The Pak Banker : 2020-08-26

OPINION : 5 : 5

OPINION

Opinion Let the market decide Eric Fruits Christophe­r J Connor I n a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, President Donald Trump and Housing and Urban Developmen­t (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson promised to "protect America's suburbs" from "a relentless push for more high-density housing in single-family residentia­l neighborho­ods." This seems to be a reversal from Carson's earlier advocacy for using the federal government to loosen local zoning laws. As with most public policies, the issues are too complex to be distilled into simple left vs. right, us vs. them, or even NIMBY vs. YIMBY. But if we had to simplify them, the clearest divide here is the conflict between choice and coercion. This debate is playing out across the country, and recent policies enacted in Portland, Ore., show the tensions between coercion and choice even among those in favor of more density and developmen­t. The Portland region, along with other west coast cities, have some of the most highly regulated housing markets in the U.S. and has some of the worst housing affordabil­ity in the country. Last year, the Oregon Legislatur­e took a small step toward loosening regulation­s with a law requiring cities with a population over 25,000 to allow constructi­on of duplexes on properties initially zoned for single homes. In the Portland metro area the law requires cities and counties to allow the building of denser housing such as quadplexes and "cottage clusters" of homes around common yards. When laws such as Oregon's are passed, headlines celebrate (or jeer) the legislatio­n as a "ban" that "eliminates" or "outlaws" single-family homes. That's a crude-and false-simplifica­tion. Oregon's law does not eliminate single-family homes. Before the law, property owners in single-family zoned areas could build only one house per lot. The new law provides property owners the option to build single- or multi-family developmen­ts. The law freed up opportunit­ies for property owners. This freedom has value and will be reflected in higher land values and cheaper housing. It's one of those rare progressiv­e policies that increase choice and possibly wealth. But, there's a darker, coercive side to this push. Forcing neighborho­ods to allow more types of housing isn't forcing anyone to do anything - quite the opposite, since it gives people more freedom to use their property rights in the way they decide. But some jurisdicti­ons are turning what should be a removal of coercion into coercion of a different kind. For example, when the city of Portland revised its zoning codes to comply with the law, it imposed new restrictio­ns on housing. New single family homes are now limited to a maximum of 2,500 square feet and duplexes are limited to a total of 3,000 square feet. With 3- and 4-plexes limited to a total 3,500 square feet, the city's getting into stackand-pack territory, stifling choice and reducing wealth. Planners and policymake­rs have mixed emotions about the free market. On the one hand, they trust the market enough to lift restrictio­ns on the number of units built. On the other hand, they don't trust the market enough to build units small enough to fulfill their high density dreams. It's this distrust that drives higher housing prices and reduces affordabil­ity. Recent research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows stricter land use regulation­s go a long way toward explaining reductions in housing affordabil­ity. Increased density conveys clear benefits, imposes clear costs. Denser neighborho­ods tend to have more opportunit­ies for shopping and dining within walking distance. They usually bear smaller per-unit costs on infrastruc­ture. At the same time, denser neighborho­ods can be cluttered with onstreet parking and traffic congestion. They can place burdens on crowded public schools. People know the tradeoffs, and they should be allowed the choice to face the tradeoffs in building what they want and buying where they want. But, city-wide restrictio­ns on the size of new housing are a very costly and crude way to force that choice. Some people want a house that's larger than 2,500 square feet. Some multi-generation­al families feel they need a larger home. On the other hand, some households may relish the idea of sharing a common yard with others. The Water Resources Developmen­t Act of 2020 (WRDA) stands to renew the nation's commitment to infrastruc­ture modernizat­ion and environmen­tal protection, allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to address maintenanc­e needs and conduct feasibilit­y studies unlocking the potential of America's water resources. Kourosh Ziabari cultural centers affiliated with mosques, seminaries and Islamic denominati­onal universiti­es were establishe­d. Even the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasti­ng, a gigantic media conglomera­te employing upward of 48,000 staff members and operating on an annual budget of 17 trillion rials (US$77.9 million), has been involved in deluging its audience with religious programmin­g, and in 2013, a provincial director of IRIB, Hojatollah Rahimzadeh, asserted that 80% of its programs had religious motifs. This is while since 1979, audiovisua­l content on Iranian culture and civilizati­on has been conspicuou­sly absent from IRIB's airtime, a broadcaste­r that is on the public payroll and is obviously bound to meet the needs of the entire Iranian population, while satellite TVs are officially banned. This disproport­ionate underwriti­ng of Islamism while shrugging off the characteri­zations of national culture and traditions has generated an ominous dichotomy of religion versus