Posted by | December 29, 2011 13:50 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Ed Glaeser has been doing some of the best work on cities over the past few decades.  He repeatedly makes the point that people living in close proximity to one another have been critical to the advancement and evolution of humanity and has generated many of our greatest innovations.  From a recent interview:

That is why I think people should be free to make choices without government policies that push them one way or the other. You want government policies that make people pay for the social cost of their action, including the environmental cost, but you also want people to make those choices themselves. Too many countries have raised low density living as being the only right way to live and depicted cities as being rather ugly and unattractive and not the real India, not the real America, not the real England. I think that is the mistake. People should be free to choose as long as they pay the social cost of their action.

That’s exactly it.  Too often, the government encourages suburban living (by encouraging home ownership and subsidizing car travel) at the expense of the cities.  We need to get the social cost of commuting and sprawl right and then anyone who wants to pay those costs should be free to live in the suburbs.  In the cities, people should pay for public transit, more police and other consequences of dense communities and anyone who wants to pay those costs should be free to live in the cities.  If we do that, the historical movement toward cities will continue . . . and that is a good thing.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.