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The Wealth Of Cities: Revitalizing The Centers Of American Life Paperback – June 1, 1999
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Milwaukee Mayor Norquist, a first-time author, appropriately alludes to Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations in his title. This strongly free-market book blames bad government policy for much of what's gone wrong with cities. He names a few familiar enemies, such as welfare's culture of dependency and the government monopoly on public education. More interesting, however, is his analysis of how government created the suburbs through road construction and housing subsidies--public actions that gave people the means to abandon once-thriving urban cores. Norquist describes how some cities have begun to turn the corner, and also recommends a series of commonsense public policies. Politicians have a knack for writing books that say nothing, but Norquist offers a thoughtful analysis of urban America, one that avoids the tired answers of both Left and Right and sets forth its own unique vision. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Norquist, who is currently serving his third term as mayor of Milwaukee, cites historic examples from Milwaukee and other U.S. cities to illustrate the urban setting's effectiveness at meeting its residents' needs and the damage that can result from misguided government meddling in natural urban processes. To help revitalize U.S. cities, Norquist advocates freer international trade and offers suggestions for how governments can reduce crime and unemployment. The author blames the excessive federal funding of freeways for the exponential growth of the auto-dependent (antiurban) lifestyle and describes how this trend has adversely affected American cities. He also argues convincingly that school choice vouchers would improve the quality of urban education. The result is a book providing valuable insights into the interaction between local and federal government and the role of cities in the future. Recommended.?Kim Baxter, New Jersey Institute of Technology Lib., South Orange
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Norquist outlines the ways that cities, and the people in them, can create successful development, revitalize their economic fortunes, and bring people back from the suburbs. I really appreciated his practical approach to running a city - cut costs, increase services, and people will want to live there. It's too easy for civic leadership to continuously raise taxes - not the solution to the problem, and it just exacerbates the issues facing most of our cities today.
He's a democrat, but not a handout liberal. Norquist presents the businessman's view on running a city - one that many mayors and civic leaders could handle reading and understanding.
Norquist explains that sprawl is not the free-market American dream, but the (sometimes intended, sometimes unintended) result of Big Government gone amok: the government-built highways that subsidized migration from cities, the government schools that drive people away from cities, the government zoning regulations that shape new development into the conventional suburban mold.
All of the self-styled libertarians who swoon for the road lobby should read this book.
Having said that, I only gave this book four stars because it is written at a rather elementary level--great for teenagers, not so good as a scholarly resource. I would have liked more footnotes, more elaboration of key points (e.g. why government-run schools do so badly in urban areas)A.
Don't be mislead into thinking that Norquist is just another liberal with his hand out for the needy and distressed inner-city residents. Quite the opposite. In fact, one of his cenral points is that cities' addiction to public handouts has rendered them nearly incapable of taking care of themselves. He urges tough measures, such as radically scaling back welfare and public housing. He argues for school choice and tougher sentencing for criminals.
Norquist, the current mayor of Milwaukee, may well be at the forefront of a new centrist political movement in this country - a movement that is fiscally conservative, tough on crime, strong on the environment, and not beholden to special interests on either the right or the left.
The first several chapters of the book do suffer from a bit too many "here's what we did in Milwaukee" annecdotes. Non-policy wonks may be put to sleep by discussions of sidewalk repair schedules and city budgets. Once you get to chapter five, though, the book becomes much more universal in its scope.
Amazon's list of related books should include books like Peter Katz's The New Urbanism, Towards an Architecture of Community and James Howard Kunstler's Geography of Nowhere and Home From Nowhere.
John Montague Massengale AIA CNU