Pittsburgh’s public policy travesty

Pittsburgh’s public policy travesty

Pittsburgh has become the second city in the United States (after New York) to adopt the United Nations’ “Sustainable Development Goals.”

It’s a laundry list of desires, many of which seek to serve the “social justice” agenda of “progressives.” The cost – to be paid for, backers hope, by a consortium of public and private dollars — is an astounding $4 billion. (That’s billion, with a “b.”)

As the Post-Gazette reported it:

“Mayor Bill Peduto announced the commitment to the 17 U.N. sustainability goals … saying they identify the most important issues facing the globe — poverty, hunger, climate change, education, gender equality and health, among them.”

Centrally planned policies in which the best interests of “the collective” loom large in this scheme. Or as scholars at The Heritage Foundation once put it: “Political agendas masquerading as development goals abound.”

As but one example already in practice in Pittsburgh is a so-called “affordable housing” program that makes housing less affordable for those from whom higher taxes are conscripted in the name of “affordability.”

You get the picture.

But as Heritage scholars so often have reminded, it is far better to promote policies that contribute to development by allowing individuals to pursue their best interests, which collectively accelerate economic growth, development and the general welfare of the populace.

Late great Austrian school economist James Buchanan (the Nobel Laureate in 1986) referred to, a quarter-century ago and in general, the kind of economic socialism that has so enthralled the United Nations (and Bill Peduto) as “politicized control-regulation of economic interaction” that “by no means has been exorcised from the modern mind-set despite the evidence from reason or history.”

Then as now.

Again, from Professor Buchanan:

“The belief that persons, acting jointly through their membership in collectives, can effectively ‘improve’ on the spontaneously generated outcomes of market processes remains imbedded in the modern psyche.”

It is, Buchanan postulated, this enduring “romance of socialism … dependent both on an idealized politics and a set of impossible behavioral presuppositions.”

Simply put, it is the lie of “progressives” who, in all their hubris, keep insisting that they know better and can “command” market to the betterment of all.

Invariably, however, it is a toxic mixture of altruism and ignorance.

Never mind that history, which they choose to not only roundly ignore but actively debunk, proves the sophist errors of their delusions.

That elected leaders such as Bill Peduto keep attempting to sell such United Nations pigs in a poke while standing ready with multiple shades of lipstick to pretty-up the pigs’ veneer is a public policy travesty.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).