Public policy making ramps up anew

Public policy making ramps up anew

Summer slips away this first day of September. And after Labor Day passes next week, public policy making shifts into higher gear.

A few thoughts:

As the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic sink in, we’re hearing of more and more plans to convert old stock downtown Pittsburgh office space to residential living.

But none of these conversions should be using public subsidies to effect the switch.

If developers truly believe there is a market for such housing, they should be risking their own dollars in anticipation of turning a profit.

The public has no business being their forced venture capitalists.

All that said, City of Pittsburgh officials have yet to wrap their arms around how to quell the unflattering portrait that has become downtown Pittsburgh.

Vagrancy and associated problems that come with it have left large swaths of the central business district quite inhospitable. And that certainly is not a trait that would attract new residents to live in the city.

Issues such as this, of course, are multi-pronged, but it must include effective policing. And as far too many observers have noted, there’s no

excuse for not policing such things as using public sidewalks as bathrooms and open drug use.

Speaking of housing, the autumn likely will bring a ruling in that lawsuit by builders and other groups challenging Pittsburgh’s “inclusionary” zoning law that forces new housing developments to set aside a certain percentage of their residential stock for “affordable housing.”

It’s being challenged as a violation of due process, as in an unfair taking of one’s property. While it is that, sadly, and as we’ve often noted, such programs lead to the opposite of what its proponents claim – the building of fewer housing units which puts a governor on supply and ends up raising housing prices.

Employing critical thinking skills and some basic research on the experiences of other cities would have, or at least should have, put the kibosh on such perverted programs in Pittsburgh.

Proudly wearing “We’re ignorant” buttons isn’t very flattering.

“We’re proud to stand together with our friends in labor.”

You hear some variation of that sentiment a lot from various quarters in the run-up to Labor Day and, particularly in Pittsburgh, in advance of the annual Labor Day parade.

But some of the very people who utter that homage are some of the very people who sort of pay a premium because of government-dictated pay for organized labor.

Think “prevailing wages,” “non-Right-to-Work rules” and “project labor agreements,” among other taxpayer perks for labor unions.

Of course, such things inflate the cost of public works projects (some by as much as 25 percent, according to various studies) and price out of the competitive bidding process companies and employees that choose to not be unionized. It’s government-backed discrimination, pure and simple, and invariably in the quest for political gain.

Now, back to that “sort of” qualifier.

Many of the very people who utter that they’re “proud to stand together with our friends in labor” are the ones who profit from forced taxpayer subsidies for their endeavors.

That irony should not be lost on the tax-paying public that continually sees its private wealth despoiled by those seeking public subsidies for private gain.

It’s the same tax-paying public that also is regularly shamed for resisting this cartel’s efforts to turn out their pockets.

As a matter of sound public policy, such “sucker fishism” should be abolished, once and for all. Pipe dream that that is, how sad that taxpayers are so regularly played for suckers.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (