Some people think they know all the answers. They know how far you should live from your job. They know how big your backyard should be. They know how cities and forests should grow.
Government planners claim to know all of that and more. They say that if you want to live in pleasant communities, enjoy beautiful wilderness, and get to work on time, you should put them in charge. But 30 years of research has convinced Randal O’Toole—one of Newsweek’s top 20 “movers and shakers in the West”—that they’re wrong. In The Best‐Laid Plans, he shows in case after case that government planning frequently causes the very problems it is intended to solve.
Although national economic planning has been widely discredited in theory and practice, government planners still control much of our infrastructure and land. O’Toole examines how the schemes of the planners go horribly wrong. Planners, obsessed with “smart growth,” think they can make our towns better places to live, but their plans result in unaffordable housing, more congestion, and increased crime. An Oregon native, O’Toole specifically examines how smart growth failed in Portland. He shows how the U.S. Forest Service tries to plan millions of acres of national forests but ends up making them more susceptible to catastrophes than ever.
Combining theory with case studies to underscore his analysis, O’Toole calls for repealing federal, state, and local planning laws and proposes reforms that can help solve social and environmental problems without heavy‐handed government regulation.
PODCAST: Listen to the author discuss the book on the Cato Daily Podcast.
The Best‐Laid Plans is a powerful challenge to the conventional wisdom about public lands, urban growth, and government planning.