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After reading the comments to my post titled "How to Build a Country," I am left wondering if the intense backlash to "central planning" represents a valid opinion or if it is more of a psychological condition.

If it is a psychological condition, it is one I've often seen. It is the inability to distinguish between an analogy - which could be a component of a valid opinion - and something that simply reminds you of something else.

For example, if you see a bed sheet blowing in the wind on a clothesline, it might remind you of a ghost, and that would be perfectly normal. But if you think the sheet might later haunt you because of its similarity to a ghost, you probably have a psychological problem.

Likewise, when my idea of planning a city from the furniture up reminds you of Stalin and Chairman Mao, you might be suffering from a condition that just feels like an opinion to you. I want to assure you that there is no danger from Stalin, Mao, or the bed sheet. You are simply reminded of them.

Keep in mind that any newer city in this day and age is centrally planned, from the road layout to the sewer systems to the water supply. And there is always some sort of planning commission approving new construction. If you are lucky enough to live in such a planned community, you'll be happy that you can easily get from one place to another and find parking. If you live in an older city, such as Washington DC or Boston, you know it's a nightmare to get from A to B.

I've lived in three planned communities. There was an apartment complex that was planned from the ground up. There was a housing development the size of a small city. Then there was a townhouse development I lived in for several years while building the house I live in now.

Do you know what was terrible about all of those "centrally planned" communities?

Nothing.

The cost of the homes was probably half of what it would have cost an individual to build from scratch, and they had all the safety and convenience features you would need. I could quibble about closet space, and the availability of guest parking, but that's exactly the sort of thing you can fix with better central planning. If there were no centrally planned government building codes, developers would screw the living daylights out of home buyers who don't even know what questions to ask.

When it comes to building a home or even a modern city, central planning is how it is already done, and it is the only sensible model. The alternative to central planning is unambiguously stupid. No intelligent human believes you get a better result by letting people do whatever they want with their homes, streets, and sewage. If you do believe that, you are once again confusing the bed sheet with a ghost. Political freedom - which we all want - is not an analogy to home building. If you give people the freedom to build whatever homes they want, you don't get something awesome like democracy; you get a shantytown nightmare.

Keep in mind that the planned city I described would have numerous different models of homes, just as current developments do. And no one would be required to move to this city. It would compete with every other open society on earth as a desirable place to live.

My post on building a city from the furniture up is about better central planning. Central planning itself is a given. There is no rational alternative. I'm only suggesting that technology would allow an amazing leap in livability if we plan correctly, and I think a company such as Google would do a better job than a government entity when it comes to planning .

And if you see a bed sheet and that reminds you of a ghost, that isn't an opinion.

 
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Dec 4, 2013
I am sorry for the loss of your father. I "got" your viewpoint on the day of his passing--knowing just how you felt and I am not outraged. I am in the middle of your audiobook and enjoying it. I lost my father at 86, too and it was not a dignified situation either. I suppose we all could do a better job of voting in politicians who are compassionate when it comes to the end of our lives. Unfortunately, $8,000 for monthly care at the end-of-life is probably nothing to them. Peace.
 
 
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Nov 26, 2013
Just wanted to point out that Washington, DC was itself a heavily planned community. This is obvious from one glance at it from Google Maps - blatant grid system, interlocking diagonal parkways meeting in circles, a big 'mall' park downtown, and views of the capitol from miles away. It was considered one of the best planned cities at the time.

The real problem with extensive planning is that it's hard to know what to plan for. It necessarily involves guesses and choices, and over time the aggregated wrong guesses will pile up and the plan is less and less able to serve its purpose. Planning's great, but flexibility is the key to a good plan confronting reality, not consistency in the face of new situations.
 
 
Nov 20, 2013
Townhouses aren't terrible, I live in one myself. But they have no memories. When the old houses are razed to make way for the brand new sparkling townhouses and apartments the history of the place is gone and the people are scattered to the winds. I remember the old houses of my childhood that stood for more than a century, and see the shabby stucco buildings and parking lots that replaced them already deteriorating.

I just read about an area in Ethiopia, the home of humanity, near Djibouti. Afar villagers that have lived and prospered or not for uncounted generations have been wiped away by agribusiness that is growing sugarcane. Who will remember them? As the author said,"Our era's breathtaking changes flatten collective memory, blur precedence, sever lines of responsibility. (What disconcerts us about suburbia? Not just its sameness, but its absence of time, We crave a past in our landscapes.)

