Let it sprawl!
As if manipulated by an invisible puppet-master, "urban sprawl" appeared on the American stage in the form of letters to the editor, proposals from "civil society," and pronouncements from the Vice President. Urban sprawl, formerly called economic expansion, has been demonized as a plot instigated by unscrupulous developers, facilitated by incompetent local officials, and calculated to destroy life as we know it. "Urban sprawl must be stopped," proclaim the puppets, dangling at the end of strings held by the invisible hand.
Urban sprawl causes too much traffic congestion; too much ozone; too many people; too much infrastructure; the loss of farm land; the loss of wildlife; and on and on and on.
What the puppets decry as urban sprawl is actually a reflection of free people choosing freely to live where they want to live. Limiting urban sprawl is limiting individual freedom. It would be interesting to look up the home address of the leading advocates of urban sprawl limits. If the advocates who live beyond the city limits were taken out of the discussion, the demand to limit urban sprawl would fade overnight.
The whole idea of limiting economic expansion, as expressed by the invisible puppet master, is nonsense. It doesn't take a nuclear scientist to figure out that if population is limited to an area arbitrarily drawn on a map, the density and congestion within the area, will be greater than it would be if the population spilled over into the suburbs.
"The density will be greater, but the congestion will be less, because people will no longer need to drive automobiles," so the argument goes. People can walk to work, or ride a bicycle, or take public transportation. Of course, people can do that now, if they choose. The problem is that people have not chosen to live in high-density congested areas, and walk or ride bicycles to work. People have chosen to move to the suburbs, and own a little piece of land, even if it means commuting on busy highways or crowded transportation systems. And it drives the puppet- master nuts.
The puppet master knows what's best for the masses. If the people choose to live differently from the lifestyle envisioned by the puppet-master, then they must be forced to live as the puppet-master decrees, whether they want to or not. The puppet-master has decreed that single family homes are sinful. Automobiles must be outlawed. Air conditioning is an unnecessary luxury. McDonald's and frozen foods are instruments of the earth-devil. All can be eliminated, or at least controlled, by forcing people to live within urban sprawl limits.
In other countries, urban sprawl can be controlled by dictatorial decree. In America, dictatorial decrees work only on people who are not affected by them. The Escalante-Staircase Monument decree, for example, worked because most of America's millions were not affected by it. But a dictatorial decree to create sprawl limits would affect millions of people. Therefore, the less odious methods of persuasion, coercion, intimidation, and finally regulation are being used.
The result is the same: when urban sprawl limits are imposed, people are denied the freedom to choose where they want to live.
If sprawl limits or zoning restrictions are imposed by locally elected officials who live in the affected area, local citizens can hold them accountable for the decisions they make. If, on the other hand, sprawl limits are mandated from on high, imposed through regulatory coercion or economic intimidation, who, then, do local citizens hold accountable?
Virtually every community in America is now confronted by pressures to limit urban sprawl. The pressure was not initiated by local citizens. Sorry, the pressure did not originate in Washington, either. Bill and Al are not the puppet-masters; they too, willingly dangle at the end of strings held by others.
The puppet-master is an institution manned by people who are convinced they know best how every one else should live. Their blueprint for how everyone else should live is Agenda 21, adopted by the official delegates from 179 nations at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992.
Urban sprawl, land use control, wilderness expansion, carbon emission reductions, -- all front page news items now -- are just the beginning of limitations on individual freedom prescribed in Agenda 21.
The puppet-master is ultimately the United Nations. Bill and Al have eagerly transformed the agencies under their control into little more than administrative units for the puppet-master. Moreover, they are using our tax dollars to fund the NGOs (non-government organizations) who obediently dance at the master's tug.
Sooner or later, the people whose individual freedom is continually being infringed and eroded are going to realize that they can cut the strings, and leave the puppet-master twiddling his thumbs.