It was bound to happen sooner or later: Paul Krugman has discovered suburban sprawl. He’s against it. Big surprise there. After all, sprawl has been an all-purpose bogeyman for enlightened liberals for a long time (some liberals blamed the 1999 Columbine school shooting on sprawl, harshing Michael Moore’s anti-NRA narrative, but never mind). One wonders what took Krugman so long to joint the bandwagon.
Krugman comes close to suggesting that if suburban sprawl around Detroit had been prevented, Detroit would be fine today. He deplores Atlanta, precisely because it has allowed suburban growth. He endorses “smart growth” policies, “which try to promote compact centers with access to public transit.” In other words, Krugman joins other liberals in wanting to use the force of the law to compel people to live in modes contrary to their revealed preferences (as most other economists would say). The irony is lost on Krugman that in order to promote social mobility, he wishes to use the power of government to prevent physical mobility—the right and ability of people to exit predatory, dysfunctional urban governments like Detroit.
It’s a mystery to me why people like Krugman can still claim to be called “liberal.” There is nothing liberal at all about them. Like his fellow elitist snob Tom Friedman, Krugman is better classified as an authoritarian. And an especially nasty one at that. Funny thing about authoritarians: they always end up being nasty sooner or later.