"Milan Kundera, the Czech novelist, once wrote that the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

 
 
Nov 20, 2013
Townhouses aren't terrible, I live in one myself. But they have no memories. When the old houses are razed to make way for the brand new sparkling townhouses and apartments the history of the place is gone and the people are scattered to the winds. I remember the old houses of my childhood that stood for more than a century, and see the shabby stucco buildings and parking lots that replaced them already deteriorating.

I just read about an area in Ethiopia, the home of humanity, near Djibouti. Afar villagers that have lived and prospered or not for uncounted generations have been wiped away by agribusiness that is growing sugarcane. Who will remember them? As the author said,"Our era's breathtaking changes flatten collective memory, blur precedence, sever lines of responsibility. (What disconcerts us about suburbia? Not just its sameness, but its absence of time, We crave a past in our landscapes.)

"Milan Kundera, the Czech novelist, once wrote that the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

 
 
Nov 17, 2013
Humane, human-scale central planning is far preferable to just letting profit-driven developers do whatever the hell they want to.

Think about the classic American small town. Mayberry is perhaps the most famous fictional example, but it isn't that far off the traditional reality.

What made the classic American small town so pleasing and fulfilling a place to live? The main reason, but far from the only one, is that they were deliberately designed to be walking communities, with the stores well within walking distance of the residences. A town where people regularly walk is a town where people get to know one another, and so the town becomes a true community held strongly together by bonds of true friendship. Front porches and tree-lined streets helped too. Compare this to the typical modern development, which is mostly a mere aggregation of isolated beings behind closed doors watching TV or reading postings from their Facebook "friends," or otherwise engaging in simulacra of true relationships.

The crucialness of walking to creating and nourishing true human community is the key insight of the New Urbanism, the most visionary movement in modern urban architecture/planning. An outstanding non-technical overview of the New Urbanism is set forth in an essay entitled "The Second Coming of the American Small Town," which can be found at www.polsci.wvu.edu/faculty/michelbach/d2.pdf‎.

Tragically, after World War II, the extremely destructive urban planning ideas of a megalomaniacal architect/planner who called himself Le Corbusier became extremely influential. His core idea was that somehow walking communities were very bad things and so, according to him, stores must be separated from residences by at least a mile, and instead of walking everyone would get around by using automobiles instead. (If this sounds like a formula guaranteed to isolate people from one another and so make them miserable, it is.)

So great was the worship accorded this maniac in academe and among the power elite that across the nation thousands of zoning laws were passed literally making it illegal to build new walking communities, or any place that was anything at all like the classic American small town. This and additional toxic ideas from Le Corbusier led directly to the thumping-dead sterility and alienation that now characterizes so many thousands of places around this nation.

A fuller exploration of the Le Corbusier disaster can be found in the celebrated book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," by Jane Jacobs.

The good news is that Le Corbusier-ism is increasingly recognized as a plague on mankind; and that there has arisen against it an increasingly powerful revolution, whose goal is to make where we live once again pleasant, human-scale places, which are sensibly designed not primarily for automobiles but primarily for fostering human happiness and fulfillment, and deep and true community and friendship. This is not a radical departure but is instead a new embrace of the best of traditional American community design.
 
 
Nov 16, 2013

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Nov 16, 2013

i am here to give testimony of how i got back my husband, we got married for more than 9 years and have gotten two kids. thing were going well with us and we are always happy. until one day my husband started to behave in a way i could not understand, i was very confused by the way he treat me and the kids. later that month he did not come home again and he called me that he want a divorce, i asked him what have i done wrong to deserve this from him, all he was saying is that he want a divorce that he hate me and do not want to see me again in his life, i was mad and also frustrated do not know what to do,i was sick for more than 2 weeks because of the divorce. i love him so much he was everything to me without him my life is incomplete. i told my sister and she told me to contact a spell caster, i never believe in all this spell casting of a thing. i just want to try if something will come out of it. i contacted traditional spell hospital for the return of my husband to me, they told me that my husband have been taken by another woman, that she cast a spell on him that is why he hate me and also want us to divorce. then they told me that they have to cast a spell on him that will make him return to me and the kids, they casted the spell and after 1 week my husband called me and he told me that i should forgive him, he started to apologize on phone and said that he still live me that he did not know what happen to him that he left me. it was the spell that he traditional spell hospital casted on him that make him comeback to me today,me and my family are now happy again today. thank you traditional spell hospital for what you have done for me i would have been nothing today if not for your great spell. i want you my friends who are passing through all this kind of love problem of getting back their husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend to contact traditionalspellhospital@gmail.com. and you will see that your problem will be solved without any delay
 
 
Nov 9, 2013
I thought this was a pretty good troll.

The core thesis is that other ppls beliefs about socialism is superstition.

