It is a myth that Regional Planning has not occurred in all these areas of interest. Regional Planning of water systems, highway, roads, and other infrastructure has occurred on a very large scale with Federal, State and Local Collusion between the public sector and the Corporate and Development Interests. It was all done within the Capitalist Paradigm of maximizing profits for the private sector and has manifested itself in a most irrational, inequitable, inhumane, and unsustainable suburban sprawl.
Benton MacKaye, in his book written in 1928, "The New Exploration" wrote about the need to direct this existing, impending, and inevitable "metropolitan invasion" of the agrarian/forested lands with a livability in mind that would provide for the inclusion of village centers in all new residential development (i.e. what is commonly known these days as mixed use). Benton may not have explicitly been able to see the now well known existence of the post-peak oil phenomenon, but being greatly schooled in geology/geography, he certainly must have had a sense of the finitude of this resource, and as an ecologist and a humanist he could foresee the terrible and alienating squandering that was about to become the mark of the 20th century.
We need to go back and fundamentally reassess the practice of Regional Planning consistent with the ideals of MacKaye and fundamentally taking head on the coming resource scarcity, particularly as it relates to fossil fuels. We need to rebuild, renovate, and in many cases build into all our neighborhoods the village centers that they so desirably lack. Such would make it possible for almost all to get their needs in life within walking distance of their homes. The result could be to reduce automobile usage (a terribly wasteful opportunity cost for precious fossil fuels) by 80% in the next twenty to forty years. It would create so many jobs in the building and building education trades that we would probably want to ENCOURAGE immigration. It would also greatly improve the quality of our lives.
The change in Regional Planning would be the adoption and acceptance to planned allocation of resources. Such was already occurring for the benefit of the special economic interests. It would require that public sectors work together in a very rational manner with a private sector that would need to redefine its mission as that of quasi-public. It would be the adoption of a resource allocation paradigm based on human needs and sustainability, not on profits.
We need to take a wholistic approach to the professions and applications of Resource Planning and Allocation and all its subsidiary economic functions.
We need to recognize the impending crises that we are only beginning to realize and we need to put our economic system into historical perspective. We need to grab the bull by the horns and consciously and actively evolve from Homo Economicus to Homa Ecologica Cooperativo.