In case anyone else is looking for the link to the study, it's here: https://repeatproject.org/docs/REPEAT_Summary_Report_022822.pdf

Good luck healing, David! Take care of yourself!!

Expand full comment

I just read the most amazing book that does a better job explaining progressive political impotence and the rise of the anti-social strain of politics that dominates in the US better than anything I’ve read in a long, long time. My review below - posted here because it says so much about why we can’t pass a program of investments that would more than pay for themselves in higher quality of life, health, and fiscal probity.

“Freedom to Discriminate: How realtors conspired to segregate housing and divide America” by Gene Slater


This book is practically a landmark work on the scale of Darwin’s “Origin of Species” — only instead of showing how blind selection led to the evolution of the many species, “Freedom to Discriminate” is the story showing how millions upon millions of individual instances of selection pressure (segregation pressure in this case) caused a single species — the deeply entrenched pattern of strictly segregated residential neighborhoods — to dominate all of America.

Slater starts with the history of how real estate men segregated America, changing from seeking pervasive governmental involvement in every real estate decision (redlining, racist covenants, zoning) to, as those activities were contested, to claiming that government had no proper role in addressing residential segregation, which was simply a matter of “freedom” — the freedom of individuals (who had all enjoyed and benefitted from the privileges and the economic gifts of all those state actions) to choose not to sell or rent to people of another race.

The book follows the struggle up through the fair housing laws and decisions in the late 1960, and then how they have been progressively gutted, creating today’s America where we are even more residentially segregated than ever and where the wealth gap, which derives to a huge degree from the residential segregation described in the book, is growing ever wider.

Slater shows how a peculiar twist allowed the real estate industry to sell the idea of “freedom” as the freedom to exclude those who are unworthy of full citizenship (people of color, women, immigrants, etc.) rather than an inclusive freedom that accepts that all rights — including the rights of property — must be limited in a civil society in order that one person’s absolute rights not trounce others’ rights entirely.

This book joins Kurt Andersen’s books “Fantasyland” and “Evil Geniuses” as the best, most clearly stated, readable explanations of how we got where we are and why it is so very likely that pluralism and basic democracy is on its last legs in the US, as our residential apartheid meshes perfectly with computer-aided gerrymandering tools to allow white minorities to seize electoral majorities and even supermajorities in state after state and then in the Congress.

Richard Rothstein’s “The Color of Law” showed how much government did in fact play a part in segregating America and creating our apartheid residential segregation pattern. “Freedom to Discriminate” goes much farther than Rothstein and carries the story further, showing how the technique that the realtors used to win the war — preserving residential segregation — while losing the legal battles (failing to stop passage of fair housing laws) was a technique that took root and had turbocharged the right wing takeover of America ever since.

Anyone who reads the book will notice how the technique that the realtors developed to fight fair housing laws has formed the basis of virtually all our politics since then. It’s a powerful, powerful book and it is already changing how I see a lot of things.

John Gear (he/him/his)

Let’s live on the planet as if we intend to stay

Expand full comment

Erin Mayfield of Princeton Modeling did a great job of explaining that with Build Back Better we can achieve 80% clean energy by 2030. Solar P.V. and Wind Power will lead the way with tax credits, rebates and grants. Electrification and transmission will be completely paid for and create many new jobs. This is great news.

Expand full comment

Happy to "see" you again .... My two cents with having horrible back pain is acupuncture and yoga

Expand full comment

David, welcome back! I hope your arm/hand pain is getting better? And that you maybe had a chance for some well deserved R&R. Thanks for your articles and podcasts.

Expand full comment

Thanks for continuing the work while your arms heal… : )

I would note that Manchin only supports some of the "climate" portions of BBB. These comprise not only clean power, but also include elder care, childcare, healthcare ― basically none of which Manchin supports.

Expand full comment

Thanks this this awesome trip through their work. I was kind of bummed to hear they're modelling based on traditional and flawed economic 'rational' behavior. But, I get they're already modelling many complex variables in a myriad of social contexts. Perhaps others are adopting their toolkit to include behavioral models.

Expand full comment