Thursday, February 15, 2024


"Excluded is an American book on zoning issues.  We Canadians have some of the same problems--a heavy housing inflation, homelessness and undoubtedly discrimination.  A better understanding would help people on both sides of the border

A previous blog about "Caste" (2020) did away with the idea that racism was the basic prejudice and decided that the more basic prejudice is caste.  Check  In "Excluded" (2023) we learn that poor whites are only marginally ahead of poor blacks, but behind in many ways to middle class blacks.  So some blacks have emerged stronger from their past, but many have not, while poor whites have found barriers to upward mobility.

The author states "...increasingly today it is class discrimination that explains America's growing inequality".   This is evident in housing.  The zoning laws have mostly been to suit the wealthy.

Donald Trump bragged that he was able to reverse zoning that had allowed lower income people into higher income zone stating his base would not have to be contaminated by poor and criminal elements. 

For many people their house is their most important investment.  The value of a house normally appreciates during a working life.  It turns out at least these days that the more expensive houses appreciate more.  To protect their investment, home owners want to keep out undesirables.  They seem to feel if poorer people inhabit their neighborhood services will deteriorate and crime will increase.  Some zoning decisions such as allowing multi family housing would allow people who can't afford more expensive choices.  There have been changes, but the concept of deducting the borrowing costs of buying a home give an edge to those are able to make the crucial down payment.

Kahlenberg points out " is not poverty per se, but concentration of poverty that can accelerate social ills such as crime.", but many of us want to avoid any poor people in our neighborhood fearing bad things that might follow.

Kahlenberg points we all benefit from diversity whether it is racial or ethnic or class.  He quotes Martin Luther King Jr "All labor has dignity."

Investment is a strong motive but ultimately it boils down to a caste system where people feel a superiority to others they deem different.  Often that is tied to race.  American whites have demonstrated a willingness to vote against their personal self interest

Environmental concerns  need to get higher priority.  Multi family housing leaves less of a footprint than single family homes.   They are also easier for municipalities to provide infrastructure.  Sprawl diminishes what is left of natural habitat.  Snobbery and NIMBYism hurt us all. 

Education is a factor.  A major complaint is that minorities are unable to get equal education because of where they live.  Education, regardless of location could also be more equal giving minorities a better opportunities to get better jobs and make more money.

A few months ago there were some tents pitched in a nearby park.  Homeowners were complaining, and when a proposal was made to add in some of what were called tiny houses, but catering to the homeless with drug problems. the situation heated up.  At a local meeting our counselor trying to explain was drowned out and later threatened.  I don't know what happened in the background, but there are no longer tents in the area and the tiny houses, meant to alleviate the problem are no longer scheduled.  This is not a wealthy neighborhood.  More on my personal perspective:

Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy campaigned with Blacks, Hispanics and poor whites and it worked.  After they both were assassinated the poor whites were mostly attracted to the Republicans and were replaced by the wealthy white liberals to the Democrats.  The Republicans have successfully used divide and rule separating poor whites from Blacks and really representing the wealthy.

The author's last sentence is a plea, "It is time to recognize the walls that separate us and then proceed to tear them down".  

There is a lot more to be found in these pages and many of you will not want to read such heavy reading, but I hope I have conveyed that equality is nebulous at best, but something to strive for.

As we evolve there does seem to be a trade off of humanity striving for equality and those who want to maintain themselves at a privileged status.  Whether we fully understand this or not we are each part of it.  I hope I can include a greater part of mankind as friends and equals.

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