"Wildly Unrealistic Policy Proposal of the Day"
I like me a good unrealistic proposal, and this Ryan Avent scheme for better regional planning is a doozy:
In inner suburbs, the population of squished out people grows until infrastructure needs grow and tax rates rise, squishing people farther out still. The end result is a terrible distribution of infrastructure investment, since inner infrastructure is, on the whole, underused while outer infrastructure is overused (example: Prince William County can’t build schools fast enough, while the District has school buildings sitting empty). What ought to happen, what I’d expect to happen in an enlightened area with a strong regional authority, is that tax rates would decline as you moved inward, not outward. In that case, taxpayers would pay more for moves that necessitate outward expansions of infrastructure and reductions in agglomeration externalities.
As he himself notes “That outcome is also practically impossible to imagine.” Of course, many of our metro areas have more than enough people to be viable states were one allowed to redraw the map, and were state boundaries to conform better to the contours of the metropolitan areas into which our lives are actually organized, it might be possible to have better planning.