Canada Welcomes the New Year by Banning Foreign Home Ownership

“It’s certainly true Canada has some of the most unaffordable housing prices in the developed world. Average home prices are ten times average incomes. Compare that to the U.S., where median home prices are 4.3 times median incomes, per National Association of Realtors’ data. OECD figures show that Canadian home prices have grown 43 percent faster than incomes since 2015.
And as homes have gotten more expensive, foreign homebuyers have become an increasingly popular scapegoat.”

“foreign buyers make up only 5 percent of homeowners in the country. Squeezing out such a marginal part of the market probably won’t have a huge effect on prices.

Foreign buyers made up around 4 percent of New Zealand’s housing market when the country implemented a ban on nonnative buyers in 2018. Home price growth continued unabated after the ban.

A heavy tax on foreign home purchases in British Columbia has managed to reduce “foreign-related” purchases from 10 percent of all sales to between 1 to 2 percent. One study of the policy showed it reduced home price growth by 1 percent, and that minimal benefit faded after a few months.

Such are the pitfalls of trying to marginally curb demand in a hot market without enough supply. Behind every eliminated foreign buyer are multiple domestic home purchasers competing over an insufficient stock of homes.

Canada’s national housing finance agency estimates the country will be short some 3.5 million homes by the end of the decade. That’s within spitting distance of the U.S.’s own estimated shortage of 4 million homes—a country with nearly ten times Canada’s population.

The country has all the limits on supply that the U.S. does, including density restrictions in the urban core and growth boundaries on the exurban fringe. Both prevent new housing from being built to meet demand. As a result, prices in the country stay stubbornly high.

Canada’s local and provincial governments are starting to address this problem with proposals to loosen zoning restrictions. Done right, that will unleash developers’ ability to add much-needed supply.

At the federal level, it appears more politically practical to run with unproductive bans and to scapegoat foreigners.”

Population Growth Still Isn’t a Problem. Anti-Immigrant Groups Still Think It Is.

“In August, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that Massachusetts Coalition for Immigration Reform (MCIR) v. Department of Homeland Security could proceed. Filed by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the suit claimed the Biden administration had violated the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 by failing to conduct environmental analyses before ending several of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
Former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich made the same argument in an April 2021 suit against the Biden administration. “Population growth has significant environmental impacts,” said a press release on the lawsuit, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “and other federal officials did not provide environmental impact statements or environmental assessments when DHS abruptly halted ongoing border wall construction” and began allowing more migrants to enter the country by ending Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

These ideas have found supporters in Congress as well. In March 2021, Reps. Bruce Westerman (R–Ark.) and Paul Gosar (R–Ariz.) claimed in a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that “decreasing illegal crossings protects our border environment.” They cited research from CIS fellows to build their case.”

“this is a faulty way of thinking about immigration and the environment. According to research from Michigan State sociologist Guizhen Ma, places with larger foreign-born populations tend to have better air quality, as immigrants tend to “use less energy, drive less, and produce less waste.” Compared to native-born Americans, immigrants are also disproportionately employed in “jobs that either benefit the environment directly or make their establishment’s production more environmentally friendly,” per 2021 George Mason University research. Immigrants largely settle in urban areas, contradicting the claim that they foster the overdevelopment of pristine lands.”

“”an increasingly wealthy and technologically adept humanity will be withdrawing from nature over the course of this century.” Just as an increased birthrate will lead to more minds and helping hands to solve pressing environmental problems, so will increased immigration.”

Biden admin offers to brief Trump officials on past Chinese spy balloon incursions

“a senior Defense Department official said that Chinese spy balloons entered American airspace three times during Trump’s tenure and once before during the current administration.”

“the difference between past instances and the one from last week, Defense Department officials said, is that those balloons never stayed above U.S. territory for a significant period of time. When pressed for specifics, such as the date, location and duration of those instances, Biden administration officials refused to provide them to POLITICO, citing the classified nature of that information.”

The GOP Split on Ukraine Aid Isn’t Really About Ukraine

“it’s worth noting what the anti-Ukraine aid crowd in Congress generally doesn’t support: ending U.S. weapons transfers and military funding to other countries.
Hawley, for example, has connected his opposition to Ukraine aid to his enthusiasm for Taiwan aid. Earlier this year, he introduced legislation to fast-track U.S. arms sales to Taipei. He’s also repeatedly voted against resolutions stopping weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, and he likewise voted against ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen’s civil war.

Similarly, Vance has suggested that until semiconductor production is ramped up domestically, the U.S. would need to defend Taiwan against Chinese attack. Gaetz has a more mixed record—he’s willing to cut off U.S. backing for Saudi Arabia in Yemen—but he’s uniquely targeted Ukraine aid for slashing. Cutting aid to Israel is certainly off the table. Indeed, none of the representatives I’ve named here voted against $1 billion in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome last year, and Hawley and Vance are as effusive in their pledges of support for Israel as congressional Republicans tend to be.

