Anti-growth Housing Policy May Have Seriously Damaged the US Economy for Decades

 

In a dynamic economy, finance, ideas, people, and other resources flow to their most productive use. It’s an economy of constant disruption and change. Companies rise and fall, begin and end. Workers change jobs, moving if they must. Social mobility is high, and hopefully income growth, too. Misallocation of resources is the enemy of growth and opportunity.

But in his new book, “The Complacent Class,” Tyler Cowen describes modern America as a society that is “more risk averse and more set in our ways, more segregated … sapped … of the pioneer spirit that made America the most productive and innovative economy in the world.”

One cause of this dynamism decline, Cowen argues, is that it’s so darn expensive for workers to move to dynamic, high-productivity cities. In making this case, he cites the research of UC Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti who, as it happens, just released a new paper on the subject with Chang-Tai Hsieh of the University of Chicago. The researchers look at the “spatial misallocation of labor.” The problem here is that strict restrictions to new housing supply — local residents have a huge incentive here — have effectively limited the number of workers who can access high productivity cities and regions such as New York and the San Francisco Bay area.

The shock finding: Labor misallocation from housing constraints “lowered aggregate US growth by more than 50% from 1964 to 2009.”

Of course, a perfectly dynamic economy is impossible, but the research does suggest a potentially high level of self-harm from bad governance. Two possible solutions are offered. First, copy other countries by having federal and state governments “constrain U.S. municipalities’ ability to set land use regulations.” The 2016 Obama budget contained $300 million in funding for grants “designed to provide an incentive to encourage more relaxed land use regulations and increase the overall supply of housing,” as described by the CEA.

A second idea: Vastly improve public transportation. The paper notes how a “vast network of trains and buses allows residents of many cities in southern England … to commute to high [innovation] employers located in downtown London.” This doesn’t mean building a hyperloop necessarily (as awesome as that would be). It could mean express buses.

There is a counterargument here, that high costs in key coastal cities can result in a broader dispersion of talent. Let me also point to my podcast earlier this year when Joel Kotkin expressed deep skepticism on land use deregulation: “You’re never going to change the San Francisco situation in terms of affordability by having more density. Density is very expensive to build, and it isn’t what people want. ”

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  1. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Finally, A post that I can agree with.

    The primary goal of Housing Restrictions and Land Use regulations are price control. The local government keeps that price of real estate artificially high to keep their land-owner constituents happy and too keep property taxes flowing into the city coffers.  Without these controls the cost of housing would be dramatically lower, and the ability of companies to deploy new plant and equipment would be radically more flexible, meaning jobs… Both construction jobs during the remodeling – but also permanent operational jobs at the company.

    Now realize that economic growth is compounding. IF things had been different and this 50% growth potential had been realized, over the past 55 years the US economy would be unrecognizable at this point.

    • #1
  2. Theodoric of Freiberg Member
    Theodoric of Freiberg
    @TheodoricofFreiberg

    So we want the Federal and state governments strong-arming local governments. Doesn’t sound very conservative to me. And we want the Federal and state governments to spend big bucks on failed public transportation. Doesn’t sound very conservative to me.

    No thank you.

    • #2
  3. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    You don’t find out what people want by asking an academic.  You find out what people want by getting out of their way and letting them show you by the choices they make.

    • #3
  4. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Theodoric of Freiberg (View Comment):
    So we want the Federal and state governments strong-arming local governments. Doesn’t sound very conservative to me. And we want the Federal and state governments to spend big bucks on failed public transportation. Doesn’t sound very conservative to me.

    No thank you.

    You have the local government acting like little socialist enclaves. It may or may not be Conservative, but it sure as hell is wrong.

    • #4
  5. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    James Pethokoukis: “You’re never going to change the San Francisco situation in terms of affordability by having more density. Density is very expensive to build, and it isn’t what people want. ”

    ::Facepalm:: This is really stupid. “Density is very expensive to build?” Really? Who *expletive* cares. If it’s not worth building, it won’t be built. If it gets build despite being expensive that means it’s worth it independent of price. And if you get more density but the affordability is the same (it probably wouldn’t be because you would have smaller properties) that means you still have much more people living in the productive area. It’s optimization. Affordability is the way the market allocates resources most efficiently. “Affordability” in and of itself is not a goal.

