Former Harvard president and Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers has an interview with the Washington Post in which he calls for action to fight inequality:
insofar as the goal is to address inequality, I think we will need a combination of more substantially more progressive taxation than we have at present in the United States...There is, for example, no reason why the estate tax should be so riddled with loopholes and sheltering devices, as is currently the case. We need to look at places where there are substantial economic rents being earned, whether those are property values protected by exclusionary zoning, franchises contributing to the politically fortunate, overly generous protections of intellectual property, or implicit subsidies to the financial system, as examples.
Well, I'm with him on the zoning, I think. And just to underscore how scrambled the politics are on that issue, at the New York Times "room for debate" section, Nicole Gelinas of the center-right Manhattan Institute recently called for New York City to "Zone to protect public spaces such as Central Park from the shadows of high-rises. The city's job is to favor a public asset that everyone uses over a private asset."
In the meantime, it sure would be fun for a free-market-oriented political candidate to give a speech saying that the way to address "inequality" is to get rid of those historic preservation landmark districts, California Coastal Commission building restrictions, and one-or-three-or-five-acre suburban zoning laws that are making housing too expensive for the "middle class." I've got my qualms about the whole language of inequality and middle class, but if we're going to go down that road at all, at least it might as well be in the direction of reducing barriers to building and increasing the supply of housing by deregulating its construction.