Welcome to my weekly digest for October 21, 2022.
For new subscribers, this contains a roundup of my recent writings and podcasts, as well as links to the best articles from around the web this week. You can control what emails you get from me by visiting your account page.
For new paid Subscribers - thank you! - click over for instructions for accessing the Knowledge Base.
Eric Voegelin Webinar
Next Thursday, October 27 at 2pm ET, there will be a webinar for paid subscribers on the political theories of Eric Voegelin, the German-American political philosopher best known for the phrase “immanentizing the eschaton.”
Dr. Benjamin Mabry, who earned his doctorate at Voegelin’s longtime academic home of LSU, will lead the webinar. Mabry is also the guest author of newsletter #67 on anti-managerial aesthetics.
Occasional webinars are part of what you get for becoming a paid subscriber. You also get exclusive content, podcast and interview transcripts, and access to the Subscriber Knowledge Base. Recordings of the Voegelin webinar will be available in the Knowledge Base after the event. Please upgrade to paid today to take advantage of these great benefits.
The YIMBY Agenda We Aren’t Talking About
My latest column in Governing magazine is about the Yes In My Backyard, or YIMBY movement that wants to liberalize land use regulations to facilitate building more housing. I critique the movement, not because I don’t think we need to liberalize land use in a lot of places, but because of the YIMBY ambition to rezone the entire United States of America. Most YIMBYs really do want to make it illegal to have any subdivision anywhere in America that’s zoned for exclusively single family homes.
Very few people understand the expansive ambitions of the YIMBY movement. Even those who’ve written critically of it before, such as Alan Mallach and Pete Saunders, both very smart observers, operated from the mistaken assumption that YIMBYism is about building more in high demand urban districts. It’s about much, much more than that. Here’s an excerpt:
While theirs is not a monolithic movement with uniform views, by and large YIMBYs want to totally eliminate any zoning for exclusively single-family districts — everywhere. Not even outer exurbs would be allowed to have subdivisions that were zoned exclusively for single-family homes.
This is what YIMBYs actually achieved in Oregon, where a state law has eliminated single-family zoning in the areas where 70 percent of the state’s population lives. Municipalities with more than 10,000 people (1,000 in metro Portland) must allow duplexes or fourplexes in current single-family neighborhoods. In other words, YIMBY is not so much “Yes in My Backyard” as it is “Yes in Your Backyard.”
In sum, YIMBYs want states to take local land use power away from local governments, transfer it to the state, and then use state legislation to ban single-family zoning everywhere. This is a much more far-reaching and expansive agenda than most people realize. It is not just about densifying high-demand areas, or exercising targeted and legitimate state intervention where local governments have refused to build or engaged in exclusionary zoning. It’s about a wholesale rewriting of land use rules everywhere in the United States.
Click through to read the whole thing.
Best of the Web
Southeastern Baptist Theological seminary tweeted a pitch to women about enrolling in their seminary. Here’s the image that they included.
SEBTS is a Southern Baptist seminary. The SBC doesn’t approve of female pastors (though some SBC churches have them anyway). These conservative denominations that don’t ordain women nevertheless market seminary education to women - presumably charged at a not inconsiderable rate for it. While perhaps not enrolling them in the M.Div. degree track that usually leads to pastoral ministry, they are credentialing women with graduated degrees, then saying those women can’t be ministers. Apart from fairness or anything else, this is creating a body of credentialed women who are the natural base for a movement for women’s ordination. So in essence these denoms are de facto undermining their own theological commitments. I wonder what percentage of the students enrolled in conservative seminaries today are women?
Joanna Schroeder posted a twitter thread with 21 mostly negative points about marriage. It leads off with, “Women married to men LOVE to complain about husbands, but few admit that being married doesn't live up to the hype that our society places upon it. We are drowned wedding culture & expectations for women to be married all while utterly unprepared for what marriage actually is.” But at the end she says, “I have an amazing husband and incredible kids and have been pretty happy for these 18 years.” I find it interesting that her own experience is so out of line with what she believes to be the norm.
Institute for Family Studies: Why Some Americans Don't Want Kids
NBER: The unexpected increase in fertility rates in response to the pandemic - An interesting econ paper that argues birth rates have actually gone up during the pandemic. Women younger than 25 and those with demographic characteristics overlapping with work from home showed the biggest effects. The reason for the decline in headline birth rates was apparently fewer “anchor babies” born to foreign mothers, as immigration declined during the pandemic.
Phys.org: Why do teachers give girls higher marks than boys? - Discrimination basically, as the grades don’t foot to the results of standardized testing.
Matthew Schmitz: The Wrongs of Women - Matt caught some flak even from conservatives for this book review.
New Content and Media Mentions
I was a guest on the Cooper and Cary Have Words podcast this week. We had a fun conversation on the topic of whether or not men and women can be friends.
Noah Smith mentions me in this piece criticizing the national conservatism movement. By the way, although I was delighted to speak at Natcon 3, I don’t describe myself as a national conservative.
New this week:
In case you missed it, newsletter #69 was on the vocation of masculinity.
I also posted a lecture that is my best and most complete presentation of my three worlds of evangelicalism thesis.
At American Reformer, Timon Cline wrote a piece on Richard Baxter’s political Protestantism.
You can subscribe to my podcast on Apple, Google, or YouTube.
I would like to see you explore the arguments around YIMBY in more depth. At a glance, I think the accusation of YIMBY "imperialism" falls flat. Fundamentally, by placing the power at the state level, we are overruling the imperialism that determines what *you* can build on your own property.
Much of the harm of zoning is aggravated by infrastructure distortions and subsidies. Cities like Spokane are in "soft default" as are all the suburbs and exurbs who will never be able to cover the costs of their highways, sewer, public services, and roads based on low-density, car-dependent SFHs.
I don't have a dog in the fight, but I am fairly convinced of the arguments that there is a giant suburban Ponzi scheme on top of our issues with housing supply, and YIMBY is a step in the right direction. Georgist land value taxes would be a good next step...
Good article on YIMBY. The King's Hall podcast just did an episode on seminaries. One of the hosts threw out the idea that much like other colleges, seminaries are recruiting students based on keeping enrollment up to cover their cost of operations. Eric Conn gave examples of guys he met in seminary who had no business being pastors, but no one was willing to tell them that. I have to wonder if many of the seminary leaders are undermining the theological commitments intentionally. I don't have any first hand knowledge of seminaries, but it looks like another aspect of our education system that needs to be overhauled if it can be reformed at all.