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'The Proof is in the Permitting' 


Author David Corn describes America's corrupt economy as the "White Tablecloth Syndrome." Spilling red wine on a white tablecloth is obvious and embarrassing but overlooked on a tablecloth covered in stains. For example, manipulating shortages in affordable housing, (AKA "housing bubbles"), continues unabated, hiding in plain sight among the other corrupt industries also manufacturing scarcity to inflate prices and profits in healthcare, alternative energy, pharmaceuticals, education, transportation, well-made commodities and domestic manufacturing. With local and national government cooperation, rigging markets is easier than innovating useful public services, making "finance" the nation's largest industry exploiting corruption's victims.

Each of Humboldt County's past "Housing Elements" ("Outside the Box," July 18) report small fractions of permits issued to fulfill the assessed need for low and very low priced homes while far-higher percentages of permits are issued for "moderate and above" priced homes, (200 percent in 2009). The current "McKay" development of moderate-and-above priced homes next to the Redwood Acres race track will become part of every lucrative cycle of speculation, building, foreclosing and resale, each time enriching entrenched local elites while bankrupting and impoverishing local families, part of America's recurring economic collapse and industry bailouts. Sprawl worsens our county's housing crisis and its unfunded infrastructure crisis that makes permitting problematic for affordable and accessible housing alternatives requiring infrastructure subsidies.

Local representative's unwillingness to acknowledge or address systemic corruption guarantees the continuation of our housing crisis, collapsing markets and the gauntlet of predatory businesses flocking to Eureka to exploit corruption's economic refugees. Under new, proactive public-interest leadership elected by Humboldt County voters, we could join other California cities building affordable housing funds through "vacancy taxes" that finally enforce accountability from large investors of foreclosed homes and businesses being used as "tax sinks." Applying fees commensurate with sprawl's economic, social and infrastructure impacts, (or freezing sprawl altogether), is past-due.

George Clark, Eureka

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