Today's London Free Press lead editorial, City core worth it, reviews the work city council "has been doing for decades" trying to restore London's downtown to an officially proscribed nostalgic utopia of original bustling prosperity:
and concludes in not quite so many words that the work has been a failure so far, as raising the subject itself goes to prove. The Free Press' solution? More of the same, "for decades more"!
… enough reports on core renewal to fill the downtown library, enough meetings to put even the most diehard downtown lover to sleep. Enough tax incentives to make suburban developers weep. Enough tax money spent on megaprojects in the core to finance a ring road…
Why would the Free Press counsel continuing political intervention after the city's decades-long policy of downtown torture by a thousand taxes and regulations has so evidently resulted in consequences so opposite to its intentions? Because it costs the Free Press nothing to continue as media proxies for a political class that cannot even imagine anything less than the necessity for its active intervention in and direction of almost every sphere of social and economic activity in the city. It is what the political class has raised itself for, and unintended consequences be damned for insufficient force.
Not that the Free Press would admit as much; instead, it characteristically obscures the indefensibility of a proposition with the patronizingly meaningless sentimentality we have come to expect of it:
Three mawkishly incontestable but irrelevant sentences are designed to direct our acquiescence to the wisdom of decades of blight by political agency. The sad thing is that many Londoners are either as equally dedicated to the rule of vapid moralizing, or otherwise resigned to sinking more of their tax dollars into the downtown pit of centrally planned decay that they will never bother to visit.
Downtowns may struggle, but they are still the heart and soul of most cities. They make us unique. They are key to our history — and our future.
If the city were to resign its self-appointed mission of engineering miniature Shangri-Las, and failing miserably in the process, a corresponding reduction in taxes and abolition of burdensome regulation would allow the downtown to actually thrive in some form or fashion… it just wouldn't necessarily be in the way of the rosy vision of bygone days to which the city's fathers would have everyone be sold on. And what's wrong with that? Times change, whatever the appeal of retrograde civic puritanism to that minority of constituents who actually vote. It's not your father's downtown anymore, and it never will be again. At least let it be something else…