This doesn’t affect the latter part of your thoughtful article, but please know that the alleged urban planning conference and Times quote did not happen. These were invented by Stephen Davies, of fee.org, in September 2004. He does this to argue that experts are often comically wrong, and therefore regulation of businesses by such experts is counterproductive.
In reality, America’s First National Conference on City Planning occurred in Washington, DC, in 1909. Britain’s first urban planning conference was the Town Planning Conference, held in London in October, 1910. Similarly, Google searches prior to Sep 2004 do not yield any predictions of streets buried in manure. Therefore, the Times prediction didn’t happen either.
Unfortunately, the story has gotten traction. Eric Morris of UCLA, Historic UK, the Freakonomics guys, the Bytesdaily blog, and a few other sites have all repeated the story or some form of it. Many other site then reference those. With so many sites, it looks like it’s a real thing unless you dig a bit and see they all go back to Davies and cannot be found prior to his article.
Other than that, an enjoyable article.