The administration's war on home ownership has begun. The first salvo's were lobbed months ago as rumors leaked out that 'high level discussion' were being held about the value of housing. It escalated a couple weeks ago with the White House Conference on Housing, where the predominant message was the failure of housing and the inequity of benefits for the wealthy.
Yesterday it took another leap with the ObamaTime Magazine cover devoted to "Rethinking Home Ownership". The magazine didn't even make a paean to fairness with it's cover subtitle - 'Why owning a home may no longer make economic sense'. Inside the article itself laid out the case under the headline "The Case Against Homeownership" going on to state that the 'American Dream may well be a fantasy'. The first line of the article read - "Home ownership has let us down..." and went downhill from there.
The article, by a Barbara kiviat, drones on for 5 pages providing a combination of research, history and non-sequitur. It gives a historical perspective of Presidential views on the benefits of homeownership (minus our current leader) then states 'Our leaders, with our encouragement, went too far. The dark side of home ownership is now all too apparent." Whoops - that's just the first of numerous non-sequitur's where the author makes a series of generally negative statements and then fails to provide a nexus to housing. She points to a failure of leadership but lays the blame on housing. What?
A paragraph later she does it again pointing out that 'easy lending, stimulated by the cult of homeownership may have triggered the financial crisis.' The cult of homeownership? And while she references 'easy lending', again the blame lies squarely on housing - not greedy, rapacious lenders nor the hack politicians that fostered mis-directed programs like the Community Reinvestment Act - folks like Barney Frank and Maxine Waters, who are nowhere mentioned in this article.
In fact while she is able to blame homeowners for a variety of societal ills including lack of mobility, inflexibility, being security conscious, wanting a safe place to raise families, freezing low income rentals out of upper end neighborhoods and the like, she does not once mention the administration policies that brought us to our current position. In addition to this glaring omission of government culpability, she completely glosses over the complicity of Wall Street, not even mentioned in the article, nor the rampant fraud and fiscal impropriety that exacerbated the problem.
No, in her simplistic, administration-centric view, all these ills were not the cause of the housing crisis but rather were caused by housing itself - as if housing were a malevolent entity that, rather than being the American Dream, was hell-bent on destroying the American Dream. Of course she raises the flag of inequity raise by Mark Zandi at the housing conference a couple weeks back that government subsidies like the mortgage interest deduction and capital gains benefits are primarily enjoyed by the wealthy while poor and middle class homeowners have to be content with just a safe and secure place to raise their families.
She also spends a few pages discussing the merits of renting rather than owning, pointing out cities with a supposed advantage engendered by having higher percentages of their citizens as renters - San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles are outstanding on her list because they are high rental/high output cities. Likewise the Swiss are held up as icons because they have the highest income as a percent of their GDP yet only 34.6% of their population are homeowners. On the same circular chart that supposedly has some relevance, the Spanish have the lowest per capita income yet have an 89.1% home ownership rate. The US lies somewhere in the middle of that chart between Japan and Australia. I'm sure the chart makes sense to someone for some reason depending on your agenda. Notably absent from the list are other socialist countries. Apparently the author sees no use in tipping her hand quite that far by noting that the ultimate in rental-centric societies are also the lowest per capita income generators. Noooo, that equation don't work.
Well, I cease to be amazed at the slant or tenor of any article contained in most of today's media, especially in ObamaTime. I mean the same issue carries a glowing article on how the $787 Billion stimulus package has been such a success (?) and how it is 'quietly changing the way America works, moves and innovates. They apparently don't see the irony in that headline as more Americans are out of work, moving out of their homes and that innovation has been outsourced off-shore.
Just be aware, the battle against housing has begun. I'm not sure of the goal, but if the battle is waged as successfully as the war for healthcare reform, financial reform, corporate bail-out's and takeovers, you can expect significant changes. They are waging this media battle for the hearts and minds of the lowest common denominator - another aspect of their class warfare. The have's against the have-not's. This time it seeks to pit homeowners against non-homeowners and further divide upper level homeowners against lower level homeowners. It is insidious in nature and has proven a successful strategy of this administration.
Make no mistake - Homeownership is under attack and if you don't take a stand, most of you will be out of business within the decade and the ownership of individual private proerty will become a hazy memory.
Of course that's just my opinion - I could be wrong. Hope I am.