Thursday, May 29, 2008

Solving The Housing Crisis: A Modest Proposal

Disclaimer: This post is a departure from our usual material, in which we discuss “facts” and “figures” and all that nonsense. Today we’re sticking with black-hearted pessimism, which generally makes whatever one says more accurate than “facts” and “figures” ever could.

The Case-Shiller indices showed a decrease in home prices greater than 2 percent for the fifth consecutive month—14 percent since this time last year. On the upside—in terms of percentages—if it keeps this pace one can view the drop in prices as logarithmic: never quite reaching zero, but still abysmally bad. On the downside...well, that is the downside.

But on the down-downside—to coin a phrase, on the abyssal-side—tax and insurance costs are rising, offsetting further any deceleration in our decline. To anyone who purchased a home in the last six months: Pray for rain. You may soon need do without indoor plumbing.

But all is not lost. In this land of opportunity and innovation and class rule there is always a modest proposal to be found to address our woes, and I have stumbled upon one: Teepees!

Yes, teepees. I would say ‘yurts’, which are more stable, but this is America, former home of the teepee, and I’m pretty sure that we’re at war with the Mongols (or soon will be, given our record). But where, you must be asking, shall we find sufficient hides to create enough teepees for all the displaced homeowners who cannot even afford rent as those prices, too, have risen? We have wiped out most of the larger animals on this continent, and plastic tarps (being petroleum products) will soon be out of most people’s price range. Whence shall the raw materials come?

It is common knowledge that we are the most obese nation on the planet, though this will not be the case for much longer as we all begin to starve. As inflation and unemployment rise and wages stagnate, we shall all soon be The Biggest Losers. But as you also know, the excess skin from our deflated bodies will remain on our newly chic and slender frames. Tanned by days and nights exposed to the elements, this excess skin will make ideal hides for the creation of teepees.

Am I suggesting that we slay and eat the fat? No, no, a thousand times no! We’re at least six months away from that sort of desperation. But do consider how our multi-billion dollar cosmetic surgery industry—which is also on the slide thanks to a 16-year low in consumer confidence—might benefit from a boom of tummy tucks, and consider how Green and eco-friendly it would be to recycle our own skin to create a roof over our heads. To coin another phrase: “Home is where the abdominoplasty is.”

So on the abyssal-side, we can expect home prices to fall, inflation to rise, waistlines to shrink and national debt to grow (but for the banks, who at least are being paid back in depreciated dollars). My advice: Keep your economic stimulus wampum close to your chest and sharpen your scalpels. My crystal ball says the Case-Shiller index next month will show more of the same—with an added return to new-home prices decline (up this month!). See you at the pow-wow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that to solve a problem, you must first analyze what caused it.

A lot of people in this country are woefully uneducated about buying a home. They haven't been taught about contracts, interest types, cost of upkeep, etc.

What would happen if communites organized free workshops (like SCORE)for people that are interested?

What if there was a requirement that people had to sign a statement at closing, certifying that they had been advised of that free service? Maybe even requiring it?

It would be nice if that applied to all major purchases. How many people do we think may have declared bancruptcy because they got in over their head due to being trapped in interest scams. Or hidden fees, etc.?

I think that whoever decides to make a loan should ultimately have to take responsibiltiy for their action. Let them pay for THEIR mistakes, just like the rest of us do for our decisions.

I really am tired of this society that has an excuse for everything and a bailout for anyone that gets in over their head.

There are reasons for failures in judgement. Let's get to the bottom of those instead of insisting that everyone 'share' in the consequences.

Thanks for letting me rant.