All funded by extorted white middle class conservatives’ tax dollars.
Our Lot: How Real Estate Came to Own Us by Alyssa Katz, a liberal journalist and NYU journalism professor who writes for Mother Jones, is the best book yet on how the sacred cause of “diversity” merged with pedal-to-the-metal capitalism to bring us the Great Mortgage Meltdown.
The book hasn’t garnered the attention it deserves—probably because it makes clear the bipartisan responsibility of both her opponents on the Right and her friends on the Left.
Katz is remarkably frank about how government programs and political pressure to boost minority homeownership helped blow up the economy. She’s particularly good at explicating how leftist housing activists, such as ACORN and Gale Cincotta, the godmother of the Community Reinvestment Act, worked with Democratic politicians such as Bill Clinton, HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, and Jim Johnson, CEO of Fannie Mae, to lay the groundwork for the Bubble and Bust.
Katz doesn’t devote quite as much depth to the Bush Administration’s culpability (which, to my mind, is even greater). Perhaps she lacked Republican contacts to give her the kind of inside story she got on her own party’s mistakes.
Still, Our Lot makes clear that on housing policy, the Clinton-Bush years form a single continuum with one overarching plan: boost the minority homeownership rate by lowering credit standards. I call it the Era of Multi-Culti Capitalism.
And there’s little reason to think that its lessons have been learned yet.
Fortuitously for me, Our Lot fills in the political backstory of my own in-laws’ lives. My wife grew up in Austin, which had been a peaceful, densely populated working class where small children could play safely on the crowded sidewalks. Suddenly, in the late 1960s, middle class blacks began buying into the neighborhood.
Friends warned my late father-in-law, a classical musician and union leader, to flee, that underclass blacks would follow. But he and my late mother-in-law, a schoolteacher, resolved to show that integration could work.
After my future wife was mugged twice and her younger brother once, however, my in-laws finally sold in 1970—losing half their life savings.
They moved 63 miles out of Chicago, to a dilapidated farm where they lacked running water for their first two years. (And my father-in-law started voting Republican.)