I must have mentioned before how I would really like to say nice things about Michael Meeropol, for the sake of his mom and dad, a couple I admire deeply. But damn, Mike sometimes says the silliest things. Here he is, in another item from my lefty mailing lists:
I sent a letter to the NY Times, asking them to support the RIGHT TO RENT ACT OF 2010.I was almost with him for a while there -- anything that tends to turn owners into renters is fine with me -- but then I got to point 2:
For those who don't know it's a proposed law that would put into effect the Dean Baker/Mark Weisbrot proposal from at least 2 years ago --- namely that the way to keep people in their homes without subsidizing the bankers who made these ridiculous mortgages is to give them the option of renting at fair market rents (the law says for 5 years).
The bankers can foreclose but they can't kick you out of your home -- and you can stay there for five years paying market rent (which is almost always way below the ridiculous mortgages you owe on the bubble-inflated house prices).
It cures two problems at once ---
1) no one is kicked out of their homes
2) no empty homes to ruin neighborhoods and depress housing prices further.
I think we should begin badgering Congress to do this.
No empty homes to ruin neighborhoods and depress housing prices further.-- and had a minor meltdown.
What the hell is wrong with "depressing housing prices"? What other commodity necessary to life do we want to see become more expensive? Air? Water? Food? Sunlight? No? Then why shelter? Why isn't it a triumph for humankind when shelter gets cheaper? And as for "ruining neighborhoods" -- if they're the sort of neighborhoods that nobody would live in except on spec, then the sooner they're ruined, the better.
Oh, I know, I know, people's "savings" are tied up in these fetish objects. Actually, that's not quite true. What was supposed to happen was that the speculative gain on the house was going to offset the share of the interest you spent on the mortgage(*) and give you a nice better-than-average return on the principal to boot.
But let's ask ourselves: how do you realize these "savings" -- actually, of course, these speculative gains? By making some younger person buy the house, at its inflated price, when you decide to cash out, that's how. To the extent that this scam can work successfully over any period of time, what is it but an intergenerational transfer of wealth from younger people to older ones?
Fie on it. I want to see house prices in the basement, the subbasement, the catacombs, the chasms, the caverns, the Malebolge. I want to see people being paid to live in these sheetrock monstrosities.
(*) Of course Uncle Sam paid the rest -- or rather, we renters paid the rest of it, through that iniquitous cross-subsidy for "ownership" known as the mortgage interest deduction. Faugh!