Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Will Dr. Carson do the surgery that is needed?

Francis Menton writes at Manhattan Contrarian about the fuss the Left is making about Ben Carson as the nominee to head HUD.
...the people who recently thought it was no problem at all to have someone with a background as "community organizer" and two years in the Senate as President now seem to think that experience specific to subsidized housing is critical to running one little department of the government.

you only have to look into it for a few minutes to realize that the business of HUD is creating poverty traps to make the supposed "beneficiaries" into government dependents for life. HUD is not merely a failure as an anti-poverty program; it is a disaster. It operates substantially on the model of socialism ("to each according to his needs"; assets in public ownership), and it achieves results that would make Cuba or Venezuela or East Germany proud. Readers here know that HUD's flagship, the New York City Housing Authority, is an unspeakable disaster at every level. Its properties, housing about 7% of New York City's population, sit on vast acreage of prime real estate -- some of it (e.g., miles of Manhattan waterfront) among the most valuable in the world -- and its residents receive subsidies in many cases worth $50,000 and $100,000 per family per year, and yet the poverty rate in its projects exceeds 50%, turnover is almost non-existent as residents remain in poverty for life, the rents cover barely a third of operating costs and nothing for capital projects or property taxes, and HUD throws some $2 billion down the rathole every year only to maintain the poverty and dependency.

And then there's HUD's latest big initiative, the program known as "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing," by which the Obama HUD has sought to force middle-class and wealthy communities around the country to build more subsidized public housing. Supposedly the theory is that the thing holding back the poor from entering the middle class is isolation in poor inner cities, and once such people are placed in wealthier areas they will begin to rise up. That's right: the geniuses at HUD seem not to have noticed that the 120,000 or so of the residents of certain existing projects, otherwise known as the NYCHA residents in Manhattan, despite living in the midst of the wealthiest county in the country, and many of them directly next door or across the street from the very most expensive condos in the country, nevertheless remain mired in poverty for life. The glaring disproof of the whole theory behind AFFH is right in front of their eyes, and yet they refuse to look and they march forward pushing more of their disaster by force and coercion.

Well, that's what "expertise" and "experience" in the field of publicly-subsidized housing will get you. It gets you a bureaucracy firmly committed to the socialist model, to be run by themselves of course, in which they can earn cushy life-time salaries while they keep their inferiors trapped in poverty for life. It gets you a bureaucracy with absolutely no concern or interest whatsoever in ending dependency and getting people out of poverty, but an overriding concern for one thing and one thing only, which is growing their own budgets and staffs and empires year over year. Are you surprised that the only head of agency they would find acceptable is one of their own -- i.e., someone with the right "experience"?

...Where is Carson on any of this? He hasn't had a whole lot to say specifically on the subject of subsidized housing, but here is a relevant statement from a 2015 speech:

Dr. Ben Carson kicked off the Conservative Political Action Conference, telling an attentive audience that the next President must "get rid of dependency" that some Americans might have on the U.S. government. "We need to understand what true compassion is to reach out to individuals who think that being dependent is reasonable as long as they feel safe," said Carson, the first speaker to address this year's annual keynote conservative conference. "It's not compassion to pat them on the head and say, 'There, there, I'm going to take care of all your needs, your health care, your food.' That's the opposite of compassion."

You can see why The Blob would hate and fear this guy. Sounds like a good appointment to me.

At the Manhattan Institute's City Journal Online, Howard Husock calls Carson "just the man for that job," and lays out a program for Carson to implement on taking office. The program includes things like time limits for living in public housing, bringing private management to projects, and ending the ridiculous AFFH. Fair enough, as far as it goes. But even Husock stops short of calling for radical surgery. How about just giving away the projects to the residents and getting out of the business?
Read more here.

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