Footnotes: Smart Growth Seattle Cited by Cato

When I was trying to be an academic back in my early twenties I learned the measuring rod for my work would be answering the question, “How many times have you been cited?” It was, frankly, a measure that was part of the reasons I left the profession. Judging my value by often being a footnote seemed, well, silly. But I get it. Citation means relevance. So we’re a little more relevant.

The Cato Institute’s Tax and Budget Bulletin No. 79 is called, “Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: Costly, Complex, and Corruption-Prone.”

Here we are, cited in the bulletin:

Smart Growth Seattle noted that “affordable housing projects have many unique costs, and often cost more because of financing, construction, and labor requirements. Affordable housing projects can be more expensive than market-rate due to some of these unique costs.”15 The head of that group, who is an expert on affordable housing, estimates that the per unit costs of LIHTC projects “can be more than double that of market rate housing.”16 He points to a 112-unit LIHTC complex in Seattle completed last year that cost $45 million, or $400,000 per unit.

This is an important bulletin and it’s a meaningful cite. And it matters that Cato uses “corrupt;” it’s a word I hesitate to use, but I often feel is appropriate to describe the cozy relationships and huge transfers and laundering of public money during the production of tax credit financed housing. It is a slow motion rip off.

I talked with one lawyer who admitted his wealth and the wealth of his firm was attributable to his and his firm’s willingness to venture into the complex world of tax credits. Good for them. I hope they enjoy their wealth attributable to hard work working the system; nothing wrong with that.

What bothers me, is that real people who build housing are cast as the villains by the left, while millionaire lawyers who profit from tax credit transactions are seen as lowering their mighty skills to help the poor. Nonsense. They’re paying bills like everyone else.  There is a place where clear hypocrisy becomes so open that it defies the dictionary definition; making money from “helping the poor” isn’t a cover story, euphemism, or inconsistency, it’s standard operating procedure.

I’m proud to be cited by The Cato Institute. Cato the Younger, as I’ve said before, was the opponent of the Grand Bargains of his time. We are not a libertarian organization; rather we believe we are free because of good government, not because of its absence. Seattle lacks good government. And we’ll keep calling that out no matter what they call us.





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