“Berkeley, Schools and Dufty…”

by on September 7, 2006

Mr. Shaw,

Though I frequently disagree with your paper’s perspectives on politics and economics, I still enjoy reading some of the better researched pieces. Part of what is missing in today’s political discourse is in the reality that people want to reinforce their own opinions rather than challenge them. Lefties read beyondchron and the right watches Fox. Your analysis on Berkeley is a perfect example where people with the same set of facts can come to vastly different conclusions.

I studied Philosophy and Economics in College, I used to write for a communist newspaper (Cuore) in Italy and I’m currently a small business owner and advocate. Being made up of seeming contradictions helps me to see them. Berkeley’s progressive left have, in the name of social justice, made the rotting elite enclave that you so accurately depict. For the left to ignore or try to swim against the realities of market economics is no different than the religious right going against science and evolution. If you don’t like Walgreens, give an independent some reason to stay open in your town. They have to be able to make money, sorry about that. But if their store is taxed and regulated to death, unprotected by the police, vandalized by protected addicts and the owner feels like the city’s golden goose, he’ll migrate.

Another sacred cow – Rent control – great for the renters who have it, as free lunches always are, until the building owner is losing money on the unit and stops maintaining it, or sells it, or ellis acts it. Rent control reduces the available inventory of non controlled housing and sends their prices into the stratosphere. It also forces the price of real estate up much faster, to the benefit of those now millionaire hippies that bought 20 years ago. If rent control only applied to the poorest citizens, and the city subsidized those buildings’ upkeep – well, that would be rational, but when a six figure income professional lives in a rent controlled house for 30 years for nothing rent, that isn’t exactly the point, is it?

For that matter, the laws of supply and demand are pretty simple – like evolution. When Supply does not rise to meet Demand, the price does. If you don’t build housing in a desireable place, any housing, the price of housing goes up. Period. What was once working class housing becomes professional housing. What was once a village of its own becomes a wealthy suburb with great, quirky shopping. What was once racially mixed becomes more homogenous. We see the same problems, or rather the same changes. I’m just throwing out another rather unarguable cause.

Living Wage – When the living wage went up high enough, the Quarter Meal soup kitchen closed. Why? the labor cost for unskilled caffeteria workers was too high to continue to operate. So now the hungry are hungry again and the workers are unemplyoyed, but at a higher wage. This is sad. You want to know why various businesses are leaving Berkeley – the same reason the activists are – too expensive, unsafe and you don’t get what you pay for.

The revolution’s goals were laudable, but they fail to recognize or take advantage of the market. For that matter, too often, in Washington as in San Francisco or Berkeley, the left and the right fail to talk or listen to one another. Policies become dogma and honest anaysis is never performed. Wouldn’t it be great if the BCA were to hire Milton Friedman to help them acheive their social goals with his understanding of the marketplace? Isn’t it possible that balance is a good thing?

Daniel Scherotter

Dear Editor,

A short time ago I learned that the percentage of the California lottery money that goes to the schools is 2%! That’s two percent!!! I certainly wasn’t sold on the lottery with these figures, and I’ll bet that the majority of Californians certainly thought the schools were getting more money the same as I did. Something has to be done about this and soon. We are being asked to vote on more school bonds again and again in every election and I say put a stop to them all by raising the percentage of the California Lottery money that goes to the schools!!!! I would certainly be happy with $60M instead of $160M, wouldn’t you?


Terrie Frye

Dear Editor:

Your article implies that there was some sort of back room deal between Mr. Haaland and Bevan Dufty causing the Milk Club to not endorse either candidate. I am a member of the MILK club and was there during the recommendation meeting of the Political Action Committee. Both Ms. Rosenthal and Mr. Dufty were given a fair hearing. For those members that stayed until the end of the day there was a very lively debate regarding the qualifications of both candidates or whether the PAC should recommend a no recommendation vote. The no recommendation position won fairly and squarely.

I do not know Mr. Haaland well. What I do know from what I’ve seen of him at the club’s meetings is that when he takes a position it is done with sincerity.

By the way, I voted for Ms. Rosenthal at both the PAC and General Membership meetings.

Tim Durning

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