Monday, June 21, 2004

The Midwestern Version of Rent Control

The Des Moines Register reported today that college students all over the Midwest are using subsidized housing intended for the poor, straining the federally funded program. Amazingly, people are surprised that students can “get away with it” and want US department of Housing and Urban Development to restructure their eligibility rules.

What the public is really saying is that they are angry that the world isn’t following their neat little plan they told everyone to follow. Like New York’s infamous rent control program, which intended to ensure senior citizens cheap housing but only ensured a select few inexpensive apartments, this law has unintended consequences when as it moved from the lab-like legislative floor to the real world. College students, like anyone with a tight budget, are always looking for the best deals. Perhaps the problem doesn’t rest with the students but with the government rules. While I don’t want anyone to sleep on the streets, trying to manufacture an economy according to some grand plan by constructing layer upon layer of laws isn’t the answer.

A single institution can’t outsmart the collective actions of countless working minds. But by creating the opportunity for new ideas and innovations, by reintroducing the incentive for people to create profitable low income housing, we can find an answer instead of spending millions trying to manufacture the perfect society. Economies are grown, not built.

No comments: