Wednesday, November 18, 2009

When Will They Make "God Bless the Child" Our National Anthem?

Reporters at the New York Times might try reading their own paper. Here’s Javier Hernandez’ partial explanation for the sudden decline in housing construction:
“Part of the overall decline in housing construction might be explained by the uncertainty in October over whether Congress would extend a tax credit for first-time home buyers. Earlier this month, lawmakers voted to extend the credit through April, but builders may have been reluctant to begin construction in October without assurance that homes would be bought.”
Just this past Saturday, Gretchen Morgenson quoted some builders who already answered the question:
“So what do these companies plan to do with their refunds?
Ken Campbell, the chief executive of Standard Pacific, said the money would allow his company to continue buying land. “Will we build more houses or will there be more people employed in the first quarter? Probably not,” he said. “Will employment accelerate when the market starts to grow? It will.”

Caryn Klebba, a spokeswoman for Pulte Homes, said in a statement that the company planned to use the funds it receives “to support its current operations and, when market conditions improve, fund future growth and expansion.”
In other words, like the banks before them, these companies will sit on the money, or use it to maintain the status quo. Buying land is not going to translate into more construction, although it will certainly remove from conservation all that nasty undeveloped green space cluttering up the landscape.

At a time when so many are suffering, there is no earthly excuse for this kind of largesse. And what if it did inhibit them from building more housing? When the median home price is running at $188,850, and the median yearly wage is only $32,390, how on earth is it a bad thing to discourage builders from throwing up even more unaffordable temples to ambition and ego, to squat in their un-landscaped middens as far as the eye can see?

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