Chicago, Illinois

In Obama’s earliest autobiography, virtually the first topic he ever hears about from his spiritual adviser, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is the man of God’s disapproval of his own secretary moving to the suburbs for a better environment for her son. (Obama, in contrast, avoids expressing a clear opinion on the subject in his 150,000-word book.)

As the late Robert Fitch, a Bernie Sanders-like old-fashioned lefty, pointed out in 2008, many of the white Chicago real estate moguls who financed Obama’s political career, such as his current Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, are getting richer off gentrification of the former slums near the Loop. And Obama’s first two White House chiefs of staff, Rahm Emanuel and William Daley, are Chicago insiders who envisioned a brighter, whiter Chicago.

Similarly, his closest adviser, Valerie Jarrett, and his best friend, Marty Nesbitt, have served as black fronts for white redevelopment of Chicago.

On the other hand, as an ambitious local black politician, Obama could understand Reverend Wright’s worry that if his flock dispersed to less dangerous (i.e., whiter) suburbs, he”€™d lose his lucrative political clout in Chicago. (Of course, Reverend Wright himself went on to build himself a 10,340-square-foot house in the predominantly white golf suburb of Tinley Park.)

And Obama has mentioned his personal distaste for the suburbs, although he has been less forthcoming about his choice of always living within the South Side zone that enjoys double police protection from both the Chicago PD and the private U. of Chicago PD.

My best guess is that Obama’s hope to finesse Chicago’s various interests was to move poor blacks out of housing projects near the Loop to please his money masters, but to relocate them inside the far edges of the city where they could still vote for him for mayor. But then Obama was never really a major player in Chicago politics, so he never had to make a final decision.

Obama’s not a numbers guy when it comes to real estate. In February 2009, for example, the new president went to Arizona to announce his plan to bail out mortgage holders less than $25,000 underwater, even though most mortgage holders in Arizona then owed six figures more than their houses were worth.

The sheer unaffordability of replicating “€œaffordable housing”€ giveaways on a mass scale is hard for innumerate liberals to grasp. The progressive mindset holds two contradictory assumptions: that the oppressive dominance of the white majority is soon to be swept away by the righteous demographic tidal wave of minorities; and that minorities are a vanishingly tiny percentage of the American population, so of course they can be subsidized indefinitely with special privileges, such as nice houses in nice neighborhoods.

In contrast, Republican candidate Donald Trump knows a few things about real estate, which helps explain the frenzied establishment reaction to his candidacy.

The evolution of the Trump brand name in housing over the past two generations strikingly illuminates how race has played a role in American life becoming so much more biased in favor of billionaires.

A recent Washington Post article is headlined “€œHow Donald Trump abandoned his father’s middle-class housing empire for luxury building.”€ The Post celebrates Fred C. Trump (1905″€“99) as one of the biggest builders of affordable apartments in the outer boroughs.

But it forgets to mention that Frederick Christ Trump would have been one of Ta-Nehisi Coates”€™ demons, since he typically built with the help of the Veterans Administration and other government agencies in redlined neighborhoods, such as the 3,800-unit Trump Village in heavily Jewish Coney Island. (Fred sometimes asserted his parents were from Sweden to sidestep his tenants”€™ prejudices against German-Americans.)

Fred Trump’s company was rewarded for all its contributions to middle-class America by being sued by the Nixon administration in 1973 for violating the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Only 4 percent of its tenants”€”in places like Forest Hills in Queens and Brighton Beach in Brooklyn”€”were black. The young Donald fired back, hiring Roy Cohn and arguing that allowing welfare recipients to rent in his father’s complexes would risk “€œmassive fleeing from the city of not only our tenants, but communities as a whole.”€ Eventually, Donald signed one of those consent decrees with the feds, not admitting to doing anything but promising never to do it again.

Perhaps that episode played a role in the son’s determination to get out of his father’s business of building affordable housing in the outer boroughs, with its constant danger that antidiscrimination laws would trigger white flight to the suburbs among their largely middle-class Jewish customers, and instead follow the new generation of nouveaux riches New Yorkers to Manhattan. In 1983 Donald proved that New York’s 1970s economic malaise was definitely over by opening on Fifth Avenue the gaudy Trump Tower, which has since been home to numerous celebrities such as Jay Z and Beyoncé.

As the saying goes, “€œOur prices discriminate, so we don”€™t have to.”€


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