Tag Archives: free markets

Envision Utah’s Statist Vision Debuts

Although Free Provo focuses mostly upon municipal issues, city issues are sometimes closely connected with broader trends in Utah County. This site’s previous blog entry warned about attempts by local politicians to reorganize Utah County’s commission, arguably so that it can shoulder greater responsibilities for centrally-planning Utah County’s economy. These efforts roughly coincided with related efforts to devise some central planning guidelines, as composed by Envision Utah.

Envision Utah is a group of prominent Utahns who dislike free-market-driven growth for being too “chaotic” and “accidental” (as they’ve been quoted in the local news) and, as such, prefer our political system to assert control over that growth in order to start centrally-planning it. Envision Utah has devised central plans for other parts of Utah and, now, it’s apparently Utah County’s turn.

Envision Utah started a “Valley Visioning” initiative about two years ago under the excuse of managing Utah County’s rapid population growth. Its carefully-refined visioning process has involved (1) hosting various surveys and workshops and such to determine Utah County residents’ wants and values and priorities, then (2) using this input to develop a communal vision for Utah County’s future that will serve to guide county-level central planning in the coming years, and finally (3) leveraging Utah County values to sell this central plan to residents after it’s finished.

Envision Utah’s statist vision of Utah County is apparently finished now, and it will be presented publicly on November 17th (Tuesday) at 2PM during a news conference. It will then coordinate/guide local statist politicians in planning where new move-ins will live, what sort of homes they’ll inhabit, how they’ll landscape their yards, et cetera, rather than leaving such decisions to free people in free markets.

Central economic planning has devastated both entire nations like the USSR and great cities like Detroit, and it will innately do likewise here. It will greet Californian move-ins with the same sort of heavy-handed state policies that created the terrible conditions from which they’re currently fleeing in droves. The plans of the few, no matter how expert, are always inferior to the plans of the many. Some may denigrate free societies as “chaotic” and “disorderly” and “selfish,” but others perceive the beauty of virtuous free people spontaneously creating order amongst themselves.

So, let’s keep our politicians focused on defending our rights (and maybe maintaining our infrastructure) and NOT expect them to exercise their coercive powers to guarantee us the future that we think that we want, which would be counterproductive. It’s better for us to work out out our county’s future amongst ourselves as free people, while our politicians defend our rightful liberty (NOT carefully limit it). So, let’s please regularly scrutinize our politicians’ actions, including whether-or-not they’re complying with this central plan, and then elect ONLY those who will fully respect our rights.

Sadly, it shouldn’t surprise us if Provo’s current city council embraces this central plan, since they’ve already endured a similar process at a city level. About a decade ago, mayor John Curtis initiated a similar citywide visioning process, soliciting input from residents that he used to create Vision 2030, which Provo’s city council openly admitted to using as a guide for centrally-planning the city, gradually transforming its abstract vision into concrete city code. Vision 2030 proved so successful that they began to replace it with an updated version called Vision 2050. You can read more about these vision statements elsewhere on this site.

We endure such municipal politicians not because most Provoans love statism, one might argue, but because most Provoans abdicate to it because they don’t bother to participate in municipal politics. Again, let’s please motivate, educate, inform, and organize our like-minded neighbors to involve themselves in municipal elections to help replace Provo’s central planners with free-marketeers. And why not make a plan for such activism today? If this website helps you at all, then please use it.



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Provo’s Budget for FY 2021

Provo’s city council recently adopted a budget for fiscal year 2021, which was reduced somewhat due to the COVID19 pandemic of 2020.

During this budgeting process, some citizens advocated defunding Provo’s police force in response to recent incidents of local police abusing their power to violate citizens’ rights. These calls derive from valid concerns because police, like other public officers, should act within the limits of their delegated authority (including due process) to expertly help people to defend their equal God-given rights from others’ aggression. And it’s sad when police become aggressors themselves. Such trends toward police aggression are arguably facilitated by ongoing nationwide efforts to nationalize and dumb-down and militarize our local peace officers. Such a national police force could be used as a standing army to conquer our nation from within, and is a normal part of totalitarian regimes. We should resist such trends, including abuse of our local SWAT team, but we should definitely NOT eliminate our police force. So, I applaud our city officers for rejecting such calls.

