Inequality

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Warren
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Re: Inequality

Post by Warren » 28 May 2019, 11:07

BTW, in nominal terms, average hourly earnings are currently $27.77/hour.
LOL. What are "nominal terms"? You throwing in garbage pick-up and road maintenance in on that number? Or is the CEO so overpaid he's pulling up the whole workforce?
I don't for one second believe median hourly wage is over $20.
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Re: Inequality

Post by thoreau » 28 May 2019, 11:54

Just to throw something odd into the mix, Mother Jones argues that people are doing fine.

https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2019/05/warren/
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Inequality

Post by JasonL » 28 May 2019, 12:08

Warren wrote:
BTW, in nominal terms, average hourly earnings are currently $27.77/hour.
LOL. What are "nominal terms"? You throwing in garbage pick-up and road maintenance in on that number? Or is the CEO so overpaid he's pulling up the whole workforce?
I don't for one second believe median hourly wage is over $20.
Nominal just means using today dollars. Not inflation adjusted “real” dollars from some point in the past.

“I could not find median hourly wages, but they did have data on median weekly wages (currently $905)”.


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Re: Inequality

Post by JasonL » 28 May 2019, 12:16

thoreau wrote:Just to throw something odd into the mix, Mother Jones argues that people are doing fine.

https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2019/05/warren/
That Drum piece was ... quite good? Yikes.

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Re: Inequality

Post by Warren » 28 May 2019, 14:27

JasonL wrote:
28 May 2019, 12:08
“I could not find median hourly wages, but they did have data on median weekly wages (currently $905)”.
Which works out to $22.63 on a 40 hour week. Or $18.10 on a 50 hour week.
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Re: Inequality

Post by lunchstealer » 28 May 2019, 16:31

Mo wrote:
28 May 2019, 04:27
In fairness, Norwalk is less of a shithole now and is getting nicer.
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Re: Inequality

Post by Jasper » 30 May 2019, 08:48

Mo wrote:
28 May 2019, 04:27
In fairness, Norwalk is less of a shithole now and is getting nicer.
Opposite problem now in Milford, it seems. Cramming apartments and condos into traditionally working-class single family neighborhoods because affordable housing quotas set by the state get to override the town PZC.
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Re: Inequality

Post by nicole » 30 May 2019, 09:08

I just find it frustrating that the zoning stuff gets mixed in with the housing subsidy stuff. Do I think Westport should have a lot of the zoning rules it does? Probably not. But getting rid of them wouldn't mean poor people could afford to live in Westport. You need active subsidies for that.
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Re: Inequality

Post by dead_elvis » 30 May 2019, 15:02

nicole wrote:
30 May 2019, 09:08
I just find it frustrating that the zoning stuff gets mixed in with the housing subsidy stuff.
Snob zoning is a thing that works, so they are connected?

Maybe poor people couldn't afford to live in Westport right now, but over time, maybe 20 years, those zoning changes will stick its invisible hand all over the place. I think a big problem is that for things to reach a different equilibrium you'd have to wait out a very long boom-bust-level out cycle that the middle and upper classes won't wait out before bailing (in one sense or the other).

Another problem is people don't care if housing prices come down due to increase in supply vs demand or prices come down because your town's economy tanked, they just care that housing prices never, ever, be allowed to come down. To a certain class of people, fixing the problem would look like failing your community.

Jasper wrote:
30 May 2019, 08:48
Opposite problem now in Milford, it seems. Cramming apartments and condos into traditionally working-class single family neighborhoods because affordable housing quotas set by the state get to override the town PZC.
My neighborhood used to be working class homes from the 20s and 30s (and is now insanely expensive). The thing everyone talks about is how in the 70s or 80s they loosened the zoning and someone would buy two adjacent lots, tear down the houses and put up "6-pack" apartment buildings. They are eyesores, they "ruined the historic character", they were poorly constructed, etc. But now* they can't be gotten rid of, because you can't reduce supply (especially for the poor, near transportation corridors) and currently housing policy is intent on encouraging more of the same, but having seen what happened last time the homeowners aren't going to allow that anymore so CA is doing that same override thing- Newsome is actually going after some cities, and that's going to get ugly.