    • #5
  6. Muleskinner Member
    Muleskinner
    @Muleskinner

    Out here in the plains where space isn’t a problem, we have towns with a 1,000 job openings and less than 20 houses on the market. Some towns where the average time on the market for a house is less than a week. Banks won’t lend to builders. Builders will build custom homes in the $300,000 to $500,000 range, but they can’t afford to build a spec home.

    • #6
  7. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    There they go again: Republicans/libertarians trying to kill federalism for the sake of “growth.”   No, thanks.  We don’t need a more powerful federal government at the expense of state and local governments.  If state and local governments aren’t already motivated to look after their own interests, there is no use in forcing them to do so.

    • #7
  8. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Mike H (View Comment):

    Theodoric of Freiberg (View Comment):
    So we want the Federal and state governments strong-arming local governments. Doesn’t sound very conservative to me. And we want the Federal and state governments to spend big bucks on failed public transportation. Doesn’t sound very conservative to me.

    No thank you.

    You have the local government acting like little socialist enclaves. It may or may not be Conservative, but it sure as hell is wrong.

    Local government officials protecting their own turf may be corrupt, but it’s not socialism.  And it may be the price we have to pay in order to have freedom and prosperity for all.

    • #8
  9. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    Finally, A post that I can agree with.

    The primary goal of Housing Restrictions and Land Use regulations are price control. The local government keeps that price of real estate artificially high to keep their land-owner constituents happy and too keep property taxes flowing into the city coffers. Without these controls the cost of housing would be dramatically lower, and the ability of companies to deploy new plant and equipment would be radically more flexible, meaning jobs… Both construction jobs during the remodeling – but also permanent operational jobs at the company.

    Now realize that economic growth is compounding. IF things had been different and this 50% growth potential had been realized, over the past 55 years the US economy would be unrecognizable at this point.

    So what you’re saying is local governments aren’t greedy enough, so we have to force them to be more greedy?

    • #9
  10. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    I will leave others with more knowledge about housing regulations and such matters to comment more specifically to your post, but Cowen’s mention of the “pioneer spirit” reminded me strongly of some recent reading.

    Earlier this week I read a short bio of an ancestor of mine (great-great grandmother?) Eliza Sherlock. Born in 1821 in Ireland, she emigrated to the U.S. at age 16, with her parents and an unknown number of younger siblings. Three older brothers had emigrated a short while before to secure a foothold for the family. Her mother died of illness during the journey, and her father died of the same illness ten days after arriving in New York. She and the younger siblings went to live with their older brothers. She subsequently married a man named Patrick Duffy in 1852. In 1856, Eliza and her husband joined the other Sherlock siblings and traveled to St. Paul. From there they established land claims about 50 miles southwest of St. Paul. When the land proved too prone to flooding, they moved to a better site and Eliza helped build a log house and clear the land for farming. Eliza managed her brothers’ farms as well as her own as they worked the fields.

    Eliza frequently walked 50 miles to St. Paul to sell farm produce and bargain for goods. She was determined, ambitious, and talented (her husband Patrick, on the other hand, was described by one of their sons as “the damnedest, laziest man in the country”). Because of her astuteness, she was able to increase the families’ wealth and bought farms for her own sons (she had ten kids).

    She donated land for a church to be built near the farms, and helped build the first log church on the site. She’s buried in the cemetery there, along with Sherlocks from following generations.

    My parents bought the remaining farm when I was small girl, and I used to love to ride my horse up to the cemetery and look at the old headstones. The log church was replaced with a brick church in the early 1900s – the stained glass windows bear the names of her brothers and some of her nephews. I am moved with admiration and pride whenever I see them.

    I bring this all up because I recall the reaction to a Kevin Williamson piece in which he brought up this lack of mobility, people staying in failing communities despite the lack of opportunities. He was criticized for being uncaring, but I can’t help but think of Eliza and her family risking all to move to the U.S., then moving from New York to Minnesota where land was available (though not exactly hospitable, as it was forested). I think of her walking 50 miles to do business for her family. Now that represents “pioneer spirit” – the willingness to move to access opportunities! Is it really so much more difficult for modern Americans than it was for Eliza?

