Tag Archives: central planning

Provo’s City Council Starts 2020

Provo’s city council recently met (with 4 of 7 members replaced) for its first time in 2020 to consider its current projects. This partly involved considering input from Envision Utah about county-level central economic planning (as detailed in our previous two blog entries), which we shouldn’t be surprised if they cooperate in implementing.

Councilman Handley seemingly learned (as should the rest of us) that, although Utahns remain relatively unconcerned about climate change, which environmentalists are using to excuse collectivistic policies, politicians’ appeals to local concerns about “water” and “air quality” may be used to achieve similar outcomes. So, please remember such tactics when considering proposed changes to city code.

Councilman Handley’s interest in radical environmentalism, along with councilwoman Ellsworth’s interest in identity politics, suggest that they harbor rather collectivistic political views. Which is interesting, considering that they represent one of America’s most conservative cities. But it shouldn’t be surprising, considering Provo’s municipal policies for the last two decades or more.

If we want more city policies that actually favor rightful liberty under Constitutional law, then we need to elect better municipal officers. Thankfully, we have two years until our next city elections to alert our neighbors and build our ranks. Please make good use of that time and, if our website helps, then please use it. Thank you.


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Utah County in Transition

Although this site focuses primarily on Provo’s political issues, we are definitely affected by politics at all levels, including the county level. And our Utah County government, over this last year or so, has been enduring three major trends that arguably merit the scrutiny of all Provoans who value their rightful liberty.

Firstly, some politicians are currently seeking to reorganize Utah County’s government from a simple three-person commission into something more complex. Proponents of this reorganization like commissioner Nathan Ivie (who spearheaded this process) have repeatedly asserted that it will allow effective separation of our county government’s legislative and executive functions, which is very sound in principle—but others like commissioner Bill Lee have expressed deep concerns about the details of the proposals that his fellow commissioners have embraced for reorganization, which he asserts could allow both ever-higher taxes and ever-more regulations, as has become characteristic of Salt Lake County. This is a very interesting observation, considering the other two trends that we’re about to highlight.

Secondly, our current county commission (by a 2-to-1 vote) has just raised county-level property tax rates by an astounding 67%. We applaud commissioner Bill Lee, who voted firmly against this needless tax hike and is now trying to rally opposition to it, but we feel severely disappointed with his fellow commissioners Ainge and Ivie, who apparently favor us spending even more of our hard-earned money on being told what to do. This huge tax increase may render a newly-expanded county government awash in cash to spend on new responsibilities.

Thirdly, new responsibilities are currently being contemplated by Envision Utah, which is seeking to lead Utah County (as it’s already done successfully with many other parts of Utah) away from its libertarianish past of both local control and free markets toward a statist future of regional central economic planning. Since late 2018, Envision Utah has studied public opinion, devised scenarios, and evaluated options, in order to compose a common vision for Utah County’s future—a central plan that will dictate where everyone will live, what sort of homes they’ll live in, how they’ll landscape their yards, et cetera. It’s not guaranteed that a newly-reorganized Utah County government will ever arrogate such responsibilities or not—but it’s definitely more likely if we keep electing candidates like commissioner Ivie, who has already stated publicly that he welcomes a countywide central plan for economic development, partly to inhibit development from spreading into undeveloped areas. Such goals happen to be consistent with longtime socialist goals to regulate markets, reduce land ownership, and increase urbanization.

It may be more than coincidental that these three trends are occurring simultaneously. Franklin Delano Roosevelt once asserted that: “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” In any case, we would do well to monitor these ongoing trends and encourage the best possible outcomes, lest we end up living under Soviet-style central planning, whether overseen by Commissar Nathan Ivie or perhaps someone even worse. We don’t need a county government that reigns over us in all things, but one that helps us to defend our rights against others’ aggression so that we may remain free. The plans of the many, negotiated among free equals, are normally superior to the plans of the few, dictated by political masters.

As Edmund Burke once noted, “evil triumphs when good men do nothing.” So, please don’t do nothing. Instead, please shake off any apathy that impedes you, get educated and/or informed about these pressing issues, get active and organized, and help your neighbors to do likewise. And become the hero that our society needs. If our website helps, then use it. Ditto with these voluminous references below. And, if you do nothing else, then please sign commissioner Bill Lee’s Utah County Petition!


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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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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 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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