Wednesday, August 30, 2006


A staple of 1980s hand-wringing was "manpower planning". That seems to have waned even though there are still occasional stories from the genre that make the news. This morning's WSJ includes: "Oil-Rich Calgary Finds Boomtimes have a Downside ... A Hot Real Estate Market Suffers Big Labor Shortage; Office Vacancies Near Zero." It makes good copy but most people understand that labor markets, if left alone, funnel labor to its highest and best uses.

Seeming "imbalances" in land use and transportation also get top billing. Yesterday's L.A. Times included: "L.A., O.C. Traffic Patterns to Switch ... Orange County has long had more outgoing commuters. Within 20 years, that's expected to reverse as jobs multiply ..."

The second article cites the concerns of local planners and politicians who have been chasing the "job-housing balance" chimera for years.

No human has an idea of what the proper "balance" would be (at what level of geography, at what skill level, how to balance against non-job draws, etc.); if they somehow did, what would they/could they do with the knowledge?

Our planners and politicians refuse to price road access. As a result there is road traffic ("gridlock") that they want to "solve" by somehow manipulating land and housing markets. It is pure nonsense but, again, no joke because their interventions stymie land and housing markets -- creating another "crisis" to "solve", the "housing affordability" problem.