Debate Over Plan Bay Area

The Antiplanner’s presentation at last night’s debate over Plan Bay Area is now available in PowerPoint or PDF format. You can also download Tom Rubin’s presentation in PDF format.

The debate was one-sided in the sense that close to 90 percent of the audience opposed the plan. One little incident sticks in my mind. During the debate, one of the plan’s supporters admitted that it was hard to predict the future, but added, “As Abraham Lincoln said, ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it.'”

I am a stickler for sourcing such attributed quotes, and that didn’t sound like something Lincoln would say. So I pulled out my iPhone and looked it up. Sure enough, it has been attributed to Lincoln–and to Peter Drucker, and to some other people. But it seems the person who actually first said it was computer programmer Alan Kay in 1971. I hope readers will understand what I mean when I say that knowing that Kay said it gives it a completely different meaning than if Lincoln had said it.


8 thoughts on “Debate Over Plan Bay Area

  1. LazyReader

    The best way to predict the future is to create it. We still don’t have flying cars or jet packs. God dammit.

    “The Chosen Ones” are the people selected by government on any level to get perks. Perks include special favors, tax breaks, subsidies, cronyism, new laws or additional regulations on how businesses should act or function… what some call crapitalism. Others call it the “Great Deformation”. Which is the title of David Stockman’s newest book. The truth is big business loves new regulation because it keeps new business out of competition. Old manufacturers love regulation, it keeps union dues flowing and taxes blowing. Sometimes they give special privileges to themselves. Just look inside the US Capitol, it’s a venerable ‘palace’ filled with custom made furniture for tens of thousands of dollars, a senate barber shop, and secret gyms, even the top floor of the Supreme Court has…….a basketball court?

    When the housing bubble burst, home prices dropped in most of America, but not in Washington. Our capital feeds off federal spending, and politicians won’t let the bubble burst. That’s why 10 of the 15 richest counties in America orbit DC. Nearly a third of the richest 1% of America live in those counties. It’s not that Washingtonians are smart or more productive than us or even inventive, it’s simply; as government grows, the people making a fortune taxing you live there and they like it there. They’re just like the French nobility of Versailles, they lived there and were totally oblivious to the world around them, until they were beheaded. Tourists visit Washington and admire the beautiful buildings. All that marble, granite and bronze once made me feel patriotic but now I get angry.

    Government is best described as a bully that smiles as he knocks out your teeth then gives them to the toothless.

  2. Frank

    “I hope readers will understand what I mean when I say that knowing that Kay said it gives it a completely different meaning than if Lincoln had said it.”

    Yes. There is a huge difference between a computer programmer and a despot.

  3. Frank

    Here’s the summary with more elaboration following:

    Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus; imprisoned tens of thousands of northern political dissenters; censored all telegraph communications; confiscated firearms in the border states, violating the 2nd Amendment; deported Democratic Congressman Vallandigham for anti-administration speeches; issued an arrest warrant for the chief justice; illegally orchestrated the secession of West Virginia from Virginia; shut down hundreds of newspapers in the north, sometimes imprisoning the editors and owners.

    May 18, 1864: Executive Order from Lincoln censoring the press (which violates the First Amendment):
    “You will also take possession by military force of the printing establishments of the New York World and Journal of Commerce, and hold the same until further orders, and prohibit any further publication therefrom.”

    Lincoln imprisoned of thousands of political dissenters; see James G. Randall, “Constitutional Problems under Lincoln” page 150. Lincoln unconstitutionally suspended habeas corpus (Supreme Court justice Marshall found that “if the public safety should require the suspension [of habeas corpus] it is for the legislature to say so.” This was a commonly held opinion by many judges of the time. By the suspension of habeas corpus and declaring martial law in the North, thousands of anti-war protesters were imprisoned, including the above mentioned newspaper editors and owners. See also Dean Sprague’s “Freedom under Lincoln”; he uses primary sources to document that “anyone…who expressed disloyal sentiments were subject to arrest.”

    Randall shows that at the end of the war there were thousands of lawsuits against administration officials and military officers for denying Northern states their constitutional liberties.

    On page 281, Sprague documents that more than 13,000 political prisoners were held in Lincoln’s military prisons, including Fort Lafayette, which came to be called “American Bastille” because of the amount of political prisoners held there. Sprague also documents how Lincoln’s secretary of war instructed General Banks to arrest the entire Maryland legislature without due process.

    Lincoln had the federal government rig the 1861 election by arresting “peace activists” at polling places. Similar suppression of free elections occurred in the next presidential election.

    There’s more evidence of Lincoln as despot, but I’m sure you’re not interested. All you can do is make cliched appeals to ridicule.

    Plus, you still haven’t explained why others should pay to ship your books.

  4. Sandy Teal

    ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it.’”

    What bothers me about that statement is that is a terrible way to do economic and societal planning. It works pretty well for retirement planning because that makes individuals learn their limitations and face the hard choices. At the societal level, it almost inevitably leads to forcing people toward a central goal, using ever increasing coercion, and ignoring all the other goals and unintended consequences of the matter.

    In graduate school it was easy to think that I knew where society should go, and therefore I knew the most efficient and fair way to get there. But society and the world never go where it is expected to go. All the old science fiction stories had forseen computers being used for the computational power such that people would ask the computer for answers to complex questions. Instead, today computers have far exceeded the computational power forseen in the science fiction, but they are used for very complex communications where people share cat pictures, view maps, and transact business, but not very much for asking them questions.

    The lesson I learned is that the uncontrolled computer world evolved in life-enhancing and totally unforseen directions. What a disaster it would have been to have planned how computers should develop. Not that it doesn’t have its bad consequences — who would have wanted kids to have massive access to terrible hate speech and porn directly into their own bedrooms. But centralized planning would have created huge problems too.

    There are huge limitations on societal planning that just are too easily ignored by government. Planning has its place, but not to pick a future and draw a straight line to get there.

  5. msetty

    Hey, Frank here is part of one blog post that explains why I ocassionally like to troll you:

    Particularly this excerpt:

    …Remember that they only cultivate active dislike of you if they are deeply stung by what you write. The people who leap at every chance to criticize you are the ones you should treasure; you’ve affected them more deeply with your writing than you could have hoped. That guy who sees your @ on Twitter and has to complain about you? He’s been moved by you. That’s rare and valuable. Cultivate what you have with him. A real, reflexive response like that— that’s worth celebrating….

    You’ll note this is consistent with Sun Tzu.

    Also, Lincoln did what he did under wartime conditions, when the future of the nation was at stake. He removed what otherwise would have been a festering cancer on North America, though Jim Crow was nearly as vile, and we still live with the consequences. If Lincoln had lived, he would have throttled the Radical Republicans and their maltreatment of the South during Reconstruction; race relations in this country would still be a problem now but not to the degree it still is.

    Overall, there is little reason why Lincoln has to be defended against the likes of you, Amity Shlaes, Steve Sailor, VDare, etc. and other neo-Confederates. Get over it, your side lost that war 148 years ago.

  6. Frank


    You are full of insults. That’s your M.O. You’re a condescending bastard, and that’s why I troll you. You’re also ripe a sense of entitlement; you’re relatively wealth, have a wealthy family, and you expect others to subsidize your choices.

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