Our Lot: How Real Estate Came to Own Us by Alyssa Katz, a liberal journalist 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.
Our Lot focuses equally on the misdeeds of both capitalists and leftists. But I won’t give the boiler room boys as much attention in this review because they’re a more familiar tale, while Katz’s reporting on the role of her side is compelling “testimony against interest.”
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.
August 30, 2009
From my new VDARE.com column: