Thomas Sowell

For many couples, even when both of them are working, that is still not enough to pay the rent or the mortgage in the community where they are employed. That forces them to live farther out, which in turn can mean three or four hours a day spent in heavy traffic going to and from work. For some, death on the highway is part of the price they pay so that others can preen themselves on their love of open space.

Some parents would like to take their children out of a failing or unsafe public school, and put them into a private school. But the crushing burden of housing costs can make that impossible. An inferior education can be a life-long handicap for their children. That is also part of the price paid so that other people can feel puffed up as preservers of open space.

Who can live in such places? Either older people who bought their homes when houses sold for a fraction of what they cost today, or very affluent or wealthy people, including heirs to fortunes.

Why would people who have inherited great wealth use that wealth in ways that make life harder for people who were not born rich, but who have to work for a living? That question should be addressed to heirs who run family foundations that are supporting endless campaigns for more and more housing bans ("open space").

For either an individual or a society, wealth buys insulation from reality -- one of the most dangerous of all luxuries. Those who don't have to worry about making a living can indulge themselves in feel-good crusades at other people's expense.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate