The Antiplanner is going on a road trip from Oregon to Texas for the annual American Dream conference. Along the way, I’ll visit some national parks and national forests and probably wish I was in a fully self-driving car. Postings may be light for the next few days unless I find WiFi in the woods.
Speaking of self-driving cars, I keep reading articles arguing that we’ll have to teach ethics to self-driving cars. Given a choice between killing the occupant of a car or two people outside, should the car kill the occupant because the good of the many outweighs the good of the few? Given a choice between hitting a pedestrian and hitting another car full of people, should the car kill the pedestrian?
These are ridiculous questions. No one, not even a computer, is going to have time to count the number of occupants in another car and compare them with the number in a crowd of pedestrians before deciding which way to turn. The real ethical choice is to avoid the collision in the first place. A few accidents are inevitable, but something like 90 percent of auto accidents are due to human error. hose who want to argue ethics today are missing the point: take away the human error and everyone will be a lot better off.
The Antiplanner is winging to Omaha today to speak tomorrow at a free-market forum sponsored by Hillsdale College. The subject of my presentation is “the effects of environmental regulation,” but I’ll focus on the type of regulation I know best: land-use regulation.
Specifically, I’ll argue that such regulation takes away people’s property rights without compensation; increases the cost of housing and any businesses that need land; increases the risk of owning such homes or businesses; harms low-income people in particular; reduces homeownership; and can threaten the entire economy a la the 2008 financial crisis. If you are at the forum, I look forward to seeing you there.
The Antiplanner is headed to Albuquerque today to speak to the Rio Grande Foundation about the future of Albuquerque transportation. If you are in the area, I hope to see you there.
On Thursday, September 10–a week from today–the Antiplanner will be in Lafayette, Louisiana to debate Charles Marohn, an advocate of “strong towns.” Of course, Marohn believes that we can have strong towns only through careful planning including such things as road diets, narrow roads, and transit–the usual anti-auto, anti-suburban prescriptions. In any case, if you are in Louisiana next week, I hope to see you there.
The Antiplanner is taking a break this week, hoping to bicycle, kayak, and hike in the wilderness. If anything interesting comes up, I’ll write about it, but I may not have many posts this week. I hope everyone else has a great summer.
The Antiplanner is flying to Dallas today to participate in a Cato event tomorrow. My topic will be “Maintaining the Texas Miracle,” a subject I previously covered in Austin (clicking on the link downloads an 8-mb PowerPoint show).
On Friday, I’ll give essentially the same presentation in Houston. In both cities, I seem to be a warm-up act for other speakers, including the Danish journalist, Flemming Rose.
If you are in either Dallas or Houston, I hope to see you there. Naturally, in my off-hours I’ll be exploring both cities in search of Neapolitan pizza. I expect to find some in Dallas tonight and some in Houston Friday night, but my air travel between the two cities Thursday will force a late-night pizza that day. If you have any suggested pizzerias, don’t hesitate to let me know.
The Antiplanner is winging it to Washington to participate in a Friday Capitol Hill briefing on transportation issues. The Antiplanner will be presenting the results of new research on the equitability (or lack of same) of federal transit funding. If you are in DC, I hope to see you Friday if not before.
In the meantime, the lead article in U.S. News today is about infrastructure. Antiplanner readers may wish to comment on that article here.
The Antiplanner is in Washington DC today to participate in a debate over the Purple light-rail line–or, as I like to call it, the Purple Money Eater. In conjunction with this debate, the Maryland Public Policy Institute will release a detailed critique of the proposed low-capacity transit line; Antiplanner readers can download a preview today.
Predictably, rail supporters are claiming that the supposedly evil Koch Brothers “dispatched” me to fight this rail project. In reality, I doubt that light rail is even on the Koch Brothers’ radar screen, since there is no light rail in Kansas (where they are headquartered) and no proposals for any as far as I know. (Could it be that’s not a coincidence?)
We’ll see what the rail supporters say tonight. If you are in the DC area, I hope to see you in Silver Spring at 7 pm.
The Antiplanner was in Austin yesterday speaking at a Texas Public Policy Foundation conference for Texas legislators. I gave two presentations, both of which are available for download.
First, I talked about how Texas can keep the “Texas miracle” going by protecting property rights (8-MB PowerPoint show). I made three recommendations:
- Don’t give counties the authority to regulate land uses. Texas may be the only state that doesn’t allow counties to zone, and this keeps city zoning from being too restrictive because developers can simply avoid city rules by developing outside of the cities.
- Relax the financial requirements for municipal utility districts. Municipal utility districts allow developers to borrow funds to install infrastructure and then charge homebuyers and other property owners a fee for 30 years to repay the bonds. After the financial crisis, the Texas legislature required developers to put up more of their own funds for infrastructure, leading to a significant increase in housing prices. I argued that the risk of defaults was worth it to keep housing affordable.
- Retain city authority to annex land without the permission of the residents being annexed. Most debates over urban sprawl are really debates over who gets to collect taxes. In states where cities have a hard time annexing land, they use other tools, such as urban-growth boundaries, to limit land development. While annexations without voter permission are controversial, the alternative is worse. However, Texas cities are also allowed to have control over certain “extraterritorial” lands outside their city limits. This does not seem to be needed to keep housing affordable and eliminating that control would relieve many of the debates over annexation.
The Antiplanner got to spend the end of 2014 cleaning up this web site when the server suddenly shut it down for having malware. While it turns out the offending files had been there undetected for nearly three years, and no one in the industry had even discovered the malware until about a month ago, the server company felt it was enough of an emergency to shut down all my web sites without any notification.
When I contacted them, they sent me a list of malware files, which I deleted in about an hour. They then took nearly 24 more hours before re-enabling the site. This is annoying, but it seems to be standard practice in the server industry. In any case, we’re back on line for 2015.