Thanks, But I’ll Think For Myself
I receive a monthly industry journal from a particular vendor in the geospatial software line of business. The most recent one had an article detailing the use of their product with regards to mapping out population and economic growth and expansion. Note these last few words carefully, I’ll come back to them shortly. The article was submitted by the founder of Good Jobs First – an “activist nonprofit” that proposes that “states rewrite their economic development rules to subordinate them to planning goals” in order to “reduce sprawl and promote regional equity.” The nonprofit used geospatial tools (GIS) to derive two pieces of information: (1) companies are moving away from older (read: inner city or other high density areas) to new areas that offer enterprise zone tax breaks and (2) as companies move and spread out, the lack of density drives deunionization. A quoted Chicago Federation of Labor official said in the article, “sprawl looks like a giant antiunion conspiracy.”
There are a number of items to tackle here: first, the article spent way too much time on a one-sided portrayal of this issue loaded with propaganda. The article begins with the author arguing against using loaded terms but goes on to use the term “sprawl” to refer to (remember my words above) the “population and economic growth and expansion”. He makes the statement referring to a study of Anoka (a far north suburb of Minneapolis, MN) where 29 companies moved to an Anoka industrial park as being “pirated from Minneapolis and older inner-ring suburbs.” So much for trying to avoid “loaded” terms. The author continues with the use of the term “smart growth.” Many would argue that the growth plans by these folks aren’t that smart. Over the past few years, surveys have shown that at least 60% of Americans prefer to live in single-family homes with yards and not high-density centers.
Second, growth and expansion are a natural progression and “smart growth” should include additional road construction. Typically, it doesn’t. Many “smart growth” initiatives aim at increasing the density of already developed areas. This includes adding more housing, retail and businesses. The problem is that you can’t dictate to people how they want to live. This effort could (and has) resulted in increased traffic as people still want the ability to independently commute. Take, for example, Washington, D.C. – the nation’s capital. It is at the bottom of the list as far as road-miles added as a factor of population growth. In turn the region has jumped to one of the top spots as far as traffic congestion. This isn’t a factor of “sprawl” – it is a factor of “smart growth” not being smart.
Third, if the geographic expansion of jobs is hurting union membership, then maybe the union isn’t needed anymore. Of course, the article depicts this as hurting the union members themselves, but generally, as jobs move to suburban centers there is the need for infrastructure and support type businesses (retail, food, and other services) that create job growth for that area. Housing further out from the older, denser areas is usually less expensive (compare the move of young professionals to Hoboken vs. living in NYC – Hoboken experienced a huge renovation and resurgence).
The conclusion that the article avoided was that economic policies and city planners should work on rejuvenation projects in the denser, “inner-ring” areas. Offer the economic incentives that the article denigrates to these areas. By the way, it would be interesting to see what the organization’s opinion is about the democrat-led Maryland offering larger economic incentives to Northrup-Grumman’s relocation only to lose it to Virginia. The writing is on the wall, these Utopian liberals don’t understand economics.
GorT is an eight-foot-tall robot from the 51ˢᵗ Century who routinely time-travels to steal expensive technology from the future and return it to the past for retroinvention. The profits from this pay all the Gormogons’ bills, including subsidizing this website. Some of the products he has introduced from the future include oven mitts, the Guinness widget, Oxy-Clean, and Dr. Pepper. Due to his immense cybernetic brain, GorT is able to produce a post in 0.023 seconds and research it in even less time. Only ’Puter spends less time on research. GorT speaks entirely in zeros and ones, but occasionally throws in a ڭ to annoy the Volgi. He is a massive proponent of science, technology, and energy development, and enjoys nothing more than taking the Czar’s more interesting scientific theories, going into the past, publishing them as his own, and then returning to take credit for them. He is the only Gormogon who is capable of doing math. Possessed of incredible strength, he understands the awesome responsibility that follows and only uses it to hurt people.