TANSTAAFNP

by Don Boudreaux on September 22, 2007

in Environment, Reality Is Not Optional

Here’s a letter I sent recently to a local radio station in D.C.

15 September 2007

News Editor, WTOP Radio

To the Editor:

I waited in vain for you to draw your listeners’ attention to the connection between two of your reports today.  The first report – delivered in a grave voice – was of how rising rents are financially squeezing low-income families.  The cause you give for these rising rents is a “housing shortage.”

The second report – delivered in an upbeat, almost triumphant voice – was of how Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine has set aside yet more land in that state as a nature preserve.

As government declares more and more land off-limits for development, it reduces the potential supply of new houses and apartments, thereby causing housing prices and rents to rise.  More nature preserves might be desirable, but people should be made aware of their long-term costs.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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muirgeo September 22, 2007 at 6:34 pm

I'm guessing the problem with housing costs has more to do with wealth discrepency, contract employment and decreasing health care/ employment benitfits then it does with nature preserves.

Looks like there are plenty of units available to me. So maybe not a ture housing shortage but a shortage of affordable housing.

Wojtek Grabski September 22, 2007 at 6:46 pm

Muirego, you're missing the point. What you call 'affordable housing' is just housing when supply is large. Prices fall if, and ONLY if, supply allows them to. When supply is low, prices are high — just like every single other commodity, including, I think, the services you provide as a doctor.

And don't think you can get around it either. Imposing rent controls is exactly equivalent to fixing wages, which inevitably leads to less rental units, and less qualified professionals, respectively.

In your case, however, the supply is limited by restrictions of licensure. That would be not so much like rent controls, but more like designating all land off-limits to housing, and only releasing a little at a time — only that which is deemed 'appropriate' and 'safe' for habitation.

Just as soon as you realise that exactly the same laws govern the price of both these commodities, you'll understand that the only way to lower rent, is to let people make more of it, by offering them sufficient incentive to blow the millions that it takes to build it.

Sam Grove September 22, 2007 at 7:03 pm

The policies supported by progressives play a large part in the 'ability to afford' issue.

brotio September 22, 2007 at 7:30 pm

Muirgeo is guessing. That seems to be a recurrent theme. I wouldn't care, except that Muirgeo wants government policy to be based on those guesses.

M. Hodak September 23, 2007 at 2:44 am

I'm guessing the problem with housing costs…

brotio beat me to the punch. It's this stunning lack of facts and context that makes social planners with their cheap talk and utopian wishes so infuriating to those of us actually making these trade-offs, managing these resources and trying to create things for people without the benefit of guns and jails if we don't get our way.

David P. Graf September 23, 2007 at 9:18 am

Isn't it a matter of location which determines whether adding more nature preserves impacts the availability of housing?

Rob Dawg September 23, 2007 at 10:16 am

The proposition presumes that the creation of a nature preserve has no economic stimulus component that induces private investment or that any of the public accomodations (roads, infrastructure) cannot serve dual uses such that the marginal cost of housing is lowered. There are certainly more houses in Oakhurst, CA with Yosemite NP than without.

vidyohs September 23, 2007 at 10:30 am

Poor muirgeo!
Don's letter and muirgeo's response to it reminds me of another bit I read on the subject of affordable housing and "homelessness" (whew the was a word!).

The writer described a meeting organized by "homeless activists", in which a large fat lady with a red angry face stood before the crowd and whined, "Myself and my three children live in a tiny effiency apartment—we are homeless!"

The writer then made the observation to her that, while he could see she made bad choices of where to live, she certainly wasn't "homeless".

She had a "home" she could afford, therefore she had "affordable housing".

The fat lady's problem was that people like muirgeo are telling her she "deserves" more adequate housing for her family without having to perform the requiste labors to afford more adequate housing. And both are caught up in that socialist scripture of "steal from all to give to one". The fat lady would take it with no qualms about the morality and muirgeo would steal it for her with an equal lack of concern for the morality.

