By Llewellyn H. Rockwell,
government policies are destroying communities all over the country,
Washington bureaucrats are fabricating new ones based. on egalitarian
ideology, and imposing them through federal police power. The 11,000
residents of Vidor, Texas, know about this, for they experienced
this social engineering at first hand.
5:30am on January 13, 1994, media vans rolled into the small community,
followed by U.S. Marshals and enough police cars to surround a housing
complex. They were escorting a van marked "Department of Housing
and Urban Development," which carried two black women with seven
children between them, a single black man, and a single black woman.
The government was moving them into the complex for purposes of
social engineering, under 24-hour police watch.
months, the national media had smeared Vidor as a bastion of racism.
HUD secretary Henry Cisneros and his deputy Roberta Achtenberg,
head of HUD's racial enforcement and a lesbian-rights lawyer of
anti-Boy Scout fame, had decided that Vidor was too white.
blacks who had lived there last year had complained that the citizens
were inhospitable. In particular, Vidor residents were accused of
being rude to Bill Simpson, who chose to move out. A few days later,
a fellow black man shot him to death in a nearby all-black town,
a crime that the media tried to pin on Vidor.
none of the former residents were denied their right to live wherever
they wanted, and no one in Vidor broke the law. No one was robbed,
raped, or even touched which is more than can be said for most
cities in this country. More to the point in our post-Waco era,
no one was even "stockpiling weapons." Undoubtedly, Vidor has its
share of unfriendly types, but mostly its people just want to be
left alone. And what's wrong with that?
wrong, of course, is that the government doesn't like it. So Achtenberg
determined to make Vidor "a welcoming town." "What's happening here
is about more than a few families moving into a small public housing
development in a small East Texas community," she says. "It's about
whether this nation, in 1994, has the courage and will to live up
to its ideals." The ideals are chosen for us by distant government
officials, of course.
the federal government planning to nationalize every area where
people aren't pals? If so, it might start with the streets around
the HUD headquarters itself, where you're in potentially deadly
trouble if you're, for example, a Korean. But that kind of pervasive
hatred isn't politically incorrect, so therefore it doesn't interest
been normal, throughout human history, for people to prefer homogeneous
communities. Even today, every city in this country has ethnic enclaves,
which give them real diversity. Is HUD going to target San Francisco's
Chinatown and recruit Mexican families to move into it? Will it
bus Nigerian immigrants into Jamaican communities at taxpayers'
expense? Or is it only blue-collar Texans who aren't allowed to
Vidor incident was no surprise for those who followed Cisneros's
confirmation hearings, where he promised to end spatial segregation"
through federal power, including a Jack Kemp-initiated welfare scheme
called "Moving to Opportunity."
this program, HUD will shift 6,200 households in the next two years
at an initial cost of $234 million. Inner-city residents, guided
by left-wing non-profit groups, will be moved at taxpayer expense
into the suburbs. The government will pay their moving costs, rent,
and electric bills, as well as day care. It will also provide therapy.
moving people around without regard to economics merely redistributes,
uproots, and unsettles, and tears apart communities to manufacture
new and artificial groupings. It results in more social friction,
while busting up real communities. It throws residential property
values, determined in part by community coherence, into chaos. And
because markets inevitably triumph over government plans, the resulting
artifices do not last, although the social dislocations can.
and all similar interventions are based on the "Gautreaux Demonstration
Program," Chicago's forced residential integration plan of the late
1960s and 1970s. For left-liberals, Gautreaux represents a landmark
in achieving the government-run ideal. It went far beyond outlawing
market discrimination in housing (itself an attack on basic freedoms);
it was state-enforced integration that trampled on private property
and scrambled the demographic patterns that grow organically from
human choice and market exchange.
Gautreaux was a welfare mother handpicked to be a civil-rights star
by ACLU attorney Alexander Polikoff, still a leading egalitarian
agitator. Long perturbed at Mayor Richard Daley's refusal to obey
federal housing policy, Polikoff decided to take the city and its
housing practices to court before he had a client.
eventual result was the 1976 Supreme Court decision Hills v Gautreaux,
which granted what Polikoff and his allies had long sought: forced
housing integration, funded by the public, and administered by Washington
at the behest of local leftists. The plan moved several thousand
inner-city residents to the suburbs over the objections of virtually
every group in Chicago, including black community leaders. By the
end of the 1970s, more than 700,000 whites had fled Chicago as a
our age, arbitrary power is usually justified with statistical models.
In housing literature, academics use the "Index of Dissimilarity,"
which compares census tracts to a city's overall racial composition,
and rates a community against an un-achievable standard of perfect
blending. It is used in the same way that interventionist economists
use "perfect competition" as an other-worldly policy benchmark to
attack the free market.
the index is constructed, the government tries to push the index
toward zero. In the real world, cities rate about 80, on a scale
where 100 is total separation. Only two things stand in the way
of zero: human choice and the modicum of respect that our society
still has for voluntary association. "Integration Management" is
one of many euphemisms for overriding individual choice. Under its
rubric, government subsidizes rents and mortgages of integrates,
requires advance notification of the intent to sell, imposes bans
on real estate solicitation, and outlaws "For Sale" and "Sold" signs,
in the belief that an open market unfairly discriminates by its
a typical case of policy backfire, however, Integration Management
policies increase the likelihood of community flight. If people
in a middle or working-class community believe that blacks are moving
in because of their economic advancement, acquiring mortgages and
homes based on their achievements, then their neighbors are more
likely to accept them, and sometimes on a proportional scale. But
if the underclass is enabled to move in through social engineering,
with their attitudes and behaviors unchanged, then whites may have
reason to fear, and to flee.
economists have emphasized that the market brings people together,
forming communities of commerce among differing groups. But it is
equally true that markets mean choice, and with choice comes sorting.
A real community, formed by the free market, tends to foster cultural
homogeneity. It's not a matter of exclusion so much as a working
out of voluntary market selection. Income, moreover, is not always
the determining factor in residential association. An upper-class
heir, for example, does not want to live next to a casino owner,
regardless of their income similarity.
are no laws anywhere in this country that prevent people from living
where they want. But that's not good enough for social planners.
What, then, can be done to stop HUD before it does to the whole
country what it did to Vidor, with media attacks, expensive redistribution
plans, and demographic scrambling?
like Cisneros, Achtenberg, and their affiliated academics are not
amenable to persuasion, since they are motivated by a hatred of
the bourgeoisie and all it stands for. Instead, they must be denied
power and money and their means of disruption. HUD must be destroyed
before it destroys what's left of the free market in residential