You Want the Economy Explained

As under-reported and alternative as I may hope to be, I also consume lots of the mainstream as well. So when I recommend you listen to this very special episode of This American Life, I realize that blogs all over the internet are doing the same and there is no shortage of linking and praising going on.  Actually I didn’t love it, but this particular episode does what it says it does…  you listen for an hour and you will understand why the economy is the way it is now, specifically when it comes to the banks.

As I listened to this program twice, I kept thinking about the culture I grew up in, especially post-high school. The discussion in New Jersey was always about owning… owning house as this logical thing to do.  That alone might be fine were it not for the underlying suggestion that renting was for suckers. That not owning something or having debt on a credit card and needing to make car payments, that somehow the LACK of any of those was odd.

It is not meant to be an I-told-you-so by any means. My favorite people on the planet have mortgages and all that business. But I have to say, I hope now, at least in the United States where I was born and raised, we can get back to a time where its not shameful or immature somehow to NOT own a home. And beyond that, could there come a new era where people STOP borrowing beyond their means and buying without actually being able to afford something.  I’m both wondering and hoping as I listen again to the explanation of the citybank balance sheet and the dollhouses and a simple matter of 90 dollars.  (listen to the program).

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4 thoughts on “You Want the Economy Explained

  • March 7, 2009 at 1:43 am
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    This was a good show. They really made it understandable. Also thought it was fitting that the last part was about buying real estate in Wayne. Think about all the home that have been built there in the last 10 years. They’re still building on Route 46.

    I think renting is essential to a solid economy. In my current situation, my rent is supporting my landlord’s ability to live an independent life. They are an elderly couple, in their 70’s, and the rent they get from me and my neighbor helps them stay in this area. The property taxes are $10,000+ a year, so they need the money. Sure I don’t own anything, but at least my money can go to worthy people who need it.

  • March 8, 2009 at 12:01 am
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    I didn’t buy a house until I was 33 years old, and for years people couldn’t understand why I was still renting. I never had the money to buy a house, but once I was able to finally get something, I never understood the big deal. Yeah, I get more taxes back now, but the amount of mortgage I now pay each month kind of makes that a useless “plus.” And in almost four years, it’s now worth less than what I paid for it. Yeah, American Dream…

    • March 8, 2009 at 12:30 am
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      but emm.. the good news is now youve got plenty of room for when I come visit .. eh eh? ya.

  • March 11, 2009 at 7:55 pm
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    Marcus,

    Seeing that we grew up together in the same town (mostly), I, too have the same notions. Owning a house is a part of the American Dream, etc…but I still kind of feel that way. I just wonder WHY we can’t all afford homes.

    Is it because houses just cost too much or is it because we make too little?

    I would have to think that houses cost a lot because it’s a great place to live…..but then the salaries should go up as well. they have and they have, but not in equal shares.

    I think the root problem not enough people are talking about is that we make less now in adjusted dollars than we did 30 years ago. Why is it that a one job family did ok in the 60’s and 70’s, but in the 80’s you NEEDED 2 incomes? Now it is almost insane to think 1 person could stay at home (permanently). And yet, we STILL can’t afford a home.

    What is the root cause of this problem? It started WAY before Obama took over and even before Bush.

    All I can see to lay the blame on is the disparity between the highest paid and the lowest paid. What can be done to fix this?

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