Today’s Garner-Clayton Record published my letter to the editor (third letter down) discussing why a Garner’s centralized “downtown revitalization” efforts are anything but market-based.
John Hodges, executive director of the Garner Revitalization Association, attempts to assure readers that his organization is embracing a “market-based approach” to Garner’s “downtown revitalization” (A market-based approach, Nov. 11).
Hodges blatantly betrays this claim with his own words. In his letter, the word “plan” or “planning” appears 10 times. Indeed, Hodges’ vision of a “group made up of citizens, elected officials and town staff” to develop a “realistic and achievable plan” is the antithesis of a true market-based approach.
The market economy is a process whereby individuals cooperate with each other based on their value judgments of how best to serve each other’s needs as well as their individual needs. Consumers seek to satisfy their most urgent needs for goods and services at a price they are willing to pay, and producers compete with each other in order to best serve those needs.
The market constantly evolves as individual consumers and entrepreneurs adjust their actions to maximize their gains through mutual cooperation. Coordinating this process are countless decisions made by actors within the market system, decisions made according to each individual’s unique knowledge and preferences. Such knowledge and preferences are often tacitly (i.e., only internally) possessed by these individuals, and therefore they are unknowable to even the most highly trained “experts.” Nor are they transferrable to any study.
This process is disrupted only when an external group of “experts” place themselves in the position of attempting to identify “the types of retail, commercial and residential needs” not currently being met. Because the market process, even for a local economy such as Garner’s, is such an inherently complex and unpredictable phenomena, any attempt to plan — “down to the square foot” — how to anticipate and meet consumer demands is futile.
Enlisting a small committee to develop a “plan” to direct Garner’s resources fails any logical interpretation of a “market-based” approach.