Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

QUIZ: Bombing or rent control?

Can you tell the difference?

Of course it price controls don't work. There is plenty of proof that they don't, however political pandering, willful ignorance and mob control will destroy the fabric of our cities if rent controls (including newer price control versions) are instituted.  Take the quiz if you don't believe price controls are a terrible idea.

Note:  "Rent Stabilization" measures can, and do affect rental income and expenses and can be thought of as hidden price controls or taxes on the landlord.  Government establishes a regulatory environment that makes it more difficult to make a profit without raising rents for everyone.
Rent stabilization will be discussed later to explain its economic impact on landlords' income and tenants' rents.

Swedish economist (and socialist) Assar Lindbeck asserted, “In many cases rent control appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city—except for bombing.”

Correct answers are at the end.


Monday, June 26, 2017

The biggest threat is ignorance

It might be too late.  
But if the younger generation (and some older folks) is taught about the benefits of capitalism, or experiences financial success, we may be able to keep our cherished freedoms

The Federalist, February 15, 2016By Emily Ekins and Joy Pullmann
The Cato Institute, February 15, 2016. By Emily Ekins and Joy Pullmann
Why So Many Millennials Are Socialists 
Since when did socialism become en vogue? It seems like only a few years ago being called a socialist in American politics was an insult. Today, however, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders—a self-avowed socialist—is quickly rising in the polls, and millennials are largely driving his support.

Millennials don't know what socialism is.
First, millennials don’t seem to know what socialism is, and how it’s different from other styles of government. The definition of socialism is government ownership of the means of production—in other words, true socialism requires that government run the businesses. However, a CBS/New York Times survey found that only 16 percent of millennials could accurately define socialism, while 30 percent of Americans over 30 could. (Incidentally, 56 percent of Tea Partiers accurately defined it. In fact, those most concerned about socialism are those best able to explain it.) 

Like the United States, European welfare states have racked up huge debts and unfunded liabilities. However, their populaces don’t feel that immediately, because citizens haven’t yet had to pay all the taxes that must come with it.  

The consequences of slower economic growthlower productivity, and relatively lower standards of living are opaque unless you have something to compare it to.  Ironically, the consequences of socialist-type policies inside the United States include the very economic effects millennials are so angry about: high college tuition, a rotten job market (especially for those on the bottom rungs of the career ladder), expensive health care, and expensive housing. 

If young people had to pay for all the socialist schemes they ostensibly support, their support might rapidly erode.  Indeed millennials, like generations before them, become more averse to government social spending as their own income rises and have to pay more in taxes. 

The Atlantic, July 15, 2014. By Derek Johnson
Millennials' Political Views Don't Make Any Sense

Millennial politics is simple, really. Young people support big government, unless it costs any more money. They're for smaller government, unless budget cuts scratch a program they've heard of. They'd like Washington to fix everything, just so long as it doesn't run anything.

That's all from a new Reason Foundation poll surveying 2,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 29. Millennials' political views are, at best, in a stage of constant metamorphosis and, at worst, "totally incoherent," as Dylan Matthews puts it.

Poll Finds Young Americans More Open to Socialism 

Marion Smith, executive director of the Washington-based foundation, told VOA the growing acceptance of socialist viewpoints among members of the millennial generation - those who have come of age since the year 2000 - is a result of a lack of basic knowledge of communism and how it operated during the 20th century. 

"The millennials are sadly unaware of the history of communism in the last century and of the crimes committed by the Communist Party in the last 100 years," said Smith.
"As a result, the younger generation is not looking for ways to improve the existing system of free enterprise, the rule of law, democratic government, and respect for human rights, but want to try a completely different system. They are interested in the socialist system, which we think is dangerous."
Smith contended that young Americans support socialism because they confuse the concept with liberalism. He said U.S. educators should present modern history to young people in a way that will enable them to understand "the crimes committed in the name of socialism and communism."
Millennials Are Clueless About Socialism 
Many millennials are OK with socialism, even communism, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

Forty-five percent of those polled between the ages of 16 and 20 said they would vote for a socialist, while 20 percent said they could vote for a communist.  

Even more shocking is the poll’s discovery that a third of millennials believe more people were killed under George W. Bush than Joseph Stalin, whose regime murdered 20 million people between 1924 and 1953. The total killed under all communist regimes (so far) is estimated at 100 million.

