Rent-control legislation advocated by the “Cap the Rent” campaign of “democratic socialists” has failed in a General Assembly committee, which is good, since a basic question about the proposal was never answered.
That is: Why was the capping campaign limited to rental housing? For the prices of many other necessities of life — like food, electricity, gasoline, and medicine — have been soaring just like the price of housing. Indeed, people can live without housing longer than they can live without food.
So why was there no proposal to cap the price of those other necessities as well? Probably because any candor from the “democratic socialists” would expose their dishonesty.
They isolated rent for capping because only housing providers are easy to expropriate.
Cap the prices of food, electricity, gas, medicine and other necessities and their providers will go elsewhere and shortages will develop quickly.
But rental property can’t relocate. It is captive.
While capping rents will discourage construction and renovation of inexpensive rental housing, thereby depriving many others of homes, the existing supply will remain and its occupants will keep their homes at the expense of the unhoused. And yet capping rents was portrayed as humane when it was actually self-serving. “Democratic socialism” turns out to be plain old theft.
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What may be most remarkable about state government lately is that so little of what is shown to be wrong about it is ever questioned by Governor Lamont and state legislators. State government is almost completely without oversight.
Another example of this arose the other day at, predictably enough, the University of Connecticut, where, Connecticut’s Hearst newspapers discovered, a professor had been fired for impropriety and then, in arbitration, was ordered reinstated and paid $1.4 million in damages with no announcement from the university.
The Hearst papers discovered the huge payment during a review of the list of the highest-paid state government employees, and then asked the university about it. Only then did UConn admit the disaster.
Strangely this time the details suggest that UConn was right in firing the professor. The university contended that she had improperly concealed her financial affiliations with institutions in China, and the National Institutes of Health agreed. So maybe the issue most compelling to pursue here, if state government ever cared about efficiency and accountability, is why, like state government generally, UConn continues to subject itself to outside arbitration of employee disputes.
Must the contentment of government’s employees always trump administration in the public interest?
Since the issue that has been raised again at UConn will not be pursued by the legislature, the public interest seems to be of no concern.
At least the Republican minority in the state Senate complained last week when it was disclosed that over the last year the state Board of Pardons and Paroles has sharply increased its commutations of criminal sentences, including the sentences of violent offenders. Commutations went from just six between 2016 and 2021 to 71 in 2022 alone, 44 of last year’s sentence reductions being received by murderers.
Some sentences reduced by the board had been imposed in part to give assurance to survivors of murder victims that justice would be done. Of course the Board of Pardons and Paroles always has had the power to undo the sentencing judgment of courts, but the recent increase in commutations is extraordinary. It reflects the broader policy of recent Democratic state administrations to go easier on crime.
The ranking Senate Republican on the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, John A. Kissel of Enfield, notes that the explosion in commutations will undermine confidence in Connecticut’s criminal-justice system. Such confidence is already low as the state is being overrun with crimes committed by repeat offenders while Democrats boast about closing prisons.
But Governor Lamont and Democratic legislators have expressed no concern about what the Board of Pardons and Paroles is doing. The legislature plans no hearings on it but may find the time to declare pizza the official state food.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut. (CPowell@JournalInquirer.com)