They're paying attention
November 3, 2009 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Raquel Rolnik is the U.N.'s new Special Rappoteur on the Right to Adequate Housing. So far, she has investigated forced evictions in Phnom Penh and housing destroyed by rising sea levels in the Maldives. This week, she's investigating whether limited access to affordable housing is a human rights violation in the U.S.

In the first ever fact-finding mission in the U.S., Rolnik has interviewed survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, talked to those pushed out of public housing in New York, and visited a reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Today, she is taking a look at foreclosures in Los Angeles, with visits to Chicago and Washington, DC left to go. Follow her travels here.
posted by peachfuzz (21 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well as long as she's in this part of the world, send her up here to Vancouver.
I've got some sights to show her.
posted by mannequito at 2:03 PM on November 3, 2009

Ah yes, this was the story that amused Jonah Goldberg so very, very much.
posted by Rangeboy at 2:39 PM on November 3, 2009

Glad to see those rappers doing good.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:43 PM on November 3, 2009

Let's see: token investigation of acutal human rights issue. Check.

Report into housing destroyed by arguably natural process which is either not reversible or would cost trillions of dollars to reverse? Check.

Time to move on to berating Western countries! UN Special Rapporteurs, how I love thee.

Up next: Israel's deprivation of blahblahblah.
posted by Dasein at 3:03 PM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Dasein, it's ok by us if you wish to put your head back in the sand. Really.
posted by Artful Codger at 3:07 PM on November 3, 2009

Tell you what, Artful Codger, if she does a report in the next year on way the fact that Palestinians are forced to live in refugee camps in Arab countries rather than being given a chance to integrate, I'll drop my objection. But I bet you'll never see such a report from the UN. You will, however, hear about how Western welfare states are not sufficiently generous.
posted by Dasein at 3:57 PM on November 3, 2009 [4 favorites]

<> Dasein, it's ok by us if you wish to put your head back in the sand. Really.

Hear hear.

He does have a point though: it seems like a publicity tour. Because of the high-profile position it can't be considered journalism. And it certainly isn't a systematic study.

That said, western nations are the ones mostly likely to respond to shame tactics, so it might be an effective strategy where's it's being applied.
posted by clarknova at 4:00 PM on November 3, 2009

I'm with you Dasein. But it's not even a real "human rights" issue. You have a right to your home, but no "human right" to a home. Because the next logical step is demanding your right to my home. And that, my friend, you will have to pry from my cold, dead hand. Insisting that housing is a "right," rather than a need like any other need, is the sure way to assure that we all wind up homeless.
posted by Faze at 4:02 PM on November 3, 2009

Seems to me that places like Kibera ought to be somewhat higher on the priority list. New Orleans? Really? Really?

Sure, it sucks, but it's on a completely different scale than Kibera. I've been to both, and the further I am away from Kibera, the happier I am.
posted by aramaic at 4:06 PM on November 3, 2009

Rent stabilization is nice if you benefit from it, but calling it a violation of human rights when housing costs go up in a desirable area makes a mockery of those who defend actual human rights.
posted by oaf at 4:11 PM on November 3, 2009 [4 favorites]

Ugh, when did the blue get taken over by rogue freepers?
posted by Aversion Therapy at 4:57 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

You know, Dasein, that kind of thinking is all well and good...until they show up with torches and pitchforks at your house. Suddenly the ideas of "integration" and "token investigation" don't seem so remote. Unhappy people do unhappy things, film at 11:00.
posted by digitalprimate at 4:58 PM on November 3, 2009

Because the next logical step is demanding your right to my home.

That statement is, in a word, retarded.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:35 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

That statement is, in a word, retarded.

It may, in a word, be retarded; but it is also, in a few more words, a neatly concise diagram of socialism (if I do say so myself).

Needs="rights"=I have a right to yours.
posted by Faze at 5:55 PM on November 3, 2009

Not really.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:03 PM on November 3, 2009

Nobody is suggesting taking anyone's personal residence and giving it to someone else. This country is wealthy enough to provide for everybody. Why do we not?

Perhaps there are some that will refuse to pull their own weight, there will always be. Most of them have jobs and get paid anyway. The greater proportion of people, both with homes and without, want to feel satisfied with their work and their life. People who are homeless simply do not have the tools to do so. Society would be better if everyone pitched in to provide those, same as society is bettered by everyone pitching in to provide roads, and law enforcement, and dams and flood control, and all the major things you need to keep our modern, wealthy way of life functional.
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:21 PM on November 3, 2009

For a woman from Brazil I'm curious as to what she thinks of favelas.

I'll take Section 8 housing in America over those slums any day.
posted by bardic at 8:19 PM on November 3, 2009

Faze: It may, in a word, be retarded; but it is also, in a few more words, a neatly concise diagram of socialism (if I do say so myself).

I suggest you consider reading a book on Socialism, or even just consulting a dictionary, before patting yourself on the back for your gross misstatements.

If you can find some definition of Socialism, or some book written by a Socialist, or some sort of documentary evidence that isn't Glenn Beck that backs up your statements... or even use some sort of reasoning that indicates that you have the faintest idea what Socialism is... then perhaps people will stop calling you "retarded".

However, I personally would prefer the term "proudly and willfully ignorant" as more accurate in this case.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:05 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

And if I sound angry in that last posting, I am.

Socialism isn't about taking from hard-working people and giving it to slackers - it's exactly and precisely the reverse.

The fact is that in the United States, a vast number of people, including millions of illegal immigrants, work incredibly hard and yet are unable to make ends meet, and a small number of people, mostly with no apparent skills except aggression and having gone to the right schools, make astonishingly huge sums of money by looting the economy and when that collapses, the Treasury.

This is just wrong and all the gloating of ignorant people who use the word Socialism like my three-year old nephew uses the word "poo-poo" will not serve to change this.

(And I worked on Wall Street for years - these people are intelligent but almost completely lacking in common sense and even the slightest concept of social responsibility or of long-term consequences of their actions - even to themselves and their firms.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:18 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

Wait, aren't you free-market anti-Socialist guys Americans? You know those homes you live in? You already got the State to take away the homes of other people and kill them to give you your homes.

In fact, the State tried to stop you and you complained and set up your own less-enlightened State that was more prepared to get its hands dirty. What did you say... ah, here we are:
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
So you're saying the Founding Fathers were Socialists and George Washington was, like, Chairman Mao? Awesome!


Seriously, though, Faze and Dasein: there are many things wrong with state interventions in the housing market. Things like rent controls are a barrier to investment and are captured by well-off well-connected people at the expense of newcomers and the poor. And I don't like some of the UN politics either. And I agree with you on "negative rights" versus "positive rights". So, actually, we're broadly in agreement. But you're just not coming across in a positive and constructive way. Your posts above read like you're posting boiler-plate right-wing responses, and we already know all these. Why not respond with something more interesting?
posted by alasdair at 12:23 AM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Rights discourses aren't adequate to address the inequitable distribution of signaling and positional goods. NEWS AT 11, WITH A SPECIAL REPORT: economic justice MAY require transfer payments!
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:31 AM on November 4, 2009

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