Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Seminar Transcript

Good afternoon
Over the last fortnight James and I have read through the reading for this week, which are arguments for and against planning by “Richard E Klosterman”.  During this seminar we will analyses this reading and some other information we have found for and against planning. Feel free to ask us anyone questions as we go. We will ask you a few throughout the seminar and at the end we will have a short class discussion on the importance of planning
So the format of this seminar is that we will talk to you about the reading for this week I’ll introduce it and I’ll talk about the Economic argument and the Marxist argument and James will talk about the pluralist Argument and the traditional argument and then he will outline some other key points and arguments for and against planning. Then we have some questions which we will discuss as a class.
The role planning plays in the world is subjective. And everyone has a different view on what planning is, how it affects us and what role planning plays. So to answer the Question of what is planning I would like to Quote Richard who said planning is everything and I think there is no better way to put it.
Now looking at the reading for this week:
 Arguments for and against planning by “Richard E. Klosterman”; at the start the paper outlines that the necessity of planning processes has been questioned for the best part of the last century and we haven’t really answered those questions. The paper then splits into 4 arguments for and against planning and critically analyses those arguments. These four arguments are economic arguments, pluralist arguments, traditional arguments and Marxist arguments.

Economic Argument
So first the Economic argument;
History of the economic argument – the economic argument dates back to the 1700 and 1800’s through British philosophers Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill who put the case forward that government should try as little as possible to get involved in the market to protect individual liberty and promote freedom.
The economic argument argues competitive markets are capable in theory of allocating societies resources in an efficient manner but that markets often don’t remain competitive and fail. You need local government involved in solving “market failures”. Which occur when there are discrepancies between the perfect competitive market and the market in real life. Then the argument splits into for parts to show how these ‘market failures’ work:
1.       Public goods: public goods are goods and services that are freely available they could be things owned by the state or things that are just generically free for example healthy environment which could cause a ‘market failure’ due to the fact markets are based around people spending money and that people won’t spend money on things they get for free and that makes the market less competitive and possibly make it fail.
2.       Externalities: externalities is the side effects of production, which frequently are not taken into account by producer and can affect the market as it can drive the cost of production up. Which means the producer would either have to take that cost and possibly end up losing money or can pass on the cost to the consumer making there good or service more expensive.
3.       Prisoners’ dilemma condition – is where two prisoners or more have a situation where they can confess and get a more lenient penalty but if all confess they would be worse of then if they all stayed silent: Prisoners’ dilemma condition in this case is that because society and people are dependent on each other. The more passive people get the more society declines. The more active people are in society the more society thrives
4.       Distributional questions: the distributional question is that social issues that society want  the government to deal with require a lot of planning to be efficient and can’t effectively take place from one centralized coordinate.
Can you think of any arguments this could be making against planning?
 Against planning
·         Too much regulation
·         Stifle entrepreneurial initiative
·         Impede innovation
·         Impose unnecessary financial and administrative burdens
For planning
·         Local governments need to be involved and plan to stop ‘Market Failures’
·         Planning is needed to work out distribution of people, business and services
·         Planning is needed to stop inefficiencies (market, business, design etc)

Criticisms of Economic argument
The argument is very narrow and doesn't look at many issues in society

As a planner, you serve the role of a community builder who influences social life through the decisions you make that have a direct impact on the way a community operates and interacts. It is because of this, in theory, a planner should represent the interest of the public. Whilst this is the case, planning is a highly political and complicated process that encompasses a broad range of fields such as architecture, economics and sociology. This short YouTube video briefly outlines the role of an urban planner. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Qa3Z-V_1D4

The article at hand, written by Richard E. Klosterman, is a piece that critiques the necessity of Government planning whilst also offering suggestions relating to how it could operate efficiently whilst fulfilling the fundamental needs of society. As mentioned earlier, the article is split into four main arguments, being, economic arguments, pluralist arguments, traditional arguments, and Marxist arguments. Today I am going to explore the pluralist arguments and the traditional arguments, and evaluate either their support for, or against Government planning. Firstly I will discuss the traditionalist approach to planning. The planning profession originated at the turn of the 20th century in response to the failings of the political process and market. These failings were met with great discontent and was accurately depicted by the highly corrupt political process and the squalor that many citizens were forced to live in. Most traditional arguments support the need for planning as it was common belief that professionals who’s day to day job included scientific methods, and rationality in terms of the instruments used, could promote economic growth and a stable political process more effectively than political competition and market competition as both of these forces are unplanned and unpredictable. The reasons for these beliefs include the fact that many viewed planning as a “fourth power” that was independent from the Government, and had the role of representing public interest over the interests of single individuals or elitist groups. Other views included the planning profession being viewed as a system in which coordinates all impacts of land-uses on adjoining land owners and society as a whole. Consideration for future communities must also be taken into account as current actions have both negative and positive impacts 0n future day-to-day life. By the mid 20th century, social scientists such as Lindblom began to again question the necessity of planning. They argued that public sector planning was over restrictive as they believed planners were too focused simply on the built environment and the way in which urban areas were designed and run, reflected the middle-class views of that time period. The theory that planners represent the public interest was tested as planning satisfied the needs of business elites and high class conservatives. Whilst the planning profession was under attack at this time, it was beginning to be clear that it was heading in a new direction. This new direction was called the rational planning model. The rational planning model included the process of “problem identification, goal definition, analysis, implementation, and evaluation.” At the time of its creation, this seemed to be a logical process that could have a positive effect on society, yet recently, its effectiveness has been questioned as while it dealt with the need for dealing with externalities and providing collective goods, it still lacked the ability to deal with the social and psychological realities of planning, therefore meaning that the planning profession still lacks an accepted model for defining problems and seeking acceptable solutions.