California Magazine (Cal Berkeley Alumni Association) By Krissy Eliot

Reconsidering Socialism: Younger Voters No Longer See the Label as Toxic

Rigel Robinson, vice president of membership for Cal Berkeley Democrats and founder of UC Berkeley Students for Bernie, says younger generations were raised in a time when there is less bias toward socialist governments elsewhere, and more willingness to contemplate radical economic changes. “A lot of Millennials don’t have the same reaction to [socialist] words and branding that a lot of older people do,” Robinson said. “People who aren’t familiar with the history of socialism in other countries and haven’t been subjected to ad campaigns against it don’t have the same visceral reaction to the word.
“Language about capitalism and socialism is vague, and using these terms assumes knowledge millennials may not have acquired.”
The Washington Post, April 26, 2016. By Max Ehrenfreund
A Majority of Millennials Now Reject Capitalism, Poll Shows
In an apparent rejection of the basic principles of the U.S. economy, a new poll shows that most young people do not support capitalism.
The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it.

Listen to arrogance then read the facts

Re:  Affordable Housing

Listen to Oregon House Rep. Tina Kotek speak to a group of apartment owners in February, 2017 about the legislature's plans to tackle the affordable housing crisis.

It's incredible that lawmakers think that they can knockover one domino and expect it to affect only one other.  They choose not to see the cascade of dominoes ready to fall once that first one is pushed -  even when the politicians are made known the known consequences of their actions. It's called willful blindness.  

Read the transcript of a talk by Edward Olsen, economist at the University of Virginia as he describes the best method for housing low-income families in order to cut childhood poverty in half in 10 years.

The best study of HUD’s largest program that subsidized the construction of privately owned projects (the Section 8 New Construction Program) found that the total cost of providing housing under this program was at least 44 percent greater than the total cost of providing equally good housing under the housing voucher program. This translated into an excess taxpayer cost of at least 72 percent for the same outcome. It implies that housing vouchers could have served all the people served by this program equally well (that is, provided them with equally good housing for the same rent) and served at least 72 percent more people with the same characteristics without any increase in public spending. The best study indicates an even larger excess cost for public housing.

Phasing out housing projects in favor of the cost-effective housing voucher program would ultimately free up the resources to provide housing assistance to millions of additional families with children. This is the largest opportunity to reduce child poverty through housing policy reform without spending more money.

Specifically, when the time comes to demolish or substantially renovate public housing projects, we should sell these properties to the highest bidder rather than redevelop them, and give their tenants housing vouchers. 

The best opportunity to reduce child poverty rapidly is to divert money from the construction of new tax credit projects to the housing voucher program. The tax credit program is a cost-ineffective method for delivering housing assistance, and new tax credit projects serve few extremely low-income families.

Which plan is most likely to accomplish the goal of housing the most vulnerable citizens considering numbers and cost?  Which plan is better for Oregon?  What other plans are there, and what proof do you have that they are guaranteed to give you the results you want?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Nanny job growth predicted

Who's your nanny? 

Portland is following SF and Seattle in a race to see who can be more progressive.  California leads the way, but the Number 2 spot is up for grabs as Seattle and Portland duke it out with stupid, nanny state laws and other oppressive ideas.

The state should not be punishing people for what they eat or drink.  Education about healthy alternatives is always better than coercion.

I foresee taxes on sugar (making jam and apple pie will be more expensive), cookies and cake (what about cake mixes, and gluten-free desserts?), candy, cereal, all products with high fructose corn syrup - and to be fair, alternative sweeteners like honey, stevia, etc.  It's a bitter world out there.

Where do these ideas come from?  Read the article - these are national campaigns (thank Michael Bloomberg) designed to snuff out whatever activity some group deems necessary - for our own good of course.  Because they know better how we should live. Progressive strongholds now, and then ?

