As an American there is something that strikes me as odd about this TV show, something that has been puzzling me that I hope someone can help me clear up. If you are a TV watcher I don’t think you can have missed the many new shows dealing with housing. People looking for houses, people renovating houses, people looking to create income from renting portions of their houses to others… all seem to run day and night on one particular network. It is my understanding that it has a rather wide viewing audience and since it is devoid of politics I have found myself turning to it to escape the 24/7 barrage of political bullshit that seems to fill most other networks.
Here is the thing that bothers me, or, should I say leaves me with questions I have no answers to. It is my hope that a reader of this can help me out here and provide me with some answers.
How can it be that houses in other countries always seem to cost more than comparable houses in America? Why is it, do you suppose, that homes in Canada, England, The Netherlands and almost every other country I have observed are priced far in excess of what the exact same house in America would sell for? In some cases, if you have ever watched the show in question, you will notice that they are priced two or three times MORE than the same house in America would cost in spite of the fact, at least they tell me it is a fact, that here in America we have it better than they do anywhere else in the world? Our housing prices have plummeted, tens of thousands are evicted from homes they can no longer pay for, daily, and still we are informed that America’s particular brand of Capitalism is the cat’s meow when it comes to the right way to run an economy.
All this puzzles me even more due to the fact that one of my remarkable offspring (and family) have recently relocated to The Netherlands where they are gainfully employed designing custom electron microscopes for the electronics industry and biological research. They are dealing with it and the cultural shock of realizing that people who are not blessed with the boon of inhabiting the most “exceptional” country in the world can still not only find homes and happiness, but, can somehow not be driven to mass suicide once they are old enough to realize they are not Americans.
Since most of the TV shows I have observed deal with properties in Canada I will tell you some of the things I have learned about home ownership there. First, homes cost MUCH more in Canada than comparable homes do in America in spite of the fact, reliable sources inform me, that Canadians spend most of their time lining up at our border in an attempt to purchase American health care because it is so much better under a fee for service system. The fact that Canadians outlive us by more than two years, statistically, is irrelevant of course. In Canada 50% of the homes do not have a mortgage on them and a minimum of 25% of the purchase price is required to even apply for a mortgage. Liars Loans, the foundation of America’s floundering financial housing base, it appears, never quite took off in the rest of the world for reasons the American banking industry have never figured out. Canada has no “Housing Bubble” and prices are not only stable, but, continue to climb. Our housing prices, in case you have missed it, have plummeted and remain stagnant.
So, how can this be? Since we are the “Free” ones and since we are the “Exceptional” ones… how come so many of us are living in the street or expecting an eviction notice any day now? Why is it so much cheaper to purchase housing in America, and yet, so hard for Americans to aspire to successful home ownership?
I have a few ideas:
1. Could it be that NOT having to continually worry about obscene and crippling health care costs permits people to actually save more for things like down payments and pass more of their lifetime wealth accumulation to their children?
2. Could it be that government investment in infrastructure and mass transportation is a good thing because it frees people from having to remain constantly in debt to banks for automobile loans, insurance and maintenance?
3. Could multitudes of people riding bicycles, rather than being an admonition of an unsuccessful economy, really be the mark of a culture that understands that saving money AND getting exercise are a win-win combination?
4. Could making it less financially attractive for people to live in suburbia by putting high taxes on gasoline while, simultaneously, improving every aspect of life in urban areas, (instead of abandoning them to the poor where crime, poor public education, hopelessness and the illegal drug trade take their inevitable toll) , actually make some kind of sense?
5. Is it possible (and I’m asking this as a kind of a joke) that capitalism as we practice it here in the exceptional good old USA isn’t turning out to be what we were told to expect? That instead of it Flowering here it has turned out to be more of a weed infestation where one particular kind of weed, like kudzu, monopolizes more and more of the available resource at the expense of everything and everybody else?
[As a side note] My daughter informs me that my grandchildren in The Netherlands are now playing in clean and attractive parks, within easy walking distance, that would be considered DEATH TRAPS if they existed in America. There are sharp objects not wrapped in rubber and things to climb, where children can actually fall, that are not roped off for the children’s protection. We are left to wonder how children not growing up in America ever survive to adulthood.
I would appreciate any ideas or comments regarding any of the paradoxes presented by the thoughts and information above.