The Land Market


It’s no surprise to me that paranoid tea parties hate the idea of sustainable development, but Stephanie Mencimer’s article on the subject does make for amusing reading:

In the tea partiers’ dystopian vision, the increased density favored by planners to allow for better mass transit become compulsory “human habitation zones.” They warn of Americans being forcibly moved from their suburban dream homes into urban “hobbit homes” and required to give up their cars and instead—gasp!—take the bus to work. The enemies in this fight are hidden behind bland trade-association names like the American Planning Association or ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability).

The takeaway I think you should have from this is simply to recall how little of actual politics is driven by contrasting views about the merits of “free markets” and/or “small government.” To a first approximation, I would say zero percent of tea party conservatism is driven by attachment to these concepts. You have people here who enjoy their existing low density lifestyles, they like the fact that said lifestyles are explicitly and implicitly subsidized through a variety of public policy measures, and they don’t like the idea of losing those subsidies. What’s more, they regard their antagonists as somewhat culturally alien. So they’re pissed off. The fact that a small government approach to land use would in fact lead to denser lifestyles, more bus commuting, and smaller homes is of absolutely zero interest to them.