Tag Archives: New York Times

Housing Crisis Forcing Rich Cities to Get Smaller

New Orleans        A reporter, Jed Kolko, with the New York Times seems to be connecting the dots in an interesting and important way.  In a recent article about some of the unintended consequences of geographic inequality being concentrated in certain cities, he pointed out several things.  First, that the level of economic activity concentrated in specific metropolitan areas, measured by income, is 21.7% in 2018, is actually less than the 26% level in 1969.  Now the top five sucking up the jobs and income are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington.  Then the list included Philadelphia and Detroit, along with New York, LA, and Chicago.  Secondly, he notes that population is not going up with the big bucks.  The big three, LA, New York, and Chicago in fact all lost population in recent years.  The reason seems straight forward:  the shortage of available affordable housing.

Seattle may have understood this situation without realizing how deep a hole the tech and Amazon expansion had dug for their people.  A small sign was a recent vote by the City Council to ban evictions for lower income tenants throughout the winter months.   Los Angeles didn’t get the news and is suffering from the nation’s largest homeless crisis.  New York finally reformed rent control after the most of the horses, and many of the families, were long out of the barn.   Housing is strangulating cities with their own greed and short sightedness in making sure people have decent and affordable housing.

Kolko also notes that the winners, relatively speaking, grabbing an increasing income share are the metropolitan areas ranked from number eleven to number fifty.  These metros went from 26.9% in 1980 to 29.9.% in 2018.  The big losers were the small metros and rural areas whose income dropped by a fifth to only 14.6%.

In other interesting factoids that Kolko populated throughout his analysis, he notes that “Among the 10 metros with the largest economies today, not one is getting both richer and much bigger.”  In addition to the big five, you’re talking about Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta in the sun and Boston and Philly on the East Coast.  The big winners on both counts include Austin and Raleigh, Provo, Utah, Naples, Florida and even Walmart-town, also called Fayetteville, Arkansas, but the biggest whoop in that list is Austin, and, as Kolko notes, it’s only in 27th place.

He throws a “Hail Mary” pass at the notion that it makes more sense to move more development to places like Milwaukee and Cleveland and even these ne’er-do-well rurals, but that would take a government willing to actually do national economic and housing planning, and that’s not happening now and might not be on the horizon anytime soon in the future.  The growth in the cities in the north of England on the push out from London, might be a comparative glimmer of hope for some, but the moral of that story is what happens when extreme wealth and exorbitant and limited housing choices create internal migration that forces change to follow.

Business and government can’t seem to buy a clue, but props to Kolko for giving them several for free.


Please enjoy Swift Technique – Landlord featuring Lady Alma – Radio Edit

Thanks to WAMF.


New York Times Offers More Advice on Activism

New Orleans       The editorial page editor of the New York Times has embarked on an interesting strategy in recent years.  I’ve made some small comments about this in the past, but the pattern is so unmistakable that this is no longer a matter of coincidence or happenstance, but clearly either an overt editorial strategy or a sly, underground one, but either way, it’s both fascinating and constructive.  The Times has obviously decided to regularly open its op-ed page to people who might have recommendations about how to engage in more effective activism or at least activism that the Times and its view of its readers would find acceptable activism.

I started noticing this last year, but with the 2020 election up for grabs, climate change a blisteringly hot topic, pun intended, and their new skepticism on tech-dominated social media as a change methodology, they obviously decided they needed to get into the game.  There were suddenly some columns on what they saw as effective community organization.  There was one recently from an academic highlighting organizing in Arizona.  Several days ago, there were props for the c4 arm of the old Center for Community Change, a community organization and economic development support center in Washington, sharing their adaptation of grassroots, community organizing techniques to huge increases in voter participation among infrequent voters.   This weekend there were tips from another author on her views of how to effectively impact climate change.

I like this encouragement of organizing and activism, but my support is categorical.  The Times doesn’t want folks going all Hong Kong out there.  They want people in the streets, but mainly if they are walking towards a voting booth.  Part of their new found enthusiasm for organizing, as we can see in their selection on the climate op-ed, includes a message in these dark times that young and old need to organize, but they need to keep it all within the lines.  No desperation or disruption is necessary.  The Times wants all of us to know that change is possible, but keep it under control.

That said, here’s the advice from Emma Marris under the headline, “Stop Freaking Out About the Climate”:

  • Ditch the shame
  • Focus on systems, not yourself
  • Join an effective group
  • Define your role
  • Know what you are fighting for, not just what you are fighting against.

Nothing wrong with any of those points.  We could do worse than to have lots of people who are sitting back and working their worry beads, jumping into the fray with that advice.

At the same time, tactics and strategy still counts.  Sometimes we have to go outside the lines in order to move the targets.  Often it is not the middle of the road that wins, but the radical edges that force change.

When reading and taking advice on action, keep an open mind, but always try to understand where people might be coming from.  That wasn’t in the op-ed column, but that’s my advice to all of you as well.