mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Rent seeking in Mad Anthony's backyard...

It proves I don't follow Baltimore news/politics much when I find myself getting news about my city from Reason's Hit and Run blog - especially since the neighborhood they are talking about, Mount Vernon, isn't all that far from where I live in Resevoir Hill.

Much like Resevoir Hill, Mount Vernon has a bunch of huge old mansions. There are two kinds of people who live in poor old mansions in the inner city - wealthy people who have bought them and restored them, and poor people who live in ones that were converted to apartments years ago and haven't been converted back. Now the rich people are trying to kick the poor people out using an interesting method - trying to get taxes increased on the apartment buildings so that the landlords wind up selling.

Now, I can see why people don't want to live in a $500,000 house that's next to a slum - which is why if I ever buy a house, it will be on the outskirts of Baltimore City or in the county. But if you live in the city, that's part of the reality. Using the government to force people out by raising their taxes is sleazy - and it's a great example of what economists like to call rent-seeking - using the government to make you money (or in this case, to accomplish a goal that isn't necessarily monetary).

That being said, I'm surprised that too many landlords would not sell their apartment buildings in hot neighborhoods. In Resevoir Hill, there are a ton of buildings I've seen go from apartments to private owners in the 2 years I've lived there, but there are still quite a few that are apartments. With the high prices that houses are going for in these neighborhoods - and the fact that many people think that they will go down at some point in the near future - it seems silly not to sell. Then again, maybe I'm just hoping that housing prices will go down so I can afford to buy a house...


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