The fuller picture, then, doesn’t show a GOP pivot to America as “well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all” but “champion and vindicator only of her own.” A better explanation is simple partisan reaction: Many Democrats believe Trump is in bed with Moscow and made investigating his alleged ties to the Kremlin a major theme of his four years in office. That has translated to a broader Democratic focus on Russia as the primary threat to the United States and, by extension, on Ukraine as a pseudo-ally particularly deserving of our support.

In response, some Republicans have—well, not quite embraced Russia, but certainly deemphasized it as a security risk compared to what they likely would have said without the recent history of Russiagate. They’ve cast China as the primary threat instead and, by extension, made Taiwan the pseudo-ally deserving support. And insofar as backing Ukraine is a Democratic cause—insofar as Ukrainian flags flutter over “In this house we believe” signs, as they reliably do in my neighborhood—GOP opposition to Ukraine aid naturally follows, despite the obvious sympathy of the Ukrainian cause.”

Government Spending Billions To Expand Broadband but Can’t Tell Who Needs It

“the government currently has no idea where broadband actually is and is not available.
The government defines broadband as any high-speed internet connection that is always on without needing to dial up.”

“To determine what areas need investment, the government relies on maps from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). But despite costing $350 million, the FCC’s maps are notoriously unreliable and have been for many years. In 2021, The Washington Post noted the maps are based on census data, so “if even one household in a census block—a statistical area that conveys population data—has broadband available, then the agency considers the entire group served. In rural areas, one block could cover dozens of square miles.” The FCC’s maps also don’t take into account physical impediments, like trees and mountains, which can disrupt wireless signals.

As Karl Bode noted this week at Techdirt, the FCC’s maps were so unreliable that multiple states took it upon themselves to draw up their own. Vermont determined that more than 18 percent of its residents lack broadband access, while the FCC’s newly redrawn maps put Vermont’s shortfall at only 3 percent.

Now, with more than $40 billion in state grants on the line, states are scrambling to challenge the new maps, which cost the FCC nearly $45 million in addition to the $350 million previously spent.”

California Continues Chasing People Away

“California lost 114,000. This is the third year in a row that California—with its can’t quite reach 40-million population—has lost people. This isn’t slowing growth, but actual losses (although the rate of decline slowed this year).
Those Census net domestic migration numbers show that 343,000 Californians left for other states. Immigration and births made up for most of the losses. People always are going to have babies and flee impoverished nations, but the true indicator of success or failure involves people voting with their feet—or their U-Hauls. Californians aren’t fleeing our weather or economy, but our bad public policy.

Let’s quickly recap the many ways California’s progressive-dominated government is failing California residents: endless regulations, punitive tax rates, untouchable public-sector unions that are ransacking budgets and opposing reforms, shoddy school systems and decrepit (but pricey) public services, traffic congestion, absurd housing prices, growing crime rates, failing efforts to provide basic infrastructure and a sprawling homelessness crisis.
Don’t count me among those who describe California as a dystopia. It’s far from it, but because of a lack of political competition this presumably innovative and free-thinking state is remarkably immune to new ideas. We endure the same tired rut: “Here’s a problem. Hey, why don’t we raise taxes and create a new agency?” Did I mention that no one ever holds old agencies accountable?”

2 Years After the Capitol Riot, the GOP Remains Divided. Good.

“For a brief moment following the January 6 Capitol riot, it looked like most Republican lawmakers and pundits would condemn Trump’s lies and the riot they spawned. But a funny thing happened on the way to what should have been a reckoning: A whole lot of conservatives decided to back Trump’s narrative about a stolen election. Meanwhile, those who vocally opposed it found themselves on the wrong side of the ongoing inter-GOP war, one in which more moderate or conventional conservatives were demonized by Trump and his populist lackeys and Republican rising stars fought to position themselves as “the craziest son of a bitch in the race” (to quote Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie on what he realized voters swinging from libertarian-leaning candidates to Trump were looking for).

Flash forward two years, and whack job populism has suffered a smidge of comeuppance. The 2022 midterm elections weren’t kind to Trump-backed candidates and election deniers, and—Trump’s 2024 candidacy notwithstanding—it looks like the fever dream that culminated in the events of January 6, 2021, has started to break.”

In 2022, the IRS Went After the Very Poorest Taxpayers

“”if one ignores the fiction of auditing a millionaire through simply sending a letter through the mail, the odds that millionaires received a regular audit by a revenue agent (1.1%) was actually less than the audit rate of the targeted lowest income wage-earners whose audit rate was 1.27 percent!””