Pluralism in terms of politics is the belief that power should be distributed equally among many differing groups of society so that one single elite group does not have control of the whole society. Many people believe that this approach should be taken in regards to planning. Critics of planning such as Lindblom and Wildavsky accepted the economic arguments stated earlier and believed that no independent government intervention was necessary. The basis of these arguments parallels to the economists theory of the perfectly competitive market where competition between groups who are in pursuit of their particular goals, is placed on a public agenda, meaning that no single group and their views can dominate, whilst maintaining political stability. Because in a perfectly competitive market there is no Government interference, many believe Government has no other role than to establish and enforce rules relating to planning. Because of this, there is political competition, like economic competition, eliminating the need for Government action in an independent way regarding coordination and planning. Because the pluralist model is similar to the economic model, it contains the same restrictions. The political process is dominated by people who use their access to people in positions of power to make sure their own interests are kept secure. This ensures their “status, privilege, and wealth” are maintained by Government policy decisions. The profession of planning can be widely justified, as just like the constraints of market competition, the pluralist approach cannot be in constant perfect competition, it is not rational. Because of this, many authors propose that planning simply be an add one of Government that performs actions such as providing information to society so that the decentralized decision making process is simplified and improved because of enhanced knowledge on the topic.
The pluralist approach to planning contains strong links to the advocacy planning approach. The advocacy planning approach was first promoted in Paul Davidoff’s 1965 article in the Journal of the American Institute of Planners, and rejects the idea that one solitary plan representing public interest is the correct approach to planning, whilst having one plan that represents the interests of many groups within society is the more reliable option. Advocate planners have acted primarily in the interests of the poor and the minorities that are often unheard in the political process. In the article at hand, Klosterman makes note of the Cleveland Planning Commissions efforts to promote “a wider range of choices for those Cleveland residents who have few, if any choices.” The advocacy planning approach also rejects the idea of a planning commission which is supposed to be a neutral body that acts in the interests of the public, claiming that it is merely political with no responsibility and complete irrelevance. Having said this, advocacy planning shares many of the same limitation as pluralist planning. These limitations include leaders not always reflecting the interests of their group members, and public servants not having adequate information to advocate for the minority as it is easier to represent the narrowly defined interests of the elites.
It is because of these restraints that there still remains a need for public sector planning that can theoretically represent the main interests of the public whilst considering the future consequences of these actions. The aim of traditional arguments is not to dismiss the needs of businesses and private interests; it merely suggests that by taking into account the interests of the whole community, better plans can be made by the Government Planning departments.

Marxist argument
The Marxist argument originates in the 1800’s with Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels who wrote the communist manifesto and provided a different theory on the way life could be lead and the way countries could be run which up till then was very much capitalist.
Marxist argument states that to understand the role planning plays you have to look at the role of government and the Marxist argument assumes the governments serve the long term interests of society and planning is fundamental in society for social and economic reasons. In the Marxist argument government ownership is essential for the state to deliver long term polices and centralised planning which serves the long term interests of society.
“Marxists interpret planners’ actions in each sphere as primarily serving the interests of the capital at the expense of society”
Can you think of any arguments this could be making against planning?
Arguments for planning
·         Planners are necessary to provide collective goods for society and control externalities. Planning also helps to manage the “inevitable contradictions of capitalism”
·         Delivers good outcomes for society and manages capitalism
·         Helps economic development
·         Is important for social developments
Arguments against planning
·         Planning is corruptible by government
·         Identifies no mechanism for reform
Criticisms of Marxist argument
Is that it’s to idealistic. It relies on the assumption that all governments are good, honest and not corrupt; and that the serve the long term interests of society. This is often not the case especially in western societies where they are focused on the next election.
Planning is limited from a Marxists point of view planners can’t work on short term reforms with community based professionals and organisations because they are to tied to the capital
The relevance of planning has been an issue ever since its beginnings around the turn of the 20th century, therefore this article is not the only source of information regarding evidence that either supports or degrades the profession of planning. Urban Times is an online site built for people such as bloggers and journalists who want to voice their opinion or lend their expertise on current issues that plague the world.  Urban Times believes that urban planning is a necessity in modern society as it “is a valuable lever for city leaders to make a difference and achieve sustainable development.” In its online version of the magazine, they state ten reasons why they believe that urban planning is still a much needed and relevant profession in modern society.
The first reason why Urban Times believes urban planning to be important is because it is “a framework for growth.” This means that the transformation of an area must have a framework in place that can develop ones vision in a controlled manner. A framework will anticipate the future needs and transform appropriately so that an urban area can grow under a plan, rather than from spontaneity.
Secondly, “A planned city is a well prepared city.” If one has the potential to anticipate any future problems, then a plan can be developed as time progresses, and when this challenge arises, they will be in a better position to overcome it. Not only are challenges more easily overcome, but future opportunities may also be recognized.
Because of the size of many urban areas, many challenges may arise at a similar time to each other. This is why urban times’ third point of “Planning improves impact” is an essential one. Because not all issues can be resolved at once, projects need to be prioritized in terms of their relation to the overall aim of the city or urban area. Planners identify the issues at hand, along with the resources available, to make sure that projects undertaken are possible and align with the vision of the city.
The fourth point raised by Urban Times, “An appropriate urban form is very important,” relates to human nature. Where you live and work are very important, so policies relating to density, infrastructure and public use have a major impact on day to day life. A positive urban form can be created by designing a “spatial pattern” that addresses the main concerns of citizens.
The fifth point made by Urban Times is “urban planning positively impacts urban economy.” For a leader of an urban area, job opportunities are a major concern. By attracting investment and generating economic activity, many jobs can be created therefore boosting the urban economy. For a plan to be successful, all members of society must agree on the vision and the means in which this vision will be achieved, because “A collectively held plan allows cities to build lasting relationships.” This point relates to the first point raised by Urban Times as the framework holds this plan together through citizens, investors and departments.

The seventh point raised by urban times states, “A broader territorial perspective helps cities attain economies of scale.” The actions one city undertake not only affects the city itself, but it also effects the surrounding region’s resources. This is why cities need to look beyond their borders and work together with a plan to advantage from “cross-municipal coordination.” Cross-municipal coordination simply means that urban areas of different zones work together to achieve positive allocation of resources and they can also draw on economies of scale.
A plan made for a city is highly important, therefore, this plan should be stuck to as close as possible depending on different issues that may arise throughout the duration of the plan. This is why Urban Times believes that, “continuity generates credibility.” Cities that have been successful in the past have ensured the continuity of their plans throughout different political cycles. Spatial planning can assist in creating this continuity, as it reduces uncertainties and creates predictable conditions.

Cost effectiveness plays a massive role on planning, and problems can be very costly, therefore, “Anticipating is more cost effective than reacting to problems.” In the past, a laissez faire approach to planning was the preferred option. Current planning tends to move away from this approach as cities that thoroughly plan are in a postion to anticipate future issues rather than deal with them as they occur. Urban Times sums up this statement by saying, “Unplanned spatial patterns are inefficient and require more resources to maintain, and the high cost of bad or no decision is likely to make them irreversible.”
The final point made by Urban Times is that, “A framework gives consistency to messages.” Government planning is a very political process, therefore the messages made by local leaders must be clear, achievable and non-contradictary. Because of this, support is important. Leaders can gain support if they can demonstrate they are making progress that is in line with the framework and vision for the area.
Urban Times raises ten very important and intriguing points that relate to arguments that support the need for Government planning in modern society. 

The article at hand has thoroughly discussed and examined four arguments explained by Klosterman that have a variety of reasons for and against public sector or Government planning. Despite there being reasons against planning, fundamentally, all arguments agree that there needs to be some level of action taken by Government, because in theory these arguments are justified, practically they do not work. In terms of economics, Klosterman states that in a perfectly competitive market, there is no need for Government interference as the market is self regulating, but in reality we know this cannot work because Government must intervene to remove market failures. If you take the pluralist approach to planning, it is believed that planning is required to represent the interests of the minorities and unheard instead of business elites. Pluralists like economists, believe that Government intervention in the political process should be kept to a minimum, but like the economics arguments, Government must intervene otherwise the people with access to information will have their needs satisfied. It is because of this that there must be some form of Government intervention so that planners can serve as advocates for the neediest members of society. Traditional arguments for planning suggest that planning reflects the overall interest of society, but planning should be a department that is independent to Government. Finally, the Marxist perspective of planning is an overall view of the other arguments stated. The Marxist approach recognizes the need for planning to be a representation of society whilst replacing decentralised markets with centralised planning. An important point raised by the Marxist argument is the need to correct the imbalance of power between society’s wealthiest and poorest members. Klosterman clinically sums the issue up by stating, “While all four perspectives propose that planning is required in theory to fulfill these fundamental social requirements, they each recognize in their own way that these theoretical arguments for planning are insufficient.”

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