Tag Archives: Regulation

Gifted Plans? What Ben Carson Could Mean For Housing Affordability

On March 2, after a month of unexpected delays, the Senate confirmed Ben Carson’s nomination to Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in a party-line 58-41 vote. The lightly contested vote followed unanimous confirmation in committee, as Senate Democrats signaled that Carson’s nomination simply isn’t the hill they are willing to die on. With Carson now in the driver’s seat at HUD, what in the world could the soft-spoken neurosurgeon mean for U.S. cities?

As many have pointed out, Carson’s hearing testimony was vague, and his background in housing policy is sparse. Yet in Carson’s prepared testimony and at recent events, he has consistently stressed the problem of housing affordability and the need for land-use liberalization at the local level. In this regard, Ben Carson joins a cross-ideological, bipartisan consensus ranging from the progressive left to the conservative right on the urgent need for land use reform and new development in America’s cities. While HUD’s power over local land use regulation and housing is limited, here are three low-cost reforms HUD could pursue under Carson.

First, Carson could direct HUD officials to craft and disseminate model zoning reform legislation to the states. As urban history geeks may know, conventional “Euclidian” zoning began in 1924, when a committee of planning proponents drafted the Standard Zoning Enabling Act. The act provided state policymakers with readymade zoning legislation, and within a decade, most states had adopted some form of the legislation, and thousands of cities had adopted zoning ordinances.

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Young Voices Podcast – The wrong way to repeal Obamacare

Today’s Young Voices Podcast features Young Voices Executive Director Casey Given and YV Advocate Charlie Katebi on the future of Obamacare. Charlie weighs in on the potential negative consequences of letting the insurance market fall into disarray.

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Call Off the Anti-Fun Crusade

Paternalists don’t always have nefarious designs when they place bans on unhealthy activities, but a “take your medicine” attitude toward improving people’s health has unintended, sometimes deadly consequences. And, too often, there is an illegitimate purpose to legislating lifestyle politics: ill-gotten gains for rent-seekers.

For those who thought the baptists and bootleggers coalitions of yesteryear disappeared along with Prohibition, consider its longevity.

Bans on Popular Activities

Rent-seekers and anti-fun lifestyle enforcers (still) make strange bedfellows. For example: The State of New York taxes cigarettes at a rate of $5.85 per pack, banned Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) for twenty years, and has an Attorney General obsessed with shutting down Fantasy Sports. And in nearby Pennsylvania, century-old Blue Laws prohibit hunting on Sundays and limit liquor sales to government-run stores.

On the federal level, the FDA announced that it would begin to regulate e-cigarettes. So we have the baptist, in this case, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murphy calling for tighter restrictions on e-cigarettes, despite the evidence that youth smoking has declined and that “[r]educing youth access to e-cigarettes appears to increase youth smoking rates.” Then, we’ve got the bootleggers, tobacco companies whose profits are threatened by e-cigarette manufacturers.

Similarly, in Pennsylvania, anti-alcohol activists, or “new prohibitionists,” joined hands with government-liquor-shop unions to halt Blue Law reform.

Only through collusion could those new prohibitionists and their legislative allies manage to keep otherwise popular activities illegal. Before the legalization of MMA in New York and the modest reform of Pennsylvania’s Blue Laws, both changes had overwhelming support.

If the politician and the rent-seeker can line their pockets while simultaneously keeping competition out of the market, why wouldn’t they?

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