There is little else quite as good at cutting to the quick of the liberal college educated snowflake/working poor divide than zoning, housing, and "neighborhood character". Helping the poor is great, but only if the poor make upper middle class aesthetic choices.

*(now what they do is throw some horizontal slats on the front of the building, change the address numbers to a craftsman font and call it "updated".)
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Re: Inequality

Post by Shem » 30 May 2019, 15:12

dead_elvis wrote:
30 May 2019, 15:02
nicole wrote:
30 May 2019, 09:08
I just find it frustrating that the zoning stuff gets mixed in with the housing subsidy stuff.
Snob zoning is a thing that works, so they are connected?

Maybe poor people couldn't afford to live in Westport right now, but over time, maybe 20 years, those zoning changes will stick its invisible hand all over the place. I think a big problem is that for things to reach a different equilibrium you'd have to wait out a very long boom-bust-level out cycle that the middle and upper classes won't wait out before bailing (in one sense or the other).
I would actually wager it would be quicker than that. Increase supply in Richtown, and people who had been forced to over in more marginal areas due to supply are then able to move up, vacating their previous lodgings. Which in turn lets people from the next marginal area down move up, and so on. It helps that insofar as there's a homeless problem that isn't tied straight to addiction or mental illness, it's a problem of supply. Get homeless people into predicable housing, and most of their problems do shrink quite a bit.
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Re: Inequality

Post by dead_elvis » 30 May 2019, 15:15

On further thought, I believe a problem is that we don't really have a concept for what a truly mixed income community would look like. It's so baked into our cultural assumptions that the rich and poor will naturally separate into different living spaces, and that that is indeed part of the whole point of accumulating wealth. At least back in the day the rich would provide servants quarters, now it's "whoa there, moral hazzard!".
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Re: Inequality

Post by nicole » 30 May 2019, 15:33

dead_elvis wrote:
30 May 2019, 15:02
nicole wrote:
30 May 2019, 09:08
I just find it frustrating that the zoning stuff gets mixed in with the housing subsidy stuff.
Snob zoning is a thing that works, so they are connected?

Maybe poor people couldn't afford to live in Westport right now, but over time, maybe 20 years, those zoning changes will stick its invisible hand all over the place. I think a big problem is that for things to reach a different equilibrium you'd have to wait out a very long boom-bust-level out cycle that the middle and upper classes won't wait out before bailing (in one sense or the other).

Another problem is people don't care if housing prices come down due to increase in supply vs demand or prices come down because your town's economy tanked, they just care that housing prices never, ever, be allowed to come down. To a certain class of people, fixing the problem would look like failing your community.
What is "the problem" in the last sentence? The zoning or the lack of affordable housing?

It sounds like in your second paragraph you are agreeing that poor people can't afford to live there without subsidies until it's not a wealthy town anymore.
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Re: Inequality

Post by nicole » 30 May 2019, 15:40

dead_elvis wrote:
30 May 2019, 15:15
On further thought, I believe a problem is that we don't really have a concept for what a truly mixed income community would look like. It's so baked into our cultural assumptions that the rich and poor will naturally separate into different living spaces, and that that is indeed part of the whole point of accumulating wealth. At least back in the day the rich would provide servants quarters, now it's "whoa there, moral hazzard!".
I totally agree with this and that's part of my thing about the housing subsidies. I feel like there's the one problem where you're living among each other, but then that problem is compounded by also knowing you, specifically, are literally paying for those specific people to live in your neighborhood or building (especially in the case of mixed-income housing, where the subsidy is from resident to resident--at least in the Westport case the subsidy is being laundered at the state level). I'm mostly interested in this in terms of how it works in mixed-income housing, since my city and others have these "affordable housing requirements" for certain new multifamily construction. And I just can't imagine moving into a new building and paying for a market rate apartment knowing that "market rate" was actually market rate+. There was a wave of news years ago about "poor doors" in NYC but you never hear about that stuff anymore and I'm super curious how it's working out for people in practice. When I researched this a few months ago most of what I found of interest was from like 2015 or so.
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Re: Inequality

Post by nicole » 30 May 2019, 15:43

Shem wrote:
30 May 2019, 15:12
dead_elvis wrote:
30 May 2019, 15:02
nicole wrote:
30 May 2019, 09:08
I just find it frustrating that the zoning stuff gets mixed in with the housing subsidy stuff.
Snob zoning is a thing that works, so they are connected?

Maybe poor people couldn't afford to live in Westport right now, but over time, maybe 20 years, those zoning changes will stick its invisible hand all over the place. I think a big problem is that for things to reach a different equilibrium you'd have to wait out a very long boom-bust-level out cycle that the middle and upper classes won't wait out before bailing (in one sense or the other).
I would actually wager it would be quicker than that. Increase supply in Richtown, and people who had been forced to over in more marginal areas due to supply are then able to move up, vacating their previous lodgings. Which in turn lets people from the next marginal area down move up, and so on. It helps that insofar as there's a homeless problem that isn't tied straight to addiction or mental illness, it's a problem of supply. Get homeless people into predicable housing, and most of their problems do shrink quite a bit.
This is also what I think would happen and part of why I don't think the poor people would be living in Westport. They would still be in Bridgeport, some people could move from Bridgeport to Norwalk, some from Norwalk to Stamford, some from Stamford to Greenwich/Westport, etc.
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Re: Inequality

Post by Jennifer » 30 May 2019, 17:21

Nobody here will be surprised to learn that where affordable housing (rather, the lack of it) is concerned, I blame snob zoning infinitely more than any lack of subsidies. Remember that story I shared a few years ago about the town of Ansonia (New haven suburb, just up the road from Westport and the other Connecticut "gold coast" cities) -- basically, outlaw ALL rental properties. If you ain't rich enough to buy a single-family home of your own, we plain don't want you here. (Lemme pause just long enough to cry big crocodile tears about how terrible it is that the middle and working classes are being priced out of our fair city -- boo, hoo, hoo.)

Jennifer wrote:
11 Jun 2014, 11:04
Hmm. So I found this old thread, and wondered "What, if anything, happened regarding that proposed fine on absentee landlords?" So I did a bit o'Googling. Apparently it became the law and is inspiring other cities to do the same:

http://valley.newhavenindependent.org/a ... landlords/
Ansonia Alderman Patrick Henri wants the city to adopt a new law to combat blight and residential rental properties he says put undue demand on city schools and other services.

Henri, who represents the Sixth Ward, views the problem as an abundance of rental properties owned by people who don’t live in Ansonia.

“Generally speaking,” Henri said during the Board of Aldermen’s regular meeting last week while bringing up the idea of a new law, “If somebody doesn’t live in a home, it’s not going to be kept up.”

His solution?

An “absentee landlord business license.”

Henri summed up his proposal like this: “If you don’t live on (a) property (you want to rent), there’s some kind of fee, you get inspected, if it doesn’t meet blight or whatever other kind of regulations, then you don’t rent.”
Uh -- doesn't Ansonia (sort of a suburb of New Haven, IIRC; in grad school I briefly dated a guy who lived there, and IIRC many of the younger and lower-paid faculty lived in Ansonia as well) already have regulations and habitability standards for rentals, whether absentee-owned or not? I'm quite sure it does, along with every other municipality in Connecticut: you want to rent out a residential place, it must meet certain standards regardless of whether you live on the premises.
He said the program would help combat blight and, in the long run, help to keep the costs of city services down.

“If you live in a one-family home, the services you require for that one family are for one family,” Henri said during last week’s meeting. “But if there’s a two-, three-, four-, six-family home, you have the potential for that many more uses for city services, not to mention the schools,” Henri said. “We know the schools are overcrowded.”

Henri said having fewer rental properties in town will help ease that overcrowding.

“We need to get away from the trend of having rental properties, absentee rental properties,” he said, adding later: “I would love if we could just start eliminating multi-family homes and replacing them with single-family homes. That’s probably way down the road, but we have to start somewhere.”
Ah-ha! J'ACCUSE! Yep, it's all just a bid to get rid of housing that poor people (pray forgive my utterance of so offensive a term) might be able to afford. In addition to kicking away a possible ladder low-income folks might climb to middle-class stability; my old plan "Maybe I could save enough to buy a multi-family, live in one unit and rent out the rest, and climb my way into financial security ....." eeew, no, that's the kind of situation he'd like to start eliminating.

