Beyond Donald -3

Isn’t this fun? Regular readers will recall the last two posts moving beyond Donald and clearing out the debris and smoke of Flanders Field. As the smoke thins, a farther view of the horizon emerges and reality is visible again.

֎ Housing. The word ‘infrastructure’ conjures thoughts of highways, antipollution, communication, public transportation, even climate change. One of the most critical areas, however, is housing. Two influences have led to the US housing crisis: a shift from manufacturing to investment as the backbone of the economy and – because houses are a major investment – an exaggerated resistance to socially integrated housing.

  • By the latter, mariner means Not in My Backyard (NIMBY). In Silicon Valley, the public school teachers cannot afford to purchase a home near their school because those with mansions around the school will not allow ‘cheaper’ housing that may reduce the value of their mansions.
  • NIMBY also applies to gentrification of neighborhoods in cities and suburbs where a new home buyer invests in a fixer-upper and joins a Home Owners Association (HOA) to set rules of exclusion that will preserve the value of homes in the neighborhood.
  • Housing is growing scarce because homes are too expensive for the younger generations, because homes are held onto by an aging population, and because the lack of US housing regulations doesn’t enforce multiple levels of housing or zoning. Already, there is a shift in the social structure of a family. The Census Bureau reports:

“Young adults are experiencing traditional milestones such as getting a job, marrying and having children at a later age than their parents.

One of the striking signs of delayed adulthood is the rising number of young adults who live in their parents’ home – now the most popular living arrangement for young adults.

A third of young people, or 24 million of those aged 18 to 34, lived under their parents’ roof in 2015. More young adults lived with parents than with a spouse in 2016. Almost 9 in 10 of the young people who lived with their parents a year ago are still living there.”

  • Regulations that permitted multiple family buildings (tenements) have suffered at the hands of HOAs and are less than important to local governments because of the resultant increase in the tax base for cities and counties during gentrification.
  • Over the next 25 years climate change will have a significant impact on housing in flood plains. Mariner notes many places along the Mississippi River that already have driven small communities from their homes – not to mention the nation’s coastlines and metropolitan areas.
  • The housing issue will not be as easy to remedy as one may think. One of the side effects of capitalist profit-taking over the last 40 years is that investments (like houses) have grown in value while salaries have not kept up. Salaries are part of the issue.

As mariner suggested in Donald -2, the US needs a burst of new productivity, new gross domestic product, and a new image of what America stands for. Housing is critical both for its need and for changes in government oversight.

Ancient Mariner

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