• Déjà Vu All Over Again. The New Connecticut Slums Of 2024.

    May 6, 2024

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    Most readers are familiar with the timeless Christmas movie classic "It's a Wonderful Life," made in 1946. In this film, viewers are transported to the quaint town of Bedford Falls, where the intricate tapestry of human lives unfolds against the backdrop of two contrasting visions of community. At the center of this narrative lies the enthusiastic figure of George Bailey, whose dreams of adventure are perpetually tethered to his hometown's fate. Yet, looming over Bedford Falls is the bleak shadow of his wretched banking competitor Mr. Potter, a miserable miserly man whose wealth and influence cast a long, dark shadow over the town.

    As the story unfolds, viewers are drawn into a captivating exploration of these two men and their divergent visions for the future of housing for Bedford Falls. On one hand, there is Potter, whose intention for housing is in his ownership of “Pottersville,” a pathetic, decaying slum where depressed renters pay their substance to this miserable wretch of a man having no regard for them nor any incentive to do better by them. However, in stark contrast stands Bailey, a man whose dreams soar far beyond the confines of his modest hometown. Unlike Potter, Bailey sees housing as a cornerstone of community prosperity. His unwavering commitment to personal development culminates in the creation of Bailey Park – a vibrant oasis amidst the urban blight, a home ownership park where people could live and love and enjoy the fruits of their ownership and respective individual visions, free from oppression. In the battle between Potter's greed and Bailey’s vision, the enduring spirit of hope and belonging fostered by Bailey created a much better future for all for the most obvious of reasons.

    Fast forward to 2024.

    Rather than making housing policies that foster the growth, development, and financial empowerment of Connecticut citizens, the omnipotent One-Party Democrat machine (with no real opposition) has decided to bring a New-Age version of the slums to every city, town, and village in this formerly great and proud Nutmeg state. Forced socialistic housing.  Government mandated housing. Ugly and/or nondescript buildings.  Rentals only.  No homeownership, as rental properties need to be controlled by political cronies under the guise of “Transit Oriented Housing.”  These days, we are to willingly throw away local control of property and hand it over to yet another highly paid, unelected unaccountable, (and ostensibly racist) bureaucrat with political connections to the omnipotent Connecticut Democrat Party. 

    Welcome to “Pottersville-CT 2024” (aka “Slums R’Us”). Numerous bills such as Senate Bill No. 6: "An Act Concerning Housing to make housing more affordable for Connecticut residents" and House Bill 5390: “An Act Concerning Transit Oriented Communities”, have been introduced and or passed claiming the Utopian "affordable" housing mantra along with "free" public transportation in the form of "exceptionally high-speed trains” and or electric "green" buses in some cases .  These items will sprout up so that people will no longer need horrifically polluting efficient private vehicles nor discriminatory, unjust, biased and racist private homes to live in. (These are not my words, but rather the words of various “housing advocates” that have been on this trail for several years). Moreover, the system must crush all individual vision and initiative for growth because the government and the bureaucratic state can never be anything but the gold standard in their continual quest for the perfect economic and residential train wreck, coming soon to a town near you.

    What the moronic forces of government continually fail to understand is that socialistic collectivism has failed for over 2000 plus years, but now is again the "best" alternative that the Democrat Party can produce as it drives both the most votes and campaign contributions. This money especially comes from those developers and political hangers on that are seeking these new rental properties and housing developments. It is a devastating game played at the expense of the poor non-connected taxpayer. Further it is laughable that none of these brain-dead legislators and “housing advocates” would be caught dead living in any one of these projects, perhaps recalling the episode of Democrat Mayor Jane Byrne of Chicago. Mayor Byrne fended off complaints of combat zone conditions in the Cabrini Green projects in Chicago by volunteering to live there. (She lasted five whole days).

    Why is affordable housing such an issue for the past 40 years in Connecticut?  Could it be a prohibitive cost of living coupled with high local property and state taxes caused by the exceptionally high cost of redundant and incompetent local and state governments and/or their associated unions and lackeys?   Could it be that excessive zoning and permit processes have contributed to the high costs of housing in in the state?  Could it be that businesses in the state have a difficult time staying open and providing higher paying jobs due to the endless taxes, rules and economic burdens they daily must abide by that are force fed to them by elected and appointed governmental officials who have never run a business in their lives nor would they have any idea as to how to run a lemonade stand.

    My friend and colleague Tony De Angelo continually points out on his two show appearances each week that the “Pottersville” model of housing is a farcical and dangerous charade, proved useless long ago by the devolution of the “affordable” housing projects of the past into drugs, gangs, murders, and eventually, demolition. Tony asked as to why if there is a genuine (and not contrived) need for housing, why not make the units cooperatively owned by residents and subsidize them with mortgages rather than fill the pockets of dubious corporate developers? But there never is an answer to that particular question as that is not how the game is played. This new “workforce” or “Transit Oriented” housing must be taken away from local town and city governments and placed into the hands of new "zoning" czars handpicked by Hartford elitists.  (And questions remain as to why Connecticut needs “workforce housing” where there is only business shrinkage and citizens are leaving the state in droves?)

    Further, think back to March 2023 and House Bill No. 6890 a bill, also known as "Work, Live, Ride" giving incentives for “transit-oriented development” within a half mile of bus and train stations, executed under an autonomous new "Coordinator" working in the new "Office of Responsible Growth" within the Intergovernmental Policy Division of the Office of Policy and Management.  How does affordable housing equate to "responsible growth" when cities and towns are wrecked in the process?  Is the "responsible growth" designed to benefit those politically connected to the Ned Lamont and his Connecticut Democrat Party? Citizens of Connecticut are not supposed to ask those questions, nor are they to question the actions or motives of the new acolytes of Mr. Potter. End of story.

    Housing is a problem in our economy.  Like the cooperative model above, there are actual ways for housing to become more affordable without the state of Connecticut picking winners and losers, as it does with all the free money it gives to failing businesses in the state.  As just one small example zoning restrictions should be removed in the state with a much lower rate of taxation especially for regions that could actually stimulate real housing growth and make housing more affordable.  Or, how about a pro-business agenda that allows for free market wages to be paid as opposed to an excessively high minimum wage for jobs that require little work skills. This would stimulate more employment and taxation on its own and eliminate the need for governmental interference in the labor market. 

    The current economic stagnation that the state has been in since 1990 shows little signs of abatement also contributing to the state's housing crisis.  Instead, the brainless plans being offered are reheated versions of the same failures of the past fifty years and will help create the new slums of the future. Moreover, given the current crop of legislative stalwarts as presided over by King Ned Lamont the Unaccountable, there is little hope for change in sight. 

    Just maybe a different course of action might help to house those who need housing in the state. “It’s A Wonderful Life” showed us the blessings of Bailey Park. Instead, Connecticut is brainlessly proceeding to the 2024 version of Pottersville, and a new generation of failed publicly driven housing disasters in progress. When, will we say, enough is enough.

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    Bob Swick

    I am an Adjunct Professor of Business and Economics and have taught for 41 years for several different colleges and universities. I have a Bachelors of Science in Journalism and a Masters of Science in Economics. I have written about economics and political issues in my blog "Swick Speak" since 2006.

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