The Shocking Object Lesson

13 04 2015


Upper middle class whites are upper middle class and white, destitute NAMs are destitute and NAM.

I know, I was surprised, too.

St. Louis is featured in the study, however, neither in this article nor in the University of Minnesota’s PowerPointless of the research do we get a map of our area’s RCAAs or RCAPs.  I have a pretty good idea, though.  For instance, Census Tract 1103, Newstead-Natural Bridge-ish, is most likely a RCAP, while Tract 2175, southern Ladue, Warson Woods, Huntleigh, John Danforth country, is most likely a RCAA.

A few points:

1.  The author notes that there are virtually no programs or inducements or mandates to try to move well to do white people into poor black ghetto hovels.  As well there aren’t — One of the things that school deseg advocates learned just before it was too late is that white parents, even supposedly liberal ones, will turn the world inside out if their kids are bussed into black schools.  On the other hand, they will tolerate a few token blacks being bussed in from the ghetto to their white schools, and maybe the token “affordable housing” ghetto black or two in their census tracts.  The white backlash is far more severe if you try to take them or their kids and move them into the ghetto compared to moving just a little slice of the ghetto into their neighborhoods and schools.  This is why the fourth wave of school desegregation is a lot more nuanced and careful in what it does and how it does it.

2.  A RCAA tract is defined as at least 90% white and median income that is at least four times the Federal poverty level adjusted for the metro area’s cost of living.  It does not say whether it’s also adjusted for household size, because Federal poverty thresholds so adjust.  As a baseline, 4x Fed Pov 4 household is $97,000 for 2015.  That figure will be higher in expensive cities like New York but lower in cheap cities like St. Louis.  If the given metro area has a dead on average cost of living, then it stays at $97,000.  Yes, $97,000 allows four people to live very comfortably, but it’s not filthy rich.  Consider that three such households strung together can’t afford even one HRC speech.

3.  We’re still stuck on this hobby horse that the mortgage interest deduction is Federal spending on housing?  Oh well, whatever makes them feel better.


Assuming Census’s metro area cost of living fractions are what this study’s authors use, then the extremes are Manhattan (216.7%), and Harlingen, Texas (82.8%).  Phoenix (100.7%) is pretty much a dead on average area, while St. Louis is at 90.4%.  So the $97,000 national average means $210,200 in Manhattan, $80,300 in Harlingen, and $87,700 in St. Louis.  Assuming this study’s authors use a 4 person household, it means that a St. Louis area census tract has to have a median household income of $87,700 and be at least 90% white to be classified as a RCAA.

Husband wife and two kids with $87,700 of income in a 90%+ white census tract in St. Louis are going to live a pretty good life, but they’re not rich.

Circumstances Beyond Our Control

12 04 2015




Atlanta newspaper calls St. Louis a region that’s ‘lost its way’


In its comparison of a struggling St. Louis with Chicago, its more affluent — and much-larger — Midwestern rival, the newspaper calls St. Louis a “cautionary tale” and a region that has “lost its way.”

Its profile of St. Louis leads with a description of the memorial in Ferguson to Michael Brown, the teen killed by Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.

And note the other article on the AJC front page with “Ferguson” in the title.

As if that was the whole metro area’s fault; as if it affected the whole metro area.  Remember, there were riots in Chicago after the assassination of MLK, there were not in St. Louis.  That’s what was so traumatic about Ferguson, that it ended our winning streak, ruined our reputation as the city that doesn’t riot, and meant that the cops around here lost the step ahead of the undertow which they previously had.

The recitation of St. Louis’ woes is a familiar one. It was once the fourth-most populated city in the nation, “a manufacturing and transportation colossus,” and the host city, in 1904, of the World’s Fair and the Summer Olympics.

When rivers were uber-important to commerce, St. Louis was important.  When other means of transportation supplanted the rivers, St. Louis’s importance declined.  It’s as simple as that.  Also, the reason Chicago and not St. Louis became a major railroad hub was because TPTB of the time wanted to punish Missouri for seceding from the union.  Even though St. Louis was a Union city, making St. Louis a major hub would have meant helping rural Missouri.

The 1904 Summer Olympics, while they were the first Olympics ever held in the Western Hemisphere, were only held in St. Louis because of the World’s Fair; originally, the Olympics were supposed to be in Chicago. And they were such a flop and a failure that it was seriously in doubt if any more Olympics would happen.

Special criticism goes to Harland Bartholomew, the renowned city planner who was hired by the St. Louis in 1916. “Bartholomew’s embrace of urban renewal and highways-to-the-suburbs fueled the exodus from St. Louis as well as the region’s fragmentation and racism.”

