Watching Slumdog Millionaire, the Oscar winning film of 2008 that is being released on DVD today, can be a bracing experience for those accustomed to the conveniences of Western living. The destitute living is accurately and graphically depicted and is all too real for those that have seen it. Yet, the real danger is letting the poverty obscure a larger, perhaps more important lesson about urban places: Many of these urban slums are functioning, productive cities in their own right, and represent an intergenerational path toward economic improvement.
The planning profession’s ambivalence toward Houston has always been a little frustrating. In part, the profession’s attitude is understandable. Houston hasn’t embraced planning’s conventions, so why should the profession embrace Houston?
Fair enough. But the downside is losing the opportunity to look at core issues and problems from a completely different lens. This is especially true when it comes to housing development where Houston performs remarkably better than its peers.
Questions about the capacity of local organizations, the wisdom of economic development efforts in the hands of anemic CDCs. Neither wholly right nor wrong, the piece put on the table a necessary skunk: was it sensible to try to revitalize the inner city using the tools and thinking then at hand?
James Howard Kunstler has been saying for some time now that when our "ponzi scheme" economy finally crumbles around us, people are going to be very angry, and looking for someone to blame.
The on-going foreclosure and subsequent credit crisis should offer important lessons for housing policy and public policy more broadly. Chief among these lessons might be the falsity of the notion that government regulation is always bad. But some conservative commentators cling to the dogma that government intervention is the root of all evil. An explanation being offered by some is that government intervention in the form of Community Reinvestment Act encouraged irresponsible lending and led to the subsequent housing bust.