To the Editor:
I commend the Alexandria Gazette Packet for drawing so cogent a nexus between tax and rent increases, complete with charts which scare off many a local weekly. My July 14 letter noted that our city hall cannot see more than one move ahead, which your lead story about how increasing city taxes drive affordable housing’s disappearance corroborates. City hall is capable of imagining only what it will spend the additional tax revenue, assuming ipse dixit that property owners will be able to shoulder the increased tax burden, but your article shows a collateral effect, two moves ahead, which city hall was incapable of foreseeing.
As with so many other things, city hall is the prime cause of the problems it is trying to solve. One of the greatest abuses of power is when a government body arrogates to itself new prerogatives to stanch problems that very governmental body itself has caused.
Your analysis notes that rents are increasing while wages are stagnant:
Why rents are increasing: Native citizens have been reproducing at near replacement level or four decades, so nearly all population increase is immigration-driven. Consequently, population increases, driven by immigration, drive up rents simply because more people are demanding a relatively fixed affordable rental housing supply. New rental construction generally is not in the affordable category, except for a pittance committed in exchange for city council making land use concessions.
Why wages are stagnating: Large scale immigration floods the labor market with workers willing to work for less because most of them have a frame of reference from underdeveloped economies. Moreover, plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests immigrants, from the end of the Civil War on, were willing to work for less and under worse working conditions than our native workforce in the “jobs Americans won’t do” which is code language for wages and working conditions Americans won’t abide. This unfavorable competition drives down wages.
City hall’s response, providing services for noncitizens (including illegally present ones) more than the minimum the law requires, reinforces and subsidizes these parallel phenomena which annihilate affordable housing, further evidence that city hall cannot see more than one move ahead and enacts policies which exacerbate the problems city hall is trying to solve.