Ram Balakrishnan 
Member since Oct 18, 2015


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Recent Comments

Re: “Facing the Housing Crisis, Berkeley and Emeryville Lawmakers Are Advancing Numerous Solutions; But Not Oakland

JJ Noire, it makes sense that greedy developers and airbnb bandits are not willing to build housing that is affordable to minimum wage workers. Will you rise up and take the helm? I'd love to see you invest your time and savings in such an effort.

Posted by Ram Balakrishnan on 10/20/2015 at 12:31 PM

Re: “Exclusive: Oakland’s Big New Pot Plan

Hobart, I love constructive comments. I assume the city already hires as many law enforcers, fills as many potholes, and fixes as many play-structures as they can afford to do. Efforts to expand city revenue will allow them to better address those problems.

How would you want city administrators to address issues like poverty, crime, employment, and housing affordability? They can not regulate the conduct of individuals living on the margin in the same way they can regulate (and tax) profitable enterprises. They can not make buyers (labor, goods) pay above-market prices, make doctors manage drug addicts, make sellers (labor, goods) accept below-market prices, make desperate people avoid economically driven crime, etc.

I suppose... the city could provide financial incentives to these folks, but the money has to come from somewhere. They could expand the geographic zone in which they provide incentives for hiring Oakland residents. They could match (it doesn't have to be 100% match) USHUD section 8 vouchers to support lower income homeowners and renters. They can insure, reinsure, or subsidize the insurance for medical professionals who practice amphetamine and opiate maintenance. They can subsidize county health system in hiring such medics.

This all costs money. The city of Oakland does not operate a currency printing press. The best that they can do is to take a cut of the activity that happens within its borders. You can dismiss cannabis regulation as minor, but I'm not sure you are taking into account [1] tax and license revenue [2] reduction in policing expenses [3] reduction in incarceration expenses [4] separating cannabis consumers from dealers of other drugs and [5] the soft "feel good" benefit in a reduction of crime.

If anything, Oakland should learn from its benefits of regulating cannabis, and regulate the activity of other profitable enterprises that go on within its borders, regardless for our disdain.

The working girls lining International Boulevard are never going away, precisely because the city will never earn enough money to provide the policing resources to overcome the financial incentives pimps and sex workers have to stay in business. They can license and tax sex workers, putting pimps and their enforcers out of business, and we can harness revenue from the economic activity that will no doubt happen regardless of our actions.

We can put all the stimulant and opiate dealers out business very simply by sending drug addicts off to CVS and Walgreens where they can buy the same stuff - purer and at much lower cost. Let CVS and Walgreens pay the city taxes on the additional revenue, but they can't hand out drugs to people without prescriptions. What we need is more doctors willing to dole out these prescriptions, but they have been driven out of business due to skyrocketing liability insurance expense. Instead, their would-be patients are relegated to the streets, externalizing the liabilities upon all city residents who have to suffer the collateral damage of drug abuse. Drug addicts steal from us city residents to compensate drug dealers for the security risk premium inherent in dealing illegal drugs. These same drug addicts could instead hold down their dayjobs and pay the Obamacare prescription drug insurance co-pay, but only if they have prescriptions.

Do you have other suggestions on raising revenue? Do you have other suggestions on how the city should re-allocate their scarce resources? Like I said, I love constructive feedback. This city suffers from citizens who can't effectively participate in governance, because they provide only negative feedback and pretend that there is no scarcity of resources.

Posted by Ram Balakrishnan on 10/20/2015 at 12:14 PM

Re: “Facing the Housing Crisis, Berkeley and Emeryville Lawmakers Are Advancing Numerous Solutions; But Not Oakland

Oakland is considering updating its outdated parking requirements http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2015/10/15/oakland-proposes-eliminating-parking-requirements-for-new-downtown-developments.

Increasing the housing stock is the only way to ease the crisis of housing shortage. Transfer payments like inclusionary housing and rent control only shifts the burden of the crisis from some stakeholders to other stakeholders.

Posted by Ram Balakrishnan on 10/18/2015 at 7:58 AM

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