Letter: Affordable housing?

In your last edition, Chris Moyles [“Spirited Debate,” March 25] makes an assertion that a home in Rappahannock priced at $139,000 is beyond the reach of workers earning less than $14 an hour. He then states: “. . . I haven’t seen a lot of local job listings in the paper, much less $15-an-hour openings.” Since he is the executive director of a federally funded non-profit organization promoting the construction of taxpayer-subsidized housing, we can see where this is headed.

A species of social parochialism asks us to constrict the view of our entire country as being composed of mile-square grids in which every unit must have the same amenities, facilities and housing availabilities as every other square mile ― as if so-called affordable housing isn’t readily available in every adjoining county, only minutes away; as if those employed in Rappahannock County would never consider residing in an adjacent county or as if Rappahannock residents can only seek employment within the confines of Rappahannock County; as if we are not permitted to travel or work beyond its bounds and have no connections to surrounding counties or to the wider world.

Heaven forbid someone making an economic decision for themselves or their family rents or buys in Page or Warren or Culpeper counties! What a life of deprivation that would be!

In the worldview of the social engineer, aspirations are reduced to five-year plans and human life compressed to statistics. So much an hour divided by the acres multiplied by the mortgages subtracted by the amount of daylight hours is the plan to follow. The more complicated the better, because if no one can decipher the magic numbers then a professional priesthood is required to interpret, explain and organize. Strip away the exalted humanitarian rhetoric and the demands are clear enough: The government-subsidized schemers who blighted the cityscapes and the lives of the urban poor in New York, Chicago and Detroit want your land and your money.

Those concerned with housing issues must confront the multiplicity of reasons why wages of skilled and low-skilled labor in many of the construction, agricultural and service occupations have been depressed and why so many of their jobs have disappeared altogether. No country, not even America, can absorb 20 million illegal aliens into the workforce without causing economic calamity for the U.S. workers who used to do those jobs.

If the wages of American workers were not artificially depressed by massive imported competition in their own backyards, they would be earning more than $14 an hour, not less. Note: This is not the fault of the hard-working illegal immigrant. It’s the fault of elected officials who refuse to enforce the law and unscrupulous employers who exploit the cheap labor. What makes housing affordable in a reliable and sustainable way are good-paying jobs, not taxpayer subsidies.

Social engineering is a corrosive, coercive intrusion whether it’s perpetrated on a local level or on the national stage. The folks who live in Rappahannock County, whether they earn less or more than $14 an hour, are not guinea pigs in a utopian social experiment.

Ron Maxwell
Flint Hill

About Ron Maxwell 8 Articles
Ron Maxwell: filmmaker, dog lover, tree hugger; moved to Rappahannock County in 2003. He is currently prepping a western entitled "Belle Starr."