Friday’s paper offered a heartfelt letter, headlined “Is Auburn still ‘Loveliest Village’?”
Bill Cantrell had attended Auburn University in the 1970s, and his memories were so warm that he moved back in 2008. Since then he has been alarmed at the continuation of the city’s uncontrolled growth, and the seeming inability of the city fathers to prevent any building, no matter how ugly, from being built. We can only pity the poor devils charged with trying to beautify Opelika Road.
South College, too, has long been disfigured by corrugated metal and chaotic placement of retail outlets, each as garish as its neighbor. Bent Creek welcomes visitors by curving them past the Goo-Goo car wash and around a hideous gash of a slope, atop which the developers’ jets take off and land.
I have the sense, from listening to city planning officials, that they would love to be able to say “No” more often. But their hands are tied. As for the rest of us, it is mind-forged manacles that leave us helpless to act.
Mr. Cantrell remembers the strict codes and ordinances—the government regulations--that protected his former city. Government regulations! Our Congressman Rogers harvests votes by slamming regulations, any regulations.
“Are you gonna tell me I can’t build this here thing on my own land?” An indignant property owner also has a philosophical defender in the Mises Institute, dedicated as it is to a worship of private property and a contempt for all forms of government.
The poisonous doctrine that governments can never do anything right leads to the hatred of regulation. It largely explains why America has no beautiful cities, unless we count the purely natural surroundings of, say, San Francisco.
So if we Auburn people should want to preserve a green length of beauty such as the North College street approach, we’re going to need a cultural revolution.