The Socialist Death Spiral: At first it proceeds so slowly that nobody even notices the deterioration and decline going on all around them. With the government controlling the economic statistics, most likely the official numbers show economic improvement that is entirely fake, but can deceive people for a while. But as the spiral continues, it goes faster and faster.
For the New York City Housing Authority, you could have known there was a problem for a long time just by looking at the buildings. But the growing problem was well concealed. It was only in 2015, early in the de Blasio administration, that they suddenly came out with a report, NextGeneration NYCHA, that revealed a backlog of "urgently needed" capital repairs of some $17 billion. Wow -- that was close to $100,000 for each of the 170,000+ NYCHA apartments. But that was only the start. On February 6 this year, the Wall Street Journal then reported that the amount had just jumped to $25 billion:
City officials also said for the first time Tuesday that the housing agency’s infrastructure needs total about $25 billion, up from $17 billion several years ago.
And, this past week, the $25 billion took another jump to $31.8 billion. From the New York Times, July 2:
On Monday, housing officials unveiled the staggering price tag to remedy the conditions and restore Nycha’s infrastructure to good working order: $31.8 billion over the next five years. . . .
Now we're closing in on $200,000 per apartment. The Zillow website gives the median value of a home in the U.S. as $216,000. So it looks like, any day now, it will be cheaper for NYCHA to buy each resident family a median home somewhere in the U.S., rather than trying to fix the deteriorated mess they have made for themselves.
How could this be falling apart so fast? Here's the explanation given by Pravda:
[NYCHA's] 2,413 buildings are on average more than 60 years old, and they are plagued with leaky roofs, mold, broken elevators and faulty heating systems.
The Times also repeats a line from the bureaucrats about a "two-decade decline in federal funding." As far as I can determine, that is a complete lie. Compare the chart on page 2 at this link, showing federal operating subsidies to NYCHA projects of $680 million per year in 2003, to the chart on page 15 at this link, showing $910 million of federal operating subsidies to the NYCHA projects in 2016. Maybe they would have liked a larger increase, but there is no honest way of spinning that as other than an increase.
Funny, but there are millions of homes in the U.S. more than 60 years old that don't need $200,000 of capital repairs, or for that matter, any major repairs at all. That's because these homes have been well-maintained on an ongoing basis. I'll bet that thousands of readers live in such homes. I do too! And it's not just owner-occupied housing. Consider the apartment in a private building in Queens where my daughter lives. The building was built in the mid-1920s, so is nearing the 100 year mark. When she was looking to rent it, it was already in excellent condition, with new windows and a modern kitchen; but as an incentive to rent, the landlord offered to provide a new stove and also to upgrade the air conditioning. You would be hard pressed to find any significant repair to make to this apartment. Isn't that the way it always works?
Not under the socialist, government-owned model. At NYCHA, the average rent is just over $500 per month. Of course, at those prices, they have a huge waiting list to get in -- more than 20 years. They don't need to give you a new kitchen or bathroom to induce you to take the apartment, so you don't get one. Go to the breakdown in the Times article of what the $31.8 billion will cover, and the biggest single item is new kitchens and bathrooms, at $5.6 billion.
Of course the kitchens and bathrooms in the NYCHA buildings are decrepit. I'll bet not one single NYCHA tenant has ever put in a new kitchen or bathroom at their own expense. Why would they? It wouldn't belong to them. And if they just sit back and complain loud enough and long enough, sooner or later they will buffalo NYCHA into getting them the new kitchen. If the building hasn't fallen down first. The conduct that is rewarded is dependency and helplessness.
Memo to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: this is what "housing as a human right" looks like.
Meanwhile, back in Venezuela, the latest crisis is lack of water. But wait -- this is a country that gets plenty of rain. The average rainfall in the Caracas area is about 35 inches per year -- comparable to Seattle. From AP News, June 26:
Neighborhood water shortages have sparked more than 400 protests countrywide in the first five months of the year, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict.
Caracas once had a world-class water system, pumping water from far-off reservoirs over towering mountains into the valley that cradles the city. Now its pipes are bursting, pumps are failing and a small herd of cattle grazes at the bottom of the Mariposa reservoir outside the city, feeding on grass that should be deep underwater.
I guess that nobody was incentivized to make sure that the water system actually works. But isn't water "a human right"?
The death spiral just goes faster and faster.