How valuable are public parks? This light-hearted debate features two endearingly nerdy policy wonks going shot-for-shot.Waste of Space
Matthew Yglesias doesn't care for parks
"I'd rather see this land put to use with buildings and stuff," he
wrote of plans to expand parks in Washington, D.C. "It's not clear to
me that we're suffering from a park shortage. And in
environmental terms, it's much better for the planet to construct
additional housing units in already-urbanized areas than to pack a bit
more green space in the city and have more people living in sprawling
exurbs."Think of the Children
The New Republic's Jazon Zengerle quipped
, "I have a hunch his thinking might change if/when he has a kid." Added
Andrew Sullivan, "Or a beagle."
Consider Housing Costs
Yglesias, however refused to be waved off
"I never find this to be a particularly useful way of talking about a
policy issue," he responded, saying that his opinion on "the home
mortgage interest tax deduction" didn't change when he mortgaged his
home. Yglesias argued that if cities want to help kids, they should
develop parks into cheap housing, thus increasing the supply of homes
and reducing the cost. "Cheaper housing is strongly pro-family, since
people with kids obviously need more square feet per income-earner," he
wrote, concluding, "A little patch of empty green space looks nice, but
it's a bad way to use a scarce resource."
Akin to Free Housing Addition
that, if Yglesias had the "life experience" of raising kids, he
would support expanding parks on the same grounds he now opposes it. "Kids need a lot of
space--much more than many people could ever possibly afford to own or
rent themselves in a city," he wrote. "That's where parks come in. In
some ways, they serve as an addition to your home--and a public one at
that." Zengerle argued that parks also promote health. "That's not even getting into the whole issue of fresh air, exercise, etc., that are obviously beneficial to children," he added.
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