The Senate Banking Committee passed the Livable Communities Act on Tuesday, moving the bill one step closer to final passage. The bill creates $4 billion in neighborhood planning grants for “sustainable” living projects and a new federal office to oversee them.
I could just stop right there and know all I need to know about this.
But, let's start with the title of "Livable Communities Act." First, where do they come up with these names? I'm certain that whoever is in charge of naming these ridiculous bills took lessons in doublespeak and would fit right in with the language in George Orwell's 1984.
Are they saying that our communities are not currently 'livable'? Are they saying that without government funding and a new federal office we won't have 'livable' communities? Should we believe that government's definition of 'livable' is the only one we should adhere to? Why do a bunch of politicians who've never even seen my 'community' get to determine whether or not it's 'livable'?
Then we get to the next sentence which includes $4 billion for grants and a new federal office. We're in debt up to our eyeballs. DC politicians are talking about all the taxes they have to raise - and while they're saying it will be on 'the rich,' it's clear they're not living within their means like all the rest of us, so that's no excuse. Even President Obama said the debt needs to be addressed. SO WHY ARE THEY SPENDING $4 BILLION?????? Hypocrisy.
And does that $4 billion include the costs for the new federal office? Don't we have enough government workers already? And why do we need a new office? Is there not one office in the entire federal government that can perform this function? All of us have had to take on additional tasks in our jobs - why can't a federal government worker do the same?
But that's just the first paragraph. What the bill is going to do is even more egregious:
...“the program’s aim is to impose a Washington-based, central planning model on localities across the country.”
In the Senate version, written by outgoing Chairman Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the Livable Communities Act would designate $4 billion to aid local governments in planning high-density, walkable neighborhoods.
Premised on helping local governments to combat suburban sprawl and traffic congestion, the bill sets up two separate grant programs. One, known as Comprehensive Planning Grants, would go to cities and counties to assist them in carrying out such plans as the following:-- “(1) coordinate land use, housing, transportation, and infrastructure planning processes across jurisdictions and agencies” and
-- “(3) conduct or update housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy, and environmental assessments to determine regional needs and promote sustainable development; [and]
-- “… (5) implement local zoning and other code changes necessary to implement a comprehensive regional plan and promote sustainable development.”
The second grant type – Sustainability Challenge Grants – funds local efforts to:--“(1) promote integrated transportation, housing, energy, and economic development activities carried out across policy and governmental jurisdictions;
-- (2) promote sustainable and location-efficient development; and
-- (3) implement projects identified in a comprehensive regional plan.”
(Walkable?!? In Toledo in January, that's the last thing I want to do!)
That's pretty intrusive and certainly, as the first quote says, imposes a Washington-based, central planning model on us. But CNSNews summarizes the bill nicely in language no one can misconstrue:
The legislation is designed to prod local communities toward high-density, public transit-oriented neighborhoods that concentrate large numbers of people into small geographic areas connected by train and bus networks.
There you have it. A bunch of elitists in Washington believe they know better than we do how we should live, so they're going to take our precious and limited tax dollars are use them to 'prod' our city and county officials into crowding us all together so we stop driving all over the place.
Dodd said that his bill would try to entice localities to move away from this model of suburban home- and land-ownership and toward a centrally planned model where local government officials make housing, business, and transportation decisions that steer residential and economic growth into designated high-density areas.
Got that? Sen. Chris Dodd, the author/sponsor of the bill, doesn't believe that we should have suburban homes. He doesn't believe that land ownership is a good idea. He believe that "local government officials" should make "housing, business and transportation decisions" for you so that you don't live where you want, but where he wants you to live: in 'high-density' areas.
I can't help but wonder where he lives! In fact, I wonder if his Connecticut home is in a 'high-density area' because his 10-acre Irish estate certainly isn't.
So the unwashed masses of us are supposed to give up living in suburban areas, give up our ownership of property and move into high-density areas so we don't have to drive anywhere - and Dodd thinks this is 'livable'????
But, he says, this is a voluntary program. Cities don't have to do this.
What? That just makes the expenditure even more unnecessary. Dodd wants to give our tax money to some cities who decide they want to regulate their residents living conditions, but if other cities want to let their residents make their own decisions, they're going to have to pay for this anyway? Only in the logic-free zone of Washington does this make any sense.
So where is the actual need? And if there is a need to do this kind of thing, why aren't the cities already doing it without a federal office being established to 'oversee' it? Why do federal tax dollars have to be expended on this boondoggle? If cities really want to limit their residents to high-density areas, there is nothing stopping them right now.
Is it likely that the federal government will turn this 'voluntary' program into a mandatory one? I believe so.
I believe that some cities will ask for the money to do some of the things they already have planned, but not necessarily in the way Dodd explains in his statements about the bill. So the money will probably be used.
But that just means that politicians will cite the use of the money to justify even more tax dollars going toward the purpose. This certainly will not be a temporary program - I'm not sure any government program is every truly 'temporary.' And when they've got enough examples of cities moving their residents into high-density areas, they will decide that all cities should do the same and this will morph into a mandate.
It is a slippery slope, no matter how much you want to deny it.
I don't understand this. Why would Dodd want all of us to live in high-density areas, give up property ownership and use public transportation instead of cars (which give us mobility and freedom), when he doesn't do so himself? Why would any politician vote for such a bill when they don't practice what it says themselves? More hypocrisy.
I know, I know - because the laws are made for us peons - not for the elitists who make them. Perhaps we're living in a type of 1984 already.