A commenter at Taki's blog has expressed in complete form a thought I'd been trying (without success) to pull together.
He's commenting on a Pat Buchanan piece
which is accurate but not especially fresh. The third commenter, "Alphysicist", points out that the constant push toward home ownership for everyone, billed as a growth of liberty, has in fact led to a form of slavery. Alphysicist considers this imprisonment an intentional goal of recent US govts. I'm not sure it was all that purposeful, but it has unquestionably happened.
I also think that this whole thing had a political motivation, albeit different from what many libertarians think: the main motivation was to drive people into insecurity. The loans caused house prices to surge by many orders of magnitude, artificially inflated, so in the end nobody actually owns their houses, it’s the banks who own them (it is incorrect to claim that home-ownership increased). The subprime case is similar. The actual tenants could not have bought those houses, but perhaps middle class individuals (or small businesses) could have as an investment.
Aside from the economic centralization, the idea that no one really owns their own houses carries a feeling of insecurity with it. Not to mention that if everyone is worried about paying their mortgages, they are in a sense prisoners already. The US is not like the Soviet Union, they do not build Gulags (let’s hope), but the political elite has a lot of undue free space in which to manouver in the situation in which everyone is indebted.
This parallels my earlier comments
about tenure: that it offers a pretense of freedom while actually pinning you down into inescapable loyalty.
With rental, or with piecework pay, you have no false sense
of freedom, and you have a different sort of security. You know exactly what you're supposed to do, and you are part of a closed circle
in which both sides have privileges and obligations. If you start to go wrong, the landlord or employer will try to pull you back into line until it's clearly impossible. If an employer or landlord goes wrong, he will have trouble gaining new tenants or workers. As long as both sides remain human and claim no special legal privileges, the contract works.
With these fraudulent new mortgages, the bank has all the fun. You're never going to finish purchasing the house, so you're not really gaining ownership; but the bank has no obligation to fix the roof or the plumbing, so you don't have the advantages of renting.