By Evelyn Pyburn

One of the greatest travesties of political correctness is the degree to which it cripples productive efforts in addressing serious problems.

It stands in the way of truly and honestly dealing with the very real problems afflicting various minorities, or in dealing with some medical, religious or cultural conflicts, as well as in dealing with political and economic problems.

It is a fact that a problem cannot be addressed until it is accurately identified – no matter where that leads. The survivability of human beings has always been our ability to rationally analyze a situation and identify what needs to be adjusted. The degree to which we fail in that endeavor is to diminish our success at survival. At what point did we begin to sabotage ourselves in that process?

The bullying of politically correct thought is intended to short circuit reality – of being able to accurately identify reality – of zeroing in on the crux of problems.

If the source of a societal, economic or political policy problem stems from something pre-determined as not SUPPOSED to be true, then observers, leaders, academics, politicians, bureaucrats, etc. bend themselves into pretzels trying to avoid seeing it. What that boils down to is that the problem is never addressed and those who suffer from it are condemned to go on suffering so others don’t have to endure the discomfort of disagreeing with those whose admiration they seek – or worse, so they can perpetuate a problem that gives them some kind of political clout.

One of the most immediate examples that comes to mind is the fact that homelessness, unaffordable housing and all the social and economic problems that stem from that, are primarily the result of over regulation. That’s an indisputable fact, challenged by almost no one, and yet it influences absolutely no local or state solutions attempting to “solve” homelessness or the problem of high-cost housing.

For decades and decades, with ever mounting fervor, centralized planners, building coders, municipal administrators, and utopian visionaries have imposed arbitrary and relatively unnecessary costs on development and construction that prohibit lower-cost processes and products, innovations and market alternatives in the realm of housing, unlike almost any other realm of endeavor in our country, except for perhaps education.

Seldom ever has anyone stood to reject the conclusions of the economic studiess – they just ignore them.

For the past 50 years, the observations of analysts   have been promptly relegated to the backwaters of public discussion, academia, politics, and media. Thr evidence does not support the prevailing wisdom that only government – not markets – are capable of shaping the housing market, so the evidence has to be rejected because it does not advance the politically preferred policy of growing bureaucracies and government control.

Besides the availability and cost of housing, over regulation also results in empty storefronts in downtowns across the country, which is most especially true in Billings. This has been a fact made clear to city council and other civic leaders over the past few years, with absolutely no response. Every single over-reaching, arbitrary and capricious regulation imposes costs on maintaining and updating properties. At some point that cost exceeds what the market of a thriving business in the downtown can endure, forcing them to find a less costly location or to not open at all, which leaves no market for property owners to lease or sell. And, that leaves dark, looming empty shells of structures in downtown that only drag down further the value of adjacent properties, creating a downward spiral. Believe it or not, the processs is reversable.

But, so long as leaders and decision makers avert their gaze when it comes to looking at the reality, it will indeed continue to appear that there is no solution but to appeal to government. With market forces curtailed, there will be greater appeal for gargantuan projects, tax funded subsidies, giveaways, and faux economic solutions that in the end will fail.

 With the facts rejected and warnings unheeded, more and more mandates are piled on, crippling the market’s  ability to meet the true needs of consumers. The results are exactly what we see. No solution will be forthcoming until the problem is identified.


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