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Showing posts from May, 2019

Messaging, Recycling, Headlines

Being involved in an activist group, being (I think) highly rational, and being somewhat resistant to becoming part of social collectives, messaging is something that comes up often.  So reading On Left Straussianism from the Point did stoke up thoughts.

I'll disagree with one part right off.  This isn't all about elitism.  Talking about messaging doesn't only have to involve elites.  It's small group/large group, but it's not always about level of education, it's often about intensity of connection.  When "messaging" in public, the bandwidth is limited, especially in terms of feedback loops.  If someone misunderstands your message, it's hard to correct.  Attention wavers, so key distinctions can be lost.  And then there's the telephone game.  Those dynamics are true no matter what level of education your public has.

A second distinction, before you even start to talk about withholding or twisting the truth, we should think first about caution…

Exceptional harms

California was pursuing a new transit oriented development bill, SB50. It morphed into a general housing bill, before being killed by a powerful Senator. His arguments, shared by other LA residents, was that they didn't want local control taken away.

On the surface, that sounds reasonable, who doesn't like more direct democratic processes? But local zoning has failed to address the problems the bill targets, and it is predictable that it will continue to fail, so long as political engagement maintains its current form. In many places, city-by-city control could work, but California is such a jigsaw of localities that each city has incentives to keep following business as usual, which means, zoning restrictions to prop up property values, which inevitably lead to housing shortages and unsustainable costs for anyone who isn't getting the land value windfall.

Even those getting the windfall are trapped into non-optimal decisions by housing immobility. That immobility has be…

Should roads be free? Can we change that?

It's ironic that in a country where providing free access to basic healthcare, food and water are so contentious, we've been providing one resource for free in astounding quantities: Roads. It's even more ironic, that while proving the roads (and often parking spaces) for free, we've neglected to provide the real need, transportation.

Should roads be free? The evidence, from a 50+ year experiment is no. Free roads leads to overuse and traffic jams, a net negative for every potential road user. There is no amount of roads you can build that prevents this tragedy of the commons. Every major city in the US has traffic jams. A city with "good" traffic is one where those only happen for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, and only at certain points.

The trouble with trying to build your way out of traffic jams is that housing and driving patterns always shift to consume everything to capacity and beyond. There is also the cost in terms of money, env…

Understanding rent control

We need housing to be affordable, but how best to do it? If you're thinking about this, you might be interested in this. Bottom-line: Build more housing, ignore rent control. How do you build more housing though?

Besides avoiding rent control, and using public money to build housing, how else can you build more housing? Bring down permitting/planning costs. Encourage density. Remove parking requirements. Work together to ensure public transit and other infrastructure.

This post inspired by reading...   Seattle City Council Insight