Fundamental Change in human settlement patterns and Fundamental Change in governance structure will benefit all citizens. In fact these two Fundamental Changes are the sine qua nons for future prosperity, stability and sustainability.

Fundamental Change in the short term will end some subsidies for those who now profit – or hope to profit in the future – from Business-As-Usual. Those who believe they are threatened by Fundamental Change try to deflect and obstruct rational discussion by every means they can think of.

When all else fails, they filibuster and toss out ancient Red Herrings. They suggest those who favor Fundamental Change have no respect for individual rights, they accuse them of trying to take away private property and / or of advocating central planning that deprives citizens of their rights.

EMR, S/PI, The Shape of the Future, PROPERTY DYNAMICS and Friends of Virginia’s Future advocate a free market as the best way to allocate resources and democracy as best way to guide governance.

One will look in vain for any suggestion to the contrary in The Shape of the Future, in the 73 columns at Bacon’s Rebellion, in Handbook, in the program for PROPERTY DYNAMICS or in the documents created by and for the 150 +/- participants of Friends of Virginia’s Future over the past 15 years.

You will find no evidence that we are against self-interest or private rights. In fact, thwarting the evolution of rational community interests erodes everyone’s private rights and interests. We advocate a balance of private rights and community responsibilities.

We pointed out in out last post (BREAKTHROUGH!) that a society that relies on a market economy to allocate resources and democratic process to guide governance is the sum of its citizens individual actions. We also note that at this point citizens of the Commonwealth are sliding toward total entropy with governance practitioners going along for the ride. Look no farther that the 2006 General Assembly session for proof positive.

It is particularly ironic when the Thomas Jefferson’s name is invoked by Red Herring hurlers in pseudo-academic fashion to discount the need for Fundamental Change. Jefferson is misquoted or quoted out of context to support the contention that private rights trump the interests of society as a whole and that private interests have carte blanc to thwart the common good. That is not the relationship Jefferson advocated for individuals and a well-functioning government. Without functional governance there is chaos and thus no private rights.

Jefferson is also quoted as being as being opposed to any further change in government structure once the Constitution was ratified. The quote that is tossed out to support this claim is from the early republic. Jefferson cautioned against making will-nilly changes before the new system had time to work. After 200 years, the context for governance is fundamentally different.

The most important change since 1800 is that the United States has evolved from a society with 95% agrarian oriented citizens and 5% urban oriented citizens to one where over 95% are urban oriented and less than 5% are nonurban. Nonurban households realize the majority of their livelihood from extensive uses of land – forestry, agriculture, etc.

This profound shift requires fundamentally different settlement patterns and requires a Fundamental Change in governance structure to accommodate the needs of urban citizens.

In this context, citizens must have reliable information so they can make better decisions in the marketplace and better decisions in voting booth. Not “better” from some abstract or ideal perspective or “better” for some shadow interest group but “better” in terms of the enlightened self-interest of the citizens making the decisions in the market and at the polls.

We argue that both a free market and democracy require logical structures and informed citizens to function. Level the playing field, remove the subsidies, work to achieve equity and balance. The first step is an easy one – fairly allocate location-variable costs of goods and services.

Obstructionists need to get over the filibustering and Red Herring tossing and get to work helping achieve Fundamental Change in human settlement patterns so that patterns and densities of land use reflect contemporary economic, social and physical reality.

Citizens need to work towards Fundamental Change in governance structure so that there is a democratic structure that reflects the organic reality of contemporary society.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. PROPERTY DYNAMICS is coming soon to a Alpha Neighborhood near you.

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3 responses to “WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS”

  1. Ray Hyde Avatar

    If you really advocate a free market, then that is all you need to do. Nothing will educate people to the physical and economic realities any faster.

    If you want to level the playing field and remove the subsidies, then remove all the subsidies, including those for schools, sidewalks, bike trails, metro, and SUV’s. You can eliminate the subsidies that artificially support employer location choices. You can start by eliminating the 20% subsidy existing homeowners get by not paying their true costs, and the 300% overpayment farmers make.

    You are going to have to make a lot better argument in order to sell what you call a fair allocation of goods and services that depend on location. That is one part of your argument that has some appealing merit, but it is hoplessy weak, and incomplete as it stands.

    But if it turns out to be a trumped up way of punishing those people who don’t behave the way that you wish they would, or think is proper, then the amount of punishment applied is no more than a reverse subsidy to those who happen to agree with you.

    That tactic is a violation of the free market principle that says people should pay the actual costs for what they want. If you want a certain kind of physical layout for our society, then you need to be willing to raise the taxes and create the incentives for that to happen. Creating targeted, artificial disincentives doesn’t count, and particularly can’t help the economy.

    As it stands now, the economic reality for many people is that they are willing to drive, poison themselves, waste time in traffic, risk life and limb, and pay money in order to avoid living in the places you seem to think are most valuable.

    It may very well be that there is some kind of fundamental change that can change those realities and cost less to boot, but such a condition has never been demonstrated anywhere. No doubt, if that ever happens, then it’s architect will go down in history along with Jefferson. Until then, I prefer to rely on the ancient wisdom than the unproven.

    In the meantime, suggesting that Kelo is a good thing for the common good (for example) sounds a lot like disregarding the value of private property. It is only the strict observance of private property that allows us to consider what things are worth and thus learn about economic and physical reality.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    I’m prepared to keep an open mind but here is what I DON’T want to see: People who can buy their way out of PROPERTY DYNAMICS or whatever other plan you come up with deciding how the rest of us must live. Think Kennedy and McGovern extolling the virtues of busing while sending their own children to private school. Or more recently, people who live in exclusive and/or gated communities suggesting that folks in Manassas who object to what amounts to boarding houses in their middle-class single-family-home neighborhoods are xenophobes and racists.

  3. Ray Hyde Avatar

    well, I’m inclined to make some untoward comments about people who live on large lots in the exurbs, drive SUV’s and then try to tell everyone else how to live, and what should be done, but I believe that people should be allowed to do as they see fit, provided they pay their own way and keep their nose out of other peoples business.

    It’s that last part that tends to get in the way.

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