Provo’s Mayor and Central Planning

Provo’s newest mayor, Michelle Kaufusi, is simultaneously serving as a columnist for the Provo Daily Herald, which is helping to extend the reach of her “bully pulpit” to expound her views.  It’ll be nice to know what she’s thinking and intending over time.

In her first column yesterday, she wrote about how to preserve Provo’s “unique, family-friendly, close-knit feel” as it grows, and proposed three solutions, about which we’d like to comment briefly.

Firstly, she proposed “a neighborhood-first city.”  The details of what this phrase means are not obvious but remain somewhat debatable—but, in any case, although it’s a fine thing to maintain distinct neighborhoods within a city, there’s one political unit that’s always even more important than any neighborhood.  And that unit is the family, which is the basic unit of any society, including of any church or state.  In fact, each individual household constitutes the Earthly source from which all political power is delegated to public officers.  And each political system should not only respect the equal God-given rights of its constituents, but it should also help defend those rights, even when doing so contradicts the special interests of certain groups.  Like neighborhood majorities.  So, it would be better to propose a family-first city.

Secondly, she proposed “smart urban planning.”  Although it’s alright for the city to plan some things like public streets, the rest is best planned by the many rather than the few.  No small oligarchy of central economic planners, now matter how expert, can plan a city better than its residents interacting contractually within a genuinely-free market.  The people should decide what gets built where, not their city councilors and definitely not their mayor.  The purpose of a city’s mayor should not be to direct his/her constituents’ efforts like a monarch, but rather to defend their rights as a servant, while allowing them to work out the rest amongst themselves as free people.  Free people, when guided by virtue, can accomplish amazing things—in fact, they always work best as free men and women rather than as slaves.

Thirdly, she proposed “an aggressive plan to increase economic development in our city.”  Again, it’s free people who should freely develop their economy, while their public officers should simply help defend their rights to do so, rather than dictate those efforts.  It shouldn’t be a mayor’s responsibility to make a “shopping list” of specific businesses to bring into town, and then devise strategies to finagle them into doing so via subsidies or tax-breaks or other special favors, all for the purpose of increasing the city’s tax revenue so that it can control everyone better.  Instead, public officers should simply help defend everyone’s equal God-given rights, and equally welcome ALL legitimate businesses into town by maintaining a genuine free market—a market in which entrepreneurs naturally thrive according to how well they serve residents (NOT how well they curry political favor), and in which they are equally free (including from burdensome regulations) to figure out how best to do this, as long as they don’t overstep their own God-given rights to violate the equal rights of others.  Economies always perform best when they’re kept free, not when they’re whooped into submission to serve political objectives.

Either we the people rule our public officers, or they rule us.  A controlling state makes a weak citizenry, but a strong populace makes a strong city.  And that’s the “Provo Strong” that we should want—a strong community in which residents fully respect each other’s equal rights, while learning to exercise their own rights well within their proper limits, and freely loving/serving each other to do likewise.  This characterizes the virtuous free society that will help Provo to remain a thriving place to live.  By contrast, our city will dwindle if we persist along our present collectivistic course toward well-funded central planning that will run our municipal economy and direct its growth.

So, let’s work together for a freer Provo, including by upholding more city officers who will respect our rights NOT reign over our lives.  Which includes preparing for our city’s next round of elections in 2019.  We invite you to please visit our Free Provo website for both ideas and resources, and we hope that you’ll encourage your fellow liberty-lovin’ Provoans to do likewise.


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