The Real Reason that Housing is Not Affordable

Governments are notorious for creating problems (or inventing problems that don't exist) in order to blame someone else for them and to obtain more control over the masses by and setting out to provide a solution to the problem it caused. This is the essence of the current U.S. housing crisis. Government is the primary reason that housing is not affordable for many Americans. It is insanity, then, to expect government to fix the problem--a problem that it created in the first place.

It is a lie--based on unfounded interpretations of a housing study from the 1990's--that mortgage providers turned away minorities on a regular basis who were fully qualified borrowers. So states Thomas Sowell in his cut-to-the-point new book The Housing Boom and Bust. The reality is that equally qualified applicants of any race were being given loans--and equally unqualified applications of any race were being turned away--at roughly the same rates. One thing that markets--even if they are made up entirely of greedy people--don't care about is race. If someone has the ability to pay back my loan, I wouldn't care if they were green and had pointy ears; I'd give them the loan.

The reality is that blacks as a race were only slightly more often denied loans than were Hispanics, that Hispanics were only slightly more often denied loans than whites, and whites were actually slightly more often denied loans than Asians. Based upon a willful misinterpretation of the data, along with a willful intent to profit and propagandize in order to gain more federal control of the economy, politicians such as Barney Frank and Cristopher Dodd used knowingly false data and accusations while calling upon lenders to make housing supposedly more "affordable". It soon became clear (with Frank and Dodd still denying their culpability in the fiasco) that Congress's new prescription had crippled a previously healthy patient. It soon became clear that government requirements resulted in a plethora of previously denied borrowers generally not being able to afford making their new mortgage payments. Due primarily to imbecilic behavior on the part of the federal government, the housing crisis burst into full bloom.

The most dangerous bureaucrat is not the one who thinks he can get away with it, but rather the one who thinks he is morally obligated to get away with it. Government is the major reason that housing is not affordable for so many Americans.

Have you ever heard of "land use restriction"? I'd guess not. The phrase has a sinister connotation, so the connoisseurs of government control are careful not to use the pejorative term. What I'm sure you have heard of is "open space". Why is the phrase "open space" used so often, when what is really meant is "land use restriction"? Because open space sounds good. Open space sounds healthy. Open space sounds warm. Open space sounds fuzzy. At least that's what we've been conditioned to believe. More open space, however, is seldom necessary, especially in states where the government has already set aside about half of the land area as perpetual "open space". When someone speaks of the lofty vision of open space, they are in reality talking about restricting someone else's (i.e. yours, not theirs) use of land. When something is restricted, the cost of using it naturally goes up.
Where are housing prices most expensive in the United States? Almost without exception, the most expensive housing occurs in areas that have become victim to the political crusade known as open space preservation. The irony of this reality is another reality. Thomas Sowell paints the picture clearly:
It was in precisely these...enclaves that the kind of people for whom the national housing crusade expressed much concern--minorities, low-income people, and families with children--were forced out disproportionately.

The Housing Boom and Bust, p. 128
Under the guise of helping the underprivileged, open-space advocates take away many of the privileges that their impoverished fellow citizens had in the first place. Which causes the rich to get richer and the poor to get...homeless. Government is the primary reason that housing is not affordable for so many Americans.

How is it that politicians are seldom held to account for their mistakes? In part it's because political survival often entails the crafty denial of such mistakes. How is it that we are docile enough to let the same politicians who have ruined the housing market now roll the dice of intervention in the automobile industry?

What happens when government decides that it is time to build a new public housing project? Shortly thereafter, the crime rate--including the murder rate--goes up dramatically. Valdalism goes up. Dysfunctional families become more common. Welfare dependency goes up. What's the solution that our imaginative government always proposes? Government's solution is to build more housing projects.

Government is the main reason that housing is not affordable for so many Americans. Yet we continue to trust that government can solve the current housing crisis.

Government is the housing problem. Yet some people think it can be the solution to the mess that it created. How silly. That's like asking the bull to go back into your china closet and glue all your dishes back together.


  1. So forget "open space?" Because there is enough government "wilderness" outside human domain, we can forget about green space and undeveloped land within our communities? Just keep paving and subdividing, rolling out the sprawl? You don't think there are any negative consequences to that?

    I think there is plenty of possibility for low-income housing within high-density communities. Perpetual exurbanization (which will ultimately encroach on the government "open spaces"--conservatives already want industry to have unfettered access to those spaces) isn't the answer.

  2. In the article, I stated that "Under the guise of helping the underprivileged, open-space advocates take away many of the privileges that their impoverished fellow citizens had in the first place." There are ample examples of this. There may be plenty of possibility for low-income housing within high-density communities, but so far that has usually achieved an isolation of black people in public housing projects with subsequent high crime. I don't think that such distinct separations of people is very health for society.

    Communities ought to get together and build parks and other recreational venues for their communities, but I don't think that this falls within the commonly understood definition of "open space". (

  3. I agree that the distinct separation and isolation of differing economic/social democraphics is very unhealthy for communities. This is at least as big a problem in the exurbs as it is in high density housing. How many blacks do you have down in the suburbs of Utah County? How many Latinos? I know from experience there are hardly any in the suburban wasteland of Davis county. Nor are there many housing options for the poor in suburbs. And the rich, with their McMansions are typically also segregated out from the middle-income and poor, often with gated communities. Suburbanization doesn't appear to be any cure for the demographic segregation.

    Open space should be more than just islands of small parks in the expanse of subdivisions and asphalt. We will be a much healthier society--physically, environmentally, socially, and spiritually--if we focus on high-density development which better enables self-locomotion (walking and biking), encourages more personal interaction, and leaves swathes of open space. The sprawl we see across the Wasatch Front is making things worse, not better.

  4. (On the question about the demographics of Utah County, I do mean off-campus and not in student housing, which is different than residential housing)


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