Banks are failing, the economy is lifeless, and taxpayers are getting the bill. Were this 1929, we’d have our money under our mattresses, and we’d be sitting on them. Assuming, of course, we still owned homes with mattresses! Now, the question everybody wants to know is: Who can we blame?
Today, the FBI announced criminal inquiries into whether leaders at Fannie, Freddie, AIG, and others committed fraud. Meanwhile, I actually heard radio talk show callers today blaming “the Jews” for greedily lending too much money and “the Blacks” for taking mortgages they couldn’t afford. (Lord! How some people see this world astonishes me.)
Racism and antisemitism aside, I think the blame for our current economic crisis can be at least partially placed on greedy lenders and investors (of all faiths) and irresponsible borrowers (of all races). Of course, it can also be placed upon our government for not reigning in reckless lending.
But what about Joe and Jane Taxpayer? They are the working couples with a mortgage they can afford (and pay on time) who will end up paying taxes that bail out the less responsible. They’re the ones who should be—and are—the most upset about this mess.
And yet, I am reluctant to call any American blameless. After all, we, as a nation, cling to the idea of the American Dream in which any American seemingly has the right to own a home. It’s a nice ideal, but one grown impractical with time.
Perhaps its time Americans redefine home ownership as the privilege it is rather than another inalienable right.
What do you think?