Sunday, April 19, 2009

Obama Hates the Suburbs and Wants Suburbanites to Move

Attempts at moving suburbanites into more dense areas may just be hot air at this point, but President Obama's anti-suburb bias is showing and it is a dream.

Peter Gordon is attending the American Dream Coalition conference in Seattle and highlights a paper at the conference by Ron Utt, President Obama's New Plan to Decide Where Americans Live and How They Travel.

Utt writes:

...A March press release issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a new interagency partnership to create "affordable, sustainable communities...Rich in the sort of progressive euphemisms used to mask real intentions, the press release heralds a process that could likely lead to an unprecedented federal effort to force Americans into an antiquated lifestyle that was common to the early years of the previous century. More specifically, these initiatives reflect an escalation in what is shaping up as President Obama's apparent intent to re-energize and lead the Left's longstanding war against America's suburbs...

Despite the broad scope of this new DOT-HUD partnership, the press release announcing it was long on euphemisms and slogans and offered little or no substance as to what it intended to accom­plish beyond the enhancement of existing bureaucracies and greater data manipulation. Nonetheless, the euphemisms it did embrace belong to those who want to force dramatic changes on how Americans live their lives.

While some may hope this effort is nothing more than the President's attempt to use the White House as a bully pulpit to encourage Americans to mimic the urbane lifestyle he experienced in an upscale Chicago neighborhood, the record of past such efforts by the federal government is more troubling.

In January 1998, President Bill Clinton's Environmental Protection Agency threatened to with hold federal transportation funds from the Atlanta region because it did not meet federal air-quality standards and said that it would agree to restore the funding only if the state of Georgia dramatically altered its land-use and transportation policies in ways similar to those characteristic of the Smart Growth polices that discourage single-family detached housing and encourage public transit use and investment. Georgia agreed to do this, at least through the waning days of the Clinton Administration, but soon abandoned the policies when leader ship in Washington changed.

Carol Browner headed the EPA when the threat was imposed on Atlanta under Clinton. Today, she is Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. With the prospect of even worse to come from this new DOT-HUD partnership on sustain able communities, those who are skeptical of the President's grandiose efforts at social engineering should be on the alert.


  1. Look on the bright side. After Obama has herded all the suburbanites back downtown, the Democrats will lose their lock on city governments. Maybe then we can fix them.

  2. I attended the ADC in Houston last year. It was fantastic. More libertarians need to be aware of how pernicious urban planning has become. Many of these "smart growth" types live in this 1920's time warp where not only is central planning more virtuous, but also more efficient than the market at deciding real estate development.

  3. Well, considering that the suburbs are the result of massive government intervention into the economy in the first place, the suburbs would largely die in a real free market economy. After all, if it wasn't for tax transfers from productive centers (cities) to the unproductive peripheries (countryside, suburbs) through state-built infrastructures, there would hardly be any suburbs, since only the very wealthy would be able to afford them. The natural growth for cities is up, not sideways. Subsidized roads killed the railways, suburban sprawl killed the small retail business, and all of it resulted in higher taxes for everybody. No Libertarian could honestly defend the state sponsored human settlement structures of the last 60 years or so.

    Without government support, only agricultural and forestry related businesses could survive in the country side.

    There is no need to have government policies encourage people to leave the suburbs, all that is necessary to cut government subsidies to the suburbs.

    Any honest libertarian would take up the call for reduced state funding for road and other infrastructures, for reduced zoning regulation.

    Let the free market decide whether or not suburbs are free market phenomena or just another statist project.