On the other hand -- a few months ago I saw an article in my local (NoVa) newspaper. (Remember, I live in what's considered the outermost suburbs of DC, in an area undergoing a massive population/building boom -- Jeff and I hadn't even lived here four months before we could point to certain buildings and say "See that? I remember when it wasn't anything but an empty field.") There's a largish plot of land in my town, and I guess there's some controversy surrounding it, based on the notion "The city will only allow office, business or industrial buildings there, but the developer wants to build residential units." The mayor and some city council members were quoted in the paper speaking AGAINST allowing residential construction, basically saying "If we have more residents, we'll have to provide more services to them, and that's a net loss for us."

And the hell of it is -- at least for those residents who have or intend to have at least one child who will attend the public school system -- the mayor and city council are right: they do cost the city money, and for the most part do NOT pay enough tax to cover it. And I'd guess Ansonia, Connecticut, has it worse -- unless the state has radically changed its tax law recently, property tax is the main revenue source for CT municipalities; sales and income tax only go to the state. I don't know the specifics of Virginia municipal funding, but I'm pretty sure that in addition to property tax, cities can also collect a share of sales taxes as well; the cost of running the city isn't borne entirely by property owners.

Still, what Ansonia and New Britain are doing is SLEAZY. Wonder how long it'll be until their respective City Councils form yet another Task Force to debate the issue "Why, oh why, is housing so unaffordable in our fair city?"
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Re: Inequality

Post by JasonL » 30 May 2019, 18:43

I have long been a believer in snob zoning as a primary culprit but there are a few data sets out there showing surprisingly little movement in price when new units are built. I still want snob zoning removed in almost all cases but I'm less convinced than I used to be that you would ever get anything other than More Rich People.

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Re: Inequality

Post by Jennifer » 30 May 2019, 19:32

JasonL wrote:
30 May 2019, 18:43
I have long been a believer in snob zoning as a primary culprit but there are a few data sets out there showing surprisingly little movement in price when new units are built. I still want snob zoning removed in almost all cases but I'm less convinced than I used to be that you would ever get anything other than More Rich People.
Of course I haven't seen those specific data sets, but my first impulse is to wonder: is this "new units" as in "developers/builders free to build as they see fit (within established safety codes, of course)," or stuff like "You can't build these new luxury units unless you agree to set aside X number of them as 'affordable' housing for people who fall within certain income ranges as determined by the government?"

And there's also incidents such as this one I mentioned a couple years ago, preventing individuals or couples from reducing their housing costs in certain ways:
Jennifer wrote:
19 Aug 2016, 14:08
--[snip]--

There was an appalling (IMO) story out of Hartford, Connecticut a couple of years ago: eight adults who were longtime friends pooled their resources to buy a nine-bedroom, 6,000-square-foot mansion and live in it together. They were kicked out, because zoning rules in that neighborhood mandated single-family homes only.
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Re: Inequality

Post by Highway » 30 May 2019, 19:32

I'm with Jason on this, that it's not nearly as convincing to me that More Houses = Lower Prices. Citylab (which certainly has a particular viewpoint) and Richard Florida (who DEFINITELY has a particular viewpoint on the subject) have been writing about this lately, and while I'm not turning in my "market forces decoder ring" just yet, there are some somewhat discouraging results of these studies.
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Re: Inequality

