Tag Archives: free markets

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 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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Centrally-Planning More Efficiently

Ideally, people should be free to sell and buy and develop land as they please, provided that nobody violates anyone else’s equal God-given rights in the process of doing so—and political systems should intervene ONLY to help defend rights from aggression while otherwise allowing people to remain free (and NOT to seize control of every aspect of the development process).

So, it’s sad that Provo’s municipal government has gradually become so controlling about development within its jurisdiction, which has needlessly impeded such development from taking place.  In response to such concerns, Mayor Kaufusi has decided to act, not to alleviate municipal intervention into the local economy, sadly, but to increase the efficiency of that intervention.  Government efficiency is always a challenging goal—it’s achievable, yes, but it’s also the rare-and-fleeting exception to the rule, whereas the exact opposite is true of the private sector.  Moreover, although efficiency is definitely a good goal in general, doing the wrong thing more efficiently isn’t as worthy of a goal as doing the right thing instead.

And the right thing is a city government limited as best as possible to its proper role of rights-defense, rather than one that seeks to run the economy, which is the only to way for Provo to remain such a marvelous place to live.  If you agree, then please help rally, inform, and organize your neighbors to vote better in this year’s municipal elections.  And you’re welcome to use our website for that purpose if it helps.


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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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