    • #10
  11. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I remember back in the days when I thought “growth” was a good thing.  Mr. Pethokoukis sometimes seems determined to show me the error of my old ways.

    • #11
  12. Muleskinner Member
    Muleskinner
    @Muleskinner

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Mike H (View Comment):

    Theodoric of Freiberg (View Comment):
    So we want the Federal and state governments strong-arming local governments. Doesn’t sound very conservative to me. And we want the Federal and state governments to spend big bucks on failed public transportation. Doesn’t sound very conservative to me.

    No thank you.

    You have the local government acting like little socialist enclaves. It may or may not be Conservative, but it sure as hell is wrong.

    Local government officials protecting their own turf may be corrupt, but it’s not socialism. And it may be the price we have to pay in order to have freedom and prosperity for all.

    Suppose that some local governments’ zoning decisions resulted in higher costs to the state and federal governments for basic infrastructure, resulting in higher taxes and higher costs for those who lived in nearby jurisdictions more willing to let markets determine the use of land? In one of his books, Thomas Sowell explained how local government zoning decisions in California helped set the stage for the great recession. There were many more elements at work, but it shows how even small, local governments interfering with markets can result in great losses far beyond the borders of the local governments.

    • #12
  13. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Muleskinner (View Comment):
    Suppose that some local governments’ zoning decisions resulted in higher costs to the state and federal governments for basic infrastructure, resulting in higher taxes and higher costs for those who lived in nearby jurisdictions more willing to let markets determine the use of land? In one of his books, Thomas Sowell explained how local government zoning decisions in California helped set the stage for the great recession. There were many more elements at work, but it shows how even small, local governments interfering with markets can result in great losses far beyond the borders of the local governments.

    I’m not inclined to accept that hypothetical.  Which local zoning decisions are we talking about?

    But we have that problem all the time.  Suppose your children make bad marital choices, resulting in great expense to the welfare system and child protective services, etc.  Does that mean those choices should be taken over by the federal government instead, because the personal choices result in great losses far beyond the borders of the local home and community?

    • #13
  14. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    Finally, A post that I can agree with.

    The primary goal of Housing Restrictions and Land Use regulations are price control. The local government keeps that price of real estate artificially high to keep their land-owner constituents happy and too keep property taxes flowing into the city coffers. Without these controls the cost of housing would be dramatically lower, and the ability of companies to deploy new plant and equipment would be radically more flexible, meaning jobs… Both construction jobs during the remodeling – but also permanent operational jobs at the company.

    Now realize that economic growth is compounding. IF things had been different and this 50% growth potential had been realized, over the past 55 years the US economy would be unrecognizable at this point.

    So what you’re saying is local governments aren’t greedy enough, so we have to force them to be more greedy?

    What? No. You took away the exact opposite meaning of what I said. I want the civic government to be less controlling, less expensive, less intrusive.

    In my ideal world the right to property would trump local ordinances on land use, and EPA restrictions. (I still dont understand how the EPA declaring a field a wet land – and preventing a farmer from working the land. Isn’t a “Taking” prohibited by the constitution.)

     

    • #14
  15. Muleskinner Member
    Muleskinner
    @Muleskinner

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Muleskinner (View Comment):
    Suppose that some local governments’ zoning decisions resulted in higher costs to the state and federal governments for basic infrastructure, resulting in higher taxes and higher costs for those who lived in nearby jurisdictions more willing to let markets determine the use of land? In one of his books, Thomas Sowell explained how local government zoning decisions in California helped set the stage for the great recession. There were many more elements at work, but it shows how even small, local governments interfering with markets can result in great losses far beyond the borders of the local governments.

    I’m not inclined to accept that hypothetical. Which local zoning decisions are we talking about?

    But we have that problem all the time. Suppose your children make bad marital choices, resulting in great expense to the welfare system and child protective services, etc. Does that mean those choices should be taken over by the federal government instead, because the personal choices result in great losses far beyond the borders of the local home and community?

    In that particular case, zoning laws that required developers to leave large portion of land undeveloped. It drove up the price of housing where it was allowed, and forced people to live farther from their work than would have been necessary otherwise.

