Florida Loses Its Mind. Again.

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If you think that Snooki has relationship problems because of overly strict drinking laws, or that the Bernie Madoff story is a cautionary tale about overly intrusive financial regulation, you’re probably a Florida politician. Because the geniuses who run the state have decided that its economic distress is the result of overly strict growth management. So they’re wiping out three decades of growth management laws and making it even easier for developers to build, the legislative equivalent of making it even easier for Kirstie Alley to eat.

This is so insane I don’t even know what to say about it, except that I assume Carl Hiaasen has found the subject of his next novel. It’s hard to imagine how any sentient being who’s visited Homestead or Cape Coral or any of Florida’s other boarded-up foreclosurevilles and seen all the vacant homes with unmowed lawns and mosquito-infested pools could conclude that the housing boom was insufficiently robust.

Whatever. I wrote a history of the Everglades, so I’m probably hypersensitive to the importance of protecting wetlands and the water supplies that sit underneath them. I’ve always thought of Florida’s economy as a real estate Ponzi scheme that depended on bringing in 1,000 newcomers every day, most of them real estate lawyers and real estate agents and stucco guys and drywall guys and other folks whose livelihoods depend on bringing in 1,000 newcomers the next day. I suggested three years ago that Florida’s housing crisis, water crisis, insurance crisis, budget crisis and economic crisis were all functions of misguided priorities, that the state couldn’t attract Fortune 500 companies to paradise because its lousy schools were creating a lousy workforce, and its unsustainable build-everywhere sprawl culture was whittling away the quality of life.

But maybe the real problem is that it isn’t easy enough to build sprawl in the Sunshine State. Maybe gutting the state growth management agency and eliminating impact fees on developers will finally liberate Florida’s builders from their shackles.

And maybe there’s nothing wrong with Charlie Sheen that a little more cocaine couldn’t fix.