Friday, March 30, 2018

Dictatorship of the Landlords -- The Green Roots of the Housing Crisis

Every country has its “House of Lords” – its far-flung array of landlords’ associations, farmers’ unions, and commercial property lobbies. This milieu is not without its internal divisions, but a centripetal force encircles a shared aim of increasing land prices and rents. They shield from public view their common desire to ration land. They posture as champions of market forces only if that market is trapped in a terrarium of their design.

Conflict between the landed estate and the entrepreneurial class is centuries old. This basic polarity powered both American and French revolutions. Absent landlord vigilance, pioneers, pilgrims, and prospectors would pour forth towards the rugged frontiers. Absent vigilance, landlordism would go the way of serfdom. Hence the passion to “conserve” the hinterlands. Conservationism is a 19th century narrative designed to portray the self-interested confinement of tenants onto landlord-owned properties as a progressive political program aimed at the greater social good.  (more...)

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