When Government Works

Our government justifiably gets a lot of criticism for what it does wrong. But sometimes government gets things right, and this is rarely recognized or acknowledged. So I'd like to highlight a small example from my own life.

I closed on a house this morning--a process that was markedly different than when I last bought a house in 2003. One of the most pleasant ways in which it was different was the ease of shopping for a loan. This was the result of new HUD rules standardizing what lenders must disclose to buyers in their Good Faith Estimate to make it easier for buyers to compare offers, which it certainly was for me. In 2003, I remember poring over lenders' estimates for hours trying to spot the junk fees and figure out which deal was best. This time the key factors--interested rate, lender fees, etc.--were easy to spot because the forms were identical. It took all of three minutes to figure out which was the best deal and then to call the other lenders to ask if they could do better. I'm sure HUD didn't plant this part, but the giveaway that I'd found the best deal I was going to get came when another lender stopped competing and started trying to convince me that it was a bad idea to go with the winner because the bank had received TARP money. I laughed out loud. ...And then I wondered if that actually works on people? 

Presented by

Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis. The only problem? He has to prove it works.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Politics

Just In