Comment 32765

By Yeahbut (anonymous) | Posted August 12, 2009 at 12:24:29

If A Smith can be accused of jumping to over-familiar, partisan generics in his responses to articles, so too can his critics. The irony this time is that both he and Ryan point to similar problems in different terms.

A Smith talks about the limitations of central planning while Ryan suggests that one impediment to achieving the creative community might be that the real power in municipalities is concentrated in the provinces. The difference is one of degree, to the extent that it exists at all.

It's evident from continually reading RTH that, in Brugman terms, there are problems achieving stage three, the economy of association, in realizing the urban revolution, at least in Hamilton. Many creative ideas come forward that excite the imagination but how to entice even local governments into creative thinking and to rely less on the tried and true? Put in government's position, which theoretically at least is to be held responsible when things don't work (think the recent sewer fiasco) I'd be inclined to look to solutions that have been proven to work in the past. Hence residents wait until the system can be expanded, and can it expand faster than the city?

That's neither a reasonable or responsible response to those whose basements have flooded several times in recent years, however. Neither is it reasonable or responsible to decorate and furnish flood-prone basements as living space. A more creative response might be to disconnect the sewer line and install a sump pump and one of the new generation of dry chemical toilets, the product from which can be used to fertilize a small garden. No more pouring toxic chemicals down the drain, however. Given the way sewer fees are locally connected to water consumption, homeowners might have to turn off the taps too, using municipal water or bottled water only for drinking and collecting and rainwater for other purposes, the savings paying for the new equipment.

This might work, could even reduce many of the problems associated with centralized systems, but it would require many individuals to change the way they live, some more easily than others. You can imagine voters' response if city counsellors told constituents with flooded basements to simply disconnect the sewers. The city has already suggested homeowners disconnect evestrough downspouts from their sewers, however.

If individual homeowners tried to do this, though, would they run afoul of municipal bylaws? Probably. I think A Smith points out, whether it is his intention or not, that individuals, collectives and co-ops could sometimes make significant contributions to achieving creative collective action if they were not constrained by governments. And if RTH contributors do not agree, they would not be complaining about local government as they do.

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