Save Griffintown!

The Engineered Demise Of The Culture of Planning by ajkandy
October 7, 2008, 1:44 pm
Filed under: griffintown

Sara Robinson, from the Campaign for America’s Future, writes an excellent piece of analysis regarding how the United States has succumbed to the “no-one-could-have-seen-it-coming” mantra of its leaders. The truth is that these leaders, and the interests who backed them, systematically engineered the dismantling of nearly every one of America’s foresight, planning and oversight agencies, all in the name of short-term profit. We’re seeing the “unforeseen consequences” unfolding in real time, when perhaps as little as 30 years ago, hundreds, even thousands, of planners, thinkers, game theorists, strategists and systems analysts would have steered the ship, collectively, back on course:

Allied generals — most notably Hap Arnold — realized early on that defeating the Nazis meant we’d have to become even better organizers than they were. The Allies had a massive resource advantage, but Arnold saw that fully leveraging that advantage in a two-front war was going to require a new generation of strategic planning tools. To that end, he brought together the first teams that pioneered the field of operations research (and which, after the war, formed the core founding group of RAND Corporation, which has continued to play a leading role in developing foresight techniques). […] And every American, it seems, absorbed the lessons. […] an entire generation learned to take the long view, think in big pictures, and visualize future events. When the war ended, millions of men and women brought those skills home to the cities and suburbs, and applied them every aspect of their lives from building companies to running households. […] It’s become a peculiarity of our character, this brash and pragmatic assumption that if you want to create a certain kind of future, you simply articulate the vision and start laying out the steps that will get you there. There aren’t that many cultures in the world that offer such strong support for big ideas, elaborate logistical and organizational planning, and long-term foresight — yet, until you’re outside America for a while, it’s hard to notice how special this trait really is, or how strongly it defines us as a people.

Which is why this whole “Who could have foreseen it?” question reveals so much about what’s gone wrong in Bush’s America. It’s an admission of yet another secret piece of the right-wing agenda that’s been quietly, steadily moving along since the Reagan years, and has finally brought us to the point where its catastrophic implications can no longer be ignored.

She’s also got a good quote from a widely read piece by UK journalist Jonathan Raban, about the state of city planning in Wasilla under Sarah Palin’s mayoralty.