Points of Light: Zoning Mythbuster, Adopt An Orphan & The 12-Step Program for Keynesians

Points of Light is a compendium of enlightening articles from across the internet, curated by Mike Vine.
Get ready to think…

Is Zoning Popular? The Evidence is Weak – Nolan Gray @ Market Urbanism

In my lonely war on US zoning, I often hear a defense of zoning that goes something like this: “You may not like zoning, but it sure is popular with the American people. After all, every state has approved of zoning and virtually every city in the country has implemented zoning.”

But is zoning actually popular? The evidence for any kind of mass support for zoning in the early days is surprisingly weak.

On the one hand, we have strikingly little evidence from democratic public referenda for the popularity of US zoning. On the other hand, we have a century of the federal government drafting, promoting, incentivizing and mandating zoning. Where mass movements in favor of zoning are missing, we find only xenophobic business groups and progressive technocrats in favor. All of this casts serious doubt over the idea that zoning is in the result of popular movements or enjoys mass support today. Meanwhile, zoning’s incredible costs become clearer every day.

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Let’s Restart the Adoption Movement – Arthur C. Brooks @ The New York Times

Giving to charity makes you happier, healthier and even richer.

That’s what I found in my research for a book I was writing back in 2003. Data clearly showed that giving and volunteering have a positive impact on givers’ health, wealth and life satisfaction — especially when we can see the faces of the people we are helping. Was this the secret to building a better life and happier world?

Excited by these findings, I discussed them with my wife, Ester. Always practical, she suggested that we put my research to the test in our own lives.

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Twelve Economic Concepts Everyone Should Know – Richard N. Lorenc @ FEE

1. Gains from trade: In any economic exchange, freely chosen, both parties benefit–at least in their own minds.

2. Subjective value: The value of any good or service is determined by the individual human mind.

3. Opportunity cost: Nothing is free, and the cost of anything is what you give up to get it.

4. Spontaneous order: Society emerges not from top-down intention or planning but from individuals’ actions that result in unplanned outcomes for the whole.

5. Incentives: Individuals act to maximize their own reward.

6. Comparative advantage: Cooperation between individuals creates value when a seller can produce a given item or service at a lower cost than the buyer would spend to produce it himself.

7. Knowledge problem: No one person or group knows enough to plan (and force) social outcomes, because information necessary for social order is distributed among its members and revealed only in human choice.

8. Seen and Unseen: In addition to the tangible and quantifiable effects, there are quite often invisible costs and unmet opportunities to any action or policy.

9. Rules matter: Institutions influence the decisions individuals make. For example, property rights extend from the reality of scarcity which demands that ownership must be vested in individuals and not a collective.

10. Action is purposeful: Each person makes choices with the intention of improving his or her condition.

11. Civil society: Voluntary association permits people of all backgrounds to interact peaceably, create value, cultivate personal character, and build mutual trust.

12. Entrepreneurship: Acting on an opportunity to gather underused, misused, or undiscovered resources and ideas to create value for others.

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