Sam Grove September 23, 2007 at 11:06 am

In San Francisco, homeless activists have blocked many plans to provide some kind of shelter for the homeless, insisting they they should be housed in something mmore than adequate. Of course, the homeless then remain outside while theactivists argue.

They just want to feel important in the scheme of things.

Sam Grove September 23, 2007 at 11:07 am

In San Francisco, homeless activists have blocked many plans to provide some kind of shelter for the homeless, insisting they they should be housed in something mmore than adequate. Of course, the homeless then remain outside while theactivists argue.

They just want to feel important in the scheme of things.

muirgeo September 23, 2007 at 1:26 pm

vidyohs,

The guy who lived in taxpayer funded housing for over 20 years…..you completely misrepresented my post.

Of the two issue effecting housing in Fairfax county Virginia which do you think is more likely to have effected the affordability and availability of housing in that county, a nature preserve or rising income discrepancy? That's a pretty fair question to ask of the professor and yourself. I don't claim to know the answer for certain but common sense tells me its more likely the latter.

What happens, vidyohs (the guy who lived in taxpayer funded housing for over 20 years) when super wealthy cause the price of real estate and rent to go so high its not efficient or practical to build housing that's affordable to the lower end of the economic spectrum who saw nothing but more job instability and stagnant wages from the "booming" economy?

Your dream world is nothing but corporate fascism and your only response is to call me a socialist which by any standard definition I'm not. But corporate fascism, it's standard definition is indeed promoted by yourself and many so called libertarians.

Bottom line, and I know this is a bit too complex for you vidyohs but for anyone else who might be reading, the bottom line is one can not claim to be a liberal economist while pointing to a fascist binding of private enterprise and the government policy and it's treasury.

Chris September 23, 2007 at 1:40 pm

So, I think the connection between this nature preserve and this shortage of "affordable housing" is extremely tenuous. The nature preserve is in Floyd County, in the Blue Ridge mountains. WTOP is a DC-area radio station. Is Don seriously asserting that people in DC are having trouble finding affordable housing because some land where few people live, hundreds of miles away, has been designated a nature preserve? That's a stretch.

Let's be clear here: the problem isn't a shortage of low-priced housing — I suspect that rent in Floyd and surrounding counties is low. Instead, it's a shortage of low-priced housing close to downtown DC. And, rent is high because there are higher-valued uses of the available land than building low-rent housing. The market will eventually balance it out as salaries and prices increase to compensate people for higher rent or longer drives. Otherwise, people will move away, to Floyd and surrounding counties, where rent is a lot lower.

Lee Kelly September 23, 2007 at 1:43 pm

muirgeo,

I believe Dr. Boudreaux is merely pointing out the irony of the two news reports. To lament to high price of housing, yet also to celebrate a new nature reserve, without comment on the relation between the two, is indicative of the general failure to link policies with their likely consequences.

That nature reserves may not be the primary cause of increasing house prices, does not mean that they do not have increase house prices. It is an elementary rule of economics, that with rare exceptions, a decrease in supply causes an increase in price. If the report had been celebrating "corporate fascism" instead of a nature reserve (or should that be "eco-fascism?}, much the same irnoy would apply.

Regards,
Lee

Sam Grove September 23, 2007 at 3:13 pm

I also observed in San Francisco, various vacant lots going unused for many years because of the difficulties in getting building projects through the political process.

Indeed, many who advocate for affordable housing, also resist the building of new housing. "Oh, we need more open space, parks, etc."

They also want to require devlelopers to build 'affordable housing' forgetting that the building of any housing affects the whole market.
What they really want is for soemone else to pay their way.

dave smith September 23, 2007 at 4:34 pm

Lee Kelly is right.

vidyohs September 23, 2007 at 6:13 pm

LOL
"Bottom line, and I know this is a bit too complex for you vidyohs"

Nothing you have ever written has been to complex for anyone or anything. I have a compost heap out by my garden that can figure you out in one minute.

LOL again.
"Your dream world is nothing but corporate fascism and your only response is to call me a socialist which by any standard definition I'm not."

If it writes like a socialist, talks like a socialist, wishes for socialist policies to prevail, promotes socialist policies, and hates capitalism, free enterprise, and unregulated markets…..then it is a socialist. Of course if in your own mind you are really a communist then that's okay as well, because communism is simply socialism carried to its natural excess.

At this late date trying to tell us that you aren't a socialist is like a duck trying to deny its quack.

vidyohs September 23, 2007 at 6:22 pm

Muirgeo

I'll be kind to you this once and give you a good shot at writing something convincing.

"Of the two issue effecting housing………..a nature preserve or rising income discrepancy?"

That little phrase "rising income discrepancy" is such a wonderful mish mash of gobble-de-gook al la socialism.

But, if you can write and tell us exactly what that means and how it is determined or judged then I concede that maybe my compost pile needs to take a second look at you.

You see muirgeo, before we say that "rising income discrepancy" effects the cost of housing adversely we ought to know what it is, don't you think?

BTW, stick to the words "rising income discrepancy", they were your choice. Don't try to slip off and define other words because you'll just get a laugh and a yellow flag for unsportsmanlike conduct as well as ejection from the game.

Com'on on boy, show us your moves.

muirgeo September 23, 2007 at 8:36 pm

At this late date trying to tell us that you aren't a socialist is like a duck trying to deny its quack.

Posted by: vidyohs

Revealing your ignorance of the definition of socialism in favor of simple name calling is enough for me and anyone who knows anything to see clear through your ignorance.

Likewise I'm all for capitalism and free enterprise but I understand the full ignorance of anyone who claims they are for unregulated markets because I realize such complete ignorance is capable only of only unregulated unintelligible blather on the subject.

vidyohs September 23, 2007 at 8:43 pm

Oh BTW muirgeo as you tell us what "rising income discrepancy" is, please use the English language with words that can be found in the Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, not in socialese in which we have to go to Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto in order to see what you're attempting.

Thank you

vidyohs September 23, 2007 at 8:46 pm

Oh and muirgeo,
Until you do satisfy us with your explanation and defintion of what "rising income discrepancy" is (in the English language) you are intellectual road kill and I am going to sit on you like a vulture.

So go on boy, give us your best moves.

John Dewey September 23, 2007 at 8:46 pm

Wendell Cox explained last month how land use restrictions drive high housing costs and has halted California growth:

"California's strict and bureaucratic land-use regulation has driven the price of developable land through the roof."

60 million Californians? Don't bet on it

John Dewey September 23, 2007 at 8:57 pm

Economist Randall O'Toole, Executive Director of the American Dream Coalition, recently studied the impact of smart growth on housing prices. His comclusion:

"Planning-induced housing shortages have added at least $100,000 to the cost of a median-value home in more than fifty metropolitan areas. This is the penalty people must pay for buying a home in a region with smart-growth planning. The penalty ranges as high as $850,000 in the San Francisco metropolitan area."

How Smart Growth Makes Housing Unaffordable

John Dewey September 23, 2007 at 9:10 pm

Ryan Balis of The National Center for Public Policy Research analyzed smart growth policies across the nation and concluded:

"Far from creating a utopia, smart growth planning perverts the housing market with 'grand designs' that limit choice of housing types and locations. Reducing the supply of homes while demand increases drives home prices to unprecedented levels. "

"Smart growth has a woeful record of pricing-out affordable housing for many middle income Americans. The smartest way to put housing back into reach is to let the market determine the supply and demand that planners are now dictating."

"Smart Growth" Policies Hurt

muirgeo September 23, 2007 at 9:14 pm

…The typical CEO of a Fortune 500 company …[makes] more than 364 times the pay of an average employee. Forty years ago, top CEOs earned 20 to 30 times what average workers earned.

