Cowen, Yglesias, and Libertarians on Urbanism
By Bryan Caplan
[W]hy on earth isn’t the libertarian take on this that we should permit high density construction and let the market decide what happens?
The answer to Matt’s question is surprisingly simple. This is the libertarian take. It is my take. It is the take of almost all my colleagues at GMU econ. I will bet that it is also the take of at least 75% of the policy analysts at Cato. It is not Tyler’s take, as far as I can gather, because as usual Tyler rejects the standard libertarian view in favor of a complex, pluralistic story that satisfies no one but himself. It’s not fair to think that libertarians share Tyler’s view – or vice versa.
Matt also remarks:
Maybe us urbanists are wrong, and even though it seems to be
the case that suburban sprawl in the United States is systematically
supported by a series of direct and indirect subsidies and regulatory
mandates that it secretly also reflects underlying market preference
and it’s all just some kind of giant coincidence. But why can’t we try
to put this proposition to the test?
Per my earlier post on this, I deny that it even seems to be true that direct and indirect subsidies and regulatory mandates systematically support suburban sprawl. Rather there’s a giant mess of unsystematic subsides and regulations, the net effect of which remains unknown. My favorite way to discover the answer would be to deregulate and see what happens – to put Matt’s “proposition to the test.” But alas, it looks like we have a choice between careful empirical work and continued ignorance.