Reuters reports that Switzerland recently conducted an interesting experiment in voters determining government policy. Greenies put a binding referendum before the Swiss electorate as part of its "system of direct democracy."
Like all the laws and regulations pushed by "environmentalists" this one’s benefits were wildly hyped, while the counter-arguments were buried under an avalanche of hysterical predictions of doom.
The goal of the referendum was to, "limit urban sprawl by freezing the size of construction zones."
Supporters of the construction limits claimed, "construction over decades had covered up thousands of hectares of green areas, and continues at a rate of nearly a square meter (1.2 square yards) per second, the equivalent of eight soccer pitches every day."
More sunshine and roses assured voters, "The initiative preserves the beautiful landscapes in Switzerland and thus our quality of life as well. Careful handling of the soil will continue to create enough living space for all without having to sacrifice green space."
Initially it looked like smooth sailing for the "let’s raise the price of housing for everybody" crowd. Then the cold breath of reality entered the picture.
The not in may backyard coalition "would have allowed a new building zone only if governments removed another area of at least the same size from land set aside for construction."
The government and parliament opposed the plan and said that a rigid curb "could harm the population and business, ignore regional differences and increase housing prices." Some towns would have bumped up against the limit next year while others had space that would last until the world burned to a crisp from global warming.
Fortunately for people looking to have their own house in the future the referendum was crushed.
We on general principles object to the term "urban sprawl"as it was used in Switzerland. It’s not like builders are dumping piles of discarded tires and old Kelvinators on a pristine landscape. This so–called "sprawl" represents homes, schools, churches, and shopping centers for people who have every right to want to live in an area conducive to families.
For many in California that’s not possible. A combination of metastasizing red tape and restrictive zoning have added an estimated 50 percent to the cost of a new house with related increases in existing housing.
If California voters had a chance to vote on rules imposed by environmentalists and their willing accomplices in the bureaucracy we might soon have a completely different housing situation. But that is out of the question in the experts-know-best California government.
What we have is a situation summed up by Dennis Miller: A developer is someone who wants to build a house in the forest. An 'environmentalist' is someone who already has a house in the forest.
Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a Newsmax TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker’s bureau. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.
Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher for the League of American Voters, and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.