Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Federation of Labor Convention hosted by the AFL-CIO at the Prairie Meadows Hotel in Altoona, Iowa.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Former democratic congressman and current presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke of Texas declared that Americans have a right to live close to work.

His campaign tweeted out the following video out Monday evening.

“Here is a tough thing to talk about, though me must. Rich people are going to have to allow or be forced to allow lower income people to live near them. Which is what we fail to do in this country right now. We force lower income working Americans one, two, three hours in either direction to get to their jobs, very often minimum wage jobs, they’re working two or three of them right now,” he said.

“What if, as we propose to do, we invested in housing that was closer to where you work, very often mixed-income housing meaning the very wealthiest are living next to those who are not the very wealthiest in this country. To make sure that they both can afford to go to the same public schools. That we really have that as a place in this divided country right now you can come together without regard to your income or your race or your ethnicity or any other difference that should not matter right now,” O’Rourke added.

“What if we invested, as we propose to do in high speed rail and transit in all of our cities to make sure that if you do not have a car or do not want to use a car, you will not need to have one. Or you will not be penalized for not having one right now. So having cities that are smarter, that are denser, that have people living closer to where they work and where their families are, to reduce our impact on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, but also to improve the quality of life in these built environments. That is an extraordinary opportunity and in our plan to combat climate change we make those investments,” he concluded.

Why anyone takes this guy seriously I’ll never know.

First, you do not have the right to live close to your place of employment, that is ridiculous. You don’t even have the right to be employed.

Second, all kinds of people from all walks of life commute for various reasons. Also, it depends on where you work. Some people work in the city and live in the suburbs. Some people live in the city and work in the suburbs. Some live in the city and work in the city. Some live in the suburbs and work in the suburbs.

Take Des Moines for instance. If someone lives in a lower-income neighborhood north of I-235 and north of downtown or lives on the near-Southside, they have a shorter commute if they work downtown than a wealthier person commuting to work downtown from Waukee. In larger cities, like New York City, the boroughs have a mix of different neighborhoods, as does Los Angeles, as does Chicago.

There are cities where the price of housing forces people to live further out, but something O’Rourke did not acknowledge is that many progressive-governed cities have seen the cost of housing go up because of their policies.

Third, many people choose to live in the suburbs precisely because they don’t want to live in a denser city. You know they may want something like a yard and a house and don’t want to live on top of their neighbors.

Fourth, private investors are welcome to build mixed income projects and neighborhoods, but it is unlikely wealthier people are going to live there. What is he going to do? Force people to live there. He mentioned that rich people may “have to be forced to allow lower income people live near them.” How exactly will he do that? How would that even be remotely constitutional?

Fifth, how is this a federal issue? It’s not.

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