In retrospect, the idea of subsidizing home-ownership because it was deemed to be a public good was a collossal mistake. But it’s hard to argue with the idea that home dwelling, whether it’s ownership or renting a house or an apartment, is a good thing. That is to say it’s a good thing for people to have a roof over their head (note: if you happen to have a contrarian argument on that one, we’d LOVE to hear it).
Well, great news: With all the houses we’ve built — and continue to build even though we already have a glut! — home dwelling should be affordable for some time to come. And that’s a good thing. Somehow we got into this mindset that it was a good thing that housing spiraled higher and higher (it’s obvious how we got this, because so many people began to think of their homes as something more than just the place that they lived). If we all viewed housing primarily as residence, we’d always be rooting for prices to go down — just like how we’re happy when flat-panel TV prices go down (we’ve never considered flat panel TVs an investment asset). Of course, the decline in housing prices is devastating to the myriad complex financial products that are built around home values, but, alas, everyone regrets how that market evolved.
Another reason to be happy: If things really do get that bad, we probably won’t have tent cities this time around. We’ve got scads of unoccupied houses out west. As long as theirs a new New Deal program to hook them all up with plumbing electricity, they’ll be available to anyone who can afford a ticket to Nevada or Southern California.
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