Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Parker and Brown: Two Peas in a Pod

Last week at a forum for mayoral candidates, Peter Brown said, according to the Chronicle's political blog:

[T]he city needs to direct itself away from the car culture; many young professionals and other residents would love to able to disown one of their cars and instead use a top-flight mass transit service.

I don't doubt that this last is true, but so what? The fact that many residents want other citizens to subsidize their transportation costs is not a valid reason for doing so. The government's proper purpose is the protection of individual rights, not forcing taxpayers to fund mass transit.

Nothing is stopping these "young professionals and other residents" from building their own "top-flight mass transit service". Of course, they do not want to risk their own money by investing in such a venture, and would much prefer to use government force to see their idea to fruition. They will likely argue that they don't mind paying higher taxes. But what of those of us who do mind? We will be forced to support mass transit against our own desires and judgment.

This is not a surprising position for Brown to take. After all, he believes that we need centralized planning in Houston. He wants to force the entire citizenry to accept his vision of the future, and he has invited other candidates to embrace his agenda:

I hope the other candidates will now take a look at issues like standards for neighborhood development and clear codes for green buildings and make them a central part of their campaigns as we have.

I cannot speak for the other candidates, but I will have to decline. But Annise Parker--Brown's most serious opponent--has embraced the same essential agenda as Brown. Since they are the two most serious candidates at this time, I will extend an invitation to them: Embrace my agenda and you will truly differentiate yourself from your opponent. We really don't need two statist candidates. Actually, we don't need any.

While Parker and Brown are making vague promises about attracting business to Houston, I have laid out a plan that accomplishes just that every time it is implemented--cut taxes, repeal regulations and controls, and simply get out of the way of businesses. Don't tell them what kinds of signs they can erect, or how they can operate, or any other aspect of their business. Freedom is not only moral, it is practical. Freedom results in material prosperity. A candidate who advocated a pro-freedom agenda would stand in stark contrast to his opponents.

Neither Brown nor Parker are content to simply regulate businesses. They also want to control the lives of individual Houstonians. They want to dictate what kind of homes we live in and how we move about the city. They want to take from some for the benefit of others.

At the end of the day, they really aren't very different from one another. Brown offers his experience as an urban planner; Parker offers her experience in finance. Brown argues that his experience will help him dictate how the city develops more effectively than Parker. Parker argues that she will spend tax dollars more wisely than Brown. I reject both of these arguments. The city should have no voice in development, and I would be looking for ways to slash taxes. Houston does not need a mayor who uses government coercion more efficiently; Houston needs a mayor that reduces government to its proper functions.

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