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Friday, July 24, 2009

This is embarrassing ...

Hawaii made a rare appearance today on the widely read blog of University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, better known as Instapundit, here.  In this case, it’s no compliment—he has linked to a Wednesday story at The Honolulu Advertiser about Oceanic Cable threatening to suspend service to Kuhio Park Terrace, because residents of this public housing project have been abusing, threatening, even urinating on Ocean Cable service technicians.

Reynold’s real target is not Hawaii, however, it’s the prospect of nationalized, government-run health care. How so? He posts this quote from the Advertiser:

“The Oceanic concerns represent another black eye to the housing authority over its management of Kuhio Park Terrace, the largest public housing project in the Islands with 614 units in two 16-story high-rises. Residents of the project, along with their neighbors have long raised concerns about security, vandalism and backlogged repairs.”

To make this point: “But don’t worry. Public health care won’t be anything like public housing.”

Embarrassing as it is to see this story get national attention (and Instapundit claims 10 million pages views a month), Reynolds has a point. High-rise public housing projects such as KPT were part of a national, postwar urban renewal movement, in which  government bulldozed low-rise pre-war tenements and erected bare-bones, concrete high-rises instead. By and large, this has been a failure. If you take an architecture tour of Chicago, for example, docents point out the empty fields where the high-rise public housing projects used to be, before Chicago tore them down after learning that such developments concentrated, rather than ameliorated, poverty and its associated social pathologies.

Now, Instapundit didn’t link to this more pleasant KPT story from last month, about a community clean-up day. But when utilities fear to send their own service workers there, KPT has problems that can’t be fixed with a new coat of paint, problems that have everything to do with a specific public policy decision to concentrate poverty into a high-rise, followed by unsurprisingly poor government management that has left residents with a barely functional building.

KPT residents themselves speak out on that subject in this 3-minute video on youtube.com.

Posted on Friday, July 24, 2009 in Permalink

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