Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Satisfactory Class of Residents (by Phila)

Whatever woes we may be facing here in America, we can rest easier knowing that home values in Baghdad are going up, thanks to sectarian strife:
[T]he motives behind many real estate deals cast a shadow over efforts to reconcile Shi'ites and Sunni Arabs, whose desire to live in exclusive sectarian enclaves is a major driver behind the resurgent property market, realtors say.

Now, for example, Shi'ites who fled the Baghdad district of Karkh want to live with their co-religionists in Rusafa, one realtor said. Given that Rusafa is roughly half the size of Karkh, property prices there have risen with demand.
Maybe we can learn something from these bitter, angry people. Granted, there's a glut of homes on the market right now, but perhaps we could solve that problem by making them more...exclusive.

Ron Paul's followers have shown the way by building Paulville, a gated community "containing 100% Ron Paul supporters," as well as "people that live by the ideals of freedom and liberty" (and therefore wish to isolate themselves geographically from all heterodoxy and dissent). Why not explicitly rebrand some of our moribund developments as refuges for bowhunters, young-earth creationists, fans of Insane Clown Posse, believers in men's rights, Obamabots, McCainiacs, or what have you? Developers could let people live in these little fiefdoms for little or no cost, initially — which would help to empty out our tent cities — and put them to work building walls, digging moats, and manning barricades, which would increase exclusivity and, logically, property values.

Skeptics should be aware that this idea has a good track record right here in the USA. After the Panic of 1893, the market for suburban real estate all but dried up. A visionary investment house bucked this trend by building a residential development called Roland Park outside Baltimore, on which they imposed firm but fair restrictive covenants that ensured "a satisfactory class of residents" (to the consternation of "a Jew named Walters," among other prospective buyers). Thanks to this exclusivity, as Robert M. Fogelson explains in his book Bourgeois Nightmares: Suburbia, 1870-1930, "the Roland Park Company weathered a financial panic, a chronic dearth of capital, and a sluggish real estate market."

A new era of racially, religiously, sexually, and politically restrictive covenants could be just the shot in the arm this country needs. Divided, we will stand!