That is a pretty decent agitation. disrespect unisection with theism, perfect for atheists.

My entire experience with socialism is from a philosophical standpoint, the facts of worldwide abuse and suffering are convenient buttresses to my position. IOW stalin and mao had nothing to do with my decision.

Now, if you had said that central planning resembled a caste system with deciders and drones I can see a sheet/ghost analogy. They are really the same thing.

but hey, why not let their actions speak for themselves? communism produces misery and pits interest of individual against interests of state. its a cooking recipe for dysfunction. we have outcomes we can see. no need to ignore reality.
 
 
Nov 7, 2013
"Central Planning" as you describe it works pretty well when it is a development corporation that owns the land and has a stake in doing it right. Most importantly they get punished when they do it wrong. There are lots of failed real estate developments.

Government planning agencies that simply tell other people what they can and can't do with their own capital pretty much always get it wrong. And then it is the tax payers who get punished for it.

Always.
 
 
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Nov 6, 2013
When the police state and government run healthcare join forces:

http:// www. kob .com/ article/stories/s3209305 !$%*!$
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 6, 2013
American Hippie Communes of the 60's and 70's were communism and socialism without the guns and enslavement. Given the choice over time, most people left the communes, and they failed. Take the wall down and the Soviets failed. Remove the land mines from the DMZ and North Korea would fall in days.

One might say that it's very difficult to willingly keep giving up personal freedoms for strangers. For my daughter, yes - for my friend's daughter, maybe - for your daughter, why should I?

Don't forget, many of us were fed for years on "duck and cover", and instant nuclear death by those central planning monsters. We were taught the bed sheets were monsters.
Maybe the effects from fear of Russian central planning government we were taught as kids, will be similar to the future effects from fear of religious government terrorists children are facing today.


When the police state and government run healthcare join !$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$
"This is like something out of a science fiction film, (forced) a n a l probing by government officials and public employees," Kennedy said.

Forget designing government from my chair outward, how about protection from our governments, from my colon outward?
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 6, 2013
I'm starting to call the mindset that you can't change the way things are, 'isism". It is this way, so it must have to be this way.

The argument appears to be that those idiot socialists got in trouble by trying to break the law of isism -not because they had a philosophy that was tested and proven wrong. That's why anything that is remotely associated with socialism - has to be rejected - even if democratically elected officials make a proposal with the full support of their constituents. If it smacks of socialism, it is clearly in violation of the law of isism - and is therefore dangerous.

This mindset works best for people who don't pay attention to the silly studies, like history and philosophy. They can trace the development of technology to individual contributors. They would never argue that the internet sprang full formed from the ether, for example - but since the rest of life, according to this world view, just is, there are no contributors to trace.

The thousands of years of trial and error in developing systems of government - whenever philosophers had a chance to break through the might-is-rightists - is invisible to isismists.

If you try to argue the point that free people have a right to band together and voluntarily relinquish some personal freedom for the common good if they so choose - you will get back a question like, "Why I am obligated to pay for someone else's healthcare?" or "Why am I obligated to pay to feed someone else's child?"

In other words - you aren't having the same argument. The ismists is arguing that what you are suggesting is not and therefore should not be. You already know that and are trying to argue that it could be. You are trying to debate the idea on its merits. You can't do that with isismists because isismists don't deal in subjunctives.
 
 
Nov 6, 2013
Question more than comment - Does anyone know why utilities are buried under the roads? It seems like something gets repave just in time to dig it up for something. I would think that having a utility corredor to one or both sides of the street would make more sense.
 
 
Nov 6, 2013
Businessweek: How Houston gets along without zoning:
http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/hotproperty/archives/2007/10/how_houston_gets_along_without_zoning.html

Forbes: Houston Tops Our List of America's Coolest Cities to Live:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/morganbrennan/2012/07/26/houston-tops-our-list-of-americas-coolest-cities-to-live/

Having lived in Houston I can say that it is indeed weird - but there are many cool things about it which could not happen anywhere else.
 
 
+14 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 5, 2013
I'm completely FOR central planning, as long as it's my plan.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 5, 2013
I just registered to write this.

"you might be suffering from a condition that just feels like an opinion to you" will be my new favorite quote. It applies in so many situations.

I also love all the commenters who confuse communism with dictatorship.
 
 
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 5, 2013
The discussion clearly is bogged down in the opening analogy, and perhaps needs to be run at again?

The blog readers are not with you on this, Scott, but you are clearly passionate to be understood.

Based on some of the push-back, can another analogy be attempted?

We all have much in common, let's try again.
 
