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Friday, December 05, 2014


Urban Planning and Socialism

Jake Miller
December 5, 2014
Economic Freedom
Blog Post 2
Socialism and Urban Planning
                Socialism is defined as an economic theory that came up in the nineteenth century where simply the government controls the economy and influences most of the individual’s choices.  It is looked at not as crazy as communism but a little less liberal than that of communism.  Where socialism comes into the picture with this idea is that urban planning is looking more and more like a socialistic idea that only some people are seeing.   Now governments are using lots of regulation to go down the socialistic route to obtain the goals of productivity, equivalence, and control of externalities.  All of these qualities are being used in urban planning according to the piece by Randal O’Toole titled Is Urban Planning “Creeping Socialism”?   O’Toole claims that, “Urban planning rests on the ideas that urban residents impose numerous externalities on one another and that planning and regulation can minimize such externalities.  Despite their claim of scientific expertise, planners often have little idea what they are doing: cities are simply too complex to understand or control.”  So from this quote you can see that urban planning has had some bad historical failures.  There are a couple of qualities of urban planning that suggest we are creeping to socialism.
                Smart growth is the main tool that is used by urban planners and they are trying to discourage auto driving.  There are many parking and transportation limits that smart growth has caused.  O’Toole tells us that, “But smart-growth planners say that building more roads only encourages more auto traffic. Their goal instead is to discourage driving by reducing road capacities. They call this strategy “traffic calming.” It consists of putting barriers in roads to reduce speeds or flow capacities.”  The funny thing about this idea is that the government has socialized highways and streets and now cause of urban planners using smart growth to make less highways/streets because it only makes more people want to drive and cause more congestion.

                Smart growth urban planners also think that air pollution is a problem because of the mass amounts of automobiles that are being used.  So simply if less people are driving or using cars to commute then there will be less air pollution that people will have to inhale.  O’Toole states that, “Therefore, a transportation system that results in many short trips at slow speeds in stop-and-go traffic will produce far more pollution than one that results in longer trips in free-flowing traffic averaging 45 miles per hour. Because smart growth is more likely to produce the former conditions, it could significantly degrade air quality.”  This statistic is staggering to me because really I would believe to that the more cars on the road create more pollution, but the more the stop and go the automobile is creates most of the pollution that is harmful to us.  The idea of smart growth that urban planners use is definitely hinders on personal freedoms, and liberties of people and does creep us closer to socialism.  

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