Took me a little while to find something at your level on the subject vidhoys-the guy with a government pension,
but this is pretty straight forward.
There is really no debate on the trends in income and wealth distribution. I'm not here to educate you only to suggest you open your mind, read a little more and expand on the variety of your sources. Rush Limbaugh and Neil Cuvuto don't make a very well rounded education on these subjects.

J. Adam Malone September 23, 2007 at 9:56 pm

Wow, Muirgeo and Vidyohs are sure going at it.

Muirgeo, I am a capitalist. 100%. Period. With that said, no one, not a single person forces a company to pay CEOs like Alan Mullaly 200+ Million a year, or to give folks like Bob Neardelli $200 million severence packages (esp. when he didn't do a single stinkin' good thing while he was at Home Depot). BUT even still these boards choose to do so. And I know, you can make all of the back scratching arguments that you want, but they only hold a little water, if any. In the world of investors like Warren Buffet and Icahn, if CEO pay is too high it would be nipped in the bud by the investors.

But in all of the discussion of "income discrepancy" you have ignored the fact that CEO compensation is not the only compensation that has risen. (Note that I said compensation instead of pay/salary/wages). With the number of poor immigrants that come to the US every year (legal & illegal) it is no surprise that those employed at the lowest ranks of many companies make considerably less than a CEO. The problem with income discepancy analyis is takes nothing into account besides current salaries for "workers" and CEOs and past salaries of "workers" and CEO.

These analyses do not take into account increased efficiency in almost all organizations (we just had a report on that by the BLS), the increased size of most organizations (more tiers of MGT equals higher pay at the top), that most CEOs are not actually PAID a lot most of their Compensation is in the form of stock which rises and falls in relation to their performance, etc.

BUT all of that doesn't actually have to do with the good Dr. Don was talking about. It is hard to dispute that it is interesting that no connection was made between the two reports. Not that folks in DC make the commute but that journalists so often fail to make connections between their reports. Like "oil Prices Rise", "ANWAR will be protected"…or…"Socialized Medicine is Great", "Lack Drs. in Great Britain due to low pay and poor working conditions" (I heard those back to back on NPR).

Journalists are encouraged to write sensational news, not to make the news for the day mesh. Sensationalism is rewarded. Sensical writing is moved to may 14 below the fold.

vidyohs September 23, 2007 at 10:02 pm

muirgeo,
Just as I knew…..u b shucking and jiving and dodging your own words just like a true disciple of the man Karl Marx.

What does this have to do with "rising income discrepancy" muirgeo?"

…The typical CEO of a Fortune 500 company …[makes] more than 364 times the pay of an average employee. Forty years ago, top CEOs earned 20 to 30 times what average workers earned.

Took me a little while to find something at your level on the subject vidhoys-the guy with a government pension,
but this is pretty straight forward.
There is really no debate on the trends in income and wealth distribution. I'm not here to educate you only to suggest you open your mind, read a little more and expand on the variety of your sources. Rush Limbaugh and Neil Cuvuto don't make a very well rounded education on these subjects.

Posted by: muirgeo | Sep 23, 2007 9:14:12 PM

You have no business posting anything until you explain those simple words, muirgeo. You talk and string words together that don't mean cr.p and hope that someone will be impressed.

Com'on muirgeo, "rising income discrepancy", show us your best move.

Gil September 24, 2007 at 2:23 am

'More nature preserves might be desirable, but people should be made aware of their long-term costs.'

One might make the argument that higher population growth could do the same thing, namely, more people = less land = more people chasing less land inevitably drives up real estates prices. Similarly is the call to 'free up land' similar to various native peoples wanting certain land plots returned to 'native title' or 'native ownership'? Some have pointed out that the calls for 'native title' seem to occur where good plots of land happen to be or don't usually occur where ho-hum mediocre plots can be found. Likewise why don't those who want more land for housing look for mediocre plots and build there? Or, surprise, surprise, do they want a dream house rights next to the Joneses? And, funniest of all, is what would happen if these magical plots are freed for housing development, house are built, more people are born or migrate such people are then complaining once again but there's no lovely plots to free up? There's probably still plenty of desert to buy up though.

