"Housing for All: The Supply, The Planning and The Realities." April 5, 2015

 

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Issues

We would like to offer the Libertarian view concerning subjects that affect us all, such as education, interference with free markets, social mores, individual rights.  Please read our articles on various issues, as well as the summary of our views below.

Crime and Violence:  We suggest the following:  1) Address the root causes of crime, such as mediocre schools, lack of economic opportunities, dependence on government, and misguided policies like the War on Drugs.  2) Require that criminals pay victims restitution for medical expenses, loss of property, and pain and suffering.  3) Focus on real crimes that harm the innocent.

Education of children:  Monopolies are generally viewed as inefficient means of delivering products or services.  In the absence of competition, monopolies have no incentive to produce the best possible goods.  Government schools are no exception.  Therefore, we support diverse systems which offer families the greatest choice, encourage highest parental involvement, and force competing systems to deliver their best efforts.  Poor children often suffer the most under the current educational system, since those that want to learn, lacking choices, are grouped with those who choose to be uninvolved and disruptive. We encourage families in poorly-performing school districts to explore alternatives such as, charter schools, voucher programs, and parent-managed co-ops, including home schooling co-ops

Environment:  Individuals bear primary responsibility for their own well being as well as that of Mother Earth.  The free market responds to consumers’ demands.  If consumers keep themselves informed and demand products and services that do the least environmental harm, the need for government’s vast array of costly environmental regulation disappears.

Foreign Policy:  "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations -- entangling alliances with none." (Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address).  Build positive relationships, with emphasis on free trade.  Avoid negative relationships, with emphasis on military non-intervention.

Gun Laws:  Prohibition did not stop liquor use.  The War on Drugs did not stop drug use.  Gun prohibition will not stop criminals from owning guns.  The Bill of Rights is intended to protect people from a government wanting to go rogue, and the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights gives people the ultimate means to do so.

Health Care:  Regulation increases the cost of any product, including healthcare.  Transparency, competition, and an informed citizenry keep costs more affordable than healthcare supported by a vast, resource-wasting bureaucracy.

Immigration:  Whenever laws conflict with how people actually live and sectors of the economy actually work, problems arise.  No amount of “immigration reform” will change these contradictory facts:  1) Sectors of the U.S. economy need low-skilled workers, while everybody’s aspiration is to go to college.  2) Sectors of the economy need highly-skilled technicians who are flexible in their demands, while everybody’s aspiration is a highly-paid position with all kinds of benefits. We need to remove barriers that interfere with how people actually live.

Personal Liberty:  Libertarians are guided by the principle of non-aggression.  Guided thus, individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. If government is held to the limited responsibilities spelled out in the Constitution, it will not intrude in individuals’ privacy, preferences, or choices.

Poverty and Welfare:  Government has the habit of first creating a problem, then passing vast amounts of legislation in attempts to solve it.  Policies such as taxation and regulation discourage entrepreneurism that creates jobs.  “Solutions” have done nothing but make more people dependent on government and less able to fend for themselves.  A better approach is to remove barriers to entrepreneurial activity, and institute a dollar for dollar tax credit for donations to charities that help those who truly need assistance.

Taxes:  Government's role needs to be limited to its Constitutional function of protecting life, property, and individual rights, as well as defending us from foreign attack.  Those functions can be funded by minimal taxation, as was the original intent of our Constitution.  It should be evident that the unchecked growth of government at all levels requires more taxation, which removes money from the free market economy that provides livelihoods.

GREAT FREE EXCHANGE EVENT FOR MARCH!

SingularityJim Elwood’s Free Exchange this month will present a talk by Starchild, the Libertarian Party of San Francisco Outreach Director.  Starchild’s topic will be “Libertarianism and the Singularity.” 

 

Futurist Ray Kurzweil says the singularity will occur in 2045, when artificial intelligence suddenly surpasses human intelligence.  Then the machines – which by then would blend seamlessly with humans – would be the world’s problem solvers.  Humans would enjoy the benefits of abundant resources, good health, even freedom from death.  Stephen Hawking says artificial intelligence would be the biggest event in human history, and probably the last unless we learn how to avoid the risks. 

 

The techno-singularity advocated by Kurzweil and other notable personalities, such as Peter Thiel, sound very new.  However, the pursuit of transhumanism, the discipline that would eventually lead to the moment in time called singularity, can be said to date back to 2100 BC, with the Epic of Gilgamesh and his search for eternal life.  Quests for the Fountain of Youth and the Elixir of Life enjoy equal classic standing.

 

How does libertarianism fit into this scenario?  Individualism is a bedrock principle of libertarianism, so would robots making all sorts of independent decisions be a welcome sight?  What about the future of freedom?  Liberty?

 

Come to Free Exchange, and enjoy Starchild’s talk “Libertarianism and the Singularity.” Discuss the predictions, the likelihoods, and the possible end of life as we know it for better or for worse.

 

Free Exchange:  Saturday, March 7, 2015, 7:00 pm to midnight.  Program 8:00 – 9:00 pm.  Location is Jim Elwood’s place in Parkmerced, 6 Gonzalez Drive, San Francisco.  No charge, but potluck or BYOB welcomed.  For information and RSVP:

 

Free Exchange Meetup Group:  http://www.meetup.com/Free-Exchange/

Golden Gate Liberty Revolution Meetup Group: http://www.meetup.com/RonPaulSF/

 


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FREE EXCHANGE'S FANTASTIC EVENT WITH DAVID FRIEDMAN

MachineryofFreedomWhen 32 people crowd into an average-sized living room, you know the event is going to be a good one.  It was.  David Friedman’s talk at Jim Elwood’s Free Exchange on February 7th was a winner.  Professor Friedman spoke from his book The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism.

 

A little synopsis of the book from Google Books:


“This book argues the case for a society organized by private property, individual rights, and voluntary co-operation, with little or no government. David Friedman's standpoint, known as 'anarcho-capitalism', has attracted a growing following as a desirable social ideal…”

 

Some highlights of Professor Friedman’s talk at Free Exchange:

 

Market failure occurs when decisions individuals in any group make that benefit them do not necessarily translate into benefits to the group.  “Individual rationality does not lead to group rationality.” 

 

 

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WHAT'S YOUR HOUSING UTOPIA?

Building          Guest contributor:  Sonja Trauss


I don’t want subsidized, supervised affordable housing.

 

With a salary of $30,000 per year, I am low-income. Shouldn’t I be calling for more Below Market Rate (BMR) units to be built so that I can live in San Francisco? Don’t I appreciate the efforts of affordable housing advocates? They are working tirelessly to hold up and delay the creation of market rate units while negotiating for a higher percentage of units to be set aside as BMR rentals or condos.

 

Why aren’t I thankful? Don’t I want a Below Market Rate unit?

 

No, I want a Market Rate unit. I want the market to provide a unit I can afford.

 

Imagine the world that affordable housing advocates are trying to build for me: in their visionary utopia, in order to rent an apartment I would have to get my income certified. Next, I would go on a waiting list or enter a lottery. I would either wait years on the list for a unit or endure many rounds of lotteries before winning a unit. Once in a BMR rental unit, I would be discouraged from letting my income increase. If I were to progress in my career, or have some other financial success, I would have to move.

 

Maybe I could buy a BMR condo. That takes care of the possibility of being forced out if my income increases, but owning a BMR condo is false ownership. I don’t have the two main advantages of true ownership: I cannot pass the property onto my heirs, and I cannot take advantage of the full appreciation of the property. The resale price of a BMR unit is determined by the Area Median Income at the time of the resale. Unlike a true owner, increases in property values in my neighborhood do nothing for my overall wealth.

 

No, thanks.

 

I want to rent on the open market. If I can buy, I want to buy and truly own. I want to consume housing the way I consume all other products: Buy used, old or out of fashion, buy scratched and dented, buy odd lots, split the cost with friends. Of course I’m not going to move into a new building. If you’re trying to save money on a car, do you buy this year’s model? No.

 

Every new affordable unit means another renter living under income supervision and perverse incentives. It means another “owner” robbed of the appreciation of his asset, and his children alienated from their inheritance.

 

There is a place for subsidized housing: people who are unable to work due to advanced age or disability should be entitled to a housing benefit along with their social security benefits. If you’re working, the market should be big enough to supply you with housing. If the supply is sufficient, and the lowest wage workers are still priced out, then the area minimum wage is too low.

 

In my utopia there would be zero working-age, able-bodied, sound of mind people in supervisory subsidized housing, zero hamstrung owners, ZERO WAIT LISTS.  Zero supply constraints!

 

How do we get market rate housing for all markets? Step One: End the shortage. If we need 100,000 units, we have a lot of work ahead of us. If you’re involved in opposing a new housing project, stop, just stop.

 

Our need for housing at all price levels far outstrips our supply at any level. Are you preoccupied with whether the new units “match” the rest of the neighborhood? Matching is for your belt and your shoes. Housing supply is a serious problem. If you’re sentimental about the past, swallow your tears.

 

Sonja Trauss is the founder of SF Bay Area Renter’s Federation.Her views are her own and not an official position of SFBARF.

 

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AFFORDABLE HOUSING. IN SAN FRANCISCO?

RowofhousesIn November 2012, the Libertarian Party of San Francisco encouraged voters to vote “NO” on Proposition C, The Housing Trust Fund.  Our statement on the Voters’ Pamphlet expressed our concerns:

 

“Proposition C would commit San Francisco to increasing payouts through 2042 and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars that won't be available for other priorities like schools, parks, infrastructure, or health care, plus an open-ended authority to issue bonds without voter approval!”

 

Proposition C passed by 65.15%.  However, two years later in 2014, Mayor Ed Lee issued the “Findings and Recommendations by the Housing Work Group 2014,” which stated,

 

“When San Franciscans adopted the Housing Trust Fund two years ago, they put in place the most aggressive local funding stream for affordable housing in California.  But given the steady decline of federal and state funding for affordable housing, the loss of Redevelopment, and the increasing cost of producing affordable housing, it became clear to Working Group members that our existing funding streams are still not enough.”

 

So, we are telling you once again, it will never be “enough,” because market forces simply cannot be legislated away.  All that will happen is San Francisco piling up debt that will encumber our children and grandchildren for decades to come.  This in addition to squeezing all that is possible from residents and businesses doing business in the City.  Noted in the Working Group recommendations is the following,

 

“The Capital Planning and Budget Offices should examine the potential for General Obligation bonds for affordable housing development and rehabilitation over the next several years…The City should examine how best to use tax increment financing to provide affordable housing to a range of income levels, using tools such as the Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District recently enabled by the state…” “To leverage limited public dollars for housing, the City should pursue the development of an off balance-sheet Housing Affordability Fund…” 

 

Wall Street high jinks pale in comparison to these plans, and as we noted in 2012, voter approval is not necessary.

 

A few statistics can clarify our point that there will never be enough.  Median household income 2009 – 2013 is $75,604.  Of those in the bottom half, 13.5% are below the poverty line.  Average rent for a two bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3,800.  We ask, as we did in 2012, what distortion and damage are needed to keep pursuing the notion of “housing for all” in the most expensive city in the nation.

 

Links:

 

http://www.smartvoter.org/2012/11/06/ca/sf/prop/C/

http://www.sfmayor.org/index.aspx?page=1001

 

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LIBERTARIAN PARTY PLATFORM

The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the United States.  It's views and objectives differ in profound ways from those of the two main parties.  Voters who are registered Libertarians identify with the Libertarian Party, and support both the Party and its candidates.  Being a "libertarian"  (small "l"), is not necessarily the same as being a "Libertarian" (big "L"). 

 

The National Libertarian Party has a Platform that clearly describes the views and objectives of the Party.  We invite you to read this Platform if you are not currently a Libertarian and are not satisfied with your political affiliation.  If you are already a registered Libertarian, we encourage you to read the Platform periodically as a reminder of what we Libertarians stand for.

 

National Libertarian Party Platform: 

http://www.lp.org/platform

 

If you like what you see, consider joining us.  It takes 5 minutes to complete a registration form: 

http://www.sfgov2.org

By way of introduction, here is the Preamble to the Libertarian Party Platform:

 

"As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.

 

We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.

 

Consequently, we defend each person's right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power."