Written by T. Logan Dayne
It is wise to avoid the advice of those who hold a sense of animosity against you. Snakes that pretend to give sensible recommendations to others while simultaneously trying to subvert them have become all too common in the political marketplace of ideas, but this has not stopped controversial blogger and so-called journalist Matthew Yglesias, from saturating the market. On April 17, 2022 Bloomberg published an opinion piece by Yglesias titled If Canada’s Conservatives Can Say YIMBY, Why Can’t America’s?. In the article, he calls for American Conservatives to be more like Canadian Conservatives, but specifically just on one issue, namely how to handle the housing crisis. Never mind that each country has different forms of government, demographics, and culture, along with specific problems and regulations, Yglesias holds to the collectivist viewpoint of a one-size-fits-all solution.
To combat a housing crisis in Canada, a few conservative Canadian politicians are calling for more big cities to develop more housing through deregulation, a concept that Yglesias fails to see as largely already part of American Conservative politics. Yglesias instead seems to make the mistake of thinking that reform is the same thing as deregulation or a free market. It is the regulation of the housing and rent market that has caused such great increases in homelessness and price costs in California, a policy that the Trump Administration Council of Economic Advisors Report advised against, saying that deregulation would drop rents as much as 55% and homelessness by 54% in some areas.
There is probably no greater example of the failure of liberal housing policies than California, a crisis created and exacerbated by the same people who claim they can fix it. In 2015, home prices in California were larger than any other state. The median value reached nearly $450,000 with the second highest nearly $100,000 cheaper. By the end of 2022, the median price is expected to be $834,000. Other problems such as homelessness and crime have skyrocketed. The homelessness in California and New York alone exceeds all of the homelessness in Canada. These problems come in large part from California’s compulsive need to regulate anything and everything it can. Considering these problems, it seems odd that anyone would advocate for more people to be packed closer together.
Yglesias goes on to argue that an apartment is actually a “more efficient use of land and material than a detached single-family home”, seemingly playing down the importance and dream of many Americans to be homeowners, an increasingly harder achievement. This, however, isn’t surprising as Yglesias has made similar arguments to playing down the deaths of factory workers and the poor conditions that led to their demise as making “economic sense”. Yglesias fails to consider the balance between what makes “economic sense” and a good quality of life. Further doubling down on what he believes is “deregulation”, Yglesias ironically argues that the state government should have more say in how local governments should appropriate and build. To Yglesias, overreach by the state is necessary to prevent overreach from local governments and that this is actually the same thing as “deregulation”, which is an odd and seemingly un-American idea, that state and even federal government entities know how to govern smaller localities better than those small local governments.
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