There is plenty of blame to go around for the great financial crash of 2008 and the ensuing economic recession that is pessimistically expected to be much worse than the Great Depression. Indeed, there are lots to people and institutions to blame for the disaster. After all, almost everyone was in on it, from the maid who bought four condos on spec, to the unemployed student who bought her first house figuring she would get roommates to pay the mortgage, and to other poor blokes who bought a home they could never afford, to the hard working folks who took out second mortgages or equity lines of credit and spread the con-money proceeds around as their homes appreciated, to the real estate tycoons, Wall Street bankers and credit reporting agencies that knocked down billions in profit, not to mention the deregulating politicians who added capacity to the punch bowl, and the lax regulators who failed to take it away from the drunken bingers some of them had worked for.
Most of the fingers are pointing upward, to the con-money men or credit pushers who pulled off fast ones and parachuted out with help of the government’s bail outs. After all, it would be politically incorrect in this great democracy of ours, where everyone is supposed to have a chance to own their own sweet home some day, to blame the hapless victims of massive foreclosure, bankruptcy, and unemployment. We should certainly not want to fault the likes of Mr. & Mrs. Jones, whom enthusiastic real estate agents and often crooked mortgage brokers presumably conned into buying a home they could never pay for.
But the Joneses are not as foolish as we think simply because they could not balance a checkbook or plan out a budget when they graduated from high school. They believed in the American Dream, and they were smart enough to buy into the ownership society as advertised and become real estate investors as well as homeowners. Such homeowners expect their real property to appreciate. It is cheaper to own than to rent when prices are appreciating, so the Joneses thought their house was an investment as well as a residence; they could always sell it for a handsome profit if need be, and in that event they would have lived in it rent free and would built up a considerable nest egg.
After all, is not real estate the basis of all wealth and does not its value climb year after year? But the investment went sour and the Joneses next door, whom we would keep up with, feel cheated. Surely someone besides themselves is responsible, they believed. Somebody else must be blamed. The most immediate candidate for blaming is the lender who gave the Joneses a loan they can not pay for, and the investors who bought those loans. In other words, you gave us loans we cannot pay for, and now you want the collateral, you want to kick us out of the house, which means you are crooks, so we blame you for the mess we are in, and you had better find a way to let us stay in the houses we cannot afford, or else this great nation of ours will go to hell in a hand basket.