March 08, 2004

More Sprawl Please

I've been noticing that more and more of my intellectual output consists of unlikely paired blog postings. By maintaining an eclectic reading list (which will not be my blog roll else you could do the same thing yourselves) I get to do things like combine a whine about libertarian hopelessness on land use issues over at City Comforts and the net negatives of fair trade practices to conclude, more sprawl please.

First, the City Comforts item, which goes on and on about the impracticality of libertarian land use policy, which is laissez faire. The article bothers me because I always find, in actual circumstances, such difficulties that pro-zoning and pro-takings people bring up are usually either unrealistic, or unjust. But if you enter into the trench warfare of example via example, you've given up deduction and entered into the land of inductive reasoning, a difficult and time consuming method of reaching a conclusion on large social policy goals.

The Adam Smith Institute's article on the economics of fair trade coffee and its negative effects left me feeling a bit warmer. Fair trade coffee is likely to create larger coffee production overall as new producers enter the market and the persistent overproduction of coffee will lead to persistently strong calls for subsidy and protection. The general point is made that the free market needs to be unleashed in a fit of agricultural creative destruction.

The combination of the two leads me to think about the destructive effects of sustainable growth ideology on the supply of agricultural land. If we're in persistent oversupply of farmland, the best thing to happen would be a growth in the incidence of developers buying up farmland and taking it out of production with new suburban or urban development. In other words, sprawl is the free market solution for too much farmland and zoning and other non-libertarian land use controls that are anti-sprawl are contributing to the barriers that 3rd world farmers have to lift themselves out of poverty and misery.

So shame on you, Seattle for your cruel and heartless anti-sprawl provisions.

Posted by TMLutas at March 8, 2004 10:25 AM