    As for poor personal decisions, one could argue that the person making the bad choice pays, at least to some degree. But if my local community says that any developer in my area has to reserve 50% of the development for green space and doesn’t allow high-rise, or rental units, I benefit from that decision as those decisions artificially make my property more scarce and more valuable. It hurts those who want to work in my community, because they will have to pay higher prices for housing than they would otherwise, or they have to drive farther, putting more stress on highway infrastructure.  But those outsiders who want to buy into my community don’t get to vote, and once they buy-in, they are part of the local monopoly, so they benefit from keeping the land market form operating efficiently.

    • #15
  16. Judithann Campbell Member
    Judithann Campbell
    @

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    I want the civic government to be less controlling, less expensive, less intrusive.

    And in order to achieve this, you are willing to make the federal government more controlling and more intrusive? No thank you. If you believe that decisions rightly left to local governments should be taken out of the hands of local people because they are making decisions that you don’t agree with, then take it up with the Founding Fathers. People who only support federalism when it results in decisions they agree with do not really support federalism.

    • #16
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Muleskinner (View Comment):
    In that particular case, zoning laws that required developers to leave large portion of land undeveloped. It drove up the price of housing where it was allowed, and forced people to live farther from their work than would have been necessary otherwise.

    So if I own a section of land on the edge of town and refuse to develop it for housing, I’m a bad person for driving up the cost of housing and forcing people to live farther from their work.  Well, I suppose the governments can raise taxes until I can no longer afford to leave it undeveloped.

    Or if my community decides to leave a piece of land undeveloped so kids have a place to play, it’s bad because it drives up the cost of housing and forces people to live farther away from work.  Therefore the federal government should go all Stalinist on us and force us to make way for the greater good.

    Do I understand this right?  Collectivism is good if it’s done on a large enough scale?

    As for poor personal decisions, one could argue that the person making the bad choice pays, at least to some degree. But if my local community says that any developer in my area has to reserve 50% of the development for green space and doesn’t allow high-rise, or rental units, I benefit from that decision as those decisions artificially make my property more scarce and more valuable. It hurts those who want to work in my community, because they will have to pay higher prices for housing than they would otherwise, or they have to drive farther, putting more stress on highway infrastructure. But those outsiders who want to buy into my community don’t get to vote, and once they buy-in, they are part of the local monopoly, so they benefit from keeping the land market form operating efficiently.

    Which is the way it ought to work in a free society, isn’t it?

    • #17
  18. Muleskinner Member
    Muleskinner
    @Muleskinner

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    So if I own a section of land on the edge of town and refuse to develop it for housing, I’m a bad person for driving up the cost of housing and forcing people to live farther from their work. Well, I suppose the governments can raise taxes until I can no longer afford to leave it undeveloped.

    If you own that section of land and choose to do nothing with it, that’s fine. But suppose you do want to develop it, and the local government says you can only build on half of it, my guess is that you aren’t so happy.

    • #18
  19. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    What? No. You took away the exact opposite meaning of what I said. I want the civic government to be less controlling, less expensive, less intrusive.

    Yeahbut, you’re forcing them to be less controlling so they’ll make more money.

    In my ideal world the right to property would trump local ordinances on land use, and EPA restrictions. (I still dont understand how the EPA declaring a field a wet land – and preventing a farmer from working the land. Isn’t a “Taking” prohibited by the constitution.)

    The EPA is a federal organization unless something has changed recently.

    But at the local level we have zoning ordinances that do the same thing. If you start calling these things “takings,” there will be no end to it. The best thing is to keep as much control at as local a level as possible, where people have a better chance of dealing with it.

    • #19
  20. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    I want the civic government to be less controlling, less expensive, less intrusive.

    And in order to achieve this, you are willing to make the federal government more controlling and more intrusive? No thank you. If you believe that decisions rightly left to local governments should be taken out of the hands of local people because they are making decisions that you don’t agree with, then take it up with the Founding Fathers. People who only support federalism when it results in decisions they agree with do not really support federalism.

    Where is this coming from? We should be on the same side of this, but you’re seeing something completely different.

     

    • #20
  21. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Kevin Williamson allegedly recommends that people looking for jobs get a U-Haul and move if they can’t find jobs locally. So how about businesses that have trouble attracting talent because of the lack of housing getting a U-Haul and moving some of their operations to locations where housing IS available?   Some businesses can move more easily than others (just as some individuals can move more easily than others) but the local governments will be influenced by those who are able to make the move.

