Region Forward Blog

What's the Role of Government and Planning in the 21st Century?

Jul 2, 2011


With endless partisan gridlock in Washington creating uncertainty on seemingly every front (the debt limit talks being the most recent example) the role of government itself appears to be in question. What does that mean for planners and the cities for which they work? What does the next generation of government look like? Those questions have been tackled in some recent articles and blog posts.

Next American City discusses the impact of the national debt debate on cities. States receive in all nearly $3 trillion a year in outlays from the federal government. If those funds are suddenly cut the difference must either be made up by states and localities or the programs/services that these funds were providing must be discontinued. NAC notes that when these funding cuts do happen they often have a disproportionately larger impact on urban residents than others especially in terms of transportation and social welfare.

In Foreign Affairs Sandy Hornick a planning consultant to the New York City Department of City Planning reviews recent books on urbanism including Ed Glaeser’s Triumph of the City (which we discussed previously). Hornick after providing a brief history on the part government played in building and growing urban America in the early to mid 20th century notes that the important role of government in the current revitalization of American cities shouldn’t be overlooked.

Lastly over at Urbanophile the very form and composition of governments was recently dissected. Point and counterpoint pieces outline arguments for and against maintaining the current structure of state-level governments in the US with the former piece arguing that states generally constitute real communities and the latter claiming that they’re anachronistic. Richard Florida discusses much the same thing in a recent piece for The Atlantic arguing that new “city-states” (essentially metro areas) are the real locus of population and economic activity nowadays (a topic we have touched on here before).

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