Don’t Know Much About History … (Or Economics)
An Associated Press article printed in this morning’s Post-Dispatch details a subsidized housing project for teachers in New York City a project that New York believes will be a model for other U.S. cities with escalating housing prices.
New York teacher salaries start at $42,000 per year, in a city where studio apartments average more than $2,000 per month. The lack of affordable housing has prompted teachers’ unions to petition for “affordable” housing within the city. For teachers, this means monthly rents closer to $800 per month.
It always amazes me when people respond to problems created and perpetuated by governments by proposing solutions that involve not less, but rather more, government intervention. I agree that housing costs are out of control in New York City and that most teachers are underpaid. But if it weren’t for the rent controls that the city imposes (which cause housing shortages and reduce the incentive for developers to create additional units or maintain existing ones), then affordable housing wouldn’t be an issue to begin with. And if it weren’t for the fact that teacher salaries are determined by a rigid (and arbitrary) government-imposed pay scale, perhaps good teachers would receive the compensation that they deserve, and an increasing number of quality teachers would be attracted to the field.
The “solution” being proposed to correct the problem in New York is to introduce additional government control, which will only exacerbate housing inequality and prevent the market from correcting price imbalances. I think that’s a model that we can do without.