Leave it to the British press to once again do the job of real reporting that U.S. journalists apparently won't do.
This time, it's Tom Leonard at the UK Telegraph. From Flint, Michigan, he tells us of a "pioneering scheme" that involves tearing down entire neighborhoods and simply abandoning them -- oops, I'm sorry, I meant to say, "returning them to nature."
This is apparently what passes for sophisticated urban planning these days.
Here are key paragraphs from Leonard's story. Especially note the breathtaking anti-progress hostility of the idea's champion (bolds are mine; Getty picture at top right is from that story):
The government looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature.
Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area.
The radical experiment is the brainchild of Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint.
Having outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the election campaign, Mr. Kildee has now been approached by the US government and a group of charities who want him to apply what he has learnt to the rest of the country.
Mr. Kildee said he will concentrate on 50 cities, identified in a recent study by the Brookings Institution, an influential Washington think-tank, as potentially needing to shrink substantially to cope with their declining fortunes.
Most are former industrial cities in the "rust belt" of America's Mid-West and North East. They include Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Memphis.
.... But Mr. Kildee, who has lived there nearly all his life, said he had first to overcome a deeply ingrained American cultural mindset that "big is good" and that cities should sprawl – Flint covers 34 square miles.
He said: "The obsession with growth is sadly a very American thing. Across the US, there's an assumption that all development is good, that if communities are growing they are successful. If they're shrinking, they're failing."
Kildee's odious "all development is good" characterization of those who might be less than pleased with his outlook shows that he has learned quickly from watching Dear Leader, the "master" of the straw-man argument. But you know what? I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that, in general, communities that are growing really are successful, and those that aren't are indeed failing.
This is amazing. They're not even interested in attracting industry, or in new developments to draw shoppers, or in convenient housing that might lure residents back into town, or even in park or recreational space. Kildee and those who agree with him, apparently including the President, prefer to do nothing and let the land sit abandoned -- while they proudly survey the non-fruits of their non-accomplishment. Maybe they'll hold reverse ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Flint's festivities could be emceed by infamous former resident Michael Moore.
If there's a virtue to doing nothing, it's that the government won't get involved in something ineffective and end up wasting tons of taxpayer money in the process.
President Obama in particular may remember one such project, made infamous by the Chicago Sun-Times and blogged on last fall by yours truly at NewsBusters, BizzyBlog, and elsewhere -- namely the $100,000 Obama Gazebo (or, alternatively, the "Obamazebo").
Now the same guy who couldn't be bothered following up on a project he said he would "work tirelessly" to have built is in charge of our country's $3-4 trillion federal budget, including an $800 billion alleged economic "stimulus." Let 8,000,000 Obamazebos bloom.
Pardon me, I need a drink. ....
.... Okay. Of course, the better answer for these near-dead neighborhoods would be to to sell the abandoned properties to private owners and see what they can do with them on their own. That sounds like that's the last thing Dan Kildee wants. Who needs progress anyway?
As to the U.S. media -- Where were they when this "brilliant" idea was hatched, and why are they apparently not shamed at being scooped by a UK paper?
As to public policy -- Who wants to bet against "stimulus" money finding its way towards some of these "demolish and do nothing" projects if Kildee's proposal becomes a 50-city reality? That wouldn't exactly be "stimulating," would it?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.