Tuesday, July 25, 2006

More on gentrification

Ok, I admit that I am seriously considering making an offer on a Brewers Hill condo, so I'm not exactly disinterested, but shouldn't the left think gentrification - at least in moderation - is a good thing? Shouldn't Michael McGee, Jr. think rising property values are a boon and not a problem?

Remember if you are an urban liberal, you believe that it is possible for the government to create prosperity. You think it is possible to tax your way to economic revitalization. So why wouldn't you want a brand new source of tax dollars?
Gentrified urban neighborhoods generally involve households without children. They don't use the schools and don't make demands upon the social welfare system. They may demand some additional police presence (although the fact that they need to is an indictment of the manner in which poor neighborhoods are policed), but, generally speaking, we are talking a huge net "revenue enhancement" which can now be spent on the rest of those ungentrified neighborhoods.

And since you think government spending is a good thing, why not welcome the new vistas that have now been set before you?

It seems the folks that would be most opposed to gentrification are the crunchy cons, but they often seem to be the very people who are doing it.


DK said...

Rising property values are a boon in many ways, but a variety of residents (black, white, conservative, liberal) in McGee's district are concerned with the potential drawbacks. The reasonable gentrification concerns are from middle-class home-owners worried about getting prcied out or shadowed by massive and incongruous condo developments. There are also lower income folks, especially elderly homeowners, who are most likely to be priced out. But at this point it is hard to imagine much sustained growth in an already inflated real estate market.

I am not sure if you are joking somewhat in your second paragraph. It seems to me that as Milwaukee has shifted from better times to worse, that shift can be tracked by (and has a lot to do with) a major decrease households *with* children who use schools and much else. The condo hype and ballyhoo about young singles and empty nesters shows jsut how thin our hopes and expectations are for this city. See my past remarks in the Journal about this:

Regarding your last paragraph, I rather resent the innaccurate presumption of your statement about TNP, which will probably be confusing to nearly all your regular readers.

First, I don't think Rod Dreher and people who share some of his CC ideas are likely to be "anti-gentrification" as the term is usually used. They may well resist things like the Bucktown (and typical Chicago) scenario, but that is not the kind of thing we see in Milwaukee.

I believe the only TNP-associated person you know (in a very slight epistolary sense) is me, and I can't think of any basis (even misinformation) you might have that would explain why you could consider me a "gentrifier" by your definition here.

With the arrival of a 4th child, my family is officially (once again), "poor" by government standards. The school-age children attend a local MPS school. We are vigorously involved in political and civic affairs, mostly through local voluntary associations.

Of course there are plenty of people around us with fewer economic assets, resources and "cultural capital." If the arrival of anyone with "more" (and particularly a white "more") means gentrification, then by that standard I am a gentrifier, and I don't feel bad about it at all. The only people I've ever known to complain about gentrifiers/gentrification are culturally and/or economically middle class white liberals.

FYI, I do not know the precise living arrangements of everyone on the TNP masthead, but I do know we all lack your basic criteria 1) urban location, 2) middle-upper income, and (optionally) 3) no children.

I haven't given this a great deal of thought before since we don't ask or screen out single condo-living people who make 6 figures. However, it would probably be unusual to find someone like that who is sympathetic to the same intellectual traditions we tend to like and work within.

DK said...

NB: among the various people described in my first paragraph (above), the conservatives (and others) seldom use the word "gentrification." That has kind of a liberal, marxist resentnik cachet. They might say they are looking at the issue from the standpoint of economic self-interest.

Anonymous said...

Additionally, when I say "households" in my second paragraph (above), I mean nuclear and/or extended family units that are not indigent.