The Velocity 2040 proposal for Chattanooga is a civic vision of the city 20 years out as seen by the local chamber of commerce.
In the alternative is a free market perspective that is not a vision, but a fruit — the fruit of growth and liberty that does not constitute a coherent reportable vision. Rather the fruit of thousands and thousands of people, families and businesses making their own decisions without report, surveillance, accountability, or public justification for their actions.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
If one accepts the collectivist premise of the visioning process, one can appreciate the view of the future as reported by a summary of 4,900 people’s statements regarding the future of Chattanooga.
Nearly 5,000 volunteers are said to have participated in an online survey that took 10 minutes. Altogether, 4,765 comments were given and “91 community leaders donated 960 hours to shape the plan.”
“That’s a combined effort of 2,000 to 2,194 hours,” the paper says,
“the equivalent of one person working full time for over a year to envision a bold future for our children and grandchildren.”
The idea of visioning processes was first developed here in the late 1980s by Chattanooga Venture and set in motion by thinking city council members such as Dave Crockett. The process is to create what is alleged to be the people’s plan, the public vision, the best of the best in previews for the future in Chattanooga (vs. with proponents would say is “Chattanooga’s future”). It gives residents a sense of ownership in the city.
There seem to be many advantages to having a collective vision of the future. Those people who contribute their comments care enough about the city to make a comment about their vision of the future. They care enough about the civic nature of the city to draw public attention to areas needing either a governmental program or private commercial or other development.
It is also useful for city officials, donors, activists, and other well-meaning people to have a printable plan or scheme into which they may pour their capital and voluntary benevolences. “Fail to plan and plan to fail” is a mantra that describes the compelling reasons for a citywide plan.
Free market alternative
In contrasts to the collective and civic-oriented proposal such as the Velocity 2040 report is the marketplace and the operation of unaided, unguided and unsurveyed free activity where people face risk and profit and loss without the benefit of the public purse guaranteeing them or shielding them from the fruits of bad decisions.
In a free market where no one has a real legal advantage over anyone else, such visioning processes are superfluous and possibly harmful. In a free market, decisions are made on two bases.
— One is what Adam Smith called private self interest, as in his 1776 volume Wealth of Nations.
-— The other is service to customers and clients. If one runs a business or service or charity with these two points in mind, will live in a city with the best prospect for growth and prosperity, despite lacking any sort of “coherent” or “overarching” or “well-thought-out” plan.
No centralized vision, but many
The free market concept does not rely on a centralized vision or statements or theme or scheme to accomplish the best for individuals in a city or the city itself. It seems that in the operation of a free market, the best result for the whole emerges without the coordination of the better sort of people with their surveys, schemes, studies, researches or bow ties. Some of the city’s brightest people wear bow ties, and they should be heard with suspicion.
In a free market, individuals, groups, businesses and decentralized collectives always strive for the most profitable and most useful result of any act or program. For business that means profit and more clients. And charity that means more people served with least cost.
The advantage of the free market is that it encompasses the most liberty for the most people. In a free market and capital-oriented society, liberty is apportioned and claimed by the biggest number of people, down to the commonest, meanest and poorest individual. In a free society, the poor have the best prospect and chance of gain. They have the least oppressive obstacles to their meager prospects.
In the scheme- and plan-oriented civic concept of a city, the authority in government and power to move things by government is magnified, but is reduced among common people. In the civic conception, the city apportions more to the powerful, the wealthy, those most likely to obtain capital and financing.
Free market democratizes prosperity
In the end, the free market position is much more democratic and much less autocratic. The constitutional republican, limited government and market perspective allows more self-government and requires less external and civil government and less authority being exercised upon society by the greater and mightier of people.
It is more respectful of common people, esteems them more, believes in them more, trust their private decisions more than held by defenders of civic programs and visioning processes. People who put on civic forums and write papers about the future of the city really don’t trust people as much as they pretend to.
They take surveys and ask common people to respond, so it would seem they have a common touch. Their proposal is rooted as best possible in the expressions of ordinary folk.
However, I believe that such well minded and intelligent people in the civic side distrust the ordinary and the common, and so want to have a public goal or policy to pursue as a help and aid in their good works.