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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Status of Centralized Planning

A couple disturbing articles on the status of Obama's plan to impose socialism on the United States. First, this article from Stanley Kurtz, at the National Review, suggests that rather than floundering without a policy, Obama in fact is implementing a policy that would force Americans from suburbs into more dense urban spaces. Kurtz writes:

The most obvious new element of the president’s regionalist policy initiative is the July 19 publication of a Department of Housing and Urban Development regulation broadening the obligation of recipients of federal aid to “affirmatively further fair housing.” The apparent purpose of this rule change is to force suburban neighborhoods with no record of housing discrimination to build more public housing targeted to ethnic and racial minorities. Several administration critics noticed the change and challenged it, while the mainstream press has simply declined to cover the story.

Yet even critics have missed the real thrust of HUD’s revolutionary rule change. That’s understandable, since the Obama administration is at pains to downplay the regionalist philosophy behind its new directive. The truth is, HUD’s new rule is about a great deal more than forcing racial and ethnic diversity on the suburbs. (Regionalism, by the way, is actually highly controversial among minority groups. There are many ways in which both middle-class minorities in suburbs, and less well-off minorities in cities, can be hurt by regionalist policies–another reason those plans are seldom discussed.)

The new HUD rule is really about changing the way Americans live. It is part of a broader suite of initiatives designed to block suburban development, press Americans into hyper-dense cities, and force us out of our cars. Government-mandated ethnic and racial diversification plays a role in this scheme, yet the broader goal is forced “economic integration.” The ultimate vision is to make all neighborhoods more or less alike, turning traditional cities into ultra-dense Manhattans, while making suburbs look more like cities do now. In this centrally-planned utopia, steadily increasing numbers will live cheek-by-jowl in “stack and pack” high-rises close to public transportation, while automobiles fall into relative disuse. To understand how HUD’s new rule will help enact this vision, we need to turn to a less-well-known example of the Obama administration’s regionalist interventionism.
Read the whole thing.

Second is this article from the Washington Times describing the Administration's plans to use propaganda--termed "nudging" by the Administration--to influence Americans into what government bureaucrats believe to be better choices.

The White House has kicked off several federal projects aimed at influencing how Americans react to certain policy reforms, going so far as to solicit behavior experts to join a British-style “Behavioral Insights Team” to help nudge voters into accepting key political programs.

“Behavioral sciences can be used to help design public policies that work better, cost less and help people to achieve their goals,” a document on the government program states, Fox News reported.

The document, emailed by White House senior adviser Maya Shankar and obtained by Fox News, also seeks applicants to join the federal government’s behavior modification team.
England already has one such group; it’s called the “Behavioral Insights Team,” and has recently recommended to the government how best to compel Brits to pay their taxes, Fox News reported.

The main thrust of the White House-backed group: To “experiment” with ways to control, sway and tweak Americans’ behaviors so they do everything from saving more money for retirement to curbing energy uses and trimming energy costs, Fox News reported.
The new program has already been used in conjunction with Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture policies, Fox News said. And it hails from ideas discussed years ago, most notably on the heels of publication of a 2008 book written by President Obama’s former regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, who referred to such government actions as “nudges.”

Advocates say nudging helps move the political process along, absent regulation. But detractors say nudging relies on inaccurate data to drive Americans into compliance.
 Goebbels would be pleased.

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