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They Really Do Hate the Suburbs After All

And have a plan to do something about them too:

The most obvious new element of the president’s regionalist policy initiative is the July 19 publication of a Department of Housing and Urban Development regulation broadening the obligation of recipients of federal aid to “affirmatively further fair housing.” The apparent purpose of this rule change is to force suburban neighborhoods with no record of housing discrimination to build more public housing targeted to ethnic and racial minorities. Several administration critics noticed the change and challenged it, while the mainstream press has simply declined to cover the story…

The new HUD rule is really about changing the way Americans live. It is part of a broader suite of initiatives designed to block suburban development, press Americans into hyper-dense cities, and force us out of our cars. Government-mandated ethnic and racial diversification plays a role in this scheme, yet the broader goal is forced “economic integration.” The ultimate vision is to make all neighborhoods more or less alike, turning traditional cities into ultra-dense Manhattans, while making suburbs look more like cities do now. In this centrally-planned utopia, steadily increasing numbers will live cheek-by-jowl in “stack and pack” high-rises close to public transportation, while automobiles fall into relative disuse. To understand how HUD’s new rule will help enact this vision, we need to turn to a less-well-known example of the Obama administration’s regionalist interventionism.

In response to my recent piece on Paul Krugman’s Moronic Take on Sprawl and Upward Social Mobility I was challenged on characterising the left’s attitude towards the suburbs as hatred.  Part of my response was to refer to the San Francisco Bay Area’s initiative on the subject, which Kurtz’ article goes into more detail about, but that wasn’t enough.

Or was it? Although vitriol is the usual way of measuring hatred, it isn’t the only one.  I prefer to gauge people’s attitudes by their actions.  If people are persistent in their actions, they most be motivated: the more the persistence, the more the motivation.  Whether they opt to make a big public show of their commitment or whether they do so quietly depends upon many factors.

I think that hatred is a fair characterisation of the left’s attitudes towards suburbia.  The original animus dates to the 1960’s, when suburbia was the home of the “repressed” and “bourgeois” attitudes they were revolting against.   But there’s more.  Suburbia is the object for the left’s pushback for two more reasons:

  • Environmental: low-density development takes up more land, requires more energy to run the utilities and commute, and thus is seen to be hard on the environment in many ways.
  • It’s where most of the Republicans live (that’s reason enough for most leftists), the influx of immigrants into the suburbs notwithstanding.

So the Obama regime does what it can to promote pushing people into the fifty square metre apartment (or smaller) and making them straphangers on the tube.  Such a policy will disincentivise upward social mobility.  A big reason Americans work hard to get ahead is to land themselves in suburbia, with its spaciousness and nice neighbourhoods.  By levelling the housing stock in this way, neither will be out there and Americans will, to use an expression I’ve picked up living in the same town the President visited today, lay out.  (Compounding the problem is the fact that most of these policies tend to make housing expensive, which puts it out of reach for ordinary folk).

If that’s what they want to do, then all this talk about helping the middle class–and we heard a lot about this from Obama today–is a lot of rubbish, in an American context.

Kurtz talks about “Manhattanising” the country, but when I think of the kind of development the current regime would like to promote, my thoughts take me back to another great city, old Moscow…


9 Replies to “They Really Do Hate the Suburbs After All”

  1. Don,


    That’s your government you’re writing about. What on Earth is the matter with you?



      1. What is what it is? Hot flashes? Menopause?

        Have a martini and take a couple of aspirin in the morning.



      2. Don,

        I somehow sense that Jimmy Carter’s concerns are not uppermost in your mind.

        In any event, the original reference was to your infantile slur on President Obama. While one can certainly be critical of the House of Representatives, which has a majority elected by a minority of votes, and by a smaller plurality than voted for the minority Democrats, at least Barack Obama won a clear majority in a reasonably fair election — despite the attempts of a number of Republican State Administrations to interfere with that election.

        Obviously not every President in history can make that claim.



      3. “I somehow sense that Jimmy Carter’s concerns are not uppermost in your mind.” Quite the mind reader. Then what is?

        Your analysis of the American electoral system seems to echo many memes that our media like to repeat. Just to remind you, our House of Representatives and Senate are elected on a district (and state, in the case of the Senate) basis. In most cases, predominately Democrat districts are more predominately Democrat than their Republican counterparts. If we had something like “scrutin de liste” we might have a different result, but I don’t know anywhere in the Anglophone world where this is the case. (Just think of the inability of the UK to get rid of “first past the post”).

        Re your comment “despite the attempts of a number of Republican State Administrations to interfere with that election” I’m assuming you’re referring to the voter ID controversy. What country other than this one DOESN’T require ID when voting?

        Just because a head of state is elected (is yours?) doesn’t mean that they have the long-term health of elected government in mind (think Mohammed Morsi). Or that a popularly elected head of state leave the country greater than they found it (Juan Peron).

        As far as George Bush is concerned, I pointed out the shortcomings of his idea when he was in office. To a large extent the two are mirror images of each other in that Barack Obama is so profoundly unAmerican he cannot see his country’s strengths, while George Bush was so profoundly American he could not see his country’s weaknesses. Neither will leave the country better than they found it. And Obama’s incursions into personal liberty–which he tried to blow off yesterday–were set up by George Bush’s fixation on authority and the expansion thereof to increase security. Such a move was only waiting for the “right” person to put it into overdrive, and now we have it.


  2. Don,

    I think you need to do a little bit of work on your Constitution: the President is not the “Head of State” in the sense that the Emperor of Japan or the Queen of the British Commonwealth is. In the United States this function is fulfilled by the flag — which is why, e.g. the American Olympic team do not dip the flag at Olympic ceremonies, and why, incidentally, it is so hilarious that George Bush couldn’t get the flag sewn on his Air National Guard and other uniforms correctly.

    You are quite right that the Queen is not elected, uh, exactly. Her powers are of course set by Parliament, and as you have shown you know she occupies her throne by virtue of the agreement with Parliament in 1688.

    President Obama is head of the US Administration. That’s all.

    He does not have a “regime.” America’s current regime, if you choose to use that odd, and imho inappropriate, word is divided between a bipartisan Senate, a confused House of Representatives (which can be looked at as tri-party for some purposes), a Democratic, and democratic, Administration, and a heavily partisan, dogmatic,activist and ideological Supreme Court.

    Best, etc.



    1. “…the President is not the “Head of State” in the sense that the Emperor of Japan or the Queen of the British Commonwealth is. In the United States this function is fulfilled by the flag.” ROFL, the flag is not mentioned in the Constitution of 1787 or its amendments. The way we handle our flag is a combination of American exceptionalism and vexillolatry.

      For better or worse, the U.S. rolled the roles of head of state and head of government into one person, the President. Personally I prefer a parliamentary system with the division between head of state and government more along the line of the French, but that’s just me.

      I refer to Obama’s administration as a “regime” because of the profoundly unAmerican nature of the President and his agenda. Whether that’s better or worse depends upon the beholder. As I said before, I don’t think the country will be the better for it, although there are beneficiaries out there. As Kevin Ayers used to sing about the colour red:

      Red is the colour it’s said
      That can drive you insane
      With pleasure or pain…
      It depends on your head.

      “…a heavily partisan, dogmatic,activist and ideological Supreme Court.” No, it’s a divided Court which can delight the left (DOMA), anger them (Citizens United) or befuddle them (Obamacare).


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