Alain Bertaud Hosted By Harvard’s Growth Lab


Senior Fellow Alain Bertaud was hosted by Harvard’s Growth Lab for a discussion, “Order Without Design / Rethinking the Role of Government in City Development”:

I strongly object to the word “vision.” Vision is personal. An artist has a vision, a philosopher has a vision, a prophet has a vision. Fine. A mayor to me has to be a good janitor. If you have a vision, that means that the other people do not have vision. I believe that the individual entrepreneur or worker in a city all have a vision. And this is legitimate. But the mayor himself, he’s just there to provide the infrastructure which supports the vision of those individuals—he should not have the vision himself and is not the prophet. He is not elected to impose his vision on other people.... So take this this example of a janitor. A good janitor knows when the heater has to be changed, when the elevator needs to be maintained, and whether it’s time to do the roof again. And that’s the role of the mayor. The mayor has to recognize that it’s the inhabitants who created the wealth of the city. It’s not him or some genius guy.

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