Lee Kelly September 24, 2007 at 4:52 am

vidyohs,

I think the term "wealth discrepancy" refers to difference between what muirgeo would like people to earn, and what people freely choose to pay others for their services.

John Dewey September 24, 2007 at 6:19 am

gil: "One might make the argument that higher population growth could do the same thing, namely, more people = less land = more people chasing less land inevitably drives up real estates prices. "

If population growth were causing housing prices to rise, then housing prices in the fastest growing cities should be rising the most. Those fast growing cities should be where housing is least affordable, as median house prices are driven wasy beyond the reach of median incomes. Yet, Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston, three of the fastest growing metropolitan areas for at least 15 years, have much more affordable housing than almost all the large metropolitan areas.

It is not population growth but rather "smart growth" – highly restrictive land use ordinances – that has driven up housing prices.

vidyohs September 24, 2007 at 6:27 am

Good morning Lee Kelly,
muirgeo's little phrase was "rising income discrepancy" not wealth discrepancy and I appreciate your humor and analysis of his intent.

However, muirgeo constantly jumps into the discussion with his promotion of socialist scripture, but he doesn't have a clue of what he is saying. He just connects a bunch of words together so that they sound like something intelligent, but you like myself and others, see his BS and he has no shame or embarassment about writing the tripe he does.

It is my opinion that he should be required to "stand and deliver" on his babble at least once and tell us what he means by "rising income discrepancy" and how it adversely effects anyone's ability to obtain affordable housing under any circumstance.

Now, like you, I have a good vocabulary and an excellent ability to read, and I see muirgeo, and that phrase, as just an empty echo of looney left wing professors. But, it is no different than all his other posts, just empty echos of meaningless words strung together that might impress a young 17 year old precollege kid who hasn't a clue…..but it sounds good to the kid.

So, once again I demand that muirgeo tell us what "rising income discrepancy" is, how it is decided, and how it negatively impacts the acquisition of affordable housing for some people. I want his words of explanation so we can see if he even has a clue about what he said.

Lee Kelly September 24, 2007 at 7:24 am

muirgeo: "Likewise I'm all for capitalism and free enterprise but I understand the full ignorance of anyone who claims they are for unregulated markets because I realize such complete ignorance is capable only of only unregulated unintelligible blather on the subject."

I do not believe that libertarians do advocate "unregulated markets", at least by the strictest interpretation of those words. But rather, advocate as little regulation as possible, no more than to preserve liberty and address some externalities.

In fact, I find your enthusiasm for regulation most perplexing. You claim, rightly, that businesses and corporations use their wealth to corrupt politicians, who then pass anticompetitive legislation to "regulate" in favour of those benefactors.

And yet, you wish to provision those same politicians with more decision-making power? It is the very fact that these decisions are left to men that is the problem, and giving the same men more power is no remedy, but only make things worse.

It is in the the interest of businessmen and corporations to direct resources toward whatever end might help them better their competitors, and where politicians wield the power of "regulators" then they will be the end toward which resources will be directed.

Regards,
Lee

Lee Kelly September 24, 2007 at 7:38 am

vidyohs,

Thank you for the correction, it was a careless error on my part. I tried to quote from memory, rather than checking to see muirgeo's precise words. That said, my reply would have been much the same.

John Reed September 24, 2007 at 7:51 am

I suggest that while muiregeo invites ad hominem responses, we should either ignore his comments or respond in a civil manner. I would prefer the latter since that would further my own education.

John Reed September 24, 2007 at 7:51 am

I suggest that while muiregeo invites ad hominem responses, we should either ignore his comments or respond in a civil manner. I would prefer the latter since that would further my own education.

muirgeo September 24, 2007 at 8:35 am

Vidyohs,

No…I explained what I meant and stand by it. Now you explain what you mean by the silly term, "unregulated markets", which you, the guy who had public housing for 20+ years and a tax payer funded pension, claim to believe in.

