Soho Forum

Government Policy Created Housing Segregation. So Should Government Be Required To Fix It?: Debate

The next Reason/Soho Forum, in New York on January 14, pits Richard Rothstein vs. Howard Husock on how to correct a historic wrong.

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Soho Forum

"Since the federal government fostered housing segregation in the 20th century, the government should foster housing integration in the 21st."

That's the proposition under debate at the next Reason/Soho Forum debate, which takes place at New York City's Subculture Theater on Monday, January 14. Tickets cost between $12 and $24 and must be purchased online. Admission includes a buffet of light fare and a cash bar. Details below.

Reason is proud to sponsor The Soho Forum, a monthly debate series covering topics of particular interest to libertarians. Moderated by Gene Epstein, long-time economics editor at Barron's, the debates are conducted "Oxford style," meaning the audience is polled before and after the proceedings and the winner is the debater who moves more people to his or her point of view. Each debate is subsequently turned in to a Reason video and podcast for later listening. For a full archive of past Soho Forum debates, go here.

Here are specifics about the debate on Monday, January 14:

"Since the federal government fostered housing segregation in the 20th century, the government should foster housing integration in the 21st."

For the affirmative:

Richard Rothstein is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and a fellow of the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and of the Haas Institute at the University of California (Berkeley). He is the author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America. His other recent work has documented the history of state-sponsored residential segregation, as in his report, The Making of Ferguson. He is the author of Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right (2008) and Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap(2004). Other recent books include The Charter School Dust-Up: Examining the Evidence on Enrollment and Achievement (co-authored in 2005); and All Else Equal: Are Public and Private Schools Different? (co-authored in 2003).

For the negative:

Howard Husock is vice president for research and publications at the Manhattan Institute, where he is also director of the Institute's social entrepreneurship initiative. City Journal contributing editor, he is the author of Philanthropy Under Fire (2013) and The Trillion-Dollar Housing Mistake: The Failure of American Housing Policy (2003). From 1987 through 2006, Husock was director of case studies in public policy and management at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, where he was also a fellow at the Hauser Center on Nonprofit Organizations and an adjunct lecturer in public management. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, National Affairs, New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Society, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Philanthropy, The Wilson Quarterly, and Public Interest. Husock has written widely on U.S. housing policy, including Repairing the Ladder: Toward a New Housing Policy Paradigm (1996).

As always, the comedian Dave Smith (follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast Part of the Problem) will open the eveing with a fresh set of material based on the evening's topic.

Here are details of the event:

Cash bar opens at 5:45pm
Event starts at 6:30pm
Subculture Theater
45 Bleecker St
NY, 10012

Seating must be reserved in advance.

Bonus: I interviewed Rothstein about his path-breaking book, The Color of Law, which reveals all the ways in which federal housing policy, especially as it got kicked into high gear under Franklin Roosevelt, segregated housing patterns in the United States. Rothstein is a liberal—a former New York Times education reporter, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, and a fellow at the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund Thurgood Marshall Institute—but pulls no punches when it comes to the effects of what transpired.

"In many cases," says Richard Rothstein, "the federal government did create…segregation in metropolitan areas and in cities that had never known segregation before. In other cases…it did reinforce segregation that was already in existence. But the country was much, much more segregated as a result of these federal policies than it was before, or would be today without them."

What he and the Manhattan Institute's Howard Husock will be debating is less about the past and more about what to do next. It should be a fascinating conversation with direct relevance to housing policy in every city in the country. Here's the podcast I did with Rothstein:

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  1. I might be there. The commute is difficult, but it will be worth the trip if I can combine it with a hookup. I meet this enthusiastic 2nd Amendment fan near my local gay bar on Sunday, and he’s got game!

  2. As far as I know, there’s no more official segregation as it’s against the law! Other factors like poverty, crime and people congregating around others like them tribalistically are other de-facto factors… The government is in charge of the law, not social engineering!
    https://aladyofreason.wordpress.com/

    1. The new “official segregation” is often derided as “reverse discrimination”. It is when higher-scoring whites (and even Asians) are kept out of colleges and universities, and, to some extent, jobs. But notice that few if any college professors or Congressmen resign their positions in order that THEIR positions should be back-filled with “oppressed minorities”. Having your job forcibly back-filled with “oppressed minorities” is something inflicted by the more powerful, upon the less powerful. Color me SHOCKED!

  3. Government Almighty messed it up, so Government Almighty should fix it? Part of a long, long, and very sad story!

    The collective hive mandated WAY too many licenses, before we’re allowed to earn an honest living… Put too many of us into poverty. To “help” with this poverty problem that The Collective Hive created, The Collective Hive gave us welfare. Welfare then attracts too many illegal sub-humans, sometimes, so to fix THAT problem, The Collective Hive now wants e-verify and giant border walls and giant border armies, so I suppose The Collective Hive will next fire up the military draft to fix THAT problem! (Lack of a large enough wall-and-army forces).

    Those of us who like individual freedom, would like for Government Almighty to SHRINK, for once, instead of always making itself BIGGER to fix all of the problems created by Government Almighty in the first place! And just about every day, I see arguments on these pages, that justify the ever-increasing might and power of The Collective Hive, especially when I want to hire, or otherwise associate with, an illegal sub-human.

  4. When you call a plumber to fix your plumbing or a roofer to fix your roof and it’s not fixed properly, it’s right to demand that they fix it right. But after 3 or 4 callbacks and your shit’s still not fixed, maybe it’s time to stop letting that guy attempt to fix a problem he’s obviously incapable of fixing. Tell him to pack up his tools and go away, face the fact that you made a poor choice in problem-fixing expertise.

    1. Yes. Once the original fuckerup has demonstrated their incompetence over and over again, hire somebody else. That’s the core problem with government: it cannot fail. It has no market to weed out bad ideas and bad actors and allow for creative destruction of whole industries.

      Accountability. That’s what is lacking from government.

      Well, and majority rule, but that’s a different problem.

  5. “Since the federal government fostered housing segregation in the 20th century, the government should foster housing integration in the 21st.”

    This is a non sequitur.

    What [Richard Rothstein] and the Manhattan Institute’s Howard Husock will be debating is less about the past and more about what to do next.

    Oh. Then the “Since” clause of the proposition should be dropped.

  6. The only way government can fix anything is by no longer interfering with that thing.

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  9. Richard Rothstein vs. Howard Husock
    I love it when guys with alliterative names debate. Reminds me of comic book superheroes.

  10. Unless the fix is ‘stop doing the shit that broke this’ then no.

    Otherwise you’re giving more power to fuck things up to the very people who fucked things up.

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