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Bad Economics: Is it that the Mayor and CMs don't get it, or is it that they just don't care?

On my most recent piece, The Faulty Economics of YIMBYism, I received the following comment that I think deserves an in-depth reply.


Thank you, Elizabeth, for this very helpful and informative post. I am wondering if you, or anyone on VOXMN, knows if Mayor Frey and our City Council members do not understand what you have shared, or do understand it, and do not want to enact policies based on the housing economics described in your post for their own reasons.


Great question! As to what Mayor Frey and the City Council members understand, I can only speculate. However, one of my favorite moments from the 2017 mayoral race took place at Shiloh Temple. Jacob Frey argued that luxury condos would generate tax revenue that could be spent to build affordable units.


Nekima Levy-Armstrong (then Pounds) replied, "With all due respect Jacob, I think you're living in a fantasy world." (A year later, in a phone conversation, Mayor Frey told me that Nekima had copied his housing plan word for word. I cannot confirm or deny this, and don't particularly feel like researching it, but as Nekima remained outspoken against developer greed throughout her campaign, I have to say I don't think Mayor Frey is telling the whole truth here.)


The line between delusional fantasy and willful ignorance is pretty thin. It's possible that our elected officials just don't get it, or they do understand and choose to make bad policies based on bad theories, consequences be damned.


Whether or not they understand that high-school level economics lessons are a bad basis for sound city policies may not be the most relevant question. I think the real question is: do they care?


On this single page from Jacob Frey's 2017 campaign finance report, there is approximately $5,000 in donations from developers. Reuter Walton. Mortenson. Eagle Building. Weis Builders. Wellington Management. Those are just a few of the developers who helped Jacob Frey win his seat in office.


See the full report here: http://www16.co.hennepin.mn.us/cfrs/getReport.pdf?seq=6&ids=742


Jacob has aspirations of a long career in politics. He needs to keep his donors happy so that they will pay for his next campaign. So whether he gets it or not doesn't really matter if he ultimately just doesn't care.

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