    Wouldn’t that be better than having the feds run roughshod over state and local governments?

    • #21
  22. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    What are you guys reading, that Iam not?

    I agreed with the original post – Intrusive local governments with land use bylaws dramatically hamper economic activity. I think this can clearly be demonstrated between the richest suburban counties and the poorer urban cities – with a simple bylaw count, and to count the number of hours required to open a business demonstration.

    That seems to be fairly straight forward – So I thought it would be nice to jettison all these bylaws and lower property taxes, and have a smaller government. Where do all the isms come from? Federalism, collectivism, scare-ism?

    • #22
  23. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    Kevin Williamson allegedly recommends that people looking for jobs get a U-Haul and move if they can’t find jobs locally. So how about businesses that have trouble attracting talent because of the lack of housing getting a U-Haul and moving some of their operations to locations where housing IS available? Some businesses can move more easily than others (just as some individuals can move more easily than others) but the local governments will be influenced by those who are able to make the move.

    Wouldn’t that be better than having the feds run roughshod over state and local governments?

    Yes, thank you – that freedom is what I was trying, in my long and long-winded story, to get at. If businesses are finding themselves hampered by prohibitive housing situations, why don’t they move? If workers can’t find suitable and affordable housing in areas such as San Francisco, why don’t companies re-locate to where their workers can afford to stay, and let local housing policies reap the rewards or punishments – inability to attract and retain workers – that those policies produce? No need to involve the federal government. My ancestors came here – MOVED here – and I would maintain that a vibrant economy requires both workers and companies willing to move to access opportunities wherever they appear. The willingness to move and take risks is – or at least was – a major factor in this country’s success.

    • #23
  24. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    “Kotkin expressed deep skepticism on land use deregulation: “You’re never going to change the San Francisco situation in terms of affordability by having more density. Density is very expensive to build, and it isn’t what people want. ”

    Since nobody wants density are dense places cheaper?  Oh wait, not at all.  Cheaper to build?  I think the relevant cost includes the land, and the relevant measure is ROI, the demand is obviously there.   Builders in free cities like Hong Kong or Singapore, tear down 10 story buildings to ad more floors all the time.  And seek permission to do it in our cities all the time. Then there’s energy savings, I thought the controllers like to save energy.   It’s amazing how our betters can alway give us good reasons to not allow freedom.

    • #24
  25. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    What are you guys reading, that Iam not?

    Good job, guys! You made me renew my membership :p I didn’t even make it a month!

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    Intrusive local governments with land use bylaws dramatically hamper economic activity.

    The thing you are skipping over here is the fact that individuals have much greater influence over local governments than any other government existing. If the city’s bylaws include zoning restrictions that “hamper economic activity,” that is a much truer representation of the attitudes of the people living there than not.

    So when you say federal government should strong arm them into not having such restrictive zoning laws, you are, in essence, saying federal government should force those people to accept things they don’t want. What you are in fact arguing is that if they can’t do it right themselves than big government needs to force them to do it right.

    It trods on their own rights to do with their town what they want. You’re argument makes sense as a libertarian argument which rejects the concept of collective or corporate rights (which is what the city itself represents), but even AnCaps support the rights of forming HOAs which, in actual fact, enact the same types of bylaws on their neighborhoods. Consider a small municipality a type of HOA and it suddenly becomes ok. If you live there and want to use your land differently then the city allows, its far easier for you to move 20 miles down the road than skipping the country altogether (why we are supposed to favor dissolving federal laws to the local states/cities).

    Because I renewed at the new level, my word count is diminishing so, cont.

    • #25
  26. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    My area just finished a huge dust up over development of this sort. The people who live out around me came here to have open fields and low traffic… They got up and moved to dirt roads, not for land value, but because of the different life it offers. Their land value went up as MORE people wanted the same things they have.

    The major city that we are a suburb of wanted to change zoning restrictions and were nearly successful even with EPA regulations surrounding the river right down the middle of our community (word… EPA land use laws actually matter not a spittle if a city wants to do away with it). The community kicked back. Ted Edwards lost representation down here, not because of liberals (everyone out here voted Trump/Pence and Rubio), but because he backed changing the zoning laws against the will of the people who lived here. These people have that right to dictate what happens to their community and they spoke at the ballot box by changing their legislative representative, their city council representation, and are currently getting ready to vote to form their own municipality.

