Bend That Arc!

In 1968, the Fair Housing Act made it the law of the land that owners of property could not refuse to sell or rent it on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. In 1988 the list was expanded to include family status and disabilities.

Absent from this list of criteria was criminal history. Legislators understood it to be within their mandate to stop property owners from simply selling or renting as they saw fit, but nevertheless stopped short of forcing them to share their premises (in the case of rentals) with known criminals.

That reasonable limit on government interference, however, belonged to a bygone era, in which individuals were assumed to possess adult human agency, and therefore to be responsible, as individuals, for their actions. But, to quote Daniel Dennett on the subject of free will, “if you make yourself small enough, you can externalize everything” — and so we now will do with criminality. In real-estate transactions, applicants are now to be considered, not as the authors of their own life-histories, but merely as different flavors of otherwise identical atoms.

How so, you ask? Well, you see, it appears that one flavor of those atoms somehow ends up convicted of crimes a lot more often than the other flavors do. But because all human atoms are — by incontrovertible axiom and fiat — otherwise identical (and very, very small!), there can be no intrinsic attribute, no “hidden variable” that could possibly account for this. So the only remaining explanation is that there is something entirely external, something vastly larger than any human particle, that irresistibly deflects certain flavors of atoms into our courts and prisons.

This means, in turn, that any evaluation we might make based on criminal records is, by the same incontrovertible axiom and fiat, invalid. (Anyway, another word for what we call “evaluation” is “discrimination”. Need we say more?)

For your enlightenment, then, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued these guidelines. They are based on no legislation, but rather on the sharply ascendant and marvelously flexible concept of “disparate impact“. What’s interesting, and perhaps novel, about this example is that what’s “disparate” here, and thereby causing the “impact”, is the actions of the affected group itself.


  1. For your enlightenment, …

    That’s it. I have been enlightened by virtue of having lost all patience and respect for the flavor of government we have had to suffer from the entrenched Left.

    They tell me Trump is the most radical Presidential candidate in American history? I say fine. Bring it!

    Posted April 5, 2016 at 9:13 pm | Permalink
  2. Epicaric says

    It will inexorably – and necessarily – follow that one cannot discriminate on the basis of whether the prospective renter can actually pay for the lodgings in question. The iniquity of credit checks has already been raised as famously “problematic” for their apparent disparate impact on otherwise indistinguishable humans.
    It is becoming increasingly more difficult to determine who are the victims and who are the villains. The shift is imperceptible as the victims’ cries of pain obscure the victimizer’s entreaties for mercy from the whip.
    When government so transparently becomes a tool to be wielded against the other, fates are irreversibly sealed and the clock has started to a course of events that is never very pretty to behold. Something that we should have learned very clearly from the pock-marked walls of the Holiday Inn in Beirut.

    No, America is not exceptional. There is no reason to believe that those humans that find themselves within these borders will be of a nature any different to those without; human nature will have it’s day. The question is only of means and measures.

    Posted April 5, 2016 at 9:52 pm | Permalink
  3. djf says

    This has been in the pipeline for quite a while. A few months ago, there was a SCOTUS decision approving of disparate impact analysis (with Kennedy tagging along with the Stalinists). The stupidity of virtue-signaling ordinary educated upper middle class Americans who voted for Obama in the last 2 elections – without whose votes he would have lost – is mindboggling. They cannot comprehend that what the Left is about is destroying their world, to make it impossible for them to leave their children a life similar to their own.

    Henry, Trump is about as “radical” as Kim Kardashian. If he somehow becomes president, he’s not going to do anything about this.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 8:53 am | Permalink
  4. Well, Dan, at least Trump’s butt is not the size of a Buick.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink
  5. JK says

    Well. For once (maybe the first time) I’m happy I read through the last paragraph prior to offering my observation. Thanks djf: you’ll never appreciate how much I appreciate your noting The Supremes in your comment.

    I’ll only add this;

    Perhaps we’re to suppose the Feds managed to notice the recent Game Theory application (trout) prior to Henry’s bringing it to our attention?

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink
  6. Whitewall says

    djf, I recall that SCOTUS decision as well. It was tucked in with a larger decision that captured all the media attention but I saw it and pointed it out at the time. From the late 1980s on, I spent my time in investment real estate and knew what this bit of social engineering was all about. Personally, I’m waiting for some local virtue signaling lefties to proclaim from their nice houses with manicured lawns how really wonderful these “new” rules are for the betterment of our society. At that point I may just resume investing in RE as a hobby, buy some houses or condos or even apartments right among them. And do it loudly. We shall see if their words match their virtuous beliefs. I pretty much already know what will happen.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink
  7. Whitewall says

    Henry, a Buick ain’t what it used to be.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 9:56 am | Permalink
  8. JK says

    The size of a Buick appearing as I was editing my comment eliciting my most recent conversation [Sunday] with Bro-In-Law’s parents.

