Sometimes all it takes to poke holes in a flawed argument is asking the right questions.
John Stossel — commentator from FOX Business and Reason TV, among other media outlets — did exactly this when discussing the hotly debated topic of rent control with activist Aisha Chughtai. A few thoughtful and logical questions caused Chughtai to question her stance on the issue.
Rent control has long been advocated for by liberals, who believe that the government should set a cap on how high rents can be set by landlords. And it’s no secret that rent is at an all-time high—Realtor.com recently reported that the median rent cost in America is $1,827, continuing a 14-month record streak of high and increasing rents.
However, the solution to this problem is not rent control — it’s more housing development. (An argument we’ve made before.)
Why? It comes down to the simplest concept: supply and demand.
As Stossel argues, when there are fewer properties to rent, rent increases and supply dips. “Studies show that rental control reduces the supply of rental housing,” he says.
Rent control doesn’t help renters. It gives them fewer choices, which is contrary to the whole concept of the free market. Stossel cites a recent case where the local government in St. Paul, Minnesota, voted for rent control. Housing development plummeted because developers didn’t want to be punished for trying to solve the problem. Rent control shrinks the housing market and gives both developers and landlords fewer incentives to provide new housing, leaving renters with far fewer options.
However, socialist activists and politicians (like Chughtai and Bernie Sanders, also quoted in the video) don’t seem to understand this and conveniently ignore the data in favor of their own agenda.
When asked, “When has [socialism] ever worked?” Chughtai couldn’t answer.
Sometimes silence speaks volumes.
You can watch the full video where Stossel interviews Chughtai here: