Monday, August 09, 2010

The Golden State’s War on Itself |

The Golden State’s War on Itself | "What went so wrong? The answer lies in a change in the nature of progressive politics in California. During the second half of the twentieth century, the state shifted from an older progressivism, which emphasized infrastructure investment and business growth, to a newer version, which views the private sector much the way the Huns viewed a city—as something to be sacked and plundered."
Harsh words--but the fact is that California is not the only state that is being destroyed by its own political class.


gnut said...

Tim Cavanaugh at the libertarian Reason has a blog post about this. What caught my eye was this passage by Mr. Cavanaugh (emphasis added):

> One of the cool things about California is that it's still a
> place where you see cars on cinderblocks and chicken coops in
> yards. I suspect what motivates the New Urbanists is not some jones
> to take light rail to strolling malls with high-end retail. It's
> something more basic: aesthetic revulsion at the unsightliness of
> their neighbors
. If you apply that premise to progressives more
> broadly, many perplexing behaviors -- socialists living in gated
> communities
, hostility to small business, even L.A.'s racist
> one-cock-per-person regulation -- begin to make sense.

Naturally, I couldn't resist posting a response to this piece of libertarian chutzpah, here:

gnut|8.9.10 @ 10:07PM

Once all housing is under the control of privatize corporate governments, which is idealized by the libertarians at Cato, those unsightly neighbors and their cars on cinderblocks and their chicken coops will be forced out of your neighborhood.

The libertarian "Houston Lawyer" posted at, "Why the ragging on HOAs? I have found that they are far more responsive than city government. My one phone call to the HOA stopped a neighbor from parking a Ford Excursion in his front yard." It's not only the liberals who experience "aesthetic revulsion at the unsightliness of their neighbors," and are willing to trade liberty for the (false) promise of protected property values.

Given the tyranny by, collectivist nature of, and the lack of individual private property rights in HOAs -- which is why I refer to them as privatized corporate communism -- the idea of "socialists living in gated communities" should not be seen as "perplexing."

As an anonymous "Southern California professional woman" quoted by Robert Nelson said "I thought I'd never live in a planned unit development but then I realized I wanted a single-family detached home with some control over my neighbors" ("Collective Ownership of American Housing: A Social Revolution in Local Governance" July 2000). (sic)

I understand that libertarians believe that gated communities (and HOAs in general) are manifestations of the free market, not socialism. It's a position I disagree with, but that's what libertarians keep telling me. See, for example, John McClaughry's defense of gated communities in the August/September 1995 issue of Reason (article title: "Private Idahoes"). Or Robert Nelson's "Privatizing the Neighborhood" (1999). Or "Free-Market Alternatives to Zoning" (Independence Institute, 2003) (sic, 2009). Perhaps they're just a bunch of closet communists?

Of course, anyone familiar with the issue knows that HOAs are the result of municipal mandates and incentives that create massive distortions in the housing markets, leaving consumers with less -- and sometimes no -- choice. But every libertarian I've argued with this about, including here at Hit & Run, is unfamiliar with the thesis presented by Steve Siegal in "The Public Role in Establishing Private Residential Communities: Towards a New Formulation of Local Government Land Use Polices That Eliminates The Legal Requirements To Privatize New Communities In The United States" (Urban Lawyer. Fall 2006).

Pat Brown spinning in the grave said...

This isn't "newer progressivism." It's a selfish entitlement mindset leading to a tragedy of the California commons.