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OpenMarket: Property Rights

  • Seattle Land Use Liberalization Bill Fails to Address Key Problems

    December 2, 2010
    Stephen Smith of Market Urbanism asked me what I thought of proposed legislation in Seattle that would remove some restrictions on land use and real estate development in parts of the city. Smith points to this summary of the zoning changes that would affect a mere 8 percent of the city, which include: a five-foot increase in the maximum building height restriction, determining building size by floor area...
  • Real Estate Development and Generation Y

    November 30, 2010
    Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I came across this article in Urban Land magazine, "Housing Gen Y: The Next Challenge for Cities," by John McIlwain. In it, McIlwain describes the current status of Generation Y -- young people in their late teens to early thirties:
    Today, an unprecedented number of gen-Yers are responding to this housing challenge by living with parents, with roommates, or in university dorms. Indeed, U.S. household formation has dropped to some 400,000 a year, a mere quarter of the pre-recession norm of 1.6 million. (The drop in immigration has caused some, but by no means all, of this remarkable shift.) Why is gen-Y, now at the prime age for forming new households, staying at home, with roommates, or at school? For one, over 30 percent of this cohort, by some estimates, is...
  • How Property Rights Saved the Pilgrims After the First Thanksgiving

    November 24, 2010
    In Reason Magazine, Nick Gillespie and Meredith Bragg write about how the establishment of property rights among the pilgrims made them more "industrious" and banished the specter of "famine" that had killed many of the Pilgrims. We wrote earlier about how the communal economic system set up by the Pilgrims led to "chronic food shortages" even after the first Thanksgiving that led them to nearly "starve to death," and how "little food was produced" until the Pilgrims changed their economic system to assign each family "a private parcel of land," which led to vastly...
  • Obama Includes Toyota, Hyundai and Kia in 75,000 Jobs "Created" by GM Bailout

    November 23, 2010
    This post was coauthored by CEI Research Associate Andrew Kwiatkowski As we write, President Obama and Vice President Biden are doing a victory lap around a Chrysler plant in Kokomo, Indiana, in the wake of last week's successful initial public offering of General Motors. They will likely rattle off a litany of positive statistics that they and an adoring audience will attempt to attribute to the $82 billion bailout of Chrysler and GM. But the figures the president has cited, and will likely...
  • "Model" Foreign Aid Recipient Uses Foreign Aid to Repress Its Citizens

    November 23, 2010
    Ethiopia is considered a model recipient of foreign aid by international aid agencies, since it uses much of the aid on its people, rather than just to fill the Swiss bank accounts of its rulers (as is often the case with foreign-aid receiving countries). But it uses the aid to promote political repression, by giving – or denying – such aid to hungry villagers based on whether they support the ruling party, as a recent article in the New York Review of Books explains. By solidifying the Ethiopian government's control, foreign aid gives the government the ability to put off doing things that would expand economic growth -- like letting farmers own their own land. Most Ethiopians are subsistence farmers, and 85 percent of all Ethiopians live in the countryside. Land was...
  • GM IPO Date Set for Tomorrow: What's Good for New GM is Bad for the Rest of America

    November 17, 2010
    In his 1953 confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense in the incoming Eisenhower administration, former General Motors CEO Charles "Engine Charlie" Wilson was asked how he would handle conflicts of interests in the Defense Department's dealings with his old firm. Wilson replied that "for years I thought that what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa." For decades, Wilson's comment -- misquoted as "What's good for General Motors is good for the country" -- has been paraded by liberals as an example of conservatives putting the concerns of a giant corporation ahead of those of the rest of America. But since GM's multi-billion dollar bailout and government takeover, the misquote from Wilson has become the philosophy of the Obama administration. They are treating the success...
  • Milton Friedman on Other People's Money

    November 16, 2010
    Milton Friedman always had a way with words. His brilliance in the following video not only explains the moral problem with using other people's money, but he also explains why it leads to poor results. In order to use other people's money, one must first take it from them. Then, once that money is taken, it is rarely spent as carefully as the person who earned it would spend it. This explains the inherent problem with the government spending for the "public good." Individuals can work and spend their money for their own good, which becomes in the "public good" in the aggregate. But, third parties, by definition, cannot spend money for the public good because there is no way that any third party is capable of spending other people's money to meet all individual interests. The video below explains this well:


  • Smart Growth Decreases Housing Affordability

    November 5, 2010
    Wendell Cox had an interesting article this week on his new findings on land-use regulation and housing prices. Long a critic of smart-growth planning, Cox's new study puts a quantitative face on what excessive land-use regulations do to housing prices:
    The overwhelming majority of new housing in the United States continues to be detached and is built near or on the urban fringe (Note 2). For new detached homes, the Index is 1.0 in six metropolitan markets (Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Indianapolis, Raleigh-Durham and St. Louis). This indicates that land use regulation is less restrictive and does not add more than normal to the price of new homes (Note 3). In the other five metropolitan markets...
  • Many Republican Campaign Signs Disappear or are Stolen

    November 2, 2010
    Enraged Democrats in Virginia's Fifth Congressional District attacked GOP activists and yanked signs for candidate Rob Hurt (R) off of private property.  Hurt is in a tight race with Congressman Tom Perriello (D).  The video can be found here. Newsmax reports that in the Maryland governor's race, many signs for GOP candidate Bob Ehrlich have been removed from private property.  Homeowners who witnessed the removal of signs on their property say that state employees acting on orders of Maryland's governor, Martin O'Malley (...
  • Hugo Chavez Plans to Steal Golf Courses

    November 1, 2010
    I wrote recently how Hugo Chavez is stealing productive sectors of the Venezuela economy on its 'Road to Serfdom.' Now, Chavez has developed a new way to engage in class warfare: Stealing golf courses. In fact, his demagoguery against private property rights is quite disturbing.
    That’s an injustice -- that someone should have the luxury of having I don’t know how many hectares to play golf and drink whiskey and, next door, there’s misery and children dying when there are landslides,” Chavez said during his weekly television show, “Alo, Presidente.”
    Economically, what Chavez says above can only lead to disaster...


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