Fair Housing: There Goes the Neigborhood


A Letter to the Gods (what public officials seem to think they are): Suggestions for Reformatting Public Policy.

In any discussion of the justification of government, be it eminent domain, police service, social programs, general plans, or anything that affects the quality or general conditions of living in the community, we must look beyond the ramifications of government to the actual problems that everyday people have to deal with. This paper addresses the issue of government not resolving our problems, but even perpetuating them by simply finding ways to cope with chaos.

How much power should public officials have over any citizen anyway? We may opt for excess, and may do so because we imagine that force will be exercised against someone other than ourselves, yet we are positioning ourselves as sitting ducks. The harder target will get away, and when authorities are looking for something to do maybe they can arrest us for keeping an unlicensed dog inside our house, or fine us for not mowing our lawn for two consecutive weeks. That’s what happens. We ask for this?

The principal function of government is to maintain order. If the processes that have been implemented become dysfunctional, the method of resolving the problem is likely to be limited to finding ways of coping with it. Government may move to maintain order, yet ignore real solutions directed at the root of the problem. For a public that has become distanced from recognizing the true nature of the powers that rule, a superficial understanding is sufficient to lull us. Packaging is much more important than contents, especially if the audience has been conditioned to the point of apathy. Politicians lie to get elected, and the public comes to take it for granted, even overlooks lies about “weapons of mass destruction” and the web of other lies attached to government atrocities like this. Politicians have to lie because the public expects them to solve problems, but they don't do that, they just find ways to cope; temporary fixes, or illusions to make us feel comfortable. Criminals can be chased from one neighborhood to the next, and some will get arrested, but then they get out, and we do nothing to solve the problem; we only cope better because we believe something is being done.

In this arena of lies and ineffectiveness, no government official should be able to do anything without full public scrutiny and approval, but even with that it's hard to solve a problem if you are caught in the middle of a dysfunctional system. Efforts to cope with a dysfunctional system can lead to a departure from logic in order to make erroneous parts fit. As it goes on it can eventually have an appearance of becoming a total departure from reality, but we can't look at it, and if we did we wouldn't understand it, and out of helplessness we turn to authorities to fix it for us. Meanwhile they’re thinking about other things they can do to us. The problem compounds, and grows a maze of coping mechanisms making navigation to the real solution impossible. Eventually we may be calling on the powers of authority for solutions that in reality are nothing more than attempts to cope with chaos. Should we trust them?

The city of Stockton is responsible for three recent events in my neighborhood: 1) A multifamily residence at 117 West Flora was an architectural gem. The city of Stockton determined that the building was a health hazard, a public nuisance, and blight. It was a unique and very attractive example Victorian architecture, and contrasting to the claims of a Stockton city official; the foundation had been upgraded, it had a new roof, new wiring, and other improvements. An engineer who wanted to purchase the property and refurbish it was unable to do so because of the city's interference. Who gained from demolishing this wonderful building? You might wonder if a demolition contractor has some friends, and they had no reservations about destroying an historical gem for the sake of money. 2) There was a 200 slip marina and a walkway around the waterfront. The city took out the marina and destroyed the walkway in order to spend over $22 million to put in a new walkway and a new marina that only holds about 66 slips. There is grant money that they can’t get unless they find a way to spend, so the process goes beyond local government and appears to encourage waste by design. In the midst of this waste, corruption may find invitations. 3) A boy’s mother called police for help to calm down her son. News reports said the boy had an assault rifle and was injured by police. Then the News said it was a pellet gun and the boy was in critical condition. Then the News said that the boy was just not cooperating with the police. The real story is that the boy was arguing with the police, and they shot him in the head more or less because they can get away with it. A cover-up of what really happened seemed to be taking place from the very beginning. If our public servants are so unscrupulous in matters involving human life, how can we trust them with things like eminent domain?

A condition of chaos exists. According to the American Heritage dictionary chaos is defined as: A condition or place of great disorder or confusion; A disorderly mass, a jumble.

John C. Calhoun illustrated how chaos occurs in social situations in experiments with rats and mice. Calhoun determined that there was a maximum group size that can effectively function. Beyond the population of 150, regardless of how much space that population was confined in, the social system would become dysfunctional as numbers increased, and eventually lead to terminal chaos. Many people protested applying a study of rodent society to humans especially when Calhoun’s study had so many shocking human correlations. More recently Robin Dunbar used a mathematical calculation between neocortex size in humans, and that of chimpanzees (which have a maximum group size precisely observable in nature). Thus 150, now referred to as the Dunbar number, appears to confirm maximum functional group size for humans. Dunbar cited other scientific, commonly observable, and historical evidence that also supported this maximum number, as well as smaller divisions for specific functions. Looking at it more simply: We may have difficulty dealing with more than three things at once. We are comfortable with the number of digits in phone numbers, and the days of the week. Whenever tasks go beyond cognitive limits, performance on all tasks, not just one task, may diminish in quality. I can’t even stay awake long enough to count to a million, and I can’t imagine a government serving so many more people from the top down.

