Tag Archives: free markets

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.


References:

Advertisements

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.


References:

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?


References:

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.


References:

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.


References:

Valley Visioning Workshops

You are urgently invited to attend one of many Valley Visioning workshops being held in early 2019.  Although these workshops concern Utah County generally, they could have tremendous impact upon Provo specifically.  One was already held earlier this week in Provo but, for those who may have missed it, you may attend another one on February 21st at 6PM at Orem High School.

As detailed in a previous blog entry…  Valley Visioning is sponsored by Envision Utah, which is a group of prominent Utahns who seemingly dislike market-driven growth for being too “chaotic” and “accidental,” but prefer for our political system to control such growth by centrally-planning it.  They’ve already fostered central plans for other parts of Utah and, now, it’s apparently our county’s turn.  But they don’t want to finalize their central plans for our county without first getting our input about what we want—so, these meetings will allow us to provide our input to them.  They intend to consider this input as they develop a communal vision statement for our county’s future that they intend to guide county-level central planning in the coming years.  Which apparently includes dictating where our newcomers will live.

This sounds much like what Provo has been doing on a city level since 2010-2011.  At that time, “liberal” Mayor John Curtis (who was formerly a Democrat) solicited residents’ advice as he created a comprehensive municipal vision statement called Vision 2030, which has since served as a guide to Provo’s City Council in (increasingly) centrally planning Provo’s municipal economy.  Vision 2030’s many goals include “sustainable development,” “Smart Growth” that redirects new development from Provo’s outskirts to its downtown, business subsidies, population redistribution, mandatory city-regulated landscaping (according to one city council meeting), promotion of mass-transit, a city-level Obamacare, and even oversight of each resident’s diet-and-exercise.  It looks like Orem is now following Provo’s example, along with Utah County—and, it would seem, other places throughout our nation.

So, if you don’t want central planners running the economy of our city or county or state or nation, but would prefer to leave markets free, then please choose to get motivated, educated, informed, and involved to help thwart these plans.  This requires us (in part) to both nominate and elect better politicians—and, since we can’t accomplish this feat with our one vote alone, we need to both engage and mobilized our neighbors, as well.  We Utahns who still value our rightful liberty need to build our ranks to become more numerous and/or effective than those of our statist adversaries, so that we can start to gain ground more than lose it.  If you find our website’s resources helpful in that goal, then please use them.


References:

Centrally Planning Utah County

Some people want our county government to centrally plan our county’s economy, and they are already making progress toward that goal.  More details are provided below—but, first, let’s overview some of the principles involved…

Anytime people remain sufficiently both free and virtuous, they tend to enjoy various blessings, including progress both as individuals and as a society.  Such advancing free societies develop without any obvious central guidance—and yet, despite that absence, somehow people still build homes and grow crops and mine ore and teach school and cure disease and supply countless other products and/or services that people demand, and do so more efficiently and effectively with each passing year.  Such orderly activity not only occurs spontaneously without any centralized direction, but central economic planning would actually harm it; one reason for this is that it’s impossible for any tiny oligarchy (even in the Information Age) to effectively oversee a vast complex system in which each person plays such a highly-specialized role.  In any case, the more advanced a given civilization becomes, the harder it becomes to centrally plan it, and the worse it fares whenever some would-be oligarchs attempt to harness it to serve their will.

Some people crave such power, though, and delude themselves into believing that the world (or their nation or their state or their city) would become so much better (or even “perfect”) if only they could subjugate their neighbors to their will and then reign over society with kinglike powers, directing everyone where to go and what to do.  Such power-hungry people are naturally drawn to politics, and even to public office, in which they strive to corrupt our political systems away from their proper role of defending rights toward a perverted role of controlling society.  Such centralized command-and-control essentially involves enslaving society, which practice is innately evil—and such evil means always lack the power to produce good ends, regardless of their intentions.  And this is why, although many statists may genuinely intend to create heaven-on-Earth, they almost invariably create hell-on-Earth instead to the extent that they’re allowed to implement their respective visions.

Statism isn’t only found in past horrors like Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany, but it has found favor among some Americans, as well.  It’s what reduced Detroit from a rich thriving metropolis to bankrupt crumbling ruins.  It’s why the middle class is currently fleeing California in droves.  And it’s even taking root here among us in Utah County.  Some Utahns might find that last statement surprising, considering Utah’s well-earned reputation as a highly conservative state—but it might make more sense to those who understand that very few Utahns actually bother to vote in local elections, while the few who DO bother to vote don’t necessarily represent majority views.

A small percent of Provoans supported John Curtis to win election in 2009 as Provo’s mayor, after which John quickly began working on Vision 2030/2050, which arguably became his most enduring legacy.  This document is more than a mere vision statement for what our political elites (after considering public input) decided that they want Provo to become, but it was intended from its inception to serve as a central-planning guide for our city council, and to become slowly transformed into city code.  Although this vision includes many relatively-benign provisions, it does include some rather alarming ones, such as dictating development, subsidizing politically-favored businesses, expelling renters, running monopolies, censoring communication, and even implementing a mini-Obamacare at the city level.  All of this from a former Democrat who seemingly never changed his views as much as his label.  And his successor, Mayor Kaufusi, seems well poised to perpetuate his legacy.

Mayor Kaufusi is now rallying Provoans to participate in developing a central economic plan for our entire county, as well, so that we can help “figure out where growth should go” as we “ensure Utah Valley grows the way the people who live here want it to.” This visioning process is being overseen by a group of wealthy and/or powerful Utahns called Envision Utah.  Envision Utah has criticized Utah County’s past relatively-free-market growth as being “chaotic” and “accidental”—and, as such, they are seeking to subjugate our local economy to our local politicians, who will override the free market by imposing their own political plans for our economy.  Rather than develop this central plan entirely on their own, Envision Utah has deigned to allow public participation—and, so, we local residents can visit their Valley Visioning website to complete a survey about what sort of future we want for Utah County.  One of this survey’s many interesting questions (which Mayor Kaufusi was seemingly referencing above) is about what percent of Utah Valley growth should be allocated to which cities—and, so, if we want 100% of new move-ins to come live in Provo, and 0% of them to live anywhere else, then we can tell Envision Utah so, and perhaps they’ll decide to decree it accordingly.  But why are we choosing where other people will live?  State-controlled-and-assigned housing may be perfect normal in communist nations, but it’s not a practice that we should accept here (or anywhere).

Please actively oppose this effort to develop a central economic plan for Utah County (and to continue the plan for Provo).  Please urge both your neighbors and your public officers to do likewise.  And, if your public officers choose to support central economic planning, anyway, then please rally your neighbors to uphold better candidates in next year’s local elections—candidates who will help preserve free markets by defending our equal God-given rights to both property and contract.


References: