Affordable Housing. For the Living.

And so, I guess, the cheering on the Upper West Side (and presumably in its companion locales like Berkeley, San Francisco, maybe Hollywood, places like that) is beginning to simmer to a joyful roar, as the combination of heel-digging by Caveman Judge Greer (liberals should know that their darling jurist is, by predilection, what would usually be considered a religious conservative, though his pastor kind of asked him to leave his church “because it would be better that way”) yielding to the wishes of… another caveman whose new paramour and mother of his two children wished to have his former (and technically current) wife in the ground, one Terri Schiavo’s rather unpleasant existence on our Earthly plain will soon come to an unpleasant end.
Congratulations to you all. After the bankruptcy sell-out and the ANWR collapse, I was more or less convinced that Democrats were effectively no better than Republicans: both parties were just about preserving the interests of the powerful (it’s just that the Republicans were honest about it.)
After the Schiavo fiasco, especially given the rather adverse polling (the President may have lost 4 or 5 points in his approval ratings, for example), I was amazed to see that it was Republicans who might try something politically crazy regardless of the political consequences because (rightly or wrongly) they just thought it was RIGHT.
Damn. That was the party I thought I was a member of. I guess I was wrong. My party is about selfishness and the interests of the powerful, (just like theirs) but it’s also about expedience and political correctness. As espoused by the one-issue nature of our party (that being “abortion”, and of late, “very, very late term abortion”). Well, I’ll continue my apostasy with another issue theoretically near and dear to Democrats (LOL), affordable housing. Perhaps someone will manage to tie this into abortion, so that the party writ large might be interested in it.
Once again, my proposal is relatively easy, and is called “the free market”. Most of my remaining readers (I appreciate the six of you staying!) will recognize my approach to taxation designed to (get this!) collect revenue for the government. Accordingly, you already know that I would have eliminated mortgage-interest deduction (and indeed, all deductions) in exchange for lowered general tax rates. Further, the government running closer to balanced budgets would put less upward pressure on interest rates, or more to the point, less volatility in interest rates. Interest rate fluctuations, of course, are a key component of the movement in housing prices.
Locally, places like New York City have mandated rent controls and stabilizations. I would enact a federal law forcing all states and localities to phase all such forms of controls out over a ten year period, and (to avoid constitutional problems) use the spending clause”: under pain of losing ALL federal housing funds. The fact is, these market distortions result in gross inequities, and, because they are impossible to un-do by local politics, probably need federal action. This move would, singlehandedly, solve most (if not ALL) problems associated with unaffordable rental housing in urban areas.
Another major problem concerns the insane auctions going on for housing in “good school districts”. This, frankly, is a harder problem, because it involves the perverse way in which we deliver public education, and goes way, way beyond housing, so this issue will be left for a later (if ever!) post.
With respect to the po’ folk who need somewhere to live, with the above-referenced market distortions removed, I suspect a fair number of affordable housing units would open up. As necessary, we can means-test for specifiic subsidies to reside in private housing for those who still require it, preferably on a state and local level for administrative purposes (though, see above, the Feds can still contribute to this).
And that’s it. By removing the various perverse market distortions I’ve out-lined above, back-stopped by direct subsidies as needed, we can deliver far more affordable housing to far more people at far lower cost. Perhaps if we tie the same market mechanisms to delivery of abortions services, Democrats might become interested enough in the issue to do something about it. There are enough market-based goodies (like elimination of rent controls) to make Republicans interested in it.
I’m dreaming again. Sorry about that.