10.01.2008 0

The Soviet-Style Housing Scam

  • On: 10/07/2008 11:19:57
  • In: Property Rights
  • Surely, one of the great, if unintended, consequences of the Internet explosion has been what might be termed the “John Doe Syndrome.”

    Now, for the first time in history, average “everyday citizens” can rise to the rank of respected pundits literally at the push of a button. The public forum truly has become the people’s purview. And, “Send” has become the keyboard equivalent of the Call to Arms.

    At ALG News, we applaud ascendancy of the individual. And starting with today’s daily feed, we want to occasionally feature a statement or an action from a John (or Jane) Doe we think is particularly worthy of approbation – and emulation.

    As David Burns avers in the letter below in the Connection, Section 8 housing as it is currently administered nationwide, is turning what were once proud working-class neighborhoods into little more than government ghettos. And the only people enjoying the results are slumlords and nanny-staters.

    If you have a letter or op-ed from a member of your audience you think deserves greater currency, please feel free to send it to us at ALG News. We’ll be pleased to place it (along with your plaudits) on our GetLiberty.org site and perhaps even feature it as one of our new “Meet John Doe” weekly guest editorials.

    “Soviet-Style Solution?
    “Letter to the Editor

    “Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    “To the Editor:

    “I applaud the efforts of Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) to reform Fairfax County’s affordable housing plan. The current policy is indeed ill conceived and in need of a complete overhaul. At great cost, it gives expensive benefits to thousands of people who deserve such aid no more than hundreds of thousands of other area residents [“Housing Plan an ‘Embarrassment,’” Connection, March 27-April 2].

    “I did not realize that Fairfax County had been buying up so many apartment buildings, so that the county government is now locally the largest landlord of all. Did we hire our affordable housing planners from the old Soviet Union, or bring them from somewhere closer, perhaps Cuba?

    “In city after city, in America and around the world, government attempts to control rents through caps or outright government ownership have resulted in a short-term windfall for a few, and a long-term disaster for everyone. Such plans also create deep resentment among the citizens and promote the idea that citizens should “game” the system for their own benefit. Worse, it promotes arrogance in elected officials who — while they would die before they would admit it — secretly get a little thrill feeling like old-time lords of the manor dispensing a humble dwelling to a worthy peasant.

    “There are other problems as well. Once a citizen lands a government-owned or rent-controlled apartment, they almost never leave and will even deliberately avoid improving their own lives and income lest they lose the benefit. That makes housing less available by virtually ending the normal turnover of lower-cost apartments. There is often a large loss of tax revenue that would be paid by private apartment building owners. Political leaders naturally become reluctant to deal with these issues, in fear of being portrayed as cold-hearted in the press. There is nothing warm-hearted or generous, however, in taking tax money from people who work hard to pay their own rent or mortgage, and then essentially handing that money over to people who did not earn it and who deserve such aid no more than anyone else.

    “I have no objection to emergency housing aid for a family in crisis, or a victim of domestic abuse or other similar short-term humanitarian assistance. No doubt some work can be done, in conjunction with local homebuilders and others, to encourage and promote a variety of housing options in Fairfax County. But no good can come out of a Soviet-style plan to have the government own and control large blocks of apartments. It violates the most basic principles of economics, it violates the ordinary sense of fairness, and it gives government officials powers they should not have and must not be given.

    “David Burns
    “Springfield”


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