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Reblogged:Conservatives Fail Bigly on Housing

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A story in the New York Post crows that "Team Trump Just Called a Halt to the Obama-Era War on American Suburbs:"

Westchester County was once Barack Obama's "petri dish." Now, it's Donald Trump's. Since when should anyone's property be at the mercy of a government official? (Image by Daniel Case, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)
During the Obama administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development tried to install Washington bureaucrats as the decision makers for how communities across all 50 states should grow. Using an obscure rule called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, HUD sought to remake America's cities, towns and villages by forcing any community that was getting federal funds to meet racial quotas.

To do this, HUD applied the notion of "disparate impact," which unilaterally deems housing patterns to be discriminatory if minority representation is not evenly spread across the jurisdiction. Communities with high concentrations of minorities are automatically labeled segregated.


[A] year into the settlement, HUD demanded that the county go "beyond the four corners" of the decree and declare its basic zoning rules on things like height, density and safe drinking water as racially "exclusionary." Single-family homes on quarter-acre lots were deemed potentially "racist" -- supposedly because minority members might not be able to afford them.
The good news, such as it is, is that the "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH)" policy, which Obama implemented at the last moment of his administration, has been considerably weakened.

Paul Mirengoff of the conservative Power Line blog correctly notes a problem I have noticed with other instances of Trump "finding Obama's pen" and using it -- rather than pursue a more principled and effective solution to his predecessor's abuses of power:
Not really. Yes, the Trump HUD, under Secretary Ben Carson, has proposed a revision of Obama's AFFH that peels back some of the rule's most egregious overreach. However, it has
the core of Obama's AFFH ... intact. That core is the federal government's power to control local zoning decisions.

As long as the feds have this power, they can tell people where to live and take control of key housing, transportation, and business development decisions. They can siphon off suburban tax revenue and control suburban, as well as urban, planning. [bold added]And it is hardly lost on Mirengoff that a Democratic successor to Trump can easily restore this "overreach" and more with such an apparatus intact and waiting to be used.

Speaking of an earlier claim by Hugh Hewitt that Trump had [brought] "down the hammer on the guidance-addicted bureaucrats" via a pair of executive orders, I stated:
Maybe. For now, until some crafty functionary finds a new way to circumvent the law. And via an order a future President can easily overturn, anyway.


He can't, but it isn't because he can't get the legislation he needs to remedy the problem that Trump is signing this executive order. It's because he has no fundamental problem with central planning: He didn't ask by what right the government plans our lives. There is no larger or long-range plan to rid America of this huge, long-known, and well-documented burden, of which "dark matter" is just a particularly pernicious manifestation. [bold added]
So, clearly, Trump's being a fan of the government running everything (as long as it's his way) isn't just not a long-term solution to these problems, it's worse than none at all.

But on top of that, Mirengoff shows us that the problem is bigger than just the man in the Oval Office:
The Trump-Carson "AFFH lite" accepts the principle that it is the business of the feds to tell local governments how to zone and plan.
And, as intelligent as so much of Mirengoff's commentary is, he has accepted the principle that government can and should "plan" private economic activity and tell property owners what they can and cannot do with what they own. This -- like the housing rules under discussion -- violates individual rights, as Ayn Rand in remarks about the term state's rights noted in 1963:
The constitutional concept of "states' rights" pertains to the division of power between local and national authorities, and serves to protect the states from the Federal government; it does not grant to a state government an unlimited, arbitrary power over its citizens or the privilege of abrogating the citizens' individual rights.
This applies equally well to counties and municipalities, and includes zoning, which should not exist at all, and whose existence sets the stage for such federal-level meddling as two administrations in a row now have adopted.

Note that we haven't even gotten around to discussing the impropriety of the government stealing money and giving it away, which also continues under this cosmetic change.

-- CAV

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