Envision Utah Subjugating Utah County

People aren’t meant to live in figurative cages, even if those cages are gilded for fleeting times in scarce places. People fare best when they’re both virtuous and free, as freedom allows them to achieve their greatest potential for good.

And this is true not only of individuals but also of entire economies. Whenever markets are kept free, they allow innovation toward greater efficiency and effectiveness, yielding both prosperity and abundance, as rising standards-of-living bless everyone. This is one reason why these United States thrived from 13 colonies to become one of our worlds greatest civilizations.

But nobody’s perfekt. And, sadly, some people seize on the imperfections of free societies, whether real or imagined, as false excuses to enslave their neighbors, allegedly for their own good, which always does less good (if any) than harm.

And such people include Envision Utah.

Envision Utah believes that free-market-driven growth is too “chaotic” and “accidental” (as reported in the Provo Daily Herald) and, as such, it seeks to reorient Utahns away from property rights, free markets, and localized control toward regional governance, central economic planning, and “sustainable development” (as promoted by globalistic socialists). And, sadly, it’s enjoyed a long series of successes across Utah for decades by selling its plans to locals as ways that they can foster their values, which Envision Utah ascertains through careful research.

Envision Utah is currently focusing its attention upon Utah County (including Provo), using the excuse of countywide growth to develop a countywide plan that would force our county’s current relatively-free market to conform to a strict political vision. As part of its current visioning process, Envision Utah has been actively researching Utah County residents’ values and/or ideas through various means that include both workshops and surveys. Its recent Valley Visioning Survey allows respondents to decide communally where everyone will be allowed to live, what sort of homes everyone will have, how those homes will be landscaped, et cetera.

Such plans will almost certainly necessitate a larger costlier Utah County commission that will usurp our equal God-given (or natural) rights more than defend them. Like all misuses of political/coercive power, this can be expected to yield mixed or ineffective or even counterproductive results, meaning that it wont ultimately foster the values that its proponents are promising. Economic plans are always best when they’re made NOT by a few politicians but by zillions of free people in a free society.

Envision Utah is far from alone in trying to subjugate free Utahns to its statist vision. Provo already implemented a visioning process in 2010-2011 to create Vision 2030 to guide it in further centralizing its control over municipal development, demographics, transportation, businesses, homes, landscaping, diet, exercise, et cetera. Neighboring Orem is currently conducting its own similar visioning process, instigated by a city council that (in 2015 by majority vote) rejected Orems “curious mix of laissez-faire capitalism, pioneer frugality, and conservative / limited government expectations” in favor of a new statist approach to city planning.

So, these are all great developments for Utahns who welcome Soviet-style commissars to reign over them, or who aspire to play demigod-king with their neighbors’ lives and/or property. But they’re terrible developments for the rest of us who still value our rightful liberty under Constitutional law. Or who love the fruits of a virtuous free society, such as peace, prosperity, progress, civilization, and happiness.

So, what can we do now?

Our political system will never respect our rights fully until enough of our fellowcitizens are doing likewise. “Power concedes nothing without a demand,” so we need to increase the demand for freedom. We need to persistently awaken our slumbering neighbors to the figurative fetters that are being forged around them. We need to cure their apathy by reviving the spirit of liberty within their hearts-and-minds. We need to alleviate their ignorance by both educating and informing them clearly about the principles of rightful liberty under Constitutional law.

Along with engaging our neighbors’ hearts-and-minds, we also need to both mobilize and organize those who share our views for lasting political victory, building our ranks until we become at least as numerous and/or effective as our political adversaries, and then maintaining our advantage long-term. We also need to start with those closest to us and work outward—this conflict is both timeless and universal, and similar statist visioning processes are occurring both across our nation and around our world.

This struggle for freedom requires more than summer soldiers or sunshine patriots. It requires passion and wisdom and long-term commitment. It may not require leaving bloody footprints on the snows of Valley Forge, but it might require a few sore feet “pounding the pavement” in your neighborhood. And, since yesterday is gone, there’s no time like today to start.