Post by Jennifer » 30 May 2019, 19:43

Highway wrote:
30 May 2019, 19:32
I'm with Jason on this, that it's not nearly as convincing to me that More Houses = Lower Prices. Citylab (which certainly has a particular viewpoint) and Richard Florida (who DEFINITELY has a particular viewpoint on the subject) have been writing about this lately, and while I'm not turning in my "market forces decoder ring" just yet, there are some somewhat discouraging results of these studies.
[Reads linked story] That ... seems to completely miss something of very fundamental importance, though:
This is largely a debate about what kind of a good housing is. On the market-urbanist side, there is an idea that a house is basically like a refrigerator (although harder to manufacture), in that there is one basic market. As Manville, Lens, and Monkkonen write:
Rich people also buy refrigerators and groceries and televisions, but these are not noticeably more expensive in Los Angeles or San Francisco than in the rest of the country. One might counter that these goods are easier than housing to produce. But that’s not a counterargument: it is our point. It is the difficulty of producing housing, not the incomes of the people buying it, that makes housing so expensive.
For Rodríguez-Pose and Storper, though, housing in prime neighborhoods in expensive cities is like a special type of fridge that you need a college degree to operate. It’s not just that skilled workers can better afford housing in prime urban locations; the amenity also means more to them.
Forgive me for channeling Captain Obvious here -- not trying to insult anyone's intelligence by pointing this out, so much as wondering why the hell the article didn't do so: the main difference between "housing" versus all those other necessary or luxury goods (food, fridge, TV) is that housing is stationary rather than portable. I personally, with no assistance from anyone else, am capable of moving groceries, or small appliances (like a dorm fridge, not a full-size one) from wherever they are to wherever I need them to be. But of course I've never lived in a house or apartment that I could take with me as needed (and even if I did live in a van and drive it wherever, there's still the fundamental issue of "Where do I park it when not actively driving?") Level of skill or education or even "how much this particular thing means to you" has nothing to do with why, I can buy a given TV for the same price as a rich guy in San Francisco, but cannot pay the same price for given housing as that rich San Franciscan.
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Re: Inequality

Post by Jennifer » 30 May 2019, 19:55

I mean, where simply "producing"/"manufacturing" housing is concerned, prices ARE pretty much the same everywhere: okay, if you built my current cheap Georgia apartment in California you would need to spend a bit extra on some earthquake-proofing, and if you built it in a cold northern city like New York or Boston or a suburb thereof, you'd need to add insulation and strengthen the roof to handle heavy snows -- but those would only add a rather negligible amount to the cost of a given apartment, especially considering economies of scale: I live in a big complex with dozens if not hundreds of apartments. The main reason my current apartment would be impossibly expensive at my household income in San Francisco, Boston or New York is because of land costs (combination of "market forces," "government regulations" and especially "government taxes"), NOT the cost of actually getting construction materials. moving them where needed and putting them together into livable housing units.

And another thing -- my current sprawling low-rise complex of two- or three-story apartment buildings is fine for places where land is pretty cheap ... but that is NOT the case for the suburbs of those three expensive cities I just mentioned. And yet -- continuing the analogy -- rather than change zoning codes so developers can build apartments like mine only in high-rise rather than low-rise form, cities decide to "solve the affordable housing crisis" by telling developers "If you want to build apartments you can only do low-rise apartments, not high rise ... but ya gotta set aside a percentage of them for low-income people." Or, worse yet, telling developers "If you want to build new housing on this-here plot of land, you can't build ANY apartments at all; single-family homes only."
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Re: Inequality

Post by dead_elvis » 30 May 2019, 20:03

Shem wrote:
30 May 2019, 15:12
dead_elvis wrote:
30 May 2019, 15:02
nicole wrote:
30 May 2019, 09:08
I just find it frustrating that the zoning stuff gets mixed in with the housing subsidy stuff.
Snob zoning is a thing that works, so they are connected?

Maybe poor people couldn't afford to live in Westport right now, but over time, maybe 20 years, those zoning changes will stick its invisible hand all over the place. I think a big problem is that for things to reach a different equilibrium you'd have to wait out a very long boom-bust-level out cycle that the middle and upper classes won't wait out before bailing (in one sense or the other).
I would actually wager it would be quicker than that. Increase supply in Richtown, and people who had been forced to over in more marginal areas due to supply are then able to move up, vacating their previous lodgings. Which in turn lets people from the next marginal area down move up, and so on. It helps that insofar as there's a homeless problem that isn't tied straight to addiction or mental illness, it's a problem of supply. Get homeless people into predicable housing, and most of their problems do shrink quite a bit.
Oh certainly. The lag I see is: the initial developers will fuck things up because they assume the nice areas, with the new housing, will always keep their value or go up. Meanwhile they are sitting there unaffordable. Then when they see reality go the other way, it's a firesale and the area tanks, but of course other investors with cash are there at the ready to make sure no regular working people who need a mortgage have access to that market. Then eventually people who can afford the housing and the housing itself reaches some sort of new equilibrium, but already many years have gone by and the people who bought in initially bailed a long time ago when the poors started moving in to rent from the cash investors. This is basically what I've seen play out in SoCal, so anecdata I guess.
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Re: Inequality

