Why Don’t We Just Build New Cities?


Atlantic: “Why Don’t We Just Build New Cities?” quotes Senior Fellow Alain Bertaud: 

“‘A new city, especially a large one…has a problem of cash flow.’ The city can’t raise taxes to build schools and hire teachers, for instance, but it needs to build schools and hire teachers before parents are willing to move—and be taxed—there. ‘If you look back to [recent] history…the only large new cities were new capitals like Brasilia, Chandigarh, Canberra, [where] the cash flow is not a problem [because] you have the taxpayers of the entire country paying for the cost.’ Thinking of cities as mere infrastructure is a categorical mistake. New York City is not the Empire State Building or the Brooklyn Bridge; London is not the tube; and Levittown, New York—America’s quintessential ‘first’ suburb—is not its single-family homes. Infrastructure follows people, not the other way around. ‘You don’t go to a new city because the sewer system is fantastically efficient,’ Bertaud said.”

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