If our website helps, then please feel free to use it. If you’ve got something that will help the rest of us, then please feel free to share it. We’re all in this mess together. And may heaven help us, because we sorely need it. So, if you’re religious, then please get down on your knees and pray—and, in any case, please get up and go do something effective to restore freedom while it’s still possible.


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Subjugating Landlords via Occupancy Laws

Provo’s city council is continuing to increase its control over Provo residents, including landlords, who sometimes dare to use their property as they please rather than as the city council pleases.

Our most basic rights include rights to both property and contract, which are the basis of free markets—and our politicians are morally obligated to both respect and defend such rights, rather than to wantonly violate those rights as a criminal would do.

Whenever a politician ceases to defend rights and instead dictates how those rights will be exercised, this is essentially tyranny, regardless of how petty it may be—and, in cases like this, it invites the question of who truly owns the property in question.

Policies like occupancy restrictions not only violate rights, but they are also impractical, as they render rental housing both scarcer and costlier than it would otherwise be. This needlessly hurts poorer Provoans by rendering housing less affordable to them.

Rather than dictate how landlords are to rent their property, it would be better for Provo politicians to both respect and defend landlords’ rights to rent their property to others as they please, as long as they don’t violate anyone else’s rights in the process of doing so.

Such changes in policy won’t occur without changes in politicians, though, which won’t occur without changes in voting habits. So, please educate and inform and activate your neighbors to vote better in our local elections.


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Centrally-Planning Affordable Housing

Provo’s city council is currently considering allowing residents to maintaining accessory apartments within homes that they occupy, along with detached apartments and even “tiny” homes, subject to certain conditions, all in pursuit of a city goal to render local housing more affordable.

It’s great that these city councilors may decide to allow Provoans to exercise property rights within carefully-restricted limits—but why limit these property rights in the first place? Ideally, their only limits should be the equal rights of others. Why not police those natural boundaries and, otherwise, allow residents to exercise their property rights as they please?

This goal accompanies other city goals (including those found in Vision 2030/2050) such as reducing the amount of rental housing available within Provo, redistributing renters to other parts of Utah county, restricting the number of renters per unit, et cetera, all of which is helping to render local rental housing less affordable.

All of these somewhat-conflicting policies are part of a broader effort by Provo’s city council to centrally-plan our local economy as much as residents will allow. And, based upon Vision 2030/2050 plus what’s been heard in public meetings, those aspirations extend even to regulating our diet-and-exercise while deciding how we will landscape our yards. Do we want the city choosing the aesthetics of our homes?

Are they our masters or our servants? If ownership is defined as the right to determine how something is used, then are “our” homes truly our property or theirs?

What Provo’s city council could do, instead, is to simply respect that every Provoan has God-given (or natural) rights to their respective persons, property, children, et cetera, which end where the equal rights of others begin, along with rights to interact either contractually or defensively—and that their job is merely to assist Provoans in defending such basic rights against others’ aggression.

This change-of-attitude would restore a relatively free market in Provo, and free us as individuals from the increasingly-burdensome requirements of city ordinances, which have been multiplying since 2001. It would also render Provo’s city government cheaper and smaller and better-able to focus on defending our rights rather than attempting to run our lives by commanding us in all things.

But this change-of-attitude almost certainly won’t occur without a change-of-leadership. Provo’s city council has, for many years, remained firmly dominated by central planners over free marketeers. This is probably because most Provoans don’t bother to participate in local elections but instead abdicate participation to a tiny fraction of their neighbors, of which a slight majority are statists who elect fellow statists to public office.

We can change this status quo by choosing to both educate and inform ourselves about municipal issues, and then to involve ourselves regularly in local politics, while seeking and activating and mobilizing like-minded neighbors to join us. Together, we can achieve a freer city, which may serve a start to a freer state, nation, and world. Please start now by making some concrete goals and plans. And, if our website helps, then please use it.


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Provo Primary Election 2019

Provo, like other Utahn cities, is hosting its biennial primary elections this August 13th (Tuesday).