What they should actually defund—or, better yet, privatize—is most everything else in Provo’s municipal budget. As we’ve noted before, Provo’s city-owned businesses include 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. It would be better for Provo’s municipal officers to spin off all of these divisions fully into the private sector, and then sever all lingering ties with them. As competitive private enterprises, these former agencies would become far more innovative and efficient and effective, serving customers better—and simultaneously allowing public officers to focus better on defending rights, and perhaps also on a few other tasks like maintaining local roads. It’s always easier for public officers to focus on performing their core duties well whenever they aren’t needlessly overwhelming themselves with excessive responsibility over other parts of our local economy. And our economy always works best whenever politicians stop trying to subjugate it to their will and, instead, simply help defend everyone’s equal God-given rights from others’ aggression.

But such structural change won’t happen without electoral change. For at least 20 years, Provo’s public officers have remained rather enamored with big government. And this is partly because Provo’s municipal elections have remained dominated year-after-year by big-government voters. And they prevail NOT because they constitute a large percentage of Provo’s population, but because most voters don’t bother to participate. So, we who value our rightful liberty need to change this sad status quo. We won’t reverse these statist trends unless we grow our ranks in both numbers and effectiveness. And there’s no time like the present to begin—so, please make a plan and implement it.


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Public Health Never Justifies Municipal Tyranny

Provo’s city officers are currently using their “bully pulpit” to encourage Provo residents to voluntary follow Governor Gary Herbert’s guidelines to “stay safe, stay home,” which is certainly within the limits of their political authority. But this blog entry (unlike most) isn’t directly about them—it’s about our state legislators who are currently debating a bill to enable them with tyrannical powers. We’ll consider these alarming current events in a moment, but let’s first consider the principles involved…

Political systems exist NOT to reign over us, wantonly commanding us in all things, but ONLY to serve us—and, even in serving us, only in a very specific manner, which is by expertly assisting us in defending our equal God-given rights from others’ aggression. This is the only proper use of the coercive power that they wield over us. And, even in helping us to defend our rightful liberty, American politicians are all further limited by Constitutional law, which they have all sworn a solemn oath-of-office to uphold, and which includes various power-restricting civil liberties such as due process.

These principles do not change at all during alleged emergencies, such as the ongoing coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic; instead, emergencies are times for politicians to do what they should do at ALL other times—to defend our rightful liberty in accordance with Constitutional law. So, for example, its fine for politicians to thwart one sick person from knowingly-and-willfully exposing another person to a deadly disease, all within the confines of due process. But it’s never fine for them to enforce draconian policies that impede the vast majority of healthy citizens from peacefully exercising their basic rights to worship or work or protest.

Despite such facts, seeming crises may provide ample false excuses for power-hungry politicians to usurp power from us citizens, which is usually hard for us to ever regain fully. Sadly, many American politicians, especially governors and some mayors, are currently doing exactly this in the name of keeping the public healthier than it would otherwise be. Although public health is a laudable goal, it should never come at the expense of our rightful liberty. Instead, our politicians should be defending us citizens in our efforts to freely go about our daily business as long as we don’t infringe upon other people’s equal God-given rights. And this includes allowing us citizens to freely take our own sensible precautions to remain healthy.

Utah’s state legislature is currently meeting in an online special session to consider “emergency” legislation to deal with the ongoing coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic. Such bills include HB 3009, which would empower local public officers (such as Provo’s mayor and city council) to declare emergencies and then exercise unchecked power in the name of keeping the public healthier than it would otherwise be. Such power would include ignoring due-process-of-law, detaining us indefinitely without charge, wantonly closing our churches or businesses, and prohibiting our Constitutionally-acknowledged rights to assemble and even protest. Such laws are unconstitutional and, therefore, they are also innately invalid—but they still shouldn’t be enacted.

Some defend this bill on the basis that these same powers are already granted to local health departments, and that this bill would simply transfer these existing powers from unelected bureaucrats to elected politicians—but neither party should wield such power. Police should only have power (within the limits of due process) to restrain sick people from engaging in behaviors that carry a reasonable chance of injuring and/or killing other people. Anything more than this is tyranny and usurpation. Please contact your state legislators to remind them of their oaths-of-office, along with the implications of those oaths, and also to urge them to oppose this bill as long as it continues to defy our rightful liberty and/or Constitutional law!


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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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