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The Cost of the American Dream


Why home ownership must be based in economic reality.

I spent part of the weekend reading through some of William F. Buckley's writings; no real reason other than to celebrate a life that I have come to know.

He wrote this in January about the government's debate about how to help the economy:

"The debate, therefore, rolls on. Almost certainly the package enacted by Congress will include a bit of every nostrum: lower tax rates, tax rebates, unemployment subsidies. What isn't likely to come out of it is generic reforms of a kind that might have spared us the collapse. And why is this so? Because economic practices are governed by political considerations. It is tempting to blame the leaking roof on the rainfall.

If there is a single image to crystallize the American dream, it would be house ownership. And the moment one makes widespread home ownership a priority, one is required to come up with a structure of credit devices.

Principal among these, of course, is the mortgage. There is nothing inherently corrupt about mortgage lending. The problem comes in when the mortgage is set at a figure that does not correspond with economic reality."

These words are directed at a specific situation, but they ring true as describing the general conservative view of things. The "American Dream" is not a manufactured device or recipe to be institutionalized. The real American dream is simply the freedom to seek opportunity where the happy ending is the result of value created by the individual rewarded.

When we expect government to solve our problems, some might say we have given up that freedom and started down that slippery slope toward fascism, the most virulent and insidious form being that informal fascism where there is no declared dictator, only a large government promising to help its citizens and needing more and more power to do it.

The process of providing temporary relief to the economy by growing the government even more will not be stopped, but we can only hope that Mr. Buckley is wrong and it will also be met in the coming presidential election by an understanding of what got us here.
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