Frustrated With the Left (Particularly Liberals)

The frustration is the general lack of activity in regards to the threat Trump poses. Attitudes tend to range from fatalism to denial (the latter typically accompanied by attempts at normalization of the situation). I am not alone; those I have met who agree the situation is urgent are also frustrated at this same thing.

Part of it, particularly amongst liberals, may be the desire to avoid facing painful and unpleasant realizations about one’s own worldview. Realizations such as:

  • Liberals have been wrong about the right to keep and bear arms. Arming oneself is wise in the present situation, and it is dangerous that those on the Left have generally eschewed doing so, resulting in a situation where those who most need to be able to defend themselves now tend to have the least ability to do so.
  • “Urban liberal elitism” is not just a meaningless buzz-phrase lobbed by conservatives. It is very much a real thing which has caused very real problems. There is a lot of despair outside of liberal urban bubbles which privileged urban liberals haven’t been good at all at acknowledging. This has motivated the despairing to back a fascist demagogue.
  • Liberal politics has been insufficiently class conscious, because identity politics has substituted for class politics. (Note that identity politics is a good thing, but it’s no substitute for class politics. Both are needed.) This problem is most acute at the upper echelons of the Democratic Party, but many Democrats in the base have accepted it in the name or realpolitik, setting aside their own personal beliefs. Again, this has created despair which Trump has exploited.

The first two in particular tend to be painful and inconvenient for many liberals to face. But facing them must be done.

Facing ones’ own faults may be hard, but in that difficulty lies a silver lining: because the faults are one’s own, one doesn’t need to get any other side’s buy in to fix them, therefore they are relatively easy and simple to correct. If, that is, one is honest and faces them.

A Group Dedicated to Housing Sanity in San Francisco?

While this group does actually get it that restrictions on adding supply (in the face of a robust local economy that is adding jobs lie crazy) is at the root of the problem, and that’s  refreshing change, they are also quite ideologically biased in ways I disagree with.

Just look a the first link on their site, and how their “forum” was basically a discussion between different sides of the development industry. At least one of their speakers was pretty open about wanting to get rid of zoning entirely.

I’ll agree that present-day zoning codes have a lot of problems and do make housing needlessly more expensive as well as mandating ecological irresponsibility.

But zoning exists for a reason; there really are such a thing as incompatible land uses. One of my memories of living in Oakland was running into a mostly residential neighborhood where there was an elementary school and a factory on the same block. The factory was served by a rail spur that ran down the middle of the (otherwise residential) street right in front of the school. If I had children, I would not want them walking to school or playing in a neighborhood where multi-ton trains regularly come trundling down the street. I wouldn’t want to live right in the shadow of a noisy, polluting industrial facility, either.

I believe there is a valid public purpose in stopping more such things from happening. I also believe it’s possible to do so without going to the extremes that most zoning codes go to. One doesn’t need to put that factory many miles away from housing; on the other side of a wide arterial with a buffer a couple blocks of commercial and light industrial uses would suffice very nicely. The residential area could have a mix of single-family homes, townhomes, and small apartment buildings (with corner markets here and there) instead of being mandated by law to be nothing but single-family detached homes.

Said arterial could have bus or light rail service which would serve all of the residential, commercial, and industrial uses nearby. The factory workers who wouldn’t be walking to work could take transit there.

There is a place for zoning, and it is promoting general health and safety. Where zoning goes wrong is when it is used to promote elitism (“I am superior and do not want to live anywhere near those blue-collar renters”) and micromanagement of others’ lives (“How dare Emma build a cottage in her back yard, move into it, and have her adult daughter, his husband, and child move into the main house; I like my large home and backyard and Emma should be forced to live as I prefer.”)

And there’s also a great deal of property rights and capitalism fetishism going on in that group. It’s founder is largely pissed that she is missing out on the ability to speculate in real estate and profit from unearned income. The whole problem how it is precisely home ownership coupled with this desire which creates perverse incentives for existing residents to support overly-restrictive zoning codes (because it increases the value of their home) is ignored.

So, no, it’s not sanity, not overall. But it may still play a part in more sane policies being adopted by helping to undermine some of the supply restrictions.