 
Nov 5, 2013
The year is 2035, and Elon Musk finally gets his Mars colonists off the launch pad. As the spacecraft reconfigures itself and gently begins to accelerate towards the Red Planet, the colonists introduce themselves and settle in for the long trip.

After several weeks, Libertarian leaders emerge who start badmouthing Mr. Musk's central planning. They conclude he has no "skin in the game", so they disconnect from Earth control to do their own thing, much like the sodbusting pioneers of the 19th century. "Nobody's gonna hold us back! What's Mission Control ever done for us?! We're freakin' space cowboys! Screw them!"

To kill time, a marathon poker game begins and eventually a lot of supplies change hands. One of the leaders finds himself with a vanishing pile of chips. After losing his oxygen generator, he needs to think of something fast. "Who the heck is this 'central authority' who says a flush beats a straight?! Screw them! We can do whatever we want!!"

And from then on, whenever poker was played in the flourishing city-states of Mars, a straight would beat a flush.

 
 
Nov 5, 2013
Scott,

Very bad analogy. Because none of us think ghosts are real. But we all know evil dictators and communists are. It's irrational to be afraid of something that reminds you of something you know can't hurt you, but it's very sane to take extra precautions about something that can.

Think about it: If bed sheet-looking ghosts were real and dangerous, then we would all be a lot jumpier around bedsheets. The way we are about snakes. It may not be poisonous, but if it looks enough like it is, we might take a second look at evaluating the risk before we touch it.
 
 
+17 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 5, 2013
Your comments demonstrate that you still don't understand the history or scope of the issue, Scott.

This isn't about a knee-jerk reaction to any kind of "central planning" period. Obviously, many projects which involve planning at a central level are successful and no one is denying that. In other words, your counter-argument is a strawman fallacy.

This is about a certain kind and scope of central planning and the involvement of government which, by definition, makes it done "by force" and subject to corruption, incompetence, and other factors which inhibit it from adapting as quickly and successfully as a free market does. It's also about the fact that people often don't want the same things and will never peaceably coexist in a society where the government forces the same things on everyone (according to arbitrarily chosen standards of what's "best". After all, everything you listed as the "best" way to do things is only "best" according to *your* preferences). You can definitely get away with a certain amount of conformity and central planning within a small region (and scope) and with a homogenous populace, but anything beyond that is deluded and wishful thinking.

[It's not central planning if anyone can choose to ignore it. -- Scott]

You can't "choose to ignore it" other than to not live there. And that's a silly way to advocate for "choice". Once you establish the fact that the whole thing is designed and run by the government, you are accepting that no "choice" is involved. Once you're there, you have subjected your whole life to the decisions of other people who you have no reason to believe will always (or even often) make decisions which are competent or in your best interests.

Your problem, as I mentioned in the previous thread, is that you simply don't observe history (or hell, even the present). Governments are NOT full of the "best and the brightest", nor are they full of well-meaning angels. They are full of people who are incompetent in many cases, who are easily corrupted in many cases, and who harbor (historically proven) self-destructive worldviews in many cases. They play favorites and get nice cushy jobs from said favorites when they leave office. They build enormous failures. They believe in unsustainable economic and social practices. And so on.

In addition, centrality in certain human endeavors causes an inability (or a greatly diminished capacity) to adapt and grow. I know you believe you're being "forward-thinking" by proposing such a country, but you're not. You're being "present-thinking". You're saying, "This is the tech we have now... let's build a country around it". The problem is, that tech will change, and it might change very fast. And all of the historical (and presently observable) evidence demonstrates that governments are much, MUCH slower at adapting to changing technologies than the private market is. Your own post is proof of that. You're decrying the fact that the government hasn't "caught up" with the times. And you're right. I can do all of my banking (including depositing checks) from my smart phone (no government central-planning required), and yet if I want to register my car, I have to stand in line for an hour and fill out a bunch of forms. Your OWN objections to the way things currently are is proof that your proposal will not work. Even if you could snap your fingers and invent the country you're proposing, it would only be "good" until the next improvement in technology, at which time it would, as all evidence indicates, lag behind private use of technology, and then you'd have to, once again, "imagine" a new country which isn't so "backwards".

ANY system you can imagine (100% internet connectivity or not) will be subject to these issues because it is the NATURE of government and the people running things which is the problem.

I'm not advocating fear of an imaginary boogeyman. I'm telling you to stop believing in an imaginary fairy land.

[Sometimes hospitals kill people accidentally, therefore we should not have hospitals. That's your argument, right? -- Scott]

There is nothing perfect in this world, and there never will be. But that doesn't mean we can't be smart enough to recognize the difference between things which have some issues, and things which have enormous issues.

WATYF
 
 
 
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