Ferdinand Bardimu likes to inveigh against the stupidity of “LIEbertarians” and “CONservaties” (an example here). I think that openness to libertarian or socialist arguments has a lot to do with geography, as I am seeing these days.
I have recently been trying to establish residency on Long Island. I can’t tell you how much I hate the place; some of it is unfamiliarity, some is prejudice, but a lot of it is that the place just plain sucks. I haven’t found New Yorkers, in New York at least, to be particularly unpleasant people; they are usually friendly enough. Outside of New York they seem to turn into obnoxious jerks for some reason. But if New Yorkers are in reality unpleasant and difficult, it’s probably because they live poorly under difficult economic conditions.
This place is very expensive. If it was nice, I could live with it. Or if it was the shithole it is, but cheap, I could live with it. But it combines the two in the worst possible way.
Without researching the history of the place, it seems to have been built up as a suburb just after WWII. It was not designed as a suburb, so it doesn’t have a lot of wide highways. Many places you need to drive on a winding two-lane for many miles. There aren’t as many shopping centers as you would find in a more modern suburb in the Sunbelt. It shares the garish, tawdry ugliness of the late 40’s/early 50’s suburbs of California such as the east end of the San Fernando Valley, but without the ease of mobility.
Long Island is a large place, but geographically constricted by water and New York City. People who work in the city or its immediate east side can commute from the western end of the island; it also seems to have significant employers as far east as the middle of the island, and people working there can live further east. The eastern third of the island seems to function only as a beach resort. There are two major east-west arteries along which all commerce must move. The areas closest to the city are either high-end suburbs (“The Great Gatsby” was set in a fictional town in this area) or heavily minority. The middle class white person struggles, as everywhere, between convenience on one hand and comfort and safety on the other.
Faced with paying very high prices for housing that is both inconveniently located and of poor quality, I am pretty pissed off. Housing is the most significant purchase the average person makes. It is the typical person’s largest expense, and has great impact on the life he leads. People want to live someplace safe, and pleasant; with convenient shopping and recreational activities; and ideally close to relatives and among members of his own ethnic group. A person who has a decent place to live, but is faced with a large rent increase due to the rapidly increasing population, is going to support rent control.
Beyond the geographical constrictions that New York and environs have, it has also had huge population shocks due to economic growth and immigration. Rent control originated in New York in World War II as a theoretically temporary measure. Rent control originated in Los Angeles in the 70’s due to inflation.
In a situation where the government gains control over rents, housing development, and road building and other issues of urban planning, they are going to have a lot of control over everything else. In places with more open geography, housing will not be in shortage, and will not be expensive. People will not find it difficult to live away from people they don’t like and among people they do. Left-wing control of government will not be especially appealing to them. Steve Sailer calls this “affordable family formation”- people are conservative where they can buy houses and start families. People with families are more conservative than singles, but it goes deeper than that.
There is left-wing control in places with relatively unconstricted geography; Chicago is the most obvious example, and I suppose other Midwestern industrial cities like Detroit as well. But I think any place with constricted geography is going to have a lot of left-wing control, and I can’t think of any geographically restricted places that don’t.