You wanna play word games have at it.

wintercow20 September 24, 2007 at 8:35 am

What Muiregeo is making a point about, a very excellent point, is corporatism. This to me is a major reason why free-markets and capitalism have such a bad image – that the rhetoric of freedom, liberty and markets has been hijacked by corporate interests who are in bed with the government.

Just as many liberatarians have a visceral aversion to government (they are just people with incentives, no?), classical liberal thought is properly skeptical of corporate interests as well. Corporations are no friends of liberty – as the study of guild movements to current regulatory schemes can easily demonstrate.

Milton Friedman took a valiant stab at trying to highlight the difference between real classical liberalism and the corporatism that is dressed up as liberty. To me this is probably the biggest challenge to economic educators out there today.

Finally, though I sympathize with many of the points being made, the ad hominem attacks on muiregeo bring this discussion into a place I'd rather not see it go.

muirgeo September 24, 2007 at 8:36 am

I do not believe that libertarians do advocate "unregulated markets"……

Lee Kelley

Thank you Lee cause then vidhoys, who believes in unregulated markets, is not a true libertarian.

muirgeo September 24, 2007 at 8:48 am

And yet, you wish to provision those same politicians with more decision-making power? It is the very fact that these decisions are left to men that is the problem, and giving the same men more power is no remedy, but only make things worse.

It is in the the interest of businessmen and corporations to direct resources toward whatever end might help them better their competitors, and where politicians wield the power of "regulators" then they will be the end toward which resources will be directed.

Regards,
Lee

First and foremost Lee all I'm asking is for people to realize that much of the wealth and wealth accumulation comes not from "free markets" but from wealthy getting favors from the government that if anything stifles competition.

Now we can talk about how that comes about through government regulation or through campaign finance or through improve representational democracy. But please don't try to tell me these guys are earning their huge piece of the productivity pie "fair and square". I'm not jealous of wealth…Wealth is a good thing and vital to market societies. I'm furious with ill gotten wealth that robber barons have stolen from the productive middle class along with their undermining democracy in the process.

Your solution is to weaken the government which I'm not sure what that means or how that works. My solution is to diffuse their power by giving more power to the people and making sure their representatives are thinking of the people more then their donors.

Is that really that far fetched or radical on my part?

vidyohs September 24, 2007 at 9:24 am

No muirgeo,
You haven't explained a thing. What you have done is your typical shuck and jive to dodge your own words. Why. Because you know that they were meaningless BS.

Again I invite you to tell us what "rising income discrepancy" is, and how it effects the ability of anyone to obtain afordable housing.

Least we forget, here is your original post on this thread, and you were first out of the gate:

"I'm guessing the problem with housing costs has more to do with wealth discrepency, contract employment and decreasing health care/ employment benitfits then it does with nature preserves.

Looks like there are plenty of units available to me. So maybe not a ture housing shortage but a shortage of affordable housing.

Posted by: muirgeo | Sep 22, 2007 6:34:21 PM"

Your first paragraph, muirgeo claim wealth discrepancy, which you later converted to "rising income discrepancy" and not once have you explained what those were and how they could effect obtaining affordable housing.

All the other BS you have spread is just to cover the fact that you wrote your typical empty socialist phrases hoping they would look like you knew what you were talking about…..yet you can't simply tell us what your own words meant. "rising income discrepancy", com'on muirgeo, give us your best move on that.

Wojtek Grabski September 24, 2007 at 9:26 am

Please realise that what you are advocating is not at all a diffusion of power. Even in the narrow sense.

A more 'proportional' democracy just means that polititians target their policies at large urban centres — it doesn't diffuse any power, and rather even concentrates it. Politicians have a knack for making policy that seems good to the voters but is typically just a massive payoff to corporate donors. If they have to please a smaller spectrum of voters, that becomes even easier. (but it does make for civil unrest)

On the other hand, what we call diffusion of power is exactly that. The only power which exists, and which corporations are able to wield, is that which is granted to them by politicians, without whom them have no power at all, other than to try to convince you to buy their goods. Diffusion of power cannot be got about by granting more of it, nor by concentrating it — please tell me you realise the complete contradiction you are making!

