Tag Archives: business

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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Our Politically-Managed Airport

It’s wonderful that we enjoy a nice regional airport here in Utah County, and that it’s apparently prospering well enough to merit some expansion, which will increase its capacity to benefit its growing number of customers, and will produce positive “ripple effects” upon everyone who lives in our county.

But why is this growing local transportation hub being run by politicians rather than by entrepreneurs?  And why are its managers lobbying legislators to compel us (and others) to fund its expansion, rather than raising such capital from profits or savings or loans or investments or whatnot?  The state exists to exercise its coercive powers to help us to expertly defend ourselves from others’ aggression, NOT to figuratively pick our pockets to fund its growing array of business ventures, which are beyond its scope, and which distract it from its proper role.

Such business is best left to the private sector, where it normally operates efficiently and effectively and innovatively, while any exceptions are generally both rare and fleeting.  These norms-and-exceptions are reversed in the public sector, in which politically-managed businesses often exercise state power to defend their poor performance from unwanted competition.  Although our local airport may (or may not) be faring alright for the moment, it would fare far better if our city officers were to fully privatize it without any lingering political “strings” attached.  We need to set this airport free!

Sadly, Provo’s current public officers don’t appear to share such views, and haven’t done so for a long time.  Which is why Provo’s expanding municipal government now runs a redevelopment agency, a power company, an airport, a television channel, a library, a performing arts center, a recreation center, a fitness center, a golf course, an ice rink, a water park, a beach, a park service, a gun range, a garbage-collection service, a recycling service, and a cemetery, none of which are involved in defending our rights.  And it’s also why we who value our rightful liberty need to get educated, informed, and active in our local elections or else these ongoing statist trends may slowly ruin Provo just as they’ve ruined Detroit and other cities (or even entire nations).

As Utah’s weather improves, we urge you to please go kindly confront your neighbors, engage them in discussion about these issues, and organize like-minded ones for regular victory in our city elections.  And, if our website helps for that purpose, then please use it.  If you succeed, then we can regain a lean city government that effectively defends our rights, while allowing us the freedom to keep Provo such a great place to live, hopefully for many generations to come.  And wouldn’t that be worth the bother?


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Provo’s Municipal Overreach

Provo’s city government recently produced a fun informative video overviewing what it does for us.  Hopefully, this video wasn’t very costly, and will do some good.

But, in any case, it presents a good occasion to consider not only what our municipal government is doing for us, but also what it SHOULD be doing for us.  As our nation’s relatively wise-and-virtuous founders understood so well, we each have equal God-given rights, and we can (and generally should) charter political systems to expertly serve us by helping us to defend those rights from others’ aggression so that we may remain free, which is their only proper role—and not to reign over us like kings.  Ideally, politicians should be less essential to our society than others like (for example) farmers—and if this is not true, then it suggests that there’s a major problem with our political system.

Such problems are sadly commonplace throughout history because politics (more than many professions) seems to naturally attract the virtuous less readily than the corrupt, and because corrupt public officers tend to corrupt political systems away from their proper role of defending rights toward a perverted role of usurping rights.  As political systems degenerate, their taxes rise, their debts deepen, their budgets skyrockets, their laws proliferate (not to help defend rights but to arbitrarily command us in all things), their agencies and officers multiply, and their influence becomes felt not only when one person is violating another person’s rights, but pervasively in all that we do.

We see such political degeneracy today in our federal government, which has far exceeded its Constitution to assume overwhelming responsibility for a vast unwieldy business conglomerate that either controls or (at the very least) manipulates all sectors of our nation’s economy to varying degrees, from health care to education to energy to communication to transportation to banking to finance to construction to artistry to recreation to welfare, et cetera.  Sadly, Provo appears to be suffering from similar long-term trends, as it currently oversees a redevelopment agency, a power company, an airport, a television channel, a library, a performing arts center, a recreation center, a fitness center, a golf course, an ice rink, a water park, a beach, a park service, a gun range, a garbage-collection service, a recycling service, and a cemetery.  Each of these functions should be fully privatized without any lingering “strings” attached—but, sadly, our municipal offers in recent years have persistently sought more businesses to run, rather than fewer, with some rare-but-welcome exceptions like the shoddily-built money-losing iProvo network for which Provoans are still paying.

As political systems grow cancerously, they tend to increasingly impede both prosperity and progress to the point that society eventually begins to retrogress, whether on the national level like in Venezuela or on the municipal level like in Detroit.  And we should care enough about Provo to avoid letting it degenerate likewise.  If Provo is to “remain a great place to call home,” as Mayor Kaufusi acknowledges as her duty, then we need our rights protected, but otherwise to enjoy our freedom.

So, it’s nice having a mayor who works hard without taking herself too seriously.  But she shouldn’t have so much to oversee.  And, although we have no issues with Mayor Kaufusi personally, and we believe that she seems like a fine person in many aspects of her life, we feel concerned that she (like too many of her recent predecessors) has demonstrated more commitment to central economic planning than to free markets.  As such, we invite those Provoans who still value their freedom to please educate yourselves about these issues, to please engage your neighbors about them, and to please organize yourselves to start consistently electing better public officers here in Provo in coming years—including during our next municipal elections this coming November.  If our website helps, then you’re welcome to use it.


