The Collectivization of Innovation – Marginal REVOLUTION

In Collective Action Kills Innovation I wrote:

We have innovations like Uber and Airbnb and many others only because entrepreneurs didn’t have to ask for permission. Had we put these ideas to the vote they would have been defeated. Allow almost anyone with a car to drive customers around town? Stranger danger! Let any house be turned into a hotel? Not in my neighborhood! Once the innovations were brought into existence, the masses saw the benefits but they would not have seen those benefits if the idea had been put to a vote. Demonstration is more powerful than imagination.

More and more, however, the sphere of individual action shrinks and that of collective action grows.

A small but sadly amusing case in point is building in San Francisco. A plan was proposed to build the apartments at right. Love it, hate it. I don’t care. But it shouldn’t be up for collective action. Instead, what we have, however, is a planning process in which the President of the SF Planning Commission, Myrna Melgar, can opposed the plan because:

….I have to just state that I hate the design. Nothing against the architect, I think that the big windows, to me, are a statement of class and privilege. …having that building, with all of those windows it’s such a statement of, to me, class privilege because you know, poor people don’t do that, they don’t you know, like, win- you know, have everything out on the street. It just, so it just, it really rankles me the wrong way. So I just have to say it is a design issue. To me, design guidelines for what’s going to come are going be really important because I do think it does say to the community – is this still our community, what are we building for?

The building was proposed as a replacement for an auto shop (!) in 2014! Building didn’t start until 2022 and as of January 2023 it still wasn’t complete, although it looks like they got most of the windows approved.

An amusing video on some of the hypocrisy involved.

Hat tip: M. Nolan Gray and twitter thread.

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