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Another Voice: Buffalo doesn’t need another interfering ‘master plan’

By Tom Mullen

An editorial in The Buffalo News June 19 headlined “Welcome new master plan aims at making downtown core more people-friendly” said this:

“Yes, continued development could happen by accident, but it’s dangerous to leave growth up to chance and likely to produce less desirable results.”

Wrong. Leaving growth up to chance is Buffalo’s only hope for escaping the economic blight that has plagued it for over a half-century.

Let’s not forget what killed Buffalo in the first place: government interference in the marketplace and central planning, from destroying untold billions in waterfront property with wrongheaded expressways and disastrous public housing projects to larcenous taxes to stifling regulations.

“Leaving growth up to chance” really means leaving growth up to the market. Instead of government officials seizing money from taxpayers and deciding how it will be spent, each individual spends his or her own money as he or she sees fit.

This subjects new projects to the rigors of the market. Entrepreneurs face the prospect of losses if they build something people won’t buy voluntarily. When the government builds it, taxpayers don’t have a choice. They pay whether they want it or not. This steals capital from enterprises that can make a profit and employ people.

Having lived away from this city for 10 years, when I returned I’ve been overwhelmed at the extent of government interference in every economic endeavor.

There is virtually no story I’ve read in this newspaper about a new building or business initiative that local government officials don’t have their hands all over in terms of taxing, subsidizing or regulating it.

Having lived in relatively freer places, I feel like I’ve moved back to 1960s Moscow. It’s very clear to me now why people are leaving the city I love to find opportunities elsewhere.

Most people are familiar with the definition of insanity (incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein): repeating the same procedure and expecting a different result. We’ve let government central planners kill Buffalo for too many decades. It’s time to try something new.

Let’s let private investors decide how their own money is spent and reap the profits or the losses. That’s what made America the richest country in the world and it’s what is rebuilding the places our young people are fleeing to.

Let the market decide what is built or not built in Buffalo for a change. We have nothing to lose but our 50-year recession.

Tom Mullen is a native of Buffalo and now lives with his family in Tampa. He is the author of “A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.”