    Bro-in-law’s Dad observing;

    Donald Trump, finally for the Republicans, offers a reply to Al Sharpton spending so much time in the Lincoln Bedroom.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink
  9. Robert,

    If you buy into the manicured-lawn crowd, I suggest you also buy a rusty wreck from a junkyard, have it towed to the driveway, remove the wheels and put it up on cinder blocks. That would be righteous, bro.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink
  10. Whitewall says

    Henry, righteous indeed. If I instruct my property management company(s)…I have 4, to put the “right person” in the unit, he will take care of that “curb appeal item” very soon.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink
  11. Malcolm says

    Seriously, Henry, enough.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 10:14 am | Permalink
  12. Darth Vader says

    Best post ever!

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink
  13. “Donald Trump, finally for the Republicans, offers a reply to Al Sharpton …”


    In the language of bridge (the card game) that could be expressed as, “The Donald trumps the ace of sp*des”.

    [My deepest apologies to anyone who may be offended by my joke. But I simply couldn’t resist.]

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink
  14. Malcolm says

    djf, you are referring to last June’s Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., a misbegotten and audaciously activist ruling that will have widespread and destructive effects. (The dissenting opinion is here.)

    This is just the beginning.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  15. Whitewall says

    I have read about apartment buildings in some of the newer gentrified areas of New York City where high end units occupy one part of the structure and “lower income” units occupy another part of the same structure….complete with a separate entrance for each level of clientele. This caused some media people to get huffy, but didn’t seem to bother actual residents of either level, so the matter was evidently dropped–at least for now until some grievance about it can be conjured up.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink
  16. Whitewall says

    Malcolm that was the very case. Its magnitude and scope was lost in the news of the larger case that accompanied it on the same day. The Texas ruling case will open the door for mischief via lawyers and others to an insane level. Repercussions against those who are to be “helped” will probably result as is so often the case with central planners’ good intentions.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink
  17. JK says

    Well Henry …

    I admit to some editing of how exactly, James phrased the Trump/Sharpton equation.

    Then, James plays bridge too. You two could team is my opinion.

    Without apology.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  18. JK says

    @ Darth Vader

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink
  19. Malcolm says

    Thanks for reminding me about that post, JK. I’ve added a link to it.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink
  20. JK says

    No. Thank you Malcolm (for leaving the @11:17 comment thus; leading me to think I’d repeated [yet again] “The March 31 Catch”).

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink
  21. JK says

    Oh and by the bye (?) acknowledging Henry firing up “my rusties” along with h/t’ing WW for the observation (paraphrased)

    “The Establishment Rs will just hold ground for the Left.”

    It is probably good we remember just how we got from there to here.

    (For any who might find him/herself here for the first time and be confused at how JK’s memory/mind works such miracles …

    Key-phrases: ‘cars on cinderblocks’ .. ‘the economy of Iceland’).

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  22. Whitewall says

    JK that was an interesting link back to 2008. Conversation was similar to now. That year I was scrambling to get out from under too much leveraged real estate. I made it barely and left only about a half million $ on the table. I saw what was coming in the RE world in late ’06-’07. She is going to blow I thought. The weakest link-low down payments to shaky “buyers” on over priced homes, all in the name of social justice….we thought. Math will kill social justice every time. Then bundle those loans into “investment grade paper”, have S&P give them their blessing, sell the paper to the world’s investors and just wait. Bubbles don’t ease their way down. They pop. Government had a major hand in this as the policy had been to make everyone a homeowner. S&P and the other rating agencies did not dare rock the boat. Bankers loaned and new “lending firms” sprang up prior to the crash and everybody was lending and borrowing with little worry about being called on the quality of the loans or, perish the thought, the borrowers. Now Washington is back in the game was standards going down to stimulate more loans–sounds familiar. With these new rulings from the SC and HUD, more shenanigans will follow until markets and math have the final say. Buckle up.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 1:15 pm | Permalink
  23. JK says

    The weakest link-low down payments to shaky “buyers”

    Curb your superlatives WW. With HUDs assistance yesterday’s ‘shaky’ will be tomorrow’s smooth as glass eagles.

    (In the sense of Jacques and Malcolm’s recent discussion.)

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink
  24. JK,

    I loved the article by P.J. O’ROURKE, which Malcolm linked in that post. There are so many gems in that classic. Just one example:

    What will destroy our country and us is not the financial crisis but the fact that liberals think the free market is some kind of sect or cult, which conservatives have asked Americans to take on faith. That’s not what the free market is. The free market is just a measurement, a device to tell us what people are willing to pay for any given thing at any given moment. The free market is a bathroom scale. You may hate what you see when you step on the scale. “Jeeze, 230 pounds!” But you can’t pass a law making yourself weigh 185. Liberals think you can. And voters — all the voters, right up to the tippy-top corner office of Goldman Sachs — think so too.

    The American electorate is, arguably, the stupidest electorate in our solar system — possibly in our galaxy. We are doomed.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Permalink
  25. Malcolm says

    “Glass eagles”? Man, that’s some inside baseball there, JK.

    (Banking-legislation-wise, that is.)

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink
  26. JK says

    Well Malcolm, as the story goes “The Norseman went to Panama.”

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink
  27. “Inside baseball”, Malcolm, is some inside baseball (metaphor-wise). I’m stealing it :)

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink
  28. JK says

    Kilgore was here

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink
  29. Whitewall says

    This Dept. of HUD?

    Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

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