This month’s newsletter will be a potpourri of various issues. It will be up to the reader to determine if any of the topics strike a chord.
We hear a lot about the need, the obligation and duty to vote. The issue might be a little bit clearer if we take a look at what happens when people don’t vote.
Bill de Blasio was Mayor of New York for two terms. It is generally agreed that he was not the greatest mayor the city ever had. Why did New Yorkers vote for this guy? Here are the statistics from his first election. Mr. de Blasio won his election in 2013 with 13.4% of registered voters. The number of total votes was 1,087,710. Mr. De Blasio had 753,039 votes. There was a total of 4.3 Million registered voters. That means 3,212,290 New Yorkers did not vote.
In the second election in 2017 total votes cast were 1,166,314. Mr.de Blasio received 760,112 votes or 8.5% of the total votes cast. There were 4.6 million registered voters. That means a minority of voters determined the fate of New York City.
Voters are being told to vote early. To traditionalists voting means voting on election day. However, given the current system and often times fraud, voting early means that the vote is banked. It will be counted. The voter may not get to the polls on election day. There may be problems with the machines and the whole system on election day. This is exactly what happened in the Arizona gubernatorial election. Many Republicans were not able to vote. Voting systems have changed both due to technology and to attempts at election fraud.
Let’s take a moment to discuss our institutions which are being taken over by people who do not always have the best intentions for the country. Antonio Gramsci was a leading 20th century Marxist theoretician who argued that gaining communist power would be best achieved through a “long march through the institutions.” This would be a gradual process of radicalization of the cultural institutions “the superstructure” – of bourgeois society, a process that would in turn transform the values and morals of society. Gramsci believed that as society’s morals were softened, its political and economic foundation would be more easily undermined and restructured. Sounds like what is happening in our country today.
There is a huge effort from the federal government and some state governments to change the zoning through our cities so that single-family homes gradually disappear. The Biden administration claims that this will ease the housing shortage and also combat racial injustice in the housing market. The administration wants local governments to allow apartment buildings in neighborhoods that are restricted to single family homes. The government claim is that this will ease our national affordable housing shortage and combat racial injustice in the housing market.
According to the administration, current zoning laws favor single-family homes and are known as exclusionary zoning. The belief is that these laws have disproportionately hurt low-income people who are unable to move to the suburbs. Their only choice is to live in crowded apartment buildings in the city. Mr. Biden’s proposal would incentivize local governments to remove exclusionary zoning by awarding grants and tax credits to cities that change their zoning regulations. The plan is to move people from apartments in urban areas to apartments in the suburbs.
A little bit of history. In 2015 President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a regulation known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH). The rule was issued, according to the administration, to combat “housing segregation” in suburbs in spite of the fact that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 already outlaws discriminatory housing practices. If the regulation had been successfully implemented, communities around the country would have had to “scrap zoning, build bigger water and sewer lines to support high-density living, expand schools and social services and add mass transit. Taxes would have to rise and virtually all issues regarding local government would be outsourced to the federal government. The Trump administration officially discarded the rule arguing that the regulation was a blatant power grab by the federal government.
Mr. Biden wants to go much further. He is in support of Senator Cory Booker’s proposal that would effectively withhold federal transportation grants (used to build and repair highways) unless communities signed on to AFFH. If communities decline the funding there would be no money for critical infrastructure. Many people believe this Biden proposal would effectively abolish America’s suburbs as we know them. Bureaucrats in D.C. would control zoning laws, placement of transportation and business districts and even to some degree the drawing of school districts. Every important local government responsibility would basically be in the control of the federal government. The issue of whether or not to change local zoning laws should not come from Washington D.C. Mr. Biden incorporated all of these changes in the $2.3 Trillion infrastructure legislation. It is really a good idea to read all of this mountainous legislation that comes out of Washington.
And now for the last issue to think about. Choice is always considered a good thing. It means that we are free and can make our own decisions. However, what if the person making the choice is unable to make a rational decision? This is the conundrum that exists in the whole issue of the homeless population. Many of the people who are homeless are not able to make rational decisions. It is very hard to be rational when you are abusing alcohol, illegal drugs or both. It is very hard to be rational when you are suffering from a mental condition that requires medication in order to manage the condition. Good decisions are not made. They will especially not be made when the government provides the substances that are killing your brain. People who are homeless or living in their cars because of financial issues are a totally different matter. A community needs to respond to that situation with different resources. Incredible amounts of money have been put into providing homes for the homeless without paying any real attention to how people with multiple health and mental issues will take care of a home or a hotel room. Many of these places have been totally trashed by these residents. What to do?
Well, Richard Bailey, Mayor of Coronado, CA appears to have solved the problem for his community. People living on the street will be offered services to deal with their issues. If they refuse those services they will have to move on. People will no longer be allowed to live on the streets and in the parks. Coronado no longer has homeless people on the streets.
The Governor of California has invested a tremendous amount of money into services for the homeless population especially as regards places to live. It appears that status quo maintenance is the cornerstone of the investment in homelessness. Mayor Bailey states that without accountability there is no solution.
Ultimately, we are responsible for our decisions. As a functioning society people with severe coping issues need to have services that are provided by the public realm. If they do not take advantage of the services then society needs to determine how to deal with people who will not or cannot function.