NYU Professor: Government Regulations Hurt Poor

, Malcolm A. Kline, 1 Comment

Since most professors want more regulations, this is truly a breakthrough. “If you rent or buy a place to live in New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., or any other high-priced city in the country, you’re taking a big financial hit from restrictive land-use policies designed to reduce the supply of housing,” Mark Kleiman writes in The Washington Monthly. “That’s done in the name of ‘preventing over-development’ or ‘protecting the quality of life,’ but in practice, it’s a huge transfer of wealth from those who need places to live to those who own existing housing stock, including both homeowners and owners of apartment buildings.”

“The resulting high-priced housing discourages people from moving to where they can get good-paying jobs, thus making the economy less productive and worsening inequality. It also tends to lengthen people’s commutes, damaging their physical and mental health and exacerbating air pollution.”

“That makes restrictive land-use policy terrible on almost every possible dimension. But as a renter in New York at election season, I’m deluged with campaign literature from City Council candidates promising to support, and even tighten, these same bad policies, to protect my neighborhood from greedy developers. These flyers even promise more ‘affordable housing,’ which seems to imply that the candidates and their consultants are confident that most voters won’t notice that making housing scarcer and making it more affordable are contradictory goals.”

Actually, in the Ivory Tower, academics usually don’t notice. Kleiman may have given us an explanation of why many of the professoriate fail to exercise critical thinking on government regulations: “Here as elsewhere, these hopelessly anti-egalitarian, anti-environmental, and inefficient policies are understood to be ‘progressive’ and ‘environmentalist,’ while less restriction is understood as a ‘pro-business’ and therefore ‘conservative.’”