Far-Left 'Nation' and 'Rolling Stone' Columnist: 'Get Rid of Private Housing'

December 14th, 2015 6:07 PM

One hesitates to give attention to Jesse A. Myerson. But it's probably worth it, if for no other reason to contend that many of his beliefs are likely shared by the mindless lemmings disguised as "journalists" who wildly cheered on Saturday when an obviously orchestrated "climate change" agreement designed ultimately to redistribute massive amounts of wealth from developed to underdeveloped countries — which would virtually guarantee that they will stay undeveloped — was announced in Paris.

Almost two years ago, Myerson, whose experience includes "the Media and Labor Outreach committees at Occupy Wall Street," identified of "Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For" in a Rolling Stone column. A week ago at The Nation, he vacuously attempted to elaborate on one of those five ideas, namely: "Let’s get rid of private housing."

For the record, Myerson's four other "reforms" in January 2014 were: Guaranteed jobs, guaranteed income, "make everything owned by everybody," and "a public bank in every state." His Nation piece disingenuosly softened his originally expressed intention, which is to "take back the land" (bolds are mine):

Plenty of time and effort have lately gone into analyzing a host of related crises—homelessness, unaffordable urban real estate, devastating gentrification, and a housing bubble whose burst landed us in the Great Recession. ...

... The true culprit is so deeply embedded in American notions of wealth, rights, and property that we cannot see it for the terrible economy policy it is: private housing. [1] Real estate as a store of private wealth is the rotten tree that sprouts these diseased branches, and the solution is to quit pruning twigs and chop the sucker down.

... what we call private housing is actually public land that government has set aside for private purposes. [2] Land, save the bits beneath one’s feet, can’t be “possessed,” as a phone or a shirt can. What a “land owner” possesses is a deed—a voucher one may redeem with the government to marshal violence (through policing) to exclude all competing claimants. The government established this location-exclusion program, designating pieces of nature as being solely for the use of the deed holders, and devoting its violent capabilities to enforcing that designation. ... The entire apparatus by which housing is privately “owned” is created by the government’s decisions to subsidize or protect certain interests. [2]

There are a few ways to turn land and housing stock toward the public good.

An exclusion fee

For a start, everyone should be compensated for their exclusion from passage over certain locations on the earth. [3] To do this, we ought to levy an exclusion fee whereby the location price of the property in question would be returned to its rightful recipient, the community. As long as land value is socially created and land ownership is duty-free, a theft is occurring.

... Community land trusts

But why endow private profit-motivated interests control over construction at all? There is no reason to suspect that a given property-development capitalist should be more capable of determining for a community what optimally desirable new buildings to produce than the community itself is. [4] Luckily, there is an entity capable of turning development over to the most concerned parties: nonprofit community land trusts.

... Public housing: Ultimately, though, the best antidote to private housing is public housing. [5]


[1] — The notion of private property is not "American." It's human. People want control over where they live, and take better care of where they live when they have such control.

[2] (tagged twice) — What is it about people who believe that "the government" presumptively owns everything, and it is only by government's good graces that we are allowed to own anything? The "deed" system evolved because of the legitimate public interest in protecting the rights of those who invested in property to not have it jerked out from under them.

[3] — What Myerson describes is already taken care of in property taxes. It's hard to understand how his "two-tiered property tax" would substantively change anything — unless the "land" tax becomes a mechanism to raise levies so high that no one would want to own anything. But in that case, values would plummet steeply in a vicious, wealth-destroying cycle. As will be seen later, I suspect that this is what Myerson really wants.

[4] — A "property development capitalist," aka a "builder," needs to build something desirable or he or she will go broke. A state-driven enterprise ends up building things that a group of busybodies thinks are best for everyone. If those efforts fail, the cost gets spread over everyone, and the busybodies move on their to next supposedly "noble" effort.

[5] — Myerson believes that public housing efforts have been shortchanged and that designs have been driven by mean attitudes towards the poor and minorities. That occurred occasionally many years ago (one example being Democratic Mayor Richard Daley's Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s), but what has happened far more frequently is that residents have trashed the acceptable places where they have lived without suffering negative consequences. Supposedly "nicer" public housing would merely suffer more expensive damage.

As seen in his January 2014 Rolling Stone effort, Myerson is really all about "taking back the land." At bottom, he's more interested in seeing "the (supposedly undeserving, property-owning) "rich" get knocked down financially to everyone else's level than he is in improving the lot of the average person. If his interest in the average person was genuine, he would recognize that home ownership has done more to create and preserve livable communities than any other alternative could possibly achieve.

Dreck like Myerson's likely explains why the Nation's circulation has plummeted by over 40 percent to 108,000 as of last year from 187,000 in 2006, moving it from being a fringe publication to the outer fringe.

Rolling Stone, the site of Myerson's other very occasional efforts, has higher circulation (about 1.4 million), but is correctly seen as a "as a propaganda arm for the Democratic party." Its fortunes are also fading, largely from self-inflicted wounds like the University of Virgina rape hoax. It laid off several staff members in June.

Myerson's occasional presence at each publication is a clear indication that each believes that doing more of what hasn't worked by moving ever further to the left will solve their problems. Or, as appears to the be the case with the Big Three nework news dinosaurs, maybe they don't even care about how much of their audience they lose. If so, their attitude mirrors the Big Three, and they will have to carried out of their offices while still sitting in their chairs when the lights get turned off and the repo people visit.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.