Sunday, August 7, 2011

Look around your house. Do you have more living space then your really need? Do you have room(s) that are glorified storage spaces? Now you see the problem with our national housing policy.

Yes, I do too...
Before I became a teacher, I had a furniture upholstery business (Dallas/Ft Worth Area).  I was amazed at the number of houses I would visit where residents would have rooms they did not use at all. It always perplexed me...until I could afford to move into a upper-middle class neighborhood.  Now I understand....
Source: Carpe Diem
The period 1986-87 seems to be the birth year for the slope of the square footage to become very steep only to be interrupted by recessions/slowdowns (line flattens out 1990-95, 2001-2003, 2007--?).  I don't think there is one particular reason for this, seems like a combination of housing policies (mortage interest deduction, low-to-no down payments, interest only loans, etc) PLUS Americans attitude towards homeowership (a "right") and "conspicuous consumption". All contribute to an over-allocation of societal resources towards this one sector of the economy, which makes the whole economy vulnerable to housing slowdowns. 

 I look around my own house and see wasted room and space (what is the purpose of vaulted ceilings?). This "extra" space is full of natural resources that are unproductive (wood, metal, etc) and it takes energy to cool or heat it---GAH!  Look around your residence---do you notice the same thing? 

The chart below shows the rather stark difference in living space between the US and Europe (this chart included houses as well as apartments, whereas the one above is just houses). Even US residents classified as poor apparently require 33% more living space than the average European.  Why do we need so much personal space?
Source: Carpe Diem
I am not advocating pro-active government policy to discourage the building of larger, wasteful homes--better known as "social engineering" by my conservative friends.  I would advocate government doing less--by that I mean discontinuing subsidies/policies that encourage over-building and over-spending on homes.  If you want a bigger house, don't ask me or any other taxpayer to subsidize it.

If you are going to take a conservative/libertarian stance, my friends, then you must be willing to pay for it yourself. Don't say yes unless you REALLY mean it.  Otherwise, we should not bag on someone else's subsidy/deduction...That is only "fair", right?

If you are a liberal/environmentalist-type, you don't escape criticism either.  Why do you have some much extra space soaking up societal resources?  The little bit of recycling you do to feel good is more than off-set by the extra housing you consume relative to what is sufficient for "sustainability".  Kinda  forgot about that, didn't ya?

There! I bagged on both sides of the spectrum. Guess that makes me the morally superior one, doesn't it?

Glad I am so perfect! :)
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