Thursday, March 29, 2007

we-know-whats-good-for-you

In an affront to individual sensibilities, NYC has now decided to usurp your right to live in an "unlivable" city just as I have thought would eventually happen.

(Heh, that's almost as funny as asking for animals to be treated "humanely".)

"Mr. Washburn, 44, is charged with making sure the parks get the right amount of sun, buildings aren't too bulky, and the skyline stays coherent. He will act as Ms. Burden's eyes for the incredible number of projects now under way in the city"...

"Senator Moynihan believed that good design is not just about aesthetics, but that the look of a city expresses the values of the people who live in it," he said.
Now where exactly do these folks get off dictating the "values" that the city-people want? And in any case, to what relevancy does it matter what some third-party pretends to want for everyone's values?

"It's really the citizen that will be the measure of our success," Mr. Washburn said. "How do you make sure New York doesn't become dull, but has the greatest streetscape with the greatest variety and the greatest texture? To keep everything vibrant and authentic with new projects is really tough. You have to calibrate everything very finely. Every time you change something in the city, you affect another constituency."

Which is exactly why central planners should be kept as far as possible from urban development. I mean just look at Brasilia, or ask yourself why Robert Moses is one of the most despised man in NYC urban development history.

But the sheer amount of haughtiness and conceit is astounding considering all the misplaced faith put into the past anointed guardian saints for urban aesthetics. This should be a fine example to those planners of how aesthetic expectations are valued both ex ante and ex post, thus making the goal of aesthetic perfection for posterity at best a Sisyphean task.

On a positive note, most people who are concerned with urban aesthetics usually prostrate to the altar of the Jane Jacobs goddess and her seminal work The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Since Jacobs ideas were inspired in part by F.A. Hayek and his aversion to central planned economies, one has hope that they can transcend from the position of merely recognizing the beauty of unplanned, and 'chaotic' order, and to come to the realization that utilizing the violence of the state is the furthest thing from affecting the spontaneous communal life that they so very much desire.

1 comment:

darkbhudda said...

one has hope that they can transcend from the position of merely recognizing the beauty of unplanned, and 'chaotic' order, and to come to the realization that utilizing the violence of the state is the furthest thing from affecting the spontaneous communal life that they so very much desire.

I find this a good example of irony as well as the way most supports of planned economies think, using central planners to create an unplanned urban environment.