Morning Ed: Cities {2016.08.30.T}

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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51 Responses

  1. Saul Degraw says:

    1. Who is this David Duke? I am guessing he his different from the KKK David Duke? I found this essay to be “interesting” in the sense that it gave me a worldview into someone who grew up conservative. My grandparents and parents were Democrats and I became a liberal Democrat too but my parents did not force this down my throat. They did not make me read the New Republic or the Nation as a kid like Duke was required to read the the National Review. The whole essay comes across as a horrible judgment in publishing. “Filthy homeless person”? Does Duke assume all homeless people are homeless because of faults of their own? The dude says he lives in Buffalo. Buffalo is one of the poorest cities in the United States. I find it hard to believe he has not seen economic distress and deprivation. New Yorkers are overwhelmingly Democratic but Democratic does not equal unreconstructed Trotskyite except in fantasy land. What is it about conservatives that they need to have everything be “inherently conservative” for it to be good and likeable? I can’t think of examples of liberals writing essays on the “inherent liberalism” of Utah, Alaska or South Carolina.

    2. There was an article last week about a lawyer who quit her position on a Palo Alto planning committee (she also worked as inhouse counsel) because of high-housing prices and announced she and her husband were moving to Santa Cruz (you can commute to Silicon Valley from Santa Cruz). The woman said that she was tired of renting a house with another couple for 6200 dollars a month. She was later interviewed in the Atlantic and blamed everything on Boomers having a FYIGM attitude. SF seems to be at rock bottom though (I could be wrong) but housing prices and rents do seem to be getting every so slightly lower.

    3. I read the Lind essay. I am not quite sure how I am “sort of” on the Populists side except that I don’t fully buy the no-education thing and do think just upping and moving is not the answer for most people. I also suspect that a lot of elite-professionals still live within 18-25 miles of their moms.

    4. The low-income housing scheme is a classic version of good-intent with awful side effects. The Gothamist article you linked to also contained a more detailed NY Times article on the subject.

    The program was created in the late 1970s when NYC was broke and thousands of apartment buildings were in disrepair. The City bough them and fixed them and placed the income roofs on ownership. Possibly because no one could imagine NYC becoming super-expensive at that point. This was at a time when only a few college grads looked to the outer boroughs for apartments as opposed to it being the norm. Now the programs get used by people who are income poor but asset rich for one reason or another and will probably stop being income-poor eventually.

    I’m not sure what to do about this except say that coming up with affordable housing programs that won’t be abused is kind of hard. In this case, it was the realtor who pointed out the program to the young woman and her family.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Of course there is an irony in Gothamist mocking one of the sillier sections of the Times while also using an article from the Times to highlight the broken nature of housing subsidies.Report

    • Damon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      The job of the realtor is to make a sale/purchase. She qualified for the assistance, she’s entitled to use it. You want to assign blame for this situation, blame the fact that the gov’t hasn’t updated the requirements to exclude people like her and her ‘rents.

      But I do feel for her. 400K to help with a place. All I got was 10K when I got married with the comment-“this is for you guys to use for your wedding or to help with a down payment. Choose wisely.”Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Re: your number 2 – same woman.Report

    • Doctor Jay in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I have to tell you, re #2, that I am very tired of this “it’s the boomers fault” stuff.

      I am a boomer. I rented in Palo Alto in 1980. I have never bought a house there because I couldn’t afford one then. I moved away for awhile, then back. I live in Mountain View, and I prefer it because I associate Palo Alto with 1) Major streets with 25mph speed limits, 2) Bad road access from 101 to Stanford and civic center, and 3) complaints about being able to hear concerts at Shoreline Amphitheater.

      She is lucky to be rid of Palo Alto. That said, housing is crazy here right now. You can get a big payoff for your house, but you’d have to move to another state because you wouldn’t be able to buy something else. There are maybe 6 higher-density projects being built in Mountain View right now.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        Nobody is blaming all boomers. But many of biggest NIMBYs that are blocking development in the hot property markets happen to be people of a certain generation who won the real estate lottery by buying in popular cities during the days of urban decay so they got bargain deals or in the suburbs when things weren’t so hot.Report

        • Doctor Jay in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Let me quote from her interview in the Atlantic:

          It’s so jarring. When the Boomers were in their 20s and 30s, the government made it a priority for the middle class to be able to own a home. [This is true -DJ] We created all these incentives to help make the American Dream come true. It’s such a core part of the Boomer generation. Now, these same people say [NOPE! that’s where you lost me], even though you’re highly educated professionals, you should be OK with renting for the rest of your lives.

          There’s a rhetorical sleight of hand going on here that’s truly nasty. She’s quite specifically taking residents of Palo Alto as typical of Boomers.

          I’m pretty sure Mountain View has a similar mix of age groups as PA, and we are building housing like mad. As an explanatory variable “Boomers” has no value, and yet there it is in her rhetoric.

          I don’t blame her for being unhappy with the situation. I get it. I lived in PA in 1980 and I liked it. I don’t like it now. At the same time, her entire world appears to be made up of Palo Alto.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Doctor Jay says:

            Mark Zuckerberg bought up four whole properties just so that he wouldn’t have anyone living next door, and he damn sure ain’t no Baby Boomer.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Doctor Jay says:

            That said, it is true that there are people who are still salty about Highway 85 being built, and they definitely don’t want VTA Light Rail expanding into the Cupertino area because it’s “noisy” (even though 85 was built with medians wider than the traffic lanes for the specific purpose of light rail expansion lines.)Report

          • Maria in reply to Doctor Jay says:

            My parents still live in the house I grew up in up north of the Golden Gate Bridge. They joke that they are part of the housing problem in Marin as they are older, retired, empty nesters holding onto a house in a county with a finite housing inventory and no intentions of building on current open-space. It is sort-of a boomer created problem, but the reality is people are drawn to the area because of the open space and access to nature and the young families in the area are just as NIMBY as the older residents. Some communities just seem more open to change than others.Report

    • I also suspect that a lot of elite-professionals still live within 18-25 miles of their moms.

      Anecdotes are not data, but… Running back through a mental list of people I know with post-graduate degrees that I know well enough to know where their mother lives, and excluding lawyers and doctors, the number living in the same state with their mom is exactly zero. Some of that is probably a function of my age and location.

      Lawyers and doctors are a special case where a post-grad degree is required but there’s at least some market for them everywhere. Opportunities that make real use of an MS or PhD in, for example, engineering or other tech (ie, that make them elite professionals in their field) are geographically much more restricted. (Pick a random city/town of 25,000; there are doctors and lawyers working there; MS-level mathematicians, not so much.) In my experience, academics have even less choice about where they wind up.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Michael Cain says:


        I admit that my sample of professional degree holders is overwhelmingly JDs, MDs, and MBAs.

        That being said, most people I went to high school with have college degrees and many have graduate degrees. Based on facebook and anecdotal knowledge, most of them live in the NYC-Metro area. They might not be exactly 18 miles from mom but they are not so far away that it is a huge distance if say the kid is sick and both parents have to get to work and the babysitter canceled as well.

        If you expand to college friends, the answer is more 50/50. A lot of my friends from law school are from the SF-Bay Area.Report

        • Yep, where Mom lives counts for a lot.

          Rereading Lind’s piece, I’ve about decided that he’s using “elite professional” somewhat differently, in the sense of “Have you published?” Or alternatively, he’s singling out academics and pseudo-academics [1]. So someone at a think tank falls into the elite category almost regardless of degree, while most (as I understand the degree requirements) JDs and MDs don’t. If that’s the definition, then it’s very true that there are few places where you can do that (just as there were relatively few monasteries in Europe), and at almost all of them you are somewhat out-of-touch.

          [1] Pseudo-academic was how I described most of my technical career. Applied research, occasionally rising to the level of a dissertation — not my opinion, but that of colleagues who had been real academics — lots of whitepapers for internal consumption, a handful of publications and patents. As Lind would put it, I think, I was in the business of “ideas about things” rather than in the “thing” business per se.Report

  2. Saul Degraw says:

    FWIW I don’t understand why someone would appear in a column like the Hunt. I generally think that people spend too much time hate-reading the Real Estate and Styles section of the Times (it used to be a cottage industry for Gawker and similar sites.)* My general reaction to seeing these columns are “Don’t you know you are about to be hated and mocked on the Internet?”

    *There is a weird paradox here. If certain sites partially or totally existed to hate-read Sunday Styles, what would happen if the Times published a mea culpa and said that they were dropping Sunday Styles?Report

    • j r in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      My general reaction to seeing these columns are “Don’t you know you are about to be hated and mocked on the Internet?”

