One of the staples of liberal hand-wringing is a need for “affordable housing.” Last year, the standard liberal solution — more government spending — was proposed in a televised speech at the National Press Club in
This year, supply and demand made front-page news in the New York Times of November 29th: “Apartment Glut Forces Owners to Cut Rents in Much of U.S.” As apartment vacancy rates reached an all-time high of 10 percent nationwide, landlords have been cutting rents, both directly and by such gimmicks as giving gift certificates and allowing so many rent-free months for new tenants.
Buried deep inside the second section of the newspaper are facts that completely undermine the liberal notion that high housing costs are a “national crisis” calling for a “national solution” by the federal government.
Far from being a national crisis of affordable housing, outrageous rents and astronomical home prices are largely confined to a relatively few places along the east and west coasts. Rent per square foot of apartment space in San Francisco is more than double what it is in Denver, Dallas, or Kansas City, and nearly three times as high as in Memphis. Home prices show even greater disparities.
The Times story notes that the difference between apartment rents in coastal
Wait a minute. Vacant land is at least as abundant in coastal
The difference is not in the land but in the politics. The long-time dominance of liberal Democrats from
The New York Times story refers gingerly to “many cities on the coasts, where new construction is more difficult” than in the rest of the country. To put it more bluntly, liberals have driven housing prices sky high by forbidding, restricting, and harassing the building of housing.
In turn, this has meant driving people of modest incomes out of the communities where they work. Nurses, teachers and policemen, for example, typically live far away from places like
All the while, liberals wring their hands about a lack of affordable housing, about urban sprawl, and about congested highways. In their puzzlement about the causes of all these things, they never think to look in the mirror.
While the Times story noted in passing “the growing gap between the cost of living in the Northeast and parts of
It is precisely in the places that have been most dominated by liberals for the longest times that housing costs and other costs of living have been driven up to levels that force many people out of town and even out of state.
It was not always like this. Prior to the 1970s, home prices in
What happened during the 1970s was the beginning of the drastic restrictions on building pushed by liberal Democrats in general and environmental extremists in particular. On the news, it is common to say, “Details at eleven.” Here let me say: Details in chapter 3 of my new book, “Applied Economics.”