Most of us arguably don’t pay enough attention to these local elections—but, if political power were as maximally decentralized as it should be (with most of it remaining in individual households), then our local elections would become more important than our national elections.  Even despite our political system’s massive centralization since 1789, our local elections still play an important role in giving various candidates experience that they may use to campaign for other offices—for example, John Curtis leveraged his experience as Provo mayor to campaign for U. S. Congress.  Sadly, few Utahn voters seemed to pay much attention to Curtis’ “liberal” mayoral record of attempted tax hikes and grandiose central planning, as this former Democrat seemingly changed political parties without changing principles.

Tragically, John Curtis principles have not been the exception in Provos government, but the rule for many years.  Why would conservative Provoans consistently elect such liberal politicians?  Presumably because most Provoans dont bother to participate in municipal elections, and the small fraction of Provoans who bother to participate are more-than-half statists who elect fellow statists.  Thankfully, it doesnt need to be this wayProvoans who value their rightful liberty can help both educate and inform their neighbors to embrace better principles, and can organize like-minded ones for political victory.  Sometimes, free-marketeer candidates have lost city races by narrow margins, in which cases even a dozen votes could have made a big difference.

So, how can we make a difference this year?  Ideally, by finding worthy candidates early and then rallying around thembut, since its a bit too late for this now, well instead need to examine our existing options, eliminate unworthy choices, and select the best candidates among any that remain.  This year, Provoans will elect three new city councilors (one city-wide and two from city districts), but were having some trouble finding any clearly-worthy options among them.

  • For this years city-wide seat, both David Shipley and Janae Moss seem to favor central planning.
  • In district 3, Shannon Ellsworth appears to be a skilled central planner who wants Smart Growth, Robin Roberts aspires to centrally-plan away poverty from our midst, and Jeff Handy seems a bit enigmatic.
  • In district 4, it appears that all four candidates (namely: Beth Alligood, Eric Ludwig, Travis Hoban, and Valerie Paxman) favor some degree of city control of our municipal economy in various ways, which may include public transportation or regulated construction or public energy.

So, this is why we wholeheartedly endorse no candidates this year.  If you believe that we should reconsider this conclusion, then please tell us why.

If you dont want to see the same scarcity of worthy candidates in 2021 when Provoans will elect four more city councilors, plus another mayor, then please involve yourself over these next two years to slowly-but-steadily build support for better candidates among your neighbors.  If you find our website helpful for this purpose, then please feel free to use it.  Thanks!


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Provo’s Big Budget for 2020

Provo’s city council recently approved a budget for the 2020 fiscal year. That budget will total about $254,000,000.

Divided among about 117,335 residents, this means that each resident’s share will be about $2,165/year (or $180/month), which is now slightly more than socialist-dominated Los Angeles spends per year per resident. However, Provo’s residents include a higher percentage of children than LA’s—and, considering that Provo’s average household size (in the U. S. census of 2010) was 3.24, this means that each Provoan household’s share of the city budget will be about $7,014/year (or $584/month).

And, if Provo’s budget were perfectly balanced, and if its taxes were levied only upon its own residents, then this would mean that each Provoan household would be paying an average of $584/month, as well. That’s more than some single Provoans spend each month on rent, even with Provo’s city council inflating local rental prices by restricting supply! Thankfully, Provo isn’t sending such huge bills every year to every household—but, even so, that’s a LOT of cash-flow!

Is your household truly getting $584/month in value from Provo city services? Perhaps we liberty-lovin’ Provoans should give a bit more scrutiny to where all of this spending has been going! (By the way, is are you a skilled liberty-lovin’ accountant who’d like to investigate this for us?)

Ideally, a city government (like any other government) should focus on rights-defense, and perhaps on some basic infrastructure like roads, but it shouldn’t be running either our economy or our lives, nor managing a vast array of business operations that are better left in the hands of private entrepreneurs. Sadly, Provo’s municipal government has increasingly engaged in the latter since 2001, as its city code has more than doubled, while Vision 2030/2050 is now guiding its city council toward ever-more centralized command-and-control. When Provo’s city council was seriously debating mandatory city-regulated landscaping for every Provoan home in 2016, this suggested (to some of us) that our fair city was in serious peril!