    You argue that another government, one they have less control over, come in and knock them over the heads for their stupidity and change their zoning laws anyway.

    • #26
  27. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    An aside: arguments for economic viability and efficiency without due regard to what individual people actually want outside of monetary concerns sounds far more socialist than individual liberty.

    One of the major culture characteristics I have always associated with Americans is a love for wide open spaces/green places far from the corruption, suspicion, stink, and crime of city life. City life is hard (says the cabby in The Magicians Nephew) and it isn’t everyone’s preference. People have the right to protect their preferences where they can, especially through legal means provided to them.

    • #27
  28. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    The urban planning/zoning/controlling situation illustrates so many fundamental dilemmas.  Every time I go to NYC to see my kids, depending on the time of year,  I give thanks that I’m not in charge of streets, or garbage, or snow removal, or water and sewerage.  These things have to be planned for coordinated and executed centrally.  And they dictate lots of other land uses.   It’s not easy and shouldn’t be made more complex with extraneous issues.  Plan the bones, find ways to allow them to adapt and then let it rip.   Great cities aren’t planned, they emerge, but some bones are essential and that’s hard enough.

    Another issue they point out;  is if HOA can dictate neighborhood policies, why can’t cities?  Well its in the math.  At some point, and it’s not very large, neighborhoods have to opt for freedom because the cost of coordinating and reaching agreement on everything exceeds our capacity.   Or the cost to public goods is that because they are by definition collective  impositions on individuals preferences, their cost grows with size and diversity.  Parents know this if they try to get a diverse bunch of kids to agree on which movie to watch.

    • #28
  29. Isaac Smith Member
    Isaac Smith
    @

    Mike H (View Comment):

    Theodoric of Freiberg (View Comment):
    So we want the Federal and state governments strong-arming local governments. Doesn’t sound very conservative to me. And we want the Federal and state governments to spend big bucks on failed public transportation. Doesn’t sound very conservative to me.

    No thank you.

    You have the local government acting like little socialist enclaves. It may or may not be Conservative, but it sure as hell is wrong.

    I don’t know how you get there from here, but the answer is not more centralized state  power, but a reversal of the judicial decisions on regulatory takings.  San Francisco wants to strictly control construction – okay, as long as it compensates the landowners when it passes its ordinances.  Then people can choose to live there or not.  But as long as municipalities can take a portion of the value of land without compensation, they will continue to be emboldened to design their utopias with other people’s money.

    • #29
  30. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Stina (View Comment):
    The thing you are skipping over here is the fact that individuals have much greater influence over local governments than any other government existing. If the city’s bylaws include zoning restrictions that “hamper economic activity,” that is a much truer representation of the attitudes of the people living there than not.

    So when you say federal government should strong arm them into not having such restrictive zoning laws, you are, in essence, saying federal government should force those people to accept things they don’t want. What you are in fact arguing is that if they can’t do it right themselves than big government needs to force them to do it right.

    Its true, the closer a government is to the people it governs the more responsive it is. I agree with that. However, in civic elections, fewer than 30% of the electorate actually bother to vote. You could say, that “none of the above” won in a landslide. Its quite easy for a vocal minority to bully a malleable city council into some pointless ordinances.

    I dont want the feds to strong arm anyone. I want all levels of government to respect property rights of a land owner. If someone where to buy a plot of land, and build a house out in the back 40, that’s nobody’s business. Earlier this spring, I posted a video of a township bulldozing a house – because it was built without a permit. Its like they view themselves as English lords, and once in a while they have to make an example of a serf who forgot his place. It wasn’t long ago, you didn’t need a building permit to build a house. The house I grew up in (or more accurately – the construction site I grew up in) was built over many years (nearly a decade) and didnt have a single permit or inspection on anything – that was only 40 years ago. (wow)

    Houston TX, is the largest city that I can think of, that is few zoning laws:

    http://thefederalist.com/2016/05/13/how-no-zoning-laws-works-for-houston/

    I think its an example of good government. Texas in general is a good example for governments.

    • #30
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