Conniptions from me on urban economics
Matt Yglesias, picking up from Ryan Avent, writes:
…some libertarian economists at George Mason University go so far as to
laud America’s large houses and plentiful parking specifically as
evidence of the superiority of America’s free market economic policy,
blissfully unaware that in the United States pervasive regulation
requires the construction of bigger houses and more parking spaces than
the market would provide.
Matt refers to:
…the kind of libertarians who one would expect to go into conniptions if
Fairfax County, Virginia were to propose a stringent rent control law seem surprisingly blasé
about the vast array of land use restrictions that infringe economic
liberty in that county and most other American jurisdictions.
Just for the record, I'd like to add my conniptions on the issue:
1. I would not have brought the U.S. down the path of water subsidies, many of which are pro-suburban. (Admitted they are not always easy to repeal.)
2. I think pollution externalities should be priced in Pigouvian fashion; this would penalize many suburban developments.
3. I oppose the widening of Route 7 at Tysons Corner and I expect a disaster from the current plans.
4. I favor school choice and charter schools, which would make many U.S. cities livable again for couples with children.
5. I would price many roads for congestion, although as Bryan points out this could either help or hurt cars as a mode of transport.
6. I would allow U.S. cities to become much taller, thereby accommodating more residents. I would weaken many urban building codes in the interests of a greener America.
7. I much preferred the time when I lived near a gas station and a 7-11.
Maybe Matt and Ryan are picking on Bryan Caplan rather than me but I suspect Bryan would agree with most of this list, maybe all of it.
If I don't throw conniptions on these issues more often, it is because I regard them as unlikely or in some cases they are simply not issues I follow closely. Fairfax County zoning has such strong political support, most of all from the wealthy Democrats who supported Obama but from Republicans too. If you find anyone in Fairfax screaming about the horrors of zoning, that person is likely to be a libertarian and not a blase one. Or maybe they are a Best Buy shareholder.
But today is the day of conniptions. I truly wish that Fairfax County were more like central Arlington or for that matter Falls Church City and I curse those who have made it otherwise.
Here is a picture of The Conniptions. Don't forget them. They are mine! My conniptions.
Fairfax, by the way, did have rent control before 1973. Oddly, my main post on rent control is a chat with Tyrone, who of course favors the idea.