Last week the House of Representatives had one of those routine votes to honor or recognize some event, person, program, whatever -- the kind of vote that both Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, support unanimously, or close to it. This vote was on "Recognizing National Homeownership Month and the importance of homeownership in the United States." It passed, 405-6.
Arizona's weirdo Rep. Jeff Flake is often among the two to seven "No" votes on these kind of roll call votes. Mostly he's just calling attention to himself or trying to make some kind of point about how government shouldn't do anything. Do-nothingism is basically his philosophy, and he's done a good job of getting nothing done in his eight years in Congress.
On very rare occasions he's right, as he was last week when he was only one of eight House members to vote against Iran sanctions. Weirdo Jeff Flake was one of the few House members not to take their marching orders from AIPAC.
If Rep. Flake's "no" vote on recognizing National Homeownership Month and the importance of homeownership in the United States was based on trying to make the point that successive U.S. administrations (partiularly those of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) have over-emphasized the importance of owning a home - or that American culture generally makes a fetish of homeownership - then we think he may have been right.
As a lifelong renter who's never owned a house (for the past four years this Green candidate hasn't owned a car either), we thought it was crazy when the government started pushing everyone to buy a home. That's how we got into the boom that inflated housing prices in Arizona and most everywhere beyond reality; how we let greed and financial double-dealing and outright fraud run rampant; and how we ended up with the inevitable crash and the resulting nightmare of foreclosures, homes underwater, financial catastrophe, panic, recession, unemployment, etc.
Unlike Jeff Flake, we'd like to see the removal of the tax deduction for interest on mortgages. Some people should not be homeowners. It makes no sense to subsidize the homeownership of irresponsible wealthier people while financially prudent poorer people sensibly rent their dwellings.
Here's an excerpt from a review by Steve LaFleur of a new book about our current economic crisis that we recommend, The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity, by the startlingly brilliant Richard Florida:
Florida’s most interesting contribution is his speculation on how cities will evolve in response to the current reset. His fundamental point is that the culture of home and car ownership will inevitably decline. This is because young people today are more mobile than ever before. He points out how home ownership is negatively correlated with income, since young people need mobility to take advantage of scattered employment opportunities.
Florida claims that home ownership ties people down, preventing them from taking advantage of job opportunities outside of their commuting range and thus car ownership is also not part of the new lifestyle. The average American family spends 25% of its income on transportation. Those who live in walkable neighbourhoods spend just 10%. Florida sees the decline of car and home ownership as an opportunity to free up large amounts of capital for savings and new investment. In an age that necessitates austerity, the decline of home and car ownership could be just what we need to rein in personal debt.
So this time the weirdo Jeff Flake may be right, but we're waiting to see if he will vote for a resolution "Recognizing National Home-Renting Month and the importance of home renting in the United States."