Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The American Prospect's pathetically limited imagination

The American Prospect, a typical liberal rag, has an article online entitled "The Conservative Case for Urbanism," but it's entirely unpersuasive and doesn't touch on some of the urbanism issues that would really appeal to conservatives. The article has essentially two (very poorly fleshed out) arguments: roads can be wasteful, and the federal government sometimes gets in the way of state/local mass transit initiatives.

But what it doesn't mention is that the sort of sprawl that dots America's (mostly suburban) landscape is enabled by zoning and minimum parking regulations, and that the suburbs might be a lot denser if people were allowed more complete property rights. I don't know if it's because the Republican party has strayed so far away from its limited government roots that this no longer qualifies as a "conservative" issue, or if the author mistakenly equates municipal government with individual choice, or if the author is just plain ignorant as to the root causes of sprawl. But in any case, she took what could have been an insightful topic, stripped away any persuasive arguments, and left readers with the impression that urbanism simply isn't compatible with American conservatism. And that's a shame.

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