Thomas Sowell

The fatal attraction of government is that it allows busybodies to impose decisions on others without paying any price themselves. That enables them to act as if there were no price, even when there are ruinous prices -- paid by others.

Millions of people's lives are made worse in innumerable ways, in order that a relative handful of busybodies can feel important and superior. Artificially high land prices in those places where busybodies reign politically, based on land use restrictions, make housing costs a crushing burden on people of average incomes.

Some of the busybodies imagine that they are preventing "over-crowding" or "traffic congestion." But what they are really doing is moving the crowding somewhere else, since people have to live somewhere, regardless.

As for traffic congestion, that is made needlessly worse because of long-distance commuting by those people whose incomes will not permit them to live in the artificially more expensive communities where they work. It is not uncommon in liberal California communities for many commuters to spend 3 or 4 hours a day in their cars, fighting traffic -- all for the greater glory of those with the mantra of "open space."

Because of the innumerable problems caused by busybodies who devote "a most unnecessary attention" to things that would be better without them, the rest of us should devote some very necessary attention to these busybodies and their sloppy arguments.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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