Because when you think of urban sprawl, Atlanta is the last metro area that comes to mind.  Chicago has no urban sprawl, either. Also remember that in relative terms, comparing square mileage to population within the urbanized footprint, St. Louis’s sprawl “problem” is probably the same as Chicago’s and not as bad as Atlanta’s. Meanwhile, Kansas City and Oklahoma City are two metro areas less populated than St. Louis but whose sprawl and urbanized footprints are really spread out.

As for Chicago, “at several inflection points, the city has taken action to build its status, while many peers slipped.” It was helped by its “heartland location,” the Atlanta paper reports.

One big problem for both Chicago and Atlanta is that neither one of them have a marquee industry on which they can hang their hats and become metro areas that matter in our era of wealth-income-cognitive stratification.  Boston has education, New York has banking, finance and the media, Washington, D.C. has the Federal government, L.A. has entertainment and movies, S.F./S.V./Bay Area have CSIT-WWW.  While it’s theoretically possible for Harvard to move out of Boston, Wall Street to move out of Lower Manhattan, the capital to move out of D.C., Hollywood to leave Southern California and the Silicon Valley to leave the place formermly called the Santa Clara Valley, the odds of even one of those things happening are just one wee little atom north of zero.  Meanwhile, the real cautionary tale for Chicago and Atlanta and their future viability and credibility comes from St. Louis, albeit in a way they don’t realize:  Since the late 1990s, Boatmen’s Bank sold out to Nations Bank which later merged with Bank of America, Mercantile Bank has sold out and merged and sold out several times, Ralston-Purina is now a subsidiary of Nestle, McDonnell-Douglas sold out to Boeing, Lambert Airport is no longer a national airline hub because American Airlines bought out TWA, and then there’s the big one.  Chicago and Atlanta have notable corporate citizens, but they’re the type which can go on the selling block at any time and just as easily exist in places other than Chicago and Atlanta.  Note that the aforementioned Boeing, once based in Seattle, is now based in Chicago.  Don’t think Coca-Cola can ever be bought out and moved out of Atlanta?  Well, let me remind you about St. Louis, and “the big one” that happened a few years ago.  Chicago is probably safe in it always being a railroad hub, and while rail commerce is still important and probably will be for a long time, it’s not quite as important as it used to be.

Also, one thing that St. Louis has going for it relative to Chicago and Atlanta is the ratio of whites to non-whites over the entire metro area.


Blank Checks and Platitudes

11 04 2015

Old North Side


The Northside Regeneration Project may not be finished by developer Paul McKee

The NorthSide Regeneration project, aimed at redeveloping 1500 acres of North St. Louis, may have to be finished a developer other than its creator, Paul McKee, according to a consultant to Mayor Francis Slay, because of serious financial questions raised about McKee over the past few days.

It was revealed this week that McKee is two years behind on city property taxes for many of the land and buildings in the footprint of the project. The total owed the city, including penalties and interest is roughly $750 million. By law, the city has to wait one more year before it can take McKee to court.

It was also revealed this week that a Kansas finance company is suing McKee, claiming he is in default on $17.6 million in loans.

That company, Titan Fish Two LLC, is asking the courts to put part of the NorthSide project into receivership, giving the company control over those properties.
Could that kill the project?

Jeff Rainford, Mayor Francis Slay`s former chief of staff, is now serving as a consultant on that project.

Rainford says he believes the NorthSide project will happen, even if McKee loses control of some of the property to Titan Fish Two.

Okay, that begs the important question that people should have been asking all along:  What will happen?  Even at this late date, long after McKee got a bunch of TIFs and tax abatements, his “plans” are still nothing more than what they’ve always been, platitudes, platitudes and more platitudes, and no specifics.  If someone would have noticed that several years ago, maybe this whole mess could have been avoided.

What Happens When an Irresistible Force Meets an Immovable Hipster?

28 03 2015

New York City

Megan McArdle, in Bloomberg

Gentrification Is an Irresistible Force

Ah, gentrification. What’s not to hate? Except for sit-down restaurants, dog parks, charming pubs, bike lanes … and there goes the neighborhood. Yesterday, we talked about the inherent irony of gentrification: the fact that gentrification is simultaneously driven and abhorred by nice young progressives who just want to live in a walkable neighborhood. We also discussed why so many of the ideas proposed to stop it — from inclusionary zoning to tougher rent control — have so far proven powerless against the March of the Affluent.

It’s true that “young progressives” are driving it.  The hatred is only for show.  That also explains why the “ideas proposed to stop it” are “powerless.”  That is by design.

I’m hearing a lot these days about scatter-site housing as a potential fix for gentrification.

Scatter site housing helps gentrification, because they scatter the scatter site housing in older suburbs (think: Ferguson) in order to shovel ghetto blacks out of the cities.

There are two additional wrinkles we need to consider. First, what does your tax base do when they hear that their neighborhood has been slated for 2,000 low-income housing units by the year 2020? Let’s say you have managed … er, somehow … to make it impossible for these community groups to sue, and you have studiously ignored their angry letters and phone calls to the city council. What do these people do? There’s a risk that the answer is “move,” in which case the tax base collapses again. Now you have lots of affordable housing, and all the problems that cities complained about before people started complaining about gentrification.