Post by dead_elvis » 30 May 2019, 20:05

nicole wrote:
30 May 2019, 15:33
dead_elvis wrote:
30 May 2019, 15:02
nicole wrote:
30 May 2019, 09:08
I just find it frustrating that the zoning stuff gets mixed in with the housing subsidy stuff.
Snob zoning is a thing that works, so they are connected?

Maybe poor people couldn't afford to live in Westport right now, but over time, maybe 20 years, those zoning changes will stick its invisible hand all over the place. I think a big problem is that for things to reach a different equilibrium you'd have to wait out a very long boom-bust-level out cycle that the middle and upper classes won't wait out before bailing (in one sense or the other).

Another problem is people don't care if housing prices come down due to increase in supply vs demand or prices come down because your town's economy tanked, they just care that housing prices never, ever, be allowed to come down. To a certain class of people, fixing the problem would look like failing your community.
What is "the problem" in the last sentence? The zoning or the lack of affordable housing?
Lack of housing affordable enough for the people who work there.

It sounds like in your second paragraph you are agreeing that poor people can't afford to live there without subsidies until it's not a wealthy town anymore.
And that's kind of what I was thinking of in my follow up- that I'm not sure why our culture accepts that it's normal for there to be a "wealthy town" based on nothing but exclusionary rules rather than based on something its townfolk inherently do that creates better living conditions. The extent to which the rich are able to wall themselves off using political units that undermine the reality of activity within interconnected communities strikes me as an actual problem.

I'm always wary of rose-colored history, but is there any truth to the notion that back in the day when America was great were cities really more vertically integrated, or is that also an attempt to re-create a past that never was? Did captains of industry really ever rub elbows with commoners in the town square, dampening the anti-social isolating effects of wealth that we see in gated suburbia and door-manned skyscrapers?

I bring it up just because that seems to be the goal, to create the sort of communities where the rich might still have it better but at least they can't pretend the poor and their problems simply don't exist. But I question if this ever truly existed and was a factor for better behavior and better governance or if this is liberal hagiography.
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Re: Inequality

Post by Andrew » 30 May 2019, 22:53

dead_elvis wrote:
30 May 2019, 20:05
Did captains of industry really ever rub elbows with commoners in the town square, dampening the anti-social isolating effects of wealth that we see in gated suburbia and door-manned skyscrapers?

I bring it up just because that seems to be the goal, to create the sort of communities where the rich might still have it better but at least they can't pretend the poor and their problems simply don't exist. But I question if this ever truly existed and was a factor for better behavior and better governance or if this is liberal hagiography.
Based on the mansions the rich built far away from the factories and tenements, my suspicion is no. Even small western mining towns had clear divisions among where the owners, management, and miners lived.
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The sun only shines when a woman is being sexually abused. - Warren

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Mo
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Re: Inequality

Post by Mo » 31 May 2019, 04:47

JasonL wrote:
30 May 2019, 18:43
I have long been a believer in snob zoning as a primary culprit but there are a few data sets out there showing surprisingly little movement in price when new units are built. I still want snob zoning removed in almost all cases but I'm less convinced than I used to be that you would ever get anything other than More Rich People.
Do those data sets hold neighboring economies as a control? Like CA needs something like 4.5 million new homes over the next decade and they are planning 1 million. If prices go up significantly, you can't say, "Building houses doesn't affect prices, we built a million new homes and prices still went up!" What's the baseline increase in non-induced demand relative to the new construction?
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

no one ever yells worldstar when a pet gets fucked up - dhex

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JasonL
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Re: Inequality

Post by JasonL » 31 May 2019, 08:32

I’m not sure about how those studies evaluated neighboring areas. I agree it’s an issue of where you are on the supply curve. I’m more saying I’d presumed any supply would give you some relief and the elasticity doesn’t seem to work that way.

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