Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Quick links

Stupid cities

Discussion of anti-growth or anti-sprawl policy objectives in London is driven primarily by an active dogmatic environmentalism that excludes calculation of the costs and benefits of historic and existing land uses and consideration of the deleterious impact of regulation in favour of what has become a reactionary and ultra-regulatory hysteria. The promotion of such vague and inscrutable non-concepts like "smart growth" and "sustainable growth" is itself an indictment of the agenda's perception of problem and solution. Nevertheless, the movement to apply such whimsies with regulatory force does find some complacent approval with many taxpayers who, already owning their own homes, may or may not appreciate the advantages to incumbents of artificial property price inflation or sustaining visions of a bucolic if contrived status quo.

But so far there has been little evidence that anti-sprawl has become an active and significant political objective in London's city hall, although this has more to do with an administrative calculation that at least as yet growth in assessment revenue needed to blunt actual rate hikes is easier to obtain with horizontal development than with vertical. Some local politicians, however, have endorsed the political calculation of environmental anti-growth hysteria, and at some point placatory noises will be heard in the city's influential planning department as well. When that happens, Londoners will be in for a tall order of economically detrimental policy and regulation… and although it will be cloaked with the requisite deference to the authority of environmental political correctness, it will again be the product of another baser calculation, being that the city's indebtedness and the liabilities of its massive non-essential spending have finally outstripped its capacity to fund increases in basic services due to growth. Proving that there are more crooked paths to an environmentalist's heart than straight ones…

I was reminded of this by the latest editorial in the Financial Post by Terence Corcoran, who finds that some municipalities in Canada, notably Toronto, are already hitting the wall when it comes to providing basic services.

In a normally functioning market economy, supply emerges to meet demand as entrepreneurs building the facilities to give people what they want. Governments work in reverse. Demand is taken to be a drain on city resources. If demand grows with the population, the burden on government expands, the costs seem high and in the end nothing is done pending arrival of the inevitable crisis.
And the inevitable crisis is just as inevitably paid out in increased taxes and regulation. Londoners may only a few years and, if fortunate, a few more federal and provincial handouts from realizing this itself. The conventional wisdom of growth, of course, is that it is both an aspiration and an opportunity, and if wisdom is not straight-jacketed by politicians, bureaucrats and activists it will become seen to be an opportunity to allow the private sector to meet the actual demands of people.

The new B.A.

Ontarians have become inured to the utter iniquity of the idea of forcing potentially productive and independent citizens to remain in school until the age of 18 by habitual reference to the historically iniquitous legislated custom of forcing them to remain until 16. No matter, then… they are a sore sight, and the longer they are removed from the public, the better! And if they are even sorer sight for their indenture of even two more years, well, that is two more years we don't have to think about them at least.

Another custom to which we Ontarians have become inured is the vapidity and uselessness of a high school diploma. The government of Dalton McGuinty's Liberals is intent enough on this custom to ensure the complete destruction of the diploma's purpose and meaning, even so far as to remove actual education as its requirement. From the London Free Press:
Some high school dropouts can now earn part of their diploma doing administrative jobs for the Ontario government as the province comes up with new ways to keep kids in school until their 18th birthday.

The expanded program — which now includes high schools in Windsor, Ottawa and Toronto — is part of the government's aim to have nearly 100,000 more students graduate from high school by 2010.

[…] Programs like this will help boost Ontario's graduation rate — currently hovering around 70 per cent — by tailoring the high school experience to individual students, Wynne said yesterday.
It is not, of course, the attainment of academic standards that shall be the judge, it is the having of "experience"… which, incidentally, is compelled anyway. What our goverment won't do for a little self-serving statistic, even if it serves no one else!

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Describing municipal politicians as anti-growth and anti-sprawl is unfair. They are nearly all extremely pro-(tax)-growth and every one of them that I ever met is enthusiastically in favour of increasing the sprawl of government regulatory and bureaucratic tentacles.