Recent articles on Portland’s rental crisis seem to deal with symptoms rather than causes.

Sociologists agree that among America’s strengths has been the horizontal and vertical mobility of its people: That is, the willingness to follow opportunity geographically and the ability of each generation to exceed the economic attainments of their parents.

When Horace Greeley said, “Go west, young man,” he meant it both literally and figuratively. He meant it literally in the sense of the westward expansion taking place at the time, and figuratively in the sense that opportunity always lurks somewhere, maybe just down the road.

Portland, our “Socialist City By the Sea,” has become Maine’s Boston or New York and our center for art, culture, education, transportation, panhandling and a hip place to live for our current crop of liberal yuppies.

Rents have been driven up by “gentrification.” But just a half-hour up the road in Lewiston-Auburn, rental housing is available at half the price. In the face of this, government is subsidizing high Portland rents through Section 8.

What are the unintended consequences of government sticking its socialist nose into the rental marketplace? Rents will be forced even higher. Each subsidized renter will have lost a part of his or her self-reliance and ambition.

Once on the dole, they are unlikely to ever again live anywhere but in a subsidized apartment. They will be unlikely to ever own their own homes.

There will be a tendency to make sure they stay within Section 8 income guidelines rather than to seek increased income. They will have lost any economic opportunity they might have found by looking beyond Portland.

So the subsidized renter becomes an even more dependent ward of the government. Sounds like something Bernie Sanders could endorse.

Porter D. Leighton

Falmouth