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    Wednesday, April 17, 2024

    Tenants may block housing; and U.S. meddling exposed

    With its desperate shortage of housing, Connecticut presents what should be a great opportunity to make a lot of money in housing construction. But a hearing held last week by the General Assembly's Housing Committee suggested that state government instead will be making the shortage worse.

    Under discussion were bills to prohibit evictions of tenants when their leases end or at least to require landlords to provide a "just cause" reason for eviction. Residential evictions are already difficult in Connecticut and a bad tenant resisting eviction easily can wipe out the annual profits of a landlord with smaller properties.

    But Connecticut's "tenant union" movement isn't interested in increasing the supply of housing. It wants evictions prohibited and rents frozen or reduced, as if landlords don't face inflation just as tenants do.

    The Connecticut Mirror captured the critical dialogue between Wolcott Sen. Rob Sampson, the ranking Republican on the committee and a landlord himself, and Connecticut Tenants Union President Hannah Srajer.

    Sampson asked: "Is there something wrong with the landlord making a profit?"

    Srajer and her supporters in the audience answered in unison: "Yes!"

    In such a political environment Connecticut will be lucky to get construction of any rental housing, and then only the most expensive kind. Forget "affordable" rental housing. No one will invest in it when rent increases and evictions are prohibited.

    If the proposed restrictions on landlords are enacted, people who already have apartments may keep them longer but the stock of rental housing will decline and deteriorate as profits are drained, and tenants will have been more selfish than landlords.

    * * *

    This column's recent assertion that years of meddling by the United States in Ukraine prompted Russia's invasion of that country was met with incredulity and outrage by many readers. Yet just days after the column was published, the New York Times reported that soon after the U.S.-assisted overthrow of Ukraine's government in 2014, the United States began installing a dozen spy bases in Ukraine and through them collected much sensitive intelligence about Russia's military and strategic installations.

    This was seven years before Russia invaded.

    The Times reported: "Toward the end of 2021, according to a senior European official, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin was weighing whether to launch his full-scale invasion when he met with the head of one of Russia's main spy services, who told him that the Central Intelligence Agency, together with Britain's MI6, were controlling Ukraine and turning it into a beachhead for operations against Moscow."

    Along with the U.S.-supported expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into eastern Europe right up to the Russian border, the Times' report is more evidence that the current war is largely a matter of the refusal of the United States to grant Russia a smaller version of the buffer zone the U.S. has enforced for itself in the Western Hemisphere ever since the Monroe Doctrine was proclaimed two centuries ago.

    Last week Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal returned from Ukraine and attended a rally in support of continuing to underwrite the war. Ukrainians, Blumenthal said, are tying the Russians down so Americans don't have to fight them in the countries on the Russian border that have recently joined NATO, as the NATO treaty obliges Americans to do.

    But prior to the U.S. meddling in Ukraine, Russia was not menacing eastern Europe. Those recent NATO members — Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, and Poland — add little to the security of the United States. They are military liabilities, not assets.

    And what exactly are the U.S. war aims in Ukraine? Are they for Ukraine to recover Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, or the Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine recently annexed? Blumenthal didn't say. Nobody does. No, we should just send more weapons and money and keep the war going even as our own military is unprepared to fight and we couldn't defend eastern Europe against invasion without resorting to nuclear weapons.

    The war is one small miscalculation away from exploding on the world. Making peace is urgent.

    Chris Powell has written about Connecticut government and politics for many years. He can be reached at CPowell@cox.net.

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