"What does not change / is the will to change"
--Charles Olson, "The Kingfishers"

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The problem with capitalism

My newest column is up at The Progressive Populist.

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eclisham said...

I agree with this as far as it goes, but I think you don't address significant other problems in the housing market: exclusionary or fiscal zoning at the local level ("no multi-family here, please! We like our three-acre minimums.") and perverse tax incentives at the federal level, most notably the mortgage interest tax deducation. This "tax expenditure" is available to those who need it least, and represents a $60 billion subsidy that incentivizes ownership and over-buying, driving housing prices up.

So while corporate regulations can do their part to address the problem, let's try to put some balance back into the housing market, by loosening up zoning to allow greater supply where it makes sense, and by re-examining our incentives to be sure they actually foster the outcomes we want.

Delighted to talk more about this at greater length.

Hank Kalet said...

I have no arguments with what you are saying. In fact, I agree completely. My point was that the issue we face is much greater than the housing market or rules governing housing -- or even the kind of regulatory structures we tend to favor. The issue here is that our economic system does not work for the vast majority of us. It uses us as a resource and, like a used resource, it discards us when it's done. And if you are not useful to the economic system -- if you have mental or physical disabilities, a criminal record, etc. -- the system discards you before you even start. If we were to fully fund all of the good housing programs out there and change the perverse tax incentives built into the system, it will lead to much good, but it will do little more than chip away at the problem because the problem is capitalism itself. As long as the system places profit over all other potential motivations, it will chew up resources and spit them to the curb.