Thomas Jefferson was wrong about cities. Reihan Salam quickly summarizes why they are key to humanity’s future:
What anti-urban Jeffersonians fail to understand is that these all-important knowledge-intensive services thrive on the face-to-face contact that defines urban life… So when we prevent our cities from getting bigger and denser, when we see them as “pestilential,” we short-circuit the innovations that make us rich.
And it’s not just high-flying entrepreneurs and knowledge workers who benefit from density. The most productive workers place a very high value on their time, and they need to purchase time-saving services like restaurant meals from other workers in proximity. This creates opportunity for immigrants, young people, and the poor.
The whole piece in the Daily is just two pages and well worth the quick read. I think he’s also right that those taking up the anti-urban cause are sometimes go for spurious arguments about liberty or a twisted nimby version of environmentalism. While I’d hesitate to limit Salam to any single standard ideological grouping, I think it’s safe to say that he’s not calling for any sort of central planning as an alternative. Instead, he has a cause that could potentially appeal those with a wide range of views: lift the counter productive regulations that only allow for some of our most innovative cities or livable communities because they were grandfathered in.