Question/Comment: Paul, If I hear one more presidential (or candidate) speech about the imperative to rescue those poor subprime home owners, I will scream. Not one economist, not one candidate, no one ever addresses the painfully unregulated and rogue rental landlords that comprise most cities. “Affordable housing” provided by public funding is accessible only to income levels that rule out working folks like myself. In order to qualify for a one-bedroom, you are required to make less than $30,000 and have two kids. Great. I am penalized because I earn $70,000 and have no kids.
Paul Solman: I don’t get the connection. Why are you screaming about the subprime homeowners? Many of them were literally fleeced, no? Ones I’ve talked to were certainly taken advantage of by slick-talking brokers with every incentive to snooker them, though I’ll admit there was an element of wishful/“free money” thinking on the part of many borrowers as well.
As to public funding, look, it’s always a problem. Where do you establish the cutoff, draw the line? At what income level? Whom do you bail out? There’s always an issue when it comes to rescuing folks who’ve made “bad” financial decisions, whether it’s taking out a loan that was too good to be true, or building below sea level in New Orleans. On the other hand, did they really have any other choice? And if they go under, will it wind up hurting us all?