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Robbing prosperity

| Monday, May 21, 2007

A new study by the Brookings Institution, "Restoring Prosperity: The State Role in Revitalizing America's Older Industrial Cities," is a textbook example of the mind-set that created one dazzling Pittsburgh renaissance after another while the city continued to decay.

The report by the liberal think tank in Washington, D.C. -- online at www.brook.edu -- lists economically-challenged cities, including nine in Pennsylvania such as Pittsburgh, that could overcome their problems "if state and local leaders work together to create an agenda for change."

If wise politicians agree on a "holistic urban agenda," the nation's distressed communities can be saved, says Brookings. Call it trickle-down government.

That would mean more state money for "big ticket" real estate projects, mass transit, broadband Internet access in the downtown, housing, mental health and substance abuse programs for released convicts, as well as money to help them find work, ad nauseam. Heavily subsidized European cities with strong mayors with the vision thing are offered as role models.

But Hong Kong restored itself after World War II. Even with little arable land and few natural resources. Thank Hong Kong's "positive noninterventionism" laissez-faire policy for its dazzling prosperity.

Ensuring people are free to help themselves is the best help a state can provide.

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