“Density Ideology” Will Destroy America

If you’re searching for an organizing principle that unites the Left, density ideology should be at or near the top of your list. Far from being a sideshow, density ideology is behind the leftist drive to cram America’s rising population into the footprint of existing cities. It fulfills the agenda of every big player on the Left. Environmentalists get to preserve open space. Social justice warriors get to experiment with forced ethnic and economic integration via mandatory “inclusionary zoning,” and investors—and this, above all, is critical—get to make a killing as the price of real estate skyrockets inside the areas where building is still allowed.

Every premise that the densification gang advocates is flawed. In particular, as argued in “The Density Delusion,” there is no shortage of open land available to host new suburbs, and there is no compelling argument that suburbs cause more per capita greenhouse gas emissions than crowded cities do. And the consequences, unaffordable housing through politically contrived scarcity, rolls its way across the nation as the density advocates fly under the radar, and convert city after city.

As might be expected, ground zero for density ideology is California. Hiding behind innocuous labels such as “smart growth,” “infill,” “greenbelts,” and “new urbanism,” this process of urban containment is one of the primary reasons housing in California is beyond the reach of middle-income families.

Urban geographer Joel Kotkin recently offered a chilling summary of how everything California’s legislature is doing to “solve” the state’s housing crisis […] Read More

California’s Density Delusion

The ability for American workers to enjoy middle class lifestyles has been eroding for decades. Conventional explanations abound. American industry in the immediate aftermath of World War II was uniquely unscathed, and with a near monopoly on global manufacturing, was able to pass much of their ample profits on to workers. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that American manufacturers confronted serious foreign competition, and ever since, the competition has just gotten more intense.

By the 1990’s the electronic movement of capital along with trade agreements such as NAFTA turned national labor forces into commodities. And at the same time as American industry was going international, America’s laws were changed to favor mass immigration of unskilled workers who competed for jobs with native workers, driving down wages. These immigrants were also far more dependent on government services compared to previous generations of immigrants, putting stress on government budgets.

Export jobs. Import welfare recipients. No wonder America’s middle class is withering away. But this conventional explanation, however accurate, is only half the story. Yes, for whatever reason, average Americans work harder and earn less today than their predecessors. And the process has been relentless. Every decade since the 1950’s has seen an American workforce making less than they made during the preceding decade. But they are not just making less – things are costing more.

At first glance, this seems counterintuitive. Not everything costs more. Using the consumer price index (CPI) as a yardstick, and adjusting for performance – a modern flat […] Read More