Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The Demand for Dumb Policies

Many U.S. cities have Redevelopment Authorities that funnel large amounts other people's money to pet causes but which have very little positive effect. The politicization of development is a patently bad idea. As these cities slide further, they simply politicize more activities and the vicious cycle proceeds.

Politicized schools do not teach, their grads cannot produce and stay poor -- thereby creating a demand for umpteen new policies, etc. Things can quickly get out of hand and they often do.

Politicized land markets in most U.S. cities mean a costly "approvals process" that hobbles investment and development of the real sort. Poor places stay poor.

When Wal-Mart wanted to locate a new super-store on a white elephant parking lot in Inglewood, CA, they were quickly enmeshed in all sorts of local politics. The sorry ending was a ballot measure (initiated by the company) designed to short-circuit all of the hearings. This lost at the polls last night.

There will be fewer jobs in Inglewood, retail prices and variety will stay stuck where they have been for years and an empty eyesore parking lot will stay empty for a while longer. Oh yes, there will be more work for the City's Redevelopment Authority. Those unproductive jobs are safe.