Sunday, March 20, 2011

Homeownership may be for the few, not the many

Yale economist Robert Shiller, whose book "Irrational Exuberance" accurately predicted the stock market collapse in 2000, notes that U.S. housing prices posted roughly a zero percent gain between 1890 and 1990, after adjusting for inflation.
You mean shoehorning yourself into a $350,000 condo isn't a wise investment? Heresy.


gnut said...

> The biggest dividend of real estate, says Shiller, is the lifestyle it affords.

Take the following with the appropriate grain of salt, since it's really more of a distant nagging suspicion in the back of my mind than a well formed thought:

Reading various conservative/libertarian/Ayn Randian blogs and web sites over the past year or so, I get the disturbing impression that there's a large segment on the philosophical Right that does not want most Americans to be home owners, despite their proclamations to be champions of individual private property rights and home ownership.

Nobody comes outright and says this, of course, and perhaps that's not what the various writers intend.

Since I will never get around to finding and analyzing all of those articles, blog posts, and blog comments, to provide specific examples of my suspicion, take the above for what it's worth.

Whether most Americans should own a home, or whether home ownership should be so difficult to obtain that it results in a majority not owning homes, is a topic of legitimate debate.

But if a belief system is based on the premise that "the only rights that matter are private property rights," and a majority of Americans don't, or can't, or shouldn't, own private property, then some serious soul searching is called for.

"'Repressive libertarianism,' where certain people who call themselves libertarians invariably side with property owners who want to limit other people's liberties through the use of contract law. Property rights (usually held by somebody with a whole lot of economic clout) trump every other liberty" is as real a threat to liberty as the government gun. The Privatized Toll Road To Serfdom is no more desirable than The Road To Serfdom.

Meanwhile, conservatarians are once again concerned -- and rightfully so -- about some "egregious instance of the abusive use of 'blight' takings" by various public governments.

PS - obligatory link to the Onion's "The Future Will Be A Totalitarian Government Dystopia vs The Future Will Be A Privatized Corporate Dystopia"

gnut said...

In the 1980 foreword to his 1946 short story "A Bathroom of Her Own," Robert Heinlein wrote:

You may not be old enough to remember the acute housing shortage following World War II (the subject of this story) but if you are over six but not yet old enough for the undertaker, you are aware of the current problem of getting in out of the rain . . . a problem especially acute for the young couple with one baby and for the retired old couple trying to get by on Social "Security" plus savings if any. (I am not suggesting that it is easy for those between youth and old age; the present price of mortgage money constitutes rape with violence; the price tag on an honestly constructed -- if you can find one -- two-bedroom house makes me feel faint.)

In 1960 in Moscow Mrs. Heinlien and I had as Intourist courier a sweet child named Ludmilla -- 23, unmarried, living with her father, mother, brother, and sisters. She told us that her ambition in life was for her family not to have to share a bathroom with another family.

The next aesthete who sneers at our American "plumbing culture" in my presence I intend to cut into small pieces and flush him down that W.C. he despises.

published in Expanded Universe (1980)

real estate ph said...

Congratulations Expanded Universe, for writing a balanced article on this subject. Great read in here. Keep it up!

Arrielle P