By Bob Silvestri, marinpost — excerpt

We need to empower the bottom, not the top.

Incremental changes can lead to big things.

“There are many other common sense solutions that reasonable people concerned just with implementing good policy would be able to agree on. But we’re not doing any of that.” ~State Assembly Member, Kevin Kiley, speaking before the Assembly Housing Community Development Committee in June of 2021

The Consequences of Public Policy Mistakes

Perhaps, the greatest mistake the federal government ever made was raising interest rates after the 1929 stock market crash to teach ‘speculators’ a lesson. This played a significant role in worsening the Great Depression that followed.

The second greatest mistake the government ever made was to bail out the big banks and their wealthy collaborators (the “top”) after the crash of 2008, in the belief that wealth and economic health would “trickle down” to the masses, instead of sending aid directly to the millions of Americans who were losing their jobs and their homes (the “bottom”).[1] That precipitated the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression. So slow that the average family has yet to catch up in real, inflation-adjusted terms.

The 2020 once-in-a-100-year pandemic left the government no choice but to send subsidies directly to the “bottom.” If we factor out the impacts of economic lock-downs, supply-chain disruptions, and the war in Ukraine that fueled global inflation helping the bottom instead of the top has worked pretty well to keep our economy running.

In the depths of 2020, traditional thinking was not an option. I would argue that our affordability crisis is another circumstance that requires challenging the status quo. But Sacramento is stuck in the 2008 belief system and remains stridently committed to “top-down” schemes to stimulate growth and housing affordability.

The truth is that neither our economy nor housing affordability depends on the health of the big banks or big housing developers. Throughout history, beginning with the rise of the merchant class that sparked the Renaissance, socioeconomic success has depended on the health of the working middle class. Trickle-down economics is a con.

California has failed to produce a significant amount of affordable housing because the state continues to pursue a “tax and spend, “demand and punish” approach and refuses to accept that its ideologically-driven policies are misaligned if not completely divorced from the realities of our markets.

Picking up, then, from where Part I of this series left off and putting aside the fact that “housing affordability” is really just a symptom of our society’s “overall unaffordability,” before we discuss new ideas we need to examine some of the facts, challenges, and misconceptions surrounding affordable housing development…

  1. CHANGE THE TAX CODE…

Bob Silvestri is a Marin County resident, the Editor of the Marin Post, and the founder and president of Community Venture Partners, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community organization funded by individuals and nonprofit donors. Please consider DONATING TO THE MARIN POST AND CVP to enable us to continue to work on behalf of California residents… (more)

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