[Marxism] The Housing Question

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Aug 24 09:51:28 MDT 2010

Among the “entitlements” targeted by the ruling class today is 
home ownership, something that had been elevated to the same plane 
as motherhood, the American flag and apple pie in the 1950s. But 
lately the same kind of “concern” over social security going broke 
has been mounting for this quintessential symbol of the “American 

Robert J. Samuelson wrote about How a homeownership fetish hurt 
the American dream in the August 23rd Washington Post. Odd to see 
such a cherished goal likened to leather, bikini underwear and 
stiletto heels. He states:

	In an ideal world, we would discard failed policies. We would 
trim or end the mortgage-interest tax deduction. We would curtail 
the GSEs’ loans and guarantees (the promise to repay mortgages 
that default). The consequences need not be dire. The 
homeownership rate, already down to 67 percent from its 2004-06 
peak of 69 percent, would probably stabilize in the mid-60s. 
People would save more for down payments. Mortgage rates might 
rise a bit.

The GSE’s are Government Sponsored Enterprises, namely Fannie Mae 
and Freddie Mac, that have made cheap credit available, while the 
mortgage interest tax deduction is one of the primary incentives 
for buying rather than renting a home. From what I have heard over 
the years, including from the late Peter Camejo who was my 
informal financial adviser for a time in the early 80s, this 
mortgage deduction amounts to found money. At the time I was 
living in Mitchell-Lama subsidized housing so it didn’t matter 
that much to me. Now that the subsidy has ended and I am paying 
$2450 per month, I am more inclined to think about buying 
something—just when that found money might disappear. Aw, shucks.


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