mississippi highway commissioner (an example of a bad government structure, btw, not an indictment of all government, all democracy, everywhere and at all times), however, there are examples of private forces engaging in worse activities. And, I'm sorry, I don't believe that removing the frequent government partners of such criminality will automatically lead to sweetness and light-multinational corporations can easily hire their own guns to enforce their will-especially in resource extraction industries. You see the coercive state, I see mining companies and Japanese forestry concerns raping traditional communal lands in Indonesia.

    At bottom, I am not a utopian. The libertarian dream is as realistic as the Communist one. That doesn't mean, however, that there is no role for libertarian arguments, the contrarian position. We NEED arguments like this, because as you yourself note, the State always grows, always expands. So, keep up the good arguments, even if I am not a believer in your perfect market system!

    Luca: The building is definitely not of its time (1957 would be more "true"). It is nonetheless, absolutely beautiful (to me) in a Borg Cube purist way. Given its setting in a financial district of similar towers, I am willing to accept its urbanistic flaws. As I noted (thanks jaws), Gap is far worse and fails even more convincingly at the street level-especially given its location across from the City's bayside promenade.

    Sadly, there are far worse buildings being completed in the Mission Bay neighborhood further south. .

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    I agree with the contention that libertarianism can take on a utopian bent that is ahistorical and, furthermore, that many proto-libertarian, free-market prescription for government action/inaction seem to be artful justifications for what Marx would call the "burgeois strumentalization of the state's coercion appartus".
    This is where Jaws and I disagree and i get to be a 'commie'.

    OTOH, Nellis'/BKM's read of the enclosure movement is, like the popular conception of the rise of 'robber barons' during the gilded age, or of the 'great depression', colored by the dramatized, romanticist, somewhat counterfactual 'narrative' of those events. And this is where I get to be a 'bad right-wing capitalist'.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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