      It’s a bit precious that you think some twentysomething getting half a million dollars from her parents to buy an apartment in a trendy part of town cares that you might hate her.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to j r says:

        Even very wealthy and privileged people can be surprisingly sensitive about these things. Not many of them but a good portion of them.Report

        • dhex in reply to LeeEsq says:

          “we could showcase our family’s wealth and success in the pages of the new york times!”

          “but honey, what about those gothamist commenters? they’re brutal!”

          “oh snap, you’re right. daily news it is.”Report

        • rmass in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Witness how some hedge funders and heads of banks got their poor fee fees hurt after we nicly bailed them out.

          “Aww he called us fat cats! Thats sooooo cruel!”Report

  3. LeeEsq says:

    New York conservatism: A friend of mine from Miami would agree with this article. He thinks that New York City is a much less libertine town than Miami even if it isn’t conservative politically. There are a lot of juicy sex scandals and eccentric personalities that would not happen in New York but do happen in Miami. New York has always been a commercial city and that does it give it a certain sort of conservatism.

    Atlanta’s gain/New Start up locations: I guess this is true to an extent but most of the economy still seems concentrated in the big metro areas and I don’t think pushing sprawl in perpetuity is a good idea from an environmental stand point. Like Saul, I think NIMBYism needs to be dealt with but that is going to require boomer property holders to loose political power.

    Lind’s essay made many good points. Intellectuals of all sorts tend to think in ways that most people do not for good and bad. This applies to nearly every area of life. Liberal intellectuals are more likely to care about the legacy of colonialism than most other people. When the BBC announced that there was going to be a 12th Doctor, many of the denizens of LGM and other liberal blogs were adamant that the 12th Doctor should either be a woman or a British person of color because reasons. I remember one commentator getting gushy that the average British Asian family watching Doctor Who will get really excited when they see a British Asian Doctor on the BBC as they sit down and watch Doctor Who together. I’m not even sure if Doctor Who is family viewing for British Asian families or even most British families but the commentator thought it was. Libertarian and conservative intellectuals also have their foibles when it comes to dealing how most people think and experience their lives.

    What Saul said about the housing program article. Many rent control and affordable housing schemes get taken advantaged of by people who are well-educated, have assets but are income poor. They know to look for the programs and apply for them. This is why the best way to affordable housing is for supply to keep up with demand.Report

    • j r in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Many rent control and affordable housing schemes get taken advantaged of by people who are well-educated, have assets but are income poor.

      It’s only taking advantage if you assume that the program wasn’t meant to be used that way in the first place.Report

  4. notme says:

    U.S. wants to force lower highway speeds on truck and bus drivers via speed limiters.

    It is the usual save lives and the environment argument the left to justify most gov’t regs. Never mind that it may make the highways more dangerous by stopping trucks from going with the flow of traffic. I can’t remember the last time I went 60 or 65 on a highway. Or the pay cut for drivers who get paid by the mile.Report

    • Damon in reply to notme says:

      First they come for the trucks and buses, then the cars. It’s easy. Most all cars now have GPS. The car knows how fast it’s going. Simple to pass a law to ensure it “regulates” itself.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Damon says:

        I don’t think they could afford the revenue hit they would take if they did it with cars.Report

        • notme in reply to Will Truman says:

          Which “they” are you speaking of?Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to notme says:

            Locals, traffic ticket revenue is big in a lot of places.Report

            • notme in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              What kind of a limit would be place on cars? Even if it was 65, anyone that goes though a local town at 65 probably deserves a ticket.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to notme says:

                This is true. Some communities (like those whose revenue comes from being on a highway or Interstate) will be hit harder than others.Report

              • I admit to being staggered when it came out that Ferguson, MO was funding 20% of its budget from fines. Colorado requires that municipalities break out “fines and forfeitures” explicitly in their overall revenue statement. When the Ferguson thing came out, I went through a sample of online city budgets, small and large in Colorado. The most extreme case I found was Denver at 2.2% (which can afford automated speeding and red-light-violation camera systems). In my city, it’s a bit under 1%.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to notme says:

                I am sure they would set the GPS up to do something similar with in-town speed limits.