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Preventing Privatization

Our city’s ice-rink was built for use in the Olympic Games in 2002.  It has since served local residents in various ways, while being co-owned by both Utah County and Provo city.  Sadly, its usage fees have been subsidized by taxpayers in both jurisdictions.  Our county commission recently showed interest in divesting its share of ownership in this ice rink, which might have constituted a good opportunity to fully privatize this facility—but Provo’s city officers eagerly kept this facility fully in public hands by making a deal with Utah County to eventually assume sole ownership of it.

Provo’s city officers seem determined to maintain each-and-every publicly-owned facility that they currently oversee, and to keep expanding that array.  Their current roster of city-run businesses includes a redevelopment agency, a monopolistic power company, an airport, a local television channel, a library, a money-losing performing-arts center, a rather-profitable (for the moment) new recreation center, a fitness center, a golf course, the ice rink mentioned above, a water park, a city park service, a gun range, a garbage-collection service, a recycling service, and a cemetery, with plans to possibly add a new museum and/or beach.

As Provo’s city officers play CEO of a growing collection of business operations, this arguably distracts them from their core (and only proper) role, which is to help us to expertly defend our rights from others’ aggression.  Also, they’re not defending but (sadly) violating our rights whenever they wantonly help themselves our hard-earned money in order to subsidize other people’s expenses, such as through Provo’s new RAP (recreation, arts, and parks) tax.

Let’s please encourage our city officers to stop redistributing our paychecks, to stop playing entrepreneur, to fully privatize Provo’s present publicly-run business ventures (as it did once before with iProvo), and to focus on helping us to defend our equal God-given rights.  You may find their contact information below.

Also, let’s strive to persuade our neighbors to elect better city officers in 2019 who will do the right thing on their own without needing to be lobbied.  This is a great time-of-year to spend time outside knocking on neighbors’ doors in order to try to proselytize them to support the cause of freedom.  In doing so, you’re welcome to use our website’s resources if they help any.


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Provo’s Subsidies to Local Businesses

Provo’s mayor and city council have together articulated a statist vision for our city’s future since 2011 through both Vision 2030 and Vision 2050—and, despite changes in our city’s officers over these last 7 years, our current ones are still seeking to transform this same statist vision into reality.

This vision includes subsidizing politically-favored business activity, including local relocations, startups, and/or expansions (see Vision 2030 5.4.2, 9.1.2, 9.3.2; Vision 2050 6.2.4, 6.3.2, 6.8.4).  Mayor Kaufusi polled some residents during her campaign last year about what sorts of businesses they want to open franchises within our city, and she presumably considered this input to compose a “shopping list” of business chains to target.  And, at Provo’s recent city-sponsored Tech Summit, its city-employed moderator, while soliciting ideas about what Provo could do to help startups, was even bold enough to ask local entrepreneurs, “Do you want us to give out free money?” (see the city’s official YouTube recording of this event from 13:02 to 13:32).  Thankfully, none of those attendees dared to say “yes” in response to this offer, but this incident illustrates how interested our current city officers are in redistributing our hard-earned money as they please—if only they can only identify willing recipients.

Providing financial assistance to businesses should not be mandatory but voluntary.  If an economic cause is truly worth funding, then it shouldn’t be hard to persuade enough people to freely choose to finance it.  Such generosity (whether for business causes or for personal ones) is generally laudable and strengthens our charity, whereas theft may allow our charity to atrophy, even if such theft is perpetrated in the false guise of “compassion.”

And I don’t use the word theft figuratively but quite literally.  It’s important for us to understand the innate difference between forcibly taking and freely giving.  If I go to a park where I see a homeless man and feel compassion for him and give him $20 and maybe a job offer, then that’s a virtuous act of charity.  If I go to a park where a homeless man sees me and puts a gun to my head and demands that I give him $20, then that’s a corrupt act known as theft.  Some people may struggle to see much difference between these two incidents, since the same amount of money is transferred from the same person to the same person in each case, but those similarities are only superficial, whereas the underlying differences involved are profound, as are the long-term effects on both parties.  The latter is not only a genuine sin but also a genuine crime—it’s an act of aggression, against which we’re justified in defending ourselves.  And, in defending ourselves, we’re also justified in calling upon other people to help us with that task, from bystanders to hired bodyguards to taxpayer-funded police officers.  Assisting us with our self-defense is the ONLY proper role of any political system, and politicians violate that role whenever they side with aggressors instead.  And aggression doesn’t change its fundamental nature simply by becoming both popular and legal.   Robbery remains robbery, whether a lone gunman helps himself to what’s in our wallet, or whether he lobbies a politician to legally do the same thing legally on his behalf.  And  also whether the armed robber is an unemployed homeless man who wants some spare change or an otherwise-respectable local businessperson who wants some extra dollars in his coffers whether people want to donate those funds or not.

Since such legalized plunder is being actively promoted and/or solicited by our current array of city officers, we would do well to retire them all as quickly as possible, and to uphold successors who will not only respect our rightful liberty but also expertly help us to defend it.  This isn’t a task that we can each do alone, so please go try to persuade your neighbors to both cherish and understand freedom, while preparing them to vote better both this year and beyond.  And, if your find our Free Provo website helpful in this regard, then please make the most of it.


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