Houston’s Critics

Almost without fail, critics of Houston point to some other metropolis as an example of what a city should be like. The critics want parks and bike trails. They want mass transit and sidewalks. They want walkable communities and sustainable development. Other cities have these things, and Houston should have them too.

Interestingly, the critics seldom mention two things that Houston does have: jobs and a cost of living that is more affordable than any other major city. They seem to think that Houston’s vibrant economy will continue forever.

In truth, Houston’s economy is a result of not being like other cities. The economy is the effect. The cause is the city’s relative freedom in land use and the absence of the stifling regulations that plague many cities.

If the critics want Houston to be like other cities, then intellectual honesty demands that they identify and consider what that really means. Do they really want to make housing unaffordable to the middle-class, as it is in many of the cities the critics want us to emulate? Do they really want to reduce economic opportunity by forcing aspiring entrepreneurs to grovel at the feet of government bureaucrats for permission to open a business, as they must do in many of the model cities?

Few people move to a city for its parks or walkable communities. They move for opportunities not available where they are. Houston offers more opportunities than most cities, and those opportunities are a consequence of the city’s greater freedom.

The critics may not like that fact. They are free to move a city that has less freedom. But they are not content to do that. Instead, they want to reduce everyone’s freedom.

Comments are closed.