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Friday, July 31, 2015

Housing in San Francisco

Why is housing so expensive in San Francisco?  At CityLab, Gabriel Metcalf blames "progressive" no-growth policies:
When San Francisco should have been building at least 5,000 new housing units a year to deal with the growing demand to live here, it instead averaged only about 1,500 a year over the course of several decades. In a world where we have the ability to control the supply of housing locally, but people still have the freedom to move where they want, all of this has played out in predictable ways.
Many cities faced the same set of dilemmas. But San Francisco’s challenge has been harder for the reason that our regional economy has been so strong. Regardless of what happened inside the city limits, we have had the most powerful engine of job creation in the country just a half hour to the south (a commute time that increases with economic growth). Over time, many of Silicon Valley’s workers have come to call San Francisco home. Moreover, in contrast to New York, San Francisco does not have a massive network of regional public transit connecting hundreds of different high-density, walkable communities to the city. In fact, neighborhoods that foster urban life and convenience are tremendously scarce in the Bay Area. All of this means the pressure on San Francisco has proven to be even greater than other cities in the country.
Regardless of these realities, most San Francisco progressives chose to stick with their familiar stance of opposing new development, positioning themselves as defenders of the city’s physical character. Instead of forming a pro-growth coalition with business and labor, most of the San Francisco Left made an enduring alliance with home-owning NIMBYs. It became one of the peculiar features of San Francisco that exclusionary housing politics got labeled “progressive.” (Organized labor remained a major political force throughout this time period, and has allied with both pro-growth and anti-growth forces, depending on the issue.) Over the years, these anti-development sentiments were translated into restrictive zoning, the most cumbersome planning and building approval process in the country, and all kinds of laws and rules that make it uniquely difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to add housing in San Francisco.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Amazing Grace

Landon Jones reports at Time:

Carl Cannon writes at RealClearPolitics:
Although John Newton’s birthday was July 24, 1725, after he turned 23 the day that meant more to him was his “rebirth,” March 21, 1748. That was the day he rediscovered his faith. He gave up drinking and swearing and carousing, and began to study for the ministry.
In the early 1760s, he was assigned a church. In the early 1770s, he sat down at a desk in his attic and penned these words:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
Fully accepting the implications of faith took a long time. What I mean by that is that even after becoming a Christian, Newton transported slaves as a sea captain for many years.
Even after writing “Amazing Grace,” which would become an anthem of liberation for slaves America, it was more than another decade before Newton announced his opposition to slavery and joined forces in London with William Wilberforce.
This lag time is often airbrushed out of the story by modern day evangelicals. This defensiveness is understandable, but it doesn’t make John Newton’s faith journey any less remarkable.
“Newton did eventually grow into his conversion, so that by the end of his days he actually was the godly man one would expect to have penned ‘Amazing Grace,’” writer Barbara Mikkelson once noted.
“But it was a slow process effected over the passage of decades, not something that happened with a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning,” she added. “In Newton's case, the ‘amazing grace’ he wrote of might well have referred to God’s unending patience with him.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Zoning v. Economic Opportunity

Ilya Somin writes at The Washington Post:
In a recent study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, economist Steven Horwitz points out that restrictive zoning laws impede social mobility by making it difficult or impossible for the working class and poor to establish home-based small businesses...

This is just one of several ways in which restrictive zoning policies harm the poor. An even more significant one is the way in which restrictions on new development artificially inflate the price of housing in many cities, thereby pricing many of the poor and working class out of the market. Economists have been criticizing such policies for many years. It isn’t just libertarians and free market advocates like Horwitz and Edward Glaeser of Harvard. Leading left-wing economists and policy analysts, such as Paul Krugman and Matthew Yglesias, have decried restrictive zoning as well. In some of the most desirable coastal cities, zoning inflates the price of housing by as much as 50 percent. When the poor are priced out ofthe housing market, they lose not only the housing itself, but the opportunity to seek out employment opportunities in the areas in question.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Corporate Grassroots Lobbying

Patrick Slevin writes:
Corporate grassroots lobbying has led to an estimated $1 billion-a-year industry and it’s growing. In today’s political and social environments, an increasing number of C-Suite executives have realized they need more than big PAC checks and high-powered lobbyists to achieve their public affairs strategies.
Corporate grassroots lobbying is rapidly augmenting direct lobbying. According to a recent study, firms that cater to corporate clients to help promote their image and build and mobilize community coalitions are also more likely to provide direct lobbying services. More than 43 percent of grassroots lobbying firms are now providing some level of government affairs representation.

Monday, July 27, 2015


Courtney Such reports at RealClearPolicy:
The age of technology may be upon us, but not all are convinced we should cast our votes online. The Heritage Foundation has released a paper, "The Dangers of Internet Voting," chronicling other countries' experiences with online voting and arguing that America is not ready for it. 
We talked with Hans von Spakovsky, the paper's author, to learn more. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The problem with Internet voting is kind of inherent in the technology itself. Hardware, software, and computer scientists almost overwhelmingly say there's almost nothing that can be done giving the current state of the technology — the way the Internet is designed — to actually make a safe system. Those risks way outweigh any possibility that it might increase turnout, and actually, there's evidence from some other countries that have actually tried Internet voting that it doesn't really increase voter turnout. It just makes it easier for people who would vote anyway to cast their ballot, but it does it at a much greater risk.

Everyone knows very well the huge breaches of security we just had with not only the Office of Personal Management, but now the IRSI. It was suspected in the OPM breach that this was part of a special team that the Chinese government set up some years ago. There have been a number of newspaper rticles that have talked about this — how professional hackers are being used by the Chinese government. This kind of system in a U.S. election would be a prime target, not just for individual hackers, but for a government trying to get into the system to manipulate elections.
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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Trying Marijuana

Gallup reports:
As Oregon becomes the fourth state to make recreational marijuana use legal, 44% of Americans say they have tried marijuana. This is the highest percentage Gallup has found since it began asking the question in 1969. Back then, a mere 4% admitted to having tried it.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Founders Warned Us About Donald Trump

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 1: "A dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants."

Alexander Hamilton, Constitutional Convention, June 6, 1787: "An influential demagogue will give an impulse to the whole. Demagogues are not always inconsiderable persons. Patricians were frequently demagogues."

James Madison, Federalist 63: "As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought, in all governments, and actually will, in all free governments, ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn."

John Adams, Works:  "There are as many and as dangerous aristocratical demagogues as there are democratical."