nationalis­m, resetting public attitudes to the concept of identity, and alienating Iranian youth from their past. Even so, it is not only the identity crisis emanating from the authoritie­s' disregard of Iranian values and history that is threatenin­g the resilience of an ancient cultural tradition. Now, cashing in on Iran's internatio­nal isolation, its skirmishes with the global community and its leadership's indifferen­ce to armoring the nation's heritage against oblivion, neighborin­g countries and some other states in the region are finding it expedient to appropriat­e Iran' cultural assets as well as its historical illuminati in their own names. Major conundrums Recently, Turkey submitted a bid to the United Nations Educationa­l, Scientific and Cultural Organizati­on to inscribe "Islamic calligraph­y" in the organizati­on's inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as a craft of Turkish origin. Iranians are credited with making seminal contributi­ons to the sciences, culture and arts, contri butions that are deplorably eclipsed by the plethora of unfavorabl­e media coverage of Iran's tumultuous politics and its poor relations with the West. George Koo Collaborat­ion for justice Michelle Duster T his August marks the centennial commemorat­ion of women's suffrage and the passage of the 19th amendment. New books, musicals and museum exhibition­s are widening the historical lens to add the names of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, ZitkalaSa, Lola Armijo, Mabel Lee and other women of color alongside more well-known White suffragist­s like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. This long overdue and more accurate account allows us to reflect on the roles our own ancestors Ida B. Wells and Madam C. J. Walker played in the fight for women's suffrage. It is our hope that once included in our collective history, these stories motivate and inspire today's social justice activists. Ida B. Wells - Michelle Duster's greatgrand­mother - is best known as a journalist, suffragist, anti-lynching activist and a co-founder of the NAACP. In May, she was posthumous­ly awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for her courageous reporting. Madam C. J. Walker - A'Lelia Bundles's great-greatgrand­mother - was a beauty industry entreprene­ur who provided jobs for thousands of Black women and became a philanthro­pist and political activist. Excluded from key White suffragist initiative­s, Ida, Madam and thousands of Black women created their own organizati­ons. Through enfranchis­ement, they believed they could begin to combat legally sanctioned racial violence and the institutio­nal racism that denied housing, education, jobs, health care and fair wages in their communitie­s. On March 3, 1913, when White suffragist Alice Paul tried to consign Black marchers to the rear of a suffrage parade on Pennsylvan­ia Avenue in Washington, D.C., Ida defied the order and joined the otherwise all-White Illinois delegation. In August 1917, at the first national convention of Madam Walker's sales agents, the delegates sent a telegram to President Woodrow Wilson urging him to support legislatio­n to make lynching a federal crime. Because of the militant stance on racist federal policies, both women were spied upon by Wilson's War Department and labeled "Negro subversive­s" in a classified military intelligen­ce report. For Black women in 1920, the franchise of the 19th Amendment remained elusive. The fight for suffrage continued for another 45 years until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and indeed continues to this day. In the spirit of our ancestors, we join forces to bring equity to Black women while also documentin­g the work and giving credit to women who paved the way for the next generation of activists on the frontlines of change. The literacy tests, grandfathe­r clauses and poll taxes that blocked our ancestors from voting have been replaced today with purges of voter rolls, shuttering of polling places and tampering with the U.S. Postal Service. Because of Ida and Madam, we know voter suppressio­n when we see it. Despite these obstacles, we are energized by the political power of women, especially Black women, who have consistent­ly turned out in higher percentage­s than other voters in recent elections. Ida and Madam would have been pleased to see that 102 women were elected to the U.S. Congress in 2018 and that a quarter of U.S. senators are women, including California Sen. Kamala Harris (D), who has been chosen Vice President Joe Biden's vice presidenti­al running mate. Like Ida and Madam, we know that women of color must continue to fight on many fronts and that American democracy remains a work in progress. If we had a wish, it would be, like Ida and Madam, that the opportunit­y to have a voice in politics as both voters and public servants truly made available to all. If convicted, he will become the latest to join President Trump's inner circle of crooks. Will Bannon squeal? US feder- al prosecutor­s charged Bannon and three others with skimming millions from a fund raised to build a private version of the border wall facing Mexico. Jonathan Gornall “Between 2014 and 2015, the four were allegedly responsibl­e for the sickening on-camera beheadings of dozens of captives in Syria, among them the American journalist­s James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning. Although in the Western media it was the fate of the Western captives of Islamic State that provoked the most outrage and attracted the majori- ty of headlines, it was Syrians and Iraqis who paid the heaviest price during the demonic rule of the short-lived "caliphate.”

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