Perspective

Wiseguys

The American home-mortgage crisis, though it is only a little less urgent than it was a year ago, has taken second place, in the ambulance-chasing media, to Obama­Care, same-sex “marriage,” and even the wars in Syria and Afghanistan.  We have all been informed that the Great Recession was caused in large part by high rates of mortgages in default, which was in turn the result of a housing bubble created by the proliferation of subprime mortgages and the deregulation of the banking “industry.”

Leftists inevitably blame what they inevitably call the “meltdown” on the insatiable greed of the bankers, while conservatives speak, albeit in more cautious tones, of government abuses and the recklessness of low-income home-buyers, all the while admitting that governments have the right and duty to encourage home ownership.  There may be merit in both sets of arguments, but generally missing from the debate is the ethical dimension: How in the world did the family home get converted first into an asset and then into an investment vehicle?

The need for a stable home base seems to be one of those essentials of human nature we cannot entirely eliminate.  Even our cousins the orangutans and chimpanzees build nests, and, while these nests are used only for one-night stands, chimpanzees return repeatedly to preferred areas in which they have previously...

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