Or, there’s another option.  The media will bitch about the racism of old white people in older suburbs so they can’t materialize the political will to stop “affordable housing” there, so that ghetto blacks can continue to be shoveled out of central cities to make them safe for young progressives.

In a more realistic world, what happens when you announce your sweeping plans is that political support for that “affordable housing” line item in the budget starts to collapse. More than half the households in the District of Columbia now make more than $50,000. DC is a liberal city, and people of all income levels are willing to spend money on various forms of housing subsidy. But if you require them to spend that tax money, and also live next to a housing project, many of those people will cease to support the construction of any new housing projects.

Here’s another case where there’s another option.  The “affordable housing” within the gentrified cities full of young progressives turns out to be “affordable” if you’re politically connected, such as the “side families” of important politicians.  It’s not “affordable” for Shaniqua and her eight kids by seven felons.

This is a really important point. We are not debating whether DC, or San Francisco, or New York City, can create any affordable housing units. They certainly can, and in fact, they are. What we are discussing is whether these cities can create enough affordable housing units to prevent gentrification.

Who actually thinks gentrification should be stopped?  Not anybody that matters.

And now, finally, we arrive at the market-based approach that is well-favored among the cognoscenti: forget building “affordable housing,” and just build “housing”. Lots and lots of it. Slash the red tape, alter the zoning code to let people build more high-rises near public transit, and tell the community groups to go to hell when they protest. There are two good books on this you should read: The Rent is Too Damn High, by Matt Yglesias, and The Gated City, by Ryan Avent. Both authors are brilliant, erudite, and completely right. They are also probably not going to change the minds of tens of thousands of angry homeowners who don’t want high-rises built in their neighborhoods.

The people who live in single family houses whose values are increasing aren’t in any mood to make it easier to people to live close to them.

And what’s this obsession with high rise residential buildings?  I wouldn’t want to live on a high numbered floor anywhere — Who wants to spend a lot of time just to be able to get down to ground level, and then a lot of time to go back up?  Then there’s the matter of California, where the big one could hit anytime.

And so here we are: The government simply has relatively little power to create more affordable housing in the face of massively increasing demand for homes in desirable cities like Washington, New York and San Francisco.

And a lot of people read that and think, “that’s a feature, not a bug.”  Affordable housing is for Prince Georges County, parts of Westchester County, the Inland Empire, the Tri-Valley, South Suburban Cook County, and of course Ferguson.

Six to Fourteen

2 03 2015

Santa Ana, California

Joel Kotkin, writing in the Orange County Register:

Misunderstanding the millennials

So, this is about how we’ve got the millennials all wrong.

Paragraph six:

This, not surprisingly, is not what you read about regularly in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Young reporters, virtually all of whom live in dense, expensive places like New York or Washington, instinctually believe the world they know first-hand, the one in which they and their friends reside, epitomizes their generation. Most Americans, however, are not young, highly educated or likely to ever be Manhattan or Brooklyn residents. Indeed, only 20 percent of millennials live in urban core districts; nearly 90 percent of millennial growth in major metropolitan areas from 2000-10 occurred in the suburbs and exurbs.

Paragraph fourteen:

Of course, some close-in suburban areas – think Bethesda, Md., Newton, Mass., Beverly Hills, South Pasadena or Palo Alto – have done well, but are also prohibitively expensive. Overall, though, the inner-ring suburbs – as we saw with events last year in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo. – now often exhibit many of the very negative characteristics associated with cities. In fact, inner-ring suburbs have experienced the largest outmigration in metropolitan America – even as downtowns have grown – while the fastest-growing areas are once again those on the periphery.

These two paragraphs are related.  Think it through.

I hope Kotkin is right, and all these Tumblr SJWs that Common Filth makes fun of are just a tiny fringe.

Weakening the World

8 07 2014


Hide the wife and kids and bar the door.  Because Grover Norquist is thinking again.

He thinks big cities can turn red if Republicans get in front of the Uber/Lyft issues on the side of the disruptive innovations.

Just like big cities turned red because Republicans got out in front of the charter school question in favor of them.

Really, though, if you want to turn big cities red, you’d swap out their current predominant demographics for white families, and make it easy and affordable for white people to start families.  But ole Grover’s wee little brain infected with the egalitarian-libertarian virus will reject that out of hand.

Spare Me San Francisco

28 06 2014

San Francisco

Yeah, I’m all for affordable housing for the sake of affordable family formation.

However, I don’t think it’s necessary for a city to have the residential architectural character of Pyongyang, North Korea in order to achieve it.


How ’bout some immigration control?

Sorry, a writer named Reihan Salam isn’t having any of that.

Five, six, seven, eight…


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