Wojtek Grabski September 24, 2007 at 9:40 am

More succicntly: The problem is not one of politicians doing perceived bad or good. It's all about whether they do or not do. If they do something, they are using coercion, and they tend to only do that to benefit their benefactors. This task becomes MUCH easier when your voters all think alike.

What you refer to as "granting power to the people" is really just granting politicians the freedom to act indiscriminately of opposition among the minority. Pure democracy is not only impractical, but dangerous, as history has shown. Does it not seem to you as odd that most successful democracies are NOT representative, but first-past-the-post disproportionate systems?

We propose that it is exactly that 'diffusion' of power that prevents central bodies from harnessing the power of the majority to create policy that not only disenfranchises the minority, but steers money back to the people who pay them.

Diffusion can only be achieved by a greater localisation (weakening of the fed), and dimunition of the power pretend to 'act' in what is so often referred to as the 'common good', but is really just the good of the majority — typically failing to act for the good of even that group.

Lee Kelly September 24, 2007 at 9:48 am

muirgeo: "I explained what I meant and stand by it."

I believe you explained, quite correctly, that increasing demand causes an increase in prices, and with increasing prices the less wealthy will tend to be outcompeted by the more wealthy.

That this may be so has nothing to do with Dr. Boudreaux's point, which is that establishing a nature reserve, will likely have the consequence of pushing those house prices even higher.

In fact, would conjecture that a common source of nature reserves is likely not the hardwork and ideals of environmentalists, but landowners keen to preserve the value of their property by excluding others.

However, your explanation of why house prices rise, fails to explain why those rising house prices fail to signal an increase in supply, as any elementary economic analysis would predict.

This last question, is precisely what Dr. Boudreaux's post suggests a partial answer to.

Regards,
Lee

Randy September 24, 2007 at 9:55 am

Re; "I'm furious with ill gotten wealth that robber barons have stolen from the productive middle class along with their undermining democracy in the process."

Last night I was rereading the history of the Soviet Union. Muirgeo is certainly taking a page from the revolutionaries handbook with the above statement. But I urge him to read the rest of the story. By the mid 20s, the phrase, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs", had been modified in the official propaganda to, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his work". And by the 30s, the phrase had become, "Those who do not work shall not eat", and it was carried out quite literally.

vidyohs September 24, 2007 at 9:55 am

John Reed and WC20,
Well if you view my unrelenting insistence that muirgeo tell us what he meant by his phrase "rising income discrepancy" and how it effects the ability of anyone to obtain affordable housing as an ad hominem attack then I am guilty, but I think you're stretching it a bit, even if we concur that I have labeled him accurately as a devout socialist so convicted by his own words, historical and present.

His history is one of jumping in with socialist scripture and then shucking and jiving to obscure the reality that he hasn't said a thing other than to promote the basic theory of socialism. That doesn't bleed through his writings, it is not something one has to search for or misread to conclude, it is in your face repititious in his posts, and unless he is challenged on them his words lie out there misleading, duplicitous, and misrepresentative of reality. He attempts to twist the words of his challengers, answers questions that haven't been asked, and back pedals back pedals back pedals, and finally tries to find some way of changing the subject and getting the pressure off himself. What a CEO makes and what my definition of a free market is is totally irrelevant to his original claim which I copied and pasted in my last post. He jumped out of the gate with his usual socialist slant on his statements and has run from the challenge to them ever since.

Contrast that with what is going on here. I would love to see him explain his own quoted words, these are not words I made up, these words ("Rising income discrepancy") are the very words he typed.