Such ongoing statist trends can only be thwarted through new leadership. So, if you want to keep Provo free and, therefore, both prosperous and progressing, then please involve yourself NOW to scrutinize this year’s candidates for city council and to actively promote any worthy ones that you can find!


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Provo Regulation Renders Housing Less Affordable

One sad side-effect of Utah County’s recent growth is that, as demand for housing rises sharply while supply lags behind it, average home prices are rising at about 10% per year, which is significantly higher than inflation. These trends may please some current homeowners who are seeing their assets rise in relative value, but it is also rendering local housing significantly less affordable for new homebuyers and/or renters, especially as wages remain stagnant.

In a healthy free-market economy, whenever demand for something (such as low-cost housing) rises, suppliers normally rush to satisfy that demand. If that’s not happening, then it suggests that there’s some sort of problem, which is usually political.

So, what is Provo’s city government doing to exacerbate such problems?

Provo’s city government already imposes limits on how many people can rent rooms together at a given residence. And its Vision 2030 asserts that Provo has “too many” renters and not enough homeowners and, as such, it proposes to restrict rental housing within Provo city limits while essentially redistributing Provo’s renters to other parts of Utah County. Such policies, which artificially restrict the supply of rental housing within Provo, raise everyone’s rent.

Within the last ten years, Provo city council members have also discussed enhancing zoning restrictions by adding form-based code to regulate not only the inward function but also the outward appearance of new buildings. And, at Vision 2030 meeting in 2016, they even entertained the possibility of mandatory city-regulated landscaping for every residence. Such restrictions impede the supply of new housing (whether to rent or to own) while needlessly rendering it more costly.

Moreover, Provo’s city code does not currently accommodate “tiny homes,” which are currently growing in popularity as some Americans seek simpler less-expensive housing in order to spend their earnings on other pursuits.

And what is Provo’s government doing to alleviate such problems?

Provo’s current “solutions” mostly center around increased political intervention into the marketplace through taxes, regulations, subsidies, partnerships, et cetera, to finagle the market into producing more of the sort of housing that its other policies are inhibiting from being built. Such public-sector solutions are normally both less efficient and more costly than their private-sector alternatives, and they tend to yield either mixed or even counterproductive results.

Rather than pursue a slow step-by-step course toward a state-run economy, we should instead advocate for genuinely-free markets, in which people’s rights to both property and contract are respected rather than usurped. If you agree, then please voice such opinions to our local politicians while they are now actively considering what policies to pursue to render local housing more affordable.


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Rights-Defenders Wanted for Provo City Council in 2019

It’s sad that Provo politics have arguably become dominated by statists whose policies (like rights-violations, taxes, subsidies, city-run businesses, regulations, et cetera) don’t reflect the conservative free-market values of most Provoans. Perhaps this is because nearly all Provoans assume that, because so many of their neighbors share their values, all must be well within their local government and, therefore, there’s no good reason to bother to participate in local politics. This unwise attitude contributes to the result that only about 10%-15% of Provoans bother to vote in most municipal elections, with about half of those voters persistently favoring central planners over free-marketeers. And the end result is that the very few statists who live among us essentially control our local politics.

This shouldn’t be so! We who value our freedom should educate ourselves about what’s happening in our local politics, involve ourselves, and help our like-minded neighbors to join us. In some Provo city council districts, even a few dozen passionate champions of our God-given rights could potentially be enough to tip the electoral balance back toward rightful liberty.

Of course, voting doesn’t do much good if there’s nobody worth electing! Which is why those of us who value our freedom should also consider running for public office—not because we lust for power but because it’s our moral duty. So, if you are an adult U. S. citizen who has lived within Provo since (at least) last November, if you are registered to vote in Provo, and if you are both willing and able to serve in public office, then please consider running for city council! This year, Provoans will elect new city councilors for districts 1, 3, 4, plus a citywide councilor. You can officially declare your candidacy for one of these open seats within the next two days (until June 7th) between 8AM and 5PM at the Provo City Recorder’s Office.

So, don’t wait for someone else to be a hero—instead, “BE the change that you want to see in this world.” Declare your candidacy within the next 42 hours or so and help keep Provo a wonderful thriving place to live!


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