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An essay on the issue of urban decay

Rogers College of Law. We also appreciate the valuable research assistance provided by Marcello Puca.

  1. In a rural area, potential targets are spread across miles, and a robber can go a long time without ever seeing a potential victim.
  2. Without support from the bottom, the rule of law begins to crumble—setting in motion a vicious cycle potentially leading to a break down in the rule of law entirely. Urban infrastructure—including roads and highways, electrical supply, water resources, air quality, public transportation systems, traffic control, safe travel, and a pleasing overall aesthetic 67This list is intended as exemplificative rather than illustrative of urban infrastructure components, which also include, for example, sanitary systems, public facilities e.
  3. This information, however, is insufficient for individuals to form a belief as to whether most others are abiding by, or deviating from, the rule of law.
  4. Individuals who value Persian food — or any of the other experiences that can only be found in a large city — will value the opportunity to live in a large city more than they will value the opportunity to live in a rural area. The impact of this collapsing urban infrastructure on the global competitiveness of the United States has been widely discussed.
  5. The Experience of the United States.

Abstract Detroit has failed and its infrastructure is crumbling. But Detroit is not an isolated case. It is a paradigmatic example of increasing urban decay across the United States. Decaying urban environments jeopardize the rule of law, undermining the very foundation of the social contract. When urban decay sets in, individuals are led to believe that the government and thus citizens as a collective have abandoned their commitments to following the basic rules governing the social contract.

This, in turn, reduces incentives of individuals to engage in lawful behavior. As a result, the rule of law is, like the city itself, left in shambles. In support of this theoretical account, we provide empirical evidence that urban decay weakens the rule of law. As a normative matter, we claim that U. We argue that selective centralized support of local goods and services can better balance the dual goal of preserving the rule of law and encouraging municipal fiscal accountability.

Times, July 18, 2013, http: Times Opinionator, July 19, 2013, 10: As ubiquitous images of Detroit attest, 3See, e.

Fiscal Problems

But the Motor City is not alone in its crumbling urban infrastructure. Notwithstanding the success of The Wire, Baltimore has not transitioned to a more livable urban environment.

Are Pensions the Cause? Research at Boston Coll.

Introduction

Michelle An essay on the issue of urban decay provides additional examples of the cuts in public services that have occurred in many of these cities. To paint a national picture: Years of inadequate investment are starting to show. The impact of this collapsing urban infrastructure on the global competitiveness of the United States has been widely discussed. The popular press has also largely emphasized the link between mounting urban decay and decreasing global competitiveness of the United States.

But the failure to invest adequately in a livable urban environment has potentially more troubling, and overlooked, consequences. In this account, the rule of law stands at the heart of the social contract, 15The notion of social contract was originally developed in the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes and later differently elaborated by John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant.

For a discussion of the similarities and the differences in the elaboration of the social contract by these philosophers, see Michel Rosenfeld, Contract and Justice: Within this framework, individuals give a centralized authority—or government—a monopoly on the legitimate use of force in order to enforce legal rules.

In addition, the government is tasked with coordinating the production of certain essential goods and services, such as urban infrastructure. Just as self-interested individuals cannot be expected to spontaneously abide by laws, even where they have implicitly contracted to do so, 16When individuals are self-interested, there will always be circumstances in which it is individually profitable to break agreed-upon rules.

See infra notes 41—42 and accompanying text. It is worth observing that broad definitions of urban infrastructure also tend to include education and health infrastructure. See infra notes 166—67 and accompanying text.

  • Mieszkowski, Peter and Edwin Mills;
  • But if they are living in an abandoned building or in a cheap motel, should they be considered homeless?
  • Individuals who value Persian food — or any of the other experiences that can only be found in a large city — will value the opportunity to live in a large city more than they will value the opportunity to live in a rural area;
  • Provide an example of a problem that specifically arises from the fact that cities consist, by definition, of large numbers of people living in a relatively small space;
  • Demographic Trends in the Twentieth Century;
  • The impact of this collapsing urban infrastructure on the global competitiveness of the United States has been widely discussed.

See Andreu Mas-Colell et al. Paul Samuelson is largely credited as having introduced the theory of public goods in his classic 1954 article The Pure Theory of Public Expenditure. When the government intervenes to prevent law breaking, observers obtain information about that discrete rule infraction. This information, however, is insufficient for individuals to form a belief as to whether most others are abiding by, or deviating from, the rule of law.

Rather, the government may simply be pursuing its function in preventing rule infractions effectively. Similarly, scarce enforcement intervention may either indicate that most people abide by law or that the government is inadequately fulfilling its role as public enforcer. In both cases, the information observers obtain is not conclusive as to whether most individuals are abiding to, or deviating from, the basic rules governing the social contract. In contrast, exchanges between citizens and government as provider of public goods are typically highly interactive and long term—as the nature of such goods make them crucial to the daily well being of all citizens.

See infra notes 67—73 and accompanying text. Accordingly, what the government does, as the provider of public goods, gives individuals a much better sense of what other individuals are doing. See infra note 52 explaining that rule enforcement can itself be regarded as a public good. See supra note 19 and accompanying text.

Hence, access to adequate and well-maintained public an essay on the issue of urban decay induces citizens to infer that legal rules and institutions are meaningful and that most individuals adhere to the social contract.