Portland Tribune, June 22, 2017. By Nick Budnick
Tax on sweet drinks headed for ballot
Money could benefit health but could hurt businesses, but battle lines drawn over controversial proposal

A judge's ruling last week will trigger what's expected to be a record-setting ballot measure campaign, as Portland becomes the latest city to consider a proposed tax on sugary beverages. 
On June 15, Multnomah Circuit Judge Adrienne Nelson approved the ballot title sought by proponents of a countywide measure that would tax soda and other beverages 1.5 cents per ounce, or 18 cents for a 12-ounce can. That means the campaign can begin in earnest.
Despite supportive early polls, proponents are doing extra polling to keep "tabs on how thing are looking with this rather abnormal legislative session that we are still in the middle of," said Christina Bodamer of the American Heart Association's Oregon chapter, which is spearheading the campaign. "We don't have our poll back yet on what may or may not hurt us, so we're looking forward to getting more information." 
She said the new revenue would mean "fantastic benefits" in combating childhood obesity and improving health. 
Jack Evans, a spokesman who is working with the campaign against the tax, called Move Forward Multnomah, declined to say what their fundraising goal is. But he said, "We stand with small business owners and working families in Multnomah County who would be harmed by this tax." 
Move Forward Multnomah's website describes itself as "a coalition of concerned citizens, businesses and community organizations actively opposing new taxes on everyday items like juice drinks, sodas, teas, sports drinks, energy drinks, coffee drinks, and even kombucha."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fairness defined - sort of

What is "Fair Share"?

How do you know if you are doing or paying your fair-share?  Frankly, your fair-share can mean anything anyone wants.  The only way to achieve absolute equity is for everyone to have the same thing.  But is that fair?   If no one knows where the line is and whether or not the line is going to move, when does fair or equitable become unfair?

The National Review, October 21, 2017. By Thomas Sowell
What Democrats Mean 'Paying Your Fair-Share'

It is one of the many signs of the mindlessness of our times that all sorts of people declare that “the rich” are not paying their “fair share” in taxes, without telling us concretely what they mean by either “the rich” or “fair share.” 

Whether in politics or in the media, words are increasingly used, not to convey facts or even allegations of facts, but simply to arouse emotions. Undefined words are a big handicap in logic, but they are a big plus in politics, where the goal is not clarity but victory — and the votes of gullible people count just as much as the votes of people who have common sense.

What a “fair share” of taxes means in practice is simply “more.” No matter how high the tax rate is on people with a given income, you can always raise the tax rate further by saying that they are still not paying their “fair share.”

There are mountains of evidence, going back for generations, showing that raising tax rates does not automatically mean raising tax revenues — and has often actually led to falling tax revenues.

There was a similar reaction in Oregon and in Britain. Rich people do not simply stand still to be sheared like sheep. They can either send their money somewhere else or they can leave themselves.

There is nothing inevitable about either a higher or a lower amount of tax revenues, whether the tax rate is raised or lowered. The government can only set tax rates. How that will affect the tax revenues actually received depends on how people react, and you can know that only after the fact. Sophisticated projections have often been laughably wrong.

Contrary to the way some people on the left conceive of the world, neither rich people nor poor people are inert blocks of wood, to be moved about like pieces on a chess board, to carry out some grand design from on high.

Even outright confiscations of people’s wealth, including whole industries in some countries, have failed to spread prosperity, and have even led to collapsing economies.

But politics is not about what happened in the past. That is left for historians. What politicians are interested in is what they can get the public to believe in the present and to vote on in the future. Plans to “soak the rich,” who are not paying their “fair share,” have worked politically, time and time again — and may well work yet again in the 2016 elections.

— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His website is tsowell.com. © 2015 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Say Yes to NIMBYism

Leave guilt and shame where they belong - protect what you earned. 

There is a lot of anger going around these days.  Social and economic "justice" are terms for a lot of the angst: They represent the age old struggle between the "haves" and "have nots".   "Justice" has nothing to do with the new terminology - there are no laws being broken - only someone's subjective sense of  "fairness".  Are the "haves" doing or paying their "fair share"?  When will the "have nots" have enough?

That questions are important.  Is society fair?  What does it mean to be fair?  How does government guarantee each citizen equality?  Equal rights under the law?  Or is the law is morphing from doing bad acts into punishing designated people - white, wealthy, male, etc. - for not doing enough?  Add owning property to the list of offensives.

Owning property is now a symbol of the class struggle as property becomes more expensive and out of reach for the average person.  Never mind that government created the problem with the land restrictions of the UGB - the propertyless want to use government to get their fair share.  Guilt and shame are powerful tools employed to wrest concessions from the haves - no one wants to be labeled insensitive, selfish or racist.  The mob have made owning more property than some unspoken amount a crime.  Indeed, for the Communitarians, no one would own property - it belongs to the commons and government grants trust rights to the land.

