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Gentrification isn’t a universal problem. Democrats would do well to remember that.

May 31, 2019

By Daniel Block : washingtonpost.- excerpt, (Daniel Block is an editor at the Washington Monthly.)

Among liberal circles, gentrification and housing costs have fully gone prime-time. In the months before entering the 2020 presidential race, Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) all proposed legislation that would provide financial assistance to tenants and encourage more development in places where housing is in short supply. Under Harris’s proposal, renters who make as much as $125,000 annually would be eligible for a rebate, depending on where they live…

But nationally, gentrification is an issue in only a handful of booming cities. Democrats hoping to lay out a vision to recapture the presidency in 2020 would do well to craft a more inclusive housing strategy that also addresses the challenges in heartland metropolitan areas such as Milwaukee, Detroit and St. Louis….

How do we fix this imbalance? History provides a prescription. During the 20th century, the federal government established a strong competition policy regime that prevented large corporations headquartered in a handful of metros from snatching capital and talent away from everywhere else. Antitrust enforcers blocked powerful companies from acquiring rivals and broke up businesses that had cornered too much of any particular market. Airline regulation kept the price of flying from one city to another the same on a per-mile basis, ensuring that people and businesses in midsize cities could affordably access bigger markets…

This robust competition policy has been widely forgotten, but it was wildly successful. Beginning with the New Deal and continuing through the late 1970s, the per-capita income of different U.S. regions converged. In the mid-1960s, the 25 richest metropolitan areas were spread out across the country and included the likes of Milwaukee, Des Moines and Cleveland.

But in the 1970s and 1980s, politicians and judges began unraveling these regulations, convinced by conservative economists that the free market would keep the playing field even. Ever since, money has flowed out of interior metros and toward a small collection of cities with a high degree of political and economic power, just as globalization began to hollow out the country’s manufacturing core…

That’s not to say Harris’s, Booker’s and Warren’s proposals are bad. Millions of Americans are struggling to pay rent, and they need relief. But fixing our broken competition policy requires a more comprehensive strategy.

For Democrats looking to win in 2020, this approach could help articulate a vision that plays as well in the Rust Belt as in the Bay Area. To defeat President Trump, the party must turn out voters in the swing-state metros of Middle America. And what motivation is better than policies that would bring more opportunity to their hometowns?… (more)

The points made in this article are well taken. For some time California residents in the gentrified cities have called for new policies that would move jobs to the housing and balance the wealth. Considering the media coverage linking Democrats to gentrification, one hopes the right people get the message soon and take it seriously. We need to rebalance the wealth.

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