For government to be functional and reasonable it must operate closer to the hands of the people it serves. Instead of from the top down it should come from the ground up. The best use of government would be to facilitate, encourage, promote, and support the sovereignty of individuals. Six people within a neighborhood could devote an hour each day to helping each other, and even if it amounted to no more than mowing each other’s lawns the engagement would serve a purpose. If neighbors partnered with neighbors that like the same kind of food they could shop together and benefit by buying in bulk. Neighbors could occasionally eat together, do other things together, and get subsidy from revenue saved through needing fewer police services. If enough people formed groups of five or six people that interacted to help one another within a neighborhood—even just talk to each other—it could make a difference. Half a dozen other groups could learn how to communicate within and between neighborhoods, and a functional network could grow. Eventually the usefulness of government could be taken in a new light, but as it is the top down status quo can’t be fixed, and can't be trusted. The problems with a dysfunctional government are vastly more complex, but can be better understood by a simple example of a dysfunctional family: A drunken father beats his oldest son. Dad is not around most of the time, but neither is the oldest son because he doesn't want to get beat. Mom’s got too much to do so big sister helps around the house. Little sister gets to take care of big brothers puppy since he's not around. Since dad and big brother are both gone little brother feels like he is man of the house. Dad shouldn't be a drunk, quits drinking, and suddenly mom doesn't need much help anymore and big Sister doesn't have anything to do. Little sister gets the puppy taken away. Little brother isn’t man of the house anymore, and suddenly Aunt Sally says; “I like him better when he was a drunk”. Dad has changed, and even though it was a good change, it disrupted a dysfunctional system that other family members have learned to cope with. Dad had a problem that he solved, and now everyone might have a problem because of the solution. Government, like a family, can become dysfunctional, but on a grander and more complex scale. Looking back, if the neighborhood was an extension of family, how did the government affect that? The government should be an extension of the neighborhoods, but what happened?

The Fair Housing Act was put across with superficial reasoning which superseded the more difficult to articulate argument about the culture of neighborhoods; something that nobody could reasonably imagine could ever be contested. Everyone wants to be fair, but transforming interactive neighborhoods into places were neighborhoods don't talk to each other seems to defy the benefits of fair housing. People have become too detached from other ordinary people and even further detached from people in power. The interactive and supportive neighborhood was the core of a functional society. It is pointless to protest the existence of the Fair Housing Act. The argument for it may be more compelling than reality, and it was founded upon confusion anyway. People aren’t going to give up their job, their mission, or abandon the popular appeal to be fair, but we must compensate for the deficiency created when residents no longer have the power to control the character of their own neighborhood.


If government operates out of view, and too far from the hands of the people, then government will likely become more corrupt, inefficient, and even enter a condition of enmity against the people it serves. At some point erroneous government can only be supported by lies. Dysfunctional systems are difficult to change, especially when people dearly want to believe that errant operations will work with more of the same. The Fair Housing Act provides just one example of how good intentions can equate with negligence, and politicians should not be trusted with so much power.

Proponents of the Fair Housing Act may have liked to put an end to segregation. In the 1970s there were still neighborhoods with distinct demographics that were reflected by the cost of housing. Neighborhoods that were predominantly African-American were substantially lower priced, so I elected to go through the trouble to earn acceptance as an individual of European decent into a Black neighborhood because I liked the bargain price. When demographic constraints were evident anyone might have to earn acceptance in any neighborhood, and not just move into some area with a disinterested or hostile stance. Demographics were determined by choice, and the power of individuals to control their own neighborhood. People liked to congregate with other people they could easily relate to and communicate with, and you can see that people still do this today. There was never a law that said you had to be Mexican to live in Russell City, or that white people had to live in Castro Valley, or that Oakland was to be a diverse mix of distinct neighborhoods, but then came the Fair Housing Act. The law could not force people to integrate, but could have an affect that neighbors don’t even talk to each other anymore, and eventually gentrification would eliminate their bargain entirely. Segregation never ended, but took new forms in the appearance of gated communities, an expanse in prisons, and lies to appeal to political correctness. California prisons had more prison guards by the year 2000 than the entire prison population was in 1970. An attempt to end segregation created new types of segregation, often a silent segregation, and instead of the benefits touted by bureaucrats it had an affect of disrupting the social context of society, and increasing the cost of housing for disadvantaged but independent people. The law may have had good intentions, but should compensate for the deficiencies created by it. In this, and other actions by the powers over us all, the rights of the people to govern themselves were encumbered some time ago, but the dominos are still falling.

The only way to repair the System is to move to dismantle it, and gradually displace government control with groups that are small enough, similar enough, and communicate well enough that they can function effectively.

Why should we need a government that operates according to illusion and fear? They don’t need to try to control my neighborhood. Are people so concerned about safety that they might elect to be placed in a padded cell under strict supervision—Would they even be safe then? I would rather not have the government protect me from imaginary demons. The government itself has become the demon.

References: Calhoun, J.B., (1962) Population density and social pathology. Scientific American, 206; 139-150. Dunbar, R. & Hill, R., (2003). Social network size in humans. Human Nature, vol. 14, pg. 53-72. Farrell, J., (1988). The case for hanging errant public officials. San Francisco: Fulton- Hall Publishing. Von Boerner, A., (2007). Taxidriver therapist. Available in ‘Articles’ at: www.Taxijazz.com


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