The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Holman Jenkins, Homeowner

I am still exercised about Mr. Jenkins's evil and incredibly stupid editorial in the Wall Street Journal.
But another option has hardly been considered in Washington, though it's old hat in the sticks: Using tax dollars to buy and demolish foreclosed, unoccupied or half-built houses in selected markets.... Cleveland spends $6 million a year to demolish buildings. Dayton plans to demolish 550 this year. Only a small mental adjustment is required to begin aiming these bulldozers at "new" homes too. Get over it.
Knocking down surplus homes would be the most efficient and equitable way
to spend taxpayer dollars.

[Emphasis mine.] An unpleasantry is not sufficient response to this. Half Sigma summarizes the real effects:
This is just a negative sum transfer of wealth from the poor (people who rent or are even homeless) to the well off (people who own homes and big corporations that built too many homes and can’t sell them).

So it's clear that the manifest and overwhelming negative of this plan -- there will be fewer houses for everyone to live in -- is less important to Mr. Jenkins than some prospective gain. I would guess that Mr. Jenkins owns a home whose value he does not want to see reduced, and possibly has some personal stake in the stability of the leveraged financial system around him. This at least would give a patina of comprehensible avarice to what is otherwise stark lunacy.

This plan is as "efficient" and "equitable" as my beating up a homeless guy to steal his quarters.