Aaron Renn at the Urbanophile has some choice words on “economic development”.

Economists have a concept called “revealed preference” that suggests that consumers reveal their true preferences through the actual purchasing decisions they make. Applying this to public policy, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the real preference of the powers that be in most places is the maintenance of the status quo, not disruptive economic development. It probably also explains why every city obsesses over “talent” publicly almost none of them undertake actions that might actually attract it for real.



I’ve been thinking about this casually. Or causally, as it were. I think a lot of the issues we have as a city is not with visualization – we’re great with the big picture – but with implementation at the granular level. (Granular is my new favourite word.) Ken Greenberg identified this many years ago when he was fresh out of school and consulting for the city of Prince Albert. The administration and public works department didn’t (or couldn’t) see what the effect of very minor decisions had in enforcing the status quo in PA. Here, we have this terrific vision document from Saskatoon Speaks but the City is shoehorning it to fit the existing system by cherry-picking vaguely relevant bits and ignoring the others. (“This north commuter bridge aligns with our goals of ‘Moving Around’.”)