The good news? More attention has been paid to zoning issues of late. If nothing else, excessive zoning as problematic for inequality, is an area where Democrats and Republicans appear to be discovering common ground. In a recent post, John Cochrane highlighted some encouraging portions of a Washington speech from Jason Furman. Of course, as Cochrane noted, solutions aren't easy, and Furman had little of substance to offer in this regard.
Once locales are zoned in ways which contribute to the wealth of local inhabitants, it can be difficult to change those defined settings - in part because doing so can mean material loss for those who are invested in the outcome. Hence the not so good news, is that even with good intentions, most proposed loosening of zoning requirements would frequently get bogged down in the details, at local levels.
By no means is accessibility to work options, just an issue in the U.S. Dr. Madson Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute, posted about a potential transportation initiative which could assist young people who face steep commuting costs to gain work in London. One commenter noted that youth in the Netherlands were fortunate in this regard, because of their ability to bicycle to work. Another ASI commenter voiced a concern which matched my own: where does one draw the line with government assistance, which would provide yet another patch for symptoms without getting to the root of the problem?
One effective means for doing so, would be to create stronger organizational patterns for work where people already live, or could potentially relocate. Even though some local economic formation would not be practical (such as tradable goods which need few production locations), time based services are needed on consumption and production terms by populations on a regular basis. However, vital knowledge based services tend to consolidate in more prosperous areas, which mostly have room for higher income populations. This, in spite of the fact that the digital realm now makes it possible to utilize - and coordinate - a vast amount of knowledge around the world.
Knowledge use systems would be able to tap into that digital capacity, to organize broad swathes of services integration at local levels. The symmetric compensation of time arbitrage, would make it possible for groups to locally coordinate activity which - till now - has relied on multiple institutional factors in order to take place. New services capacity would also exist as a wealth starter, in that this form of organization would be measurable and quantifiable in an immediate sense.
Prior to the rise of prosperous regions as primary areas of economic activity, more individuals spontaneously coordinated at local levels for economic activity. Time arbitrage would seek to recreate local coordination, only through knowledge based services, rather than the earlier agricultural patterns which once prevailed. Granted, some further economic integration is possible in the prosperous regions of developed nations. Just the same, populations should not be expected to sacrifice too much of the value of their existing environmental dynamics, when it is also possible to generate broader access through decentralization.