As a renter facing a $200/month increase on my one-bedroom apartment next month, and as someone with a number of friends and acquaintances who’ve moved out of the city in search of lower-priced housing, I’m more and more scared by our housing scene. Sightline’s work on the issue gives me hope, as do articles like this, which explains how Toyko, despite its growing population, has kept housing costs stable. The city is even considering how zoning regulations can make the city less susceptible to earthquake damage.
Rising housing prices are not an inevitable consequence of growth and fixed land supply—high and rising housing prices are the result of policy choices to restrict land development. The policy choices were made—they can be unmade.
Last weekend, I finished Robert Moor’s On Trails, a pensive, richly written trek through the origins and evolution of our planet’s various types of trails, with a refreshingly postmodern attitude toward defining and engaging with nature. An accomplished hiker who now lives in British Columbia, Moor grew up just miles from where I did in the northern suburbs of Chicago. I recommended the book to my parents, who in researching it, learned he would be giving an author talk in his hometown of Lake Forest this past Monday, moderated by his high school English teacher—who, in fact, turned out to be a member of my dad’s book club. Small world… or perhaps, rather, big trail crossings.
Plurality voting strikes again! In the Top Two primary race for Washington State Treasurer, a majority of voters chose a Democratic candidate. But in November, Washington voters will only see two Republicans on the ballot. What? Three strong Democratic candidates split the majority of votes (20%, 18%, 13%), while just two Republican candidates split the minority of votes (25% and 23%), and only the top two vote-getters move on. With ranked-choice voting, the Dem with 13% would have been eliminated, and his supporters would have had a chance to vote in the “instant runoff” between the other candidates. This way, general election voters would have seen the two candidates with the most support from primary voters, instead of the two candidates who most strategically split the primary vote.
Peter Barnes explains how we can make capitalism work. First, understand that the money capitalists make has two components: 1) fair market value, determined by supply and demand (so far, so good); and 2) rent, determined by market power and political power (not so great—need less of that). Economist John Kay explained this type of rent like this: “When the appropriation of the wealth of others is illegal, it’s called theft or fraud. When it’s legal, it’s called rent.” Second, create virtuous rent that helps people, businesses, and employees to survive, thrive, and solve problems.
The Atlantic had an illuminating article reviewing two books examining the history of poor white Americans and the class and race tensions that are bubbling up from deep roots this election season.