Weingast, Microfoundations of the Rule of Law, 17 Ann. The rule of law does not reside in particular institutions, beliefs, or behaviors. It is a description of the nature of an equilibrium arising from the interaction of institutions, beliefs, and behaviors. Like Hadfield and Weingast, we also attempt to provide a microfoundation of the rule of law—in the sense that we focus on how individual behavior and beliefs produce aggregate outcomes.

However, we consider a more complex transactional environment, where the role of the government is not just providing coercive enforcement, but also supplying public goods. Under this social equilibrium, the rule of law is strengthened, and coercive government enforcement becomes less necessary, creating net gains for society.

Indeed, it is worth observing that while 82. See The World Fact Book: This, in turn, causes individuals to respond rationally by placing less value on their own law abidance. Social cooperation and social advocacy are undermined.

Without support from the bottom, the rule of law begins to crumble—setting in motion a vicious cycle potentially leading to a break down in the rule of law entirely. Rather, such enforcement increases the risk of governmental abuse of power—abuse which is characteristic of a polity lacking a strong rule of law.

Urban Decay, Austerity, and the Rule of Law |

Moreover, stricter coercive enforcement can only compensate for the loss of social cooperation and social advocacy to a limited extent, and at significant costs. Conflating minor physical disorder e. On these assumptions, the BWT advocates an enforcement strategy that emphasizes the necessity of pervasive police presence and aggressive misdemeanor arrest. The cycle can thus be reversed only when the government resumes its obligations to provide an adequate and livable urban environment.

See infra Part I. Assuming that welfare maximization is a normative goal of public policy, why do governments fail to provide and maintain quality urban infrastructure? Super, Rethinking Fiscal Federalism, 118 Harv. Schragger, Democracy and Debt, 121 Yale L. This argument, however, ignores the trade-off between the ex ante gains from austerity and its ex post social costs such as a weaker, or even broken, rule of law.

While a detailed blueprint for optimally solving this trade-off is beyond the scope of this Article, we suggest that selective centralized support of local services, including local infrastructure, might better balance the dual goal of preserving the rule of law and encouraging financial accountability at the local level.

The Article proceeds as follows. We lay out our basic claim in Part I—namely, that the quality of urban infrastructure plays a central role in supporting the rule of law.

In Part II, we provide empirical support for our claim, gathering data from 124 countries related to the quality of the urban environment and the degree to which these countries are characterized as having a strong or weak rule of law. In Part III, we chart a course forward balancing the gains and losses of austerity at the local level. In doing that, we also set a roadmap for subsequent discussion of the degree to which sustained investment in infrastructure is a normative requirement of a government invested in both a functioning social contract and the rule of law.

The Rule of Law and Urban Infrastructure We theorize that the quality of the environment in which residents live determines the degree to which the rule of law will take root and thrive. In making this argument, we recognize that the relationship between the urban environment and the rule of law is multifaceted, multidimensional, and mediated through complex processes at both the individual and collective level. Nevertheless, we suggest that the rule of law is the linchpin of the social contract between citizens and civil society, and that adequate urban infrastructure plays a highly visible and salient role in underpinning the rule of law.

The Rule of Law and the Social Contract In its abstract normative sense, the rule of law is a political ideal that is not necessarily descriptive of any actual society. Essays on Law and Morality 210, 211 2d ed. Besides the conflict around the promotion of specific agenda, further disagreement exists among advocates of a formal or proceduralist conception of the rule of law and advocates of a substantive conception.

An Analytical Framework, 1997 Pub. For the former, the rule law only encompasses procedural and institutional qualities, which should guide lawmaking and law enforcement by public authorities. It is evident that this conception of the rule of law is a formal one. Among others, the qualities the rule of law should embody include the requirements that laws be general, public, an essay on the issue of urban decay, understandable, consistent, stable, and congruent.

Fuller, The Morality of Law 46—91 rev. On the contrary, for advocates of a substantive conception, the rule of law should be related to certain moral rights and duties of individual citizens and public authorities, such as individual freedom and equality. Historically, the substantive conception of the rule of law is associated with the work of the Austrian philosopher Friedrich Hayek. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom 72 1944.

Dicey, Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution 180—205 8th ed.

  • Some previously mono-industrial towns in France are experiencing increasing crime, decay, and decreasing population;
  • Times Opinionator, July 19, 2013, 10;
  • For better or worse, a fact of city life that arises from the defining feature of cities—many people living in a relatively small area—is that many people need to travel to get to work or school and to visit stores, museums, and any number of other leisure-time settings.

In this foundational sense, the rule of law stands at the heart of the social contract, as articulated in the political philosophies of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. However, in the elaboration of the Hobbesian social contract, the requirement to act according to the law only applies to citizens, while the exercise of authority is conceived as unconstrained to preserve the stability of civil society.

See infra notes 114—18 and accompanying text.

Urban decay

Individuals consent to unite into civil society and embrace the rule of law, 35Consent to the rule of law, and the other institutions of civil society, does not require the actual agreement of the social contractors, as that would be an unworkable requirement.

See Rosenfeld, supra note 31, at 1316. What suffices to establish legitimacy of those institutions is the hypothetical ex ante agreement of the social contractors, acting as rational individuals. John Rawls introduced the notion of the sufficiency of hypothetical consent in social contract theory.

See Rawls, supra note 15, at 11—13. Gough, The Social Contract: A Critical Study of Its Development 4 2d ed. The rule of law is thus consensual and contractual, both as it applies to the horizontal dimension of social interactions among citizens—the pactum unionis 38See W.