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A positive review from a conservative,
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This review is from: The Rent Is Too Damn High: What To Do About It, And Why It Matters More Than You Think (Kindle Edition)
Yglesias is one of the real bright lights of the progressive blogosphere. As a conservative who has been reading politics his whole life, I can attest that he is "Exhibit A" in my overall case that liberals have dramatically upped their policy advocacy game, while conservatives have stagnated, largely intellectually stuck in the assumptions and narratives of the Reagan era. Back then most liberals were for rent controls, opposed development because they hated developers or on spurious environmental grounds, and thought the solution to inner city problems like crime and declining quality of life were more HUD grants. Liberals were fish in a barrel for conservatives armed with facts and only a rudimentary knowledge of how markets worked. And the evidence of failed liberal policies in inner cities was obvious to anyone with two eyes. People with jobs and money fled to the suburbs while urban liberals kept telling the same shaggy dog stories.
But Yglesias is different. For one thing, he's a mostly free market liberal who argues based on facts and data rather than on liberal tales of vicitimization and woe. As an exponent of the urban renaissance that came about through better policing, longer prison sentences for street criminals, and the gradual demolition of public housing (aka govt. created slums), he has alot of interesting observations not only in the ways liberals have gone wrong when it comes to housing policy but how conservatives have as well. Although lacking in any formal economics training, he shows all the various ways in which markets could address and would address the affordable housing shortage in many of the best big cities, but can't because of regulations. Yes...environmental and historic preservation regs, but mostly because of zoning. This more than anything else suppresses the level of urban building creating artificial shortages in the most desirable areas to live. In short, people who would want to buy housing, developers who would want to design the buildings, and workers who would want the job building them--all are left empty because markets are not permitted to function. Consequently the pent up demand can only be satisfied with either 1) urban sprawl, in which people often have to spend more time and money every day commuting or 2) migration to cheaper often lower wage cities, implicitly trading cheaper housing for less income and productivity.
And as Yglesias points out, conservatives, despite their free market rhetoric, are as much a part of the problem as liberals---more in some cases. Conservatives often champion "free" roads, minimum parking requirements, lot sizes and building height restrictions--implicitly supporting both sprawl and neighborhoods that are out of financial reach for many average earners. Ironically, if more people could afford to live closer into the cities in housing that was more moderately priced, many of these same suburbanites would find life more pleasant and less congested in the suburbs as well. And liberals concerned about global warming have no excuse to not champion lots of tall apartment buildings right around public transportation hubs.
In short, Yglesias, whether he realizes it or not, maps out a future potential liberal/conservative pro-growth pro-development alliance, that, if ever realized, would make many of America's best cities even better.
As one conservative who wishes his party would begin to offer real solutions to actual solvable problems of 2012 (as opposed to 1982), it would be great if more of my ideological brethren would take to heart some of Yglesias' ideas here!
PS..rest assured many of the people who gave this little e-book a 1 surely didn't read it.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 10, 2012 8:20:45 AM PDT
K. Curlett says:
Thanks for the insightful review.
Posted on Feb 5, 2013 7:53:30 PM PST
Tom Ekbaum says:
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 5, 2013 5:24:45 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 5, 2013 5:25:09 PM PST]
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 27, 2013 2:40:03 AM PDT
James Ashley Shea says:
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2013 3:15:31 PM PDT
Gee. What gave it away Tom...that my knowledge of actual policy is higher than Hannity or Limbaugh or that I read smart people who actually are interested in ideas.
I've been conservative alot longer than you and I can attest that since Reagan unfortunately the movement seems to have gotten stupider and angrier and less interested in real solutions to problems every year. The obsession with Alinsky/Obama rather than real ways to make the world better is pretty much a perfect example of what I mean.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2013 5:30:24 PM PDT
C. Watson says:
Posted on Nov 7, 2013 12:33:13 PM PST
B. G. says:
For all of the commenting about commentors, etc - I think someone should just sumarize MY's arguments.
Behold, a summary of the book:
Government policies restrict density -> relax regulations and allow for a more "free market" to dictate how the land may be used. Current regulations are absurd.
Urban density and increased use are good things.
Many great places to live are needlessly restricted; the poor get hurt the most.
P.S. As above, most people who wrote review of this book didn't read it.
Posted on Jan 2, 2014 9:56:00 PM PST
Toby Thaler says:
"a mostly free market liberal" is a neoliberal. They are not the same. You cap that gem with "Yglesias maps out a future potential liberal/conservative pro-growth pro-development alliance, that, if ever realized, would make many of America's best cities even better." Nonsense. Growth is not the same as "making things better." Furthermore, we are just about out of growth, and to the extent it continues, growth and development are controlled by anti-democratic forces. There is a plethora of rich material on both points. Start with Richard Heinberg for the former, and G. Wm. Domhoff for the latter.
You don't have to accuse me of not reading the book; I admit it. And after reading some of these reviews, I have no interest or desire. (I suspect B.G.'s review above pretty much summarizes Yglesias' book.)
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