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Planning and Individual Decision-Making

Fine sentiments often crowd out serious, hard thinking.  Case in point: E. J. Dionne’s column in today’s Washington Post.

Dionne is impressed with Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s urban-planning "vision."  Blumenaeur likes urban plans, and he wants one for New Orleans.  (Rep. Blumenauer represents Portland, OR.)

But Blumenauer’s excellent sentiments and pronouncements reveal deeply confused thinking.

On one hand, he’s "a little scared by how fast they’re doing all this stuff [the rebuilding of New Orleans] because I don’t think there’s anybody in charge."  On the other hand, according to Dionne, "Above all, he wants to turn the hurricane’s victims into decision makers" (emphasis added).

I oppose rebuilding New Orleans according to any plan.  Any worthwhile city is an organic, spontaneous order.  But even if planning a viable, wonderful city were possible and even desirable, doing so is inconsistent with "above all" allowing individuals to be their own decision-makers.


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