Beneath America’s deep frustration with government is something else: a deep-seated aversion to power. Progressives resolved decades ago to prevent the public from being bulldozed by another Robert Moses—and the project to diffuse power to the public has succeeded. But the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. The left’s zeal to hamstring government has helped to burnish the right’s argument that government would mess up a one-car parade. The new protections erected to guard against Moses’ second coming have condemned new generations to live in civic infrastructure that is frozen in time.The piece traces the history of attempts to reinvent Penn Station and the surrounding area, attempts led by a variety of strong-willed people, each with a piece of power, but none able to get past the veto points erected by post-1960 reforms.
As a former bureaucrat, I'm instinctively sympathetic to technocracy. But I also recognize that power without restraints, like Moses', can result in misguided dreams and worse misdeeds.