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Monday, March 19, 2012

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You were doing well pointing out the absurd effects of state and local balkanization and the need for more dialog.

However, pointing to an oppressive, disfuctional and disconnected bureaucracy like the EU as some kind of a goal makes you look nuts.

What is needed is more freedom, more market input and a flexible range of dialog accross a very wide region. Dialog does not equal bureaucracy or government--often it's the enemy of it.

The federal and various state governments tend to be biased against cities. For example, each of the 50 states has two votes, thus giving Wyoming and the Dakotas a 6 to 4 advantage over New York and Illinois. Little wonder that farm price supports remain robust while urban transit funding falls.

Perhaps it's better not to rely on the kindness of strangers. As Thomas Frank has pointed out in "What's the Matter with Kansas?," rural America pays less and gets more from the federal government than more urban states. In Canada, which has no real equivalent to the Interstate Highway program or federal transit aid, cities have well-built and utilized transit systems, and somehow the highways actually connect across jurisdictions without the national government's involvement.

Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana all benefit from Chicago's status as a world economic center, but to varying degrees each states' political culture views the Big City with suspicion that manifests itself in taxing and spending policies that attempt to redistribute wealth and power away from Chicago.

These policies are self-defeating. For example, Indiana's starvation of the South Shore Line has blunted the opportunity for the citizens of NW Indiana to be more a part of the wealth and cultural life of Chicago. The most prosperous suburbs of Chicago benefit greatly from connections to a great city. Compare that with the situation in Detroit where the suburbs are much less valuable, but take pride in their separation from the failing city.

You are correct not to focus on metro governance, but rather on projects that can add value to the region and create opportunities for successful cooperation among citizens across the area.

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