                That said, from an environmental point of view, this is a bad idea. Most cars and trucks are tuned to work optimally in a specific rpm range, which is currently in the 65-70 mph highway speed range. This is where things such as valve size, intake and exhaust flow, etc. are set. And while some of these things are now computer controlled, the physical limitations of many engines still hold. This is why you never get as good of milage as they advertise. Real world conditions don’t match the physics of the car, and when you place artificial boundaries upon the motor, you will continue to loose these efficiencies. Much like the old 55 speed limit didn’t help save gas at highway speeds (though not as drastic.)Report

              • What they would probably do is use GPS to start ticketing people. Then they’d make the auto manufacturers and consumers install something to prevent the car from speeding and getting ticketing.

                Except that in the end, it would cost them more money than they presently make, which is why they probably won’t. They have to walk a fine line between raising enough revenue to govern, but not so much that drivers start taking measures to prevent getting ticketed.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Will Truman says:

                Not sure it would cost much initially, as they can A. raise ticket rates to reflect costs. B. tack on an administrative fee, such as some towns do with parking tickets. C.automate the procedure to such a level as SF does with the golden gate bridge tolls. And D. work out some scheme that mainly involves the auto manufacturers paying directly for the process, which then gets passed on to purchasers.

                But I would assume that you are taking about lost revenue form decreased tickets, which they can make up for in other ways (not having updated software, failure to get out of your car at an intersection and shoot a shotgun in the air to alert passing horses, etc.)Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to Will Truman says:

                What they would probably do is use GPS to start ticketing people.

                Exactly this. Why prevent the infraction when you can extract money from it instead? It’s a bit like bank overdrafts. Big fees, so there’s plenty of incentive to encourage it to happen.Report

        • Damon in reply to Will Truman says:

          Nah. Currently we’re moving from paying the tax at the pump to a tax on miles driven. That’ll catch the hybrids, e cards, etc. in addition to the ICE and other fuel related cars. And once cars are fully automaticized they will never speed. Local cops / jurisdictions need to learn to adjust. They can always raid some guy’s house for drugs and confiscate the property to fund their expenses.Report

          • Will Truman in reply to Damon says:

            They could be doing a lot of these things now, but they aren’t. Local governments can’t really adjust. More likely, states would need to pitch in.

            Or they can let people speed so that they can get their spontaneous highway and street tolls…Report

    • David Parsons in reply to notme says:

      So it’s okay if they break the law?Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to David Parsons says:

        Speed limits are intentionally set at the “85th-percentile speed” of surveyed drivers, which means that the government itself assumes that about 15 percent of drivers will be breaking the law.Report

        • Troublesome Frog in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Presumably that distribution includes both Porsches and trucks. While I’m not a fan of this idea, I’m skeptical of the idea that trucks hauling cargo should be moving at a speed that puts them in the top 15% of that distributionReport

        • Fortytwo in reply to DensityDuck says:

          That’s not quite true. The 85th percentile is about 10 miles over the posted speed, give or take depending upon road conditions.Report

        • Alan Scott in reply to DensityDuck says:

          I know that the 85th percentile is used to set speed limits, and that it’s a generally sound method of doing so, but…

          I expect most long-haul truck driving happens on rural freeways, where I expect that the 85th percentile speed is 75 mph or more. Not sure what it’s like in other states, but there are definite caps on the speed limit in California, 85th percentile be damned.Report

  5. Kolohe says:

    Mr. Duke and I seem to be about the same age. I got to say, I would have started going by middle name when that other one rose to national prominence way back in the Louisiana Gub election. On the other hand, I respect the Michael Bolton Principle he is upholding.Report

  6. Michael Cain says:

    The 18-mile average distance from mom is an interesting number. The median value would be even more interesting. We all know people who live 1,000 miles from their mom. To balance that person in an average calculation would require 56 people living with their mom (distance zero), or 123 people living ten miles from their mom, or 983 people living 17 miles from their mom. The median value has to be below 18, and is probably well below 18.Report

  7. Perhaps not surprisingly, I agree with Lind. I notice the disconnect between me–I probably meet most of Lind’s criteria for being an “intellectual” –and my siblings and immediate family, a couple of whom have BA’s but don’t work in allegedly “intellectual” jobs. (One way in which I don’t have that disconnect is in what Lind calls the propensity to see higher education as a the solution to so many problems. He may (or may not) be right about intellectuals in general, though.)

    I have that disconnect even though I have served the requisite two years (and more!) in the types of jobs Lind says intellectuals should undertake to better understand others. That experience was valuable for me, but as much as I wear it on my sleeve, I know that my experience and memory of it are filtered by what I am now and by the opportunities available for me.Report

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