Sunday, September 18, 2005

On target

Mark Schmitt nails the problem with Anti-Government Government:
Bottom line: Whether you want innovative, market-based programs to end poverty (and I do, balanced with other programs), whether you want smaller more efficient government, or whether you want a big, WPA-style undertaking, you have to put it in the hands of people who understand government, who care about making it work, who don't view it as the enemy.
He notes that, while Jack Kemp proposed enterprise zones, it was the Clinton-era HUD that actually implemented them (with some success).

He also notes that:

these strategies, especially Enterprise Zones or Empowerment Zones, proved to be of very limited value. Tax incentives alone have very little effect on where employers choose to locate jobs. Investing in education is demonstrably more likely to make employers want to place a plant or an office in an impoverished urban or rural community.
And the logic of using deregulation to promote successful urban design is frankly stupid. Good neighborhoods grow organically over years. The best way to get close to that faster than natural evolution is with thoughtful design. I know I complain about intelligent design a lot here, but this is a situation where it would come in handy.

As Dr. Myers noted, with help from Dr. Paulos, the deregulatory program is essentially an expression of faith in the ability of undirected processes to develop efficient systems. It's odd that the same people advocating that as a system superior to "intelligent design" are so insistent that no such process could work in biological systems over billions of years.

The fact is, intelligent designers are faster and more efficient than natural selection. And what No Man's Land needs is speed. The market can clean up mistakes down the line, but now is the time to impose order.

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