Hard work or just being alive?  What should determine rights to a particular piece of land?  Is one's property really theirs if government increasingly restricts what can be done with it until the owner must get government approval for what they can have or can do with it?

For me, NIMBY means get government off my property and out of my neighborhood - don't ruin what we have spent our lives working for, especially if it's because my property or neighborhood is determinedby someone to be better or my lot bigger than someone else's.

Portland's Laurelhurst Neighborhood Fights

to Keep the Housing Crisis Out.

The residents of a quaint Portland neighborhood plan to ward off developers who could bring teardowns, McMansions or apartment buildings for renters
"Laurelhurst is unique. Every house is unique," says John Liu, who bought his 1911 Portland foursquare in 2006. "If we can't stop redevelopment, this piece of Portland history will basically go away." 
"The whole street—it will look like Beaverton by the time they're done," says John Deodato, a longtime Laurelhurst homeowner who says he gets 20 letters a month from developers seeking to buy his home. "The city won't do anything about it unless we do."
Laurelhurst is one of many central eastside Portland neighborhoods where housing values have soared since the recession, and where developers are snatching up scarce vacant lots and a few modest homes they can demolish and replace. The average home price here is now $750,000—and one house sold this month for $1.6 million. 
Yet Laurelhurst's biggest opponents are those who share the same politics but think that neighbors are being selfish.
"We are facing a housing shortage with dire consequences," Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) said last month, "and frankly I am disappointed that this bill has run into some of the same old NIMBYism that helped create this crisis."
Critics charge that by trying to save Laurelhurst from the wrecking ball, its residents are in fact erecting a wall to keep out newcomers, renters and people of modest means—making Laurelhurst an oasis of money in the midst of a housing shortage.
Former Metro Councilor Robert Liberty, who once headed 1000 Friends of Oregon, perhaps the state's leading land-use advocate, says Laurelhurst's agenda is contrary to that of progressive politics.
"The consequence [of seeking a historic designation] is pretty clear: It isolates those neighborhoods from shared responsibilities to be a more welcoming community and to accommodate the housing that's needed," Liberty says.
Whoever wins the fight for Laurelhurst, this much is clear: Your neighborhood may soon be next.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

What?!? A new theme for LO?

Is the Lake Oswego brand out of style?  
Too monotonous to attract and amuse tourists?  
Did some developer complain about the design restrictions and demand changes?
Did someone at City Hall suddenly figure out that there are valuable mid-century buildings that need to be incorporated into a cohesive downtown design that includes something other than Craftsman lookalikes?    

My vote is on the third option.  A developer (North Anchor?) is balking at the stifling and oppressive Lake Oswego Style - a hodgepodge of Arts and Crafts, Lodge, cutesy styles that one might see in a mythical European village or American resort town.  

Our code does not acknowledge anything that looks like Lake Oswego had a history between 1930 and 1997, or any sense of creativity or forward thinking.  Then again, we could wind up with some of the awful boxy, urban, mixed-use junk that is populating Portland and urban renewal districts all over the country.  

Let the city know what you think, and copy your remarks to the City Council at the same time. Maybe they don't actually have their minds made up yet.

Lake Oswego Review, June 22, 2017

City seeks input on 'Lake Oswego style'

City officials are asking for residents' help in clarifying the procedure for allowing architectural variety in downtown Lake Oswego and removing regulatory barriers to sustainable building designs. 
The current regulations, particularly the "Lake Oswego Style" provisions of the Downtown Redevelopment Design District (DDRD) adopted in 1997, have resulted in many attractive buildings, City officials say, but the code can also discourage innovations in building design and sustainability. 
In advance of a July 24 public hearing, the City Planning Department is accepting written comments to help it craft code amendments that address design variances within the DDRD. A public review draft of the proposals is available online at http://bit.ly/2siQKMN. 
All written comments received by 5 p.m. on Friday, July 7, will be considered. For more information or to submit comments, contact Planning Director Scot Siegel at ssiegel@lakeoswego.city or Senior Planner Leslie Hamilton at lhamilton@lakeoswego.city; call 503-699-7474; or write to Planning & Building Services Department, City of Lake Oswego, 380 A Ave., P.O. Box 369, Lake Oswego, OR 97034.