Aren't you even vaguely curious to have him explain those words and how he connects them to affordable housing. If they weren't the empty words of intellectual road kill and have an actual rational connection then we can congratulate muirgeo and I'll be the first. But, I am not holding my breath.

I suggest to you gentlemen that if you see this country as screwed up socially as I do, then I offer my opinion that it is because since the 1930s people like muirgeo have been allowed to spout the socialist scripture and never be held accountable. Furthermore, when they have been (historically) challenged, they never answer, they first try to deny they said what they did, and then they run for the sympathy cover.

Now either or both of you may believe in socialism, I don't know; but, if so then I can see why you'd protest my awful meanness in wanting an answer.

If you aren't socialist then I'd think you'd like to see him write an explanation of his words and the connection to the topic.

vidyohs September 24, 2007 at 10:01 am

Oh and this.
John Reed,
I concur wholeheartedly as I also would like to be educated.

"I suggest that while muiregeo invites ad hominem responses, we should either ignore his comments or respond in a civil manner. I would prefer the latter since that would further my own education.

Posted by: John Reed | Sep 24, 2007 7:51:09 AM"

Which is precisely what I am asking muirgeo for, an education on what "rising income discrepancy" is, how it is determined, how it is to be judged, and how it applies to the ability of some to obtain affordable housing.

Wouldn't you like to know what he has to say about it? His justification for saying it? I think it would be fascinating.
Thank you sir.

John Dewey September 24, 2007 at 10:22 am

lee kelly: "In fact, would conjecture that a common source of nature reserves is likely not the hardwork and ideals of environmentalists, but landowners keen to preserve the value of their property by excluding others."

I wouldn't discount the work or motivation of environmentalists. Certainly there are valid environmental benefits for most nature preserves. The problem, of course, is that some environmentalists ignore the costs.

My objection is with environmentalists and governments who restrict the use of other people's property without compensating them. If a community wants to prevent a landowner from developing his land, buy the land from him. Don't steal it.

Rob Dawg September 24, 2007 at 11:12 am

It is not population growth but rather "smart growth" – highly restrictive land use ordinances – that has driven up housing prices.

Well, yes and no. Ventura County has some of the most highly restrictive land use policies in the nation and has some of the most expensive housing. Ventura County also has seen some of the steepest declines in housing prices since the bursting of the bubble. It seems unlikely that that restrictive land-use policies act asymetrically with respect to housing price changes. Clearly there are other factors far more powerful than land-use regulation at work. That isn't to say to that zoning restrictions and the the like don't have an impact. O'Toole and Cox have settled that argument. No, just don't be so quick to assign disproportionate impact.

Remmeber also that many land use procedures and processes are dcesigned protect existing residents from the impacts of so called future residents. A bad thing? I've (over)characterized the situation as; "We future residents don't want the same as you have, we want what you have, give some of it to us."

shawn September 24, 2007 at 11:33 am

I'd like to live on the california coast. I can't afford it. Clearly, there needs to be affordable housing on the california coast, and I need to be first in line.

muirgeo September 24, 2007 at 12:23 pm

No Shawn that doesn't characterize my argument.

My argument is in your fashion; I'm a working middle class family, I want a decent house somewheres in Fairfax county near my job. The recent economy has infused much more money to the top income earners who have paid a premium for their houses making the market price for all houses increase greater then my relatively stagnant wages. It's great their is a new nature preserve on the other side of the state but I still want to buy a house in Fairfax.

In spite of a "booming economy" and changing (increasing elderly demographics)ownership rates are falling.

Why? Anyone? Nature preserves? Wealth stratification?

Lee Kelly September 24, 2007 at 12:32 pm

muirgeo,

The point is that a "increasing wealth discrepancy" is not categorically bad. It might be the end result of any number of causes, including the remarkably mundane possibility that some groups are more productive or harder working, or perhaps both, than other groups.

Many of the "problems" you highlight would exist even without "corporate-fascism", simply because the sum-total of what everybody wants always exceeds the sum-total of what there is, no matter how productive an economy.

Regards,
Lee

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