Monday, May 19, 2014

What Social Equality Looks Like to Millenials

A few days ago, someone in the comment section accused this blog (and Job Geeting) of asking big government for a hand out.  That's absurd.  As I replied, this blog (and Jon Geeting's which proceeded it), is largely premised on the fact that government ought to deregulate the housing market by stopping absurd subsidies to wasteful suburbs.  That is exactly what has happened in Allentown.  As I pointed out yesterday, Allentown has created a real estate free market where tax money flows back to developer to be used to finance the construction of new real estate.  That and minimal zoning restrictions has allowed Allentown to amass nearly a BILLION dollars of real estate investment.  Like I said, Allentown should be the wet dream of free market republicans and the libertarians.

What does this have to do with social equality?  Well, a strong case can be made that starting in the 1950s, the federal government and states undertook a conscious effort to segregate minorities in cities from the Lilly white suburbs.  If you read the transcripts of the senate debate about the mortgage interest tax deduction, Southern Democrats actually note that a benefit of the program will be to help middle class white folks escape "animals" in the cities.  Yikes, (bad quote isn't it Bernie? lol).  The fact is that the suburbs received TRILLIONS of dollars of tax subsidy over the years in a process that was meant to segregate a white middle class suburban majority from minorities who were to be left in cities.  Don't believe me, try to remember how the media depicted cities in the 1980s, you know when Philadelphia fire bombed a residential block or the film "Escape from New York."
Oh look, a black guy with a gun and a chain.

Now, I will concede that there were social programs around the edges to try to help populations left in cities.  But, here is the thing, I think most millennials are willing to concede that in many cases, government programs are ineffective.  Social programs are often a band aid over a much, much larger cultural problem.  What was that problem in America---it was racism that led to an incredibly unfair housing policy that sent middle class folks to the suburbs with their money and their cultural institutions.  The cities were left to rot with strongly derided "social programs" providing a modicum of relief.  When these social programs failed, the middle class sneered even harder form their suburban fiefdoms.

How to fix the problem?  Ronnie Reagan maybe got something right, maybe, sometimes government is the problem.  That is why Allentown's free market, zoning-light NIZ district is such a big deal.  For the first time, in a long time, it is encouraging people to come back to the city.  It is only when the middle class returns to Allentown, with their tax money and philosophy of stable civic organizations, that things are going to turn around for everyone in Allentown.

This is not to say that millennials are some sort of uber-generation bent entirely on social equality.  They want cities because cities are cool and interesting places to live.  But, here is the thing, they don't demand a lilly white playground like the suburban white flightiers before them.  And because of that single important fact everyone's ship in a city will rise.  By ignoring race and class, rather than dwelling on it, the millenials will do more for everyone than the previous generations could even dream.


  1. This blog is hands down the best... don't stop what you are doing and writing.... Haters gonna Hate!!

  2. Hey Progressive Liberal freak --- Drugs are bad, um-kay?

  3. Umm, try again, I am a moderate conservative. I propose market based solutions, deregulation and a curtailment of social programs. I'm not sure how you get "progressive" out of that.

  4. stop all handouts
    stop all entitlements
    people need to lear to EARN their own way

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