Thomas Sowell

The political meaning of "affordable housing" is housing that is made more affordable by politicians intervening to create government subsidies, rent control or other gimmicks for which politicians can take credit.

Affordable housing produced by market forces provides no benefit to politicians and has no attraction for them.

Study after study, not only here but in other countries, show that the most affordable housing is where there has been the least government interference with the market-- contrary to rhetoric.

When new occupants of foreclosed housing find it more affordable, will the previous occupants all become homeless? Or are they more likely to move into homes or apartments that they can afford? They will of course be sadder-- but perhaps wiser as well.

The old and trite phrase "sadder but wiser" is old and trite for the same reason that "saving for a rainy day" is old and trite. It reflects an all too common human experience.

Even in an era of much-ballyhooed "change," the government cannot eliminate sadness. What it can do is transfer that sadness from those who made risky and unwise decisions to the taxpayers who had nothing to do with their decisions.

Worse, the subsidizing of bad decisions destroys one of the most effective sources of better decisions-- namely, paying the consequences of bad decisions.

In the wake of the housing debacle in California, more people are buying less expensive homes, making bigger down payments, and staying away from "creative" and risky financing. It is amazing how fast people learn when they are not insulated from the consequences of their decisions.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate



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