Tag Archives: central planning

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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Provo’s State-of-the-City in 2018

Provo officially inaugurated Michelle Kaufusi this January 3rd as its newest (and first female) mayor.  She delivered her first state-of-the-city address this January 18th, which proposed both good and bad for Provo’s near-future.

As for the good, Mayor Kaufusi encouraged both community spirit and volunteerism, which is always commendable.  She also proposed a new wastewater treatment facility, which sounds like a fine idea, as long as it’s genuinely needed.  And she proposed a newly-consolidated customer-service department to better help patrons of the city’s growing array of business ventures.  So far, so good.

It’s this latter item that introduces the bad, though, because no city should ever need a customer-service department.  This department has become necessary only because our city officers have followed our federal government’s bad example by running so many businesses.  In fact, for all practical purposes, our city’s mayor currently doubles as C.E.O. of over a dozen city-run business ventures, which now include a redevelopment agency, a power company, an airport, a television channel, a library, a money-losing performing arts center, a thriving recreation center, a fitness center, a golf course, an ice rink, a water park, a park service, a gun range, a garbage-collection service, a recycling service, and a cemetery.  And, by the way, our city officers have shown interest in expanding this list to include both a museum and a beach.

Altogether, this diverse array of at least 16 businesses arguably constitutes far too much responsibility for a single conglomerate to manage effectively, especially a conglomerate that’s entirely led/managed by politicians.  Whenever such public businesses perform well (as Provo’s new recreation center has been doing), it’s always a rare-and-fleeting exception to the timeless universal rule, which is one reason why we would do well to fully spin-off all such businesses into the private sector.  Another reason for such spin-offs is that our public sector should avoid distracting itself from its core responsibilities (and proper role) of expertly helping us to defend our God-given rights.

And our politicians should definitely only defend rights and never violate them!  Sadly, our city officers have already been infringing upon our equal God-given rights by trying to centrally-plan development in west Provo, while cracking down on landlords’ private property rights, which are two other sad items that Mayor Kaufusi mentioned in these remarks.  If she continues to exert ever-more political control over our now-thriving city economy, then such control will ultimately devastate it, much as Detroit governed itself to death in 2011.

So, altogether, Mayor Kaufusi seems poised to perpetuate the relatively-statist policies of her predecessor, sadly, and to fulfill her campaign slogan of wanting a “strong” Provo—which, as best as I can tell, includes rendering our city government strong enough to control the local economy and even decree grocery stores into existence at will.  This means that we’ll need to remain vigilant, and prepare ourselves to mobilize our like-minded neighbors to oppose such bad policies—and to help them to choose better in 2021.  If you haven’t already done so, then please peruse our website to learn more about what’s wrong with Provo, along with how we might solve those problems together.

Do you agree with this analysis?  Why or why not?  What more can or should we be doing to foster a freer Provo?   Please leave your feedback below.


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