Something Ta-Nehisi Can't Play

One result of starting this blog, is a public exposure of my many pockets of ignorance. Take the economy for instance. In fact, if anyone wants to recommend a great "econ for dummies" book (but not in that series) now is the time. That being said, there are still things that I find interesting that I like to highlight, even if I can't bring great insight.

Item: The housing crisis. Here are two pieces that I've read recently which make an progressive argument against bailing out homeowners and, by default, banks that sold stupid loans. Here's fellow TPMCafer Dean Baker:

The banks made bad loans. Businesses are supposed to suffer the consequences of their business decision, good or bad. That's capitalism. However, instead of letting the banks live with the market, we're chasing after them with buckets of taxpayer dollars.

This is truly painful. We must have big fights to get a few billion dollars to provide health care or childcare for kids. How can we suddenly produce billions for banks, no questions asked?

Second a very elegant piece by Joshua Rosner which argues that too many people in America are homeowners. I read this a few weeks back and never got around to posting about. I think it stands the test of time though:

Indeed, we ought to consider what role the federal government has played in creating this mess. By stimulating home ownership while failing to account for the reasons home ownership is valuable to society, Washington has simply sought to buy our votes with our own debt. As the subprime crisis accelerates and threatens to spread through prime and near-prime markets, policymakers face a watershed moment. To keep us from an economic nightmare, they need to replace the dream of home ownership with policies that actually increase wealth--not just the illusion of it

I find this whole debate interesting because they offer liberal arguments for laissez-faire. I'm a bit of a left-libertarian, in terms of social issues, and to some extent in terms of economic ones also. (At least the ones I understand!) Thus there's a large part of me which resists the idea that everyone--and maybe not even most people--who took out a bad loan was hoodwinked. The thought of homeownership is intoxicating to most grown folks, and I could see some people really overstating their capabilities. Practically though, it's awful politics--as John McCain will soon learn--to look at the people who you want to elect you and tell them "Suck it up." There has to be a middle ground, no?