Rebirth of Reason


The Open-Space Mentality
by Alec Mouhibian

Any remaining notion that modern liberalism is the politics “of the little man” must be retired in light of the open-space agenda. Liberalism is really just the politics of liberals—to impose whatever they deem compassionate, even if that prioritizes open air and gophers over human livelihood.

A close-up of that agenda can be seen in the effort to prevent anything from being built on a vacant private lot in my college town of Isla Vista. Striving for the lofty ideal of mandated nothingness, the activists in this crusade want the local government to buy an empty lot so it can be kept empty.

Decades of extensive building restrictions are why housing is so tight and expensive in Isla Vista. Kindergarten economics will teach you that restricting supply—especially in housing—leads to higher prices and lower quality, as there is no incentive to renovate. The fact that students have had to pay through their assholes for rent in IV indicates that the promiscuity of the town is evolutionary.

A new apartment complex on the currently-useless plot would alleviate some of the pain. The effort to prevent it will both force potential tenants out of town, and constitute a crime against humanity—especially its most persecuted members: loners and sociopaths—in the form of necessitating more rooming.

Some things I can understand. Caring more about your balcony view than the lives of other humans is certainly one of those things. I’ve grown disturbingly fond of views myself over the years, even though my idea of a view to a thrill has more to do with a neighbor’s window than the neighboring ocean. But my personal preferences don’t give me the right to seal off land that isn’t mine and deprive people of opportunities others are willing to provide.

Our backyard example of “open-spaced” thought is only a microcosm of the political bigotry that has crippled whole middle-class communities in the affluently liberal parts of this state, such as Santa Barbara, areas of Los Angeles and, worst of all, San Francisco. Severe open-spaced anti-development laws in these areas have driven housing costs so far through the roof that even tiny roofless plots of land run upwards seven figures. Middle-class families have been forced to move further and further from where they work and endure hours-long daily commutes. Right now, you need about a $104,000 income to buy an average home in the SF Peninsula with 20% down payment.            

All for the feng shui fancies—and rising property values—of wealthy liberals who already have theirs.           

Victims of this arrogance include the poorest people in the world. A group of rich twits in the Bay Area suburb of Sausalito have gone so far as to purchase 80,000 acres of land in Kenya for the sole purpose of preventing the poor locals from hunting on it for food.                   

Considering that it’s much easier to hug a tree than to cut it down and turn it into a house—and that the people who hug trees are the same people who complain that there isn’t enough housing—one can see how hypocrisy and inefficiency join arrogance in characterizing open-space and environmental regulation.            

Nonetheless, the main issue isn’t perverse prioritizing. It’s whether anybody should have the power to force their priorities (decent or not) on anybody else.              

You can’t claim to “speak for the people” unless you actually let them speak for themselves, through their own actions as freely chosen in a free environment—not as part of forced community directives and townhall tyranny.            

That’s why it doesn’t matter if a million busybodies honk in support of Claire’s Park (as the land has been named by the activists). The fact is that there are people who are willing to be potential tenants of an owner who’s willing to rent to them on his property. To deny that transaction from happening, in the name of the “public will,” is just so much self-indulgent posturing.

[This column first appeared in The Daily Nexus, the newspaper of UC Santa Barbara.]     
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