Sunday, August 30, 2009

A liberal admits Affirmative Action Housing Crash

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, believe it or not, a very good book about how the sacred cause of "diversity" led to 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 on the misdeeds of capitalists as well as leftists. But that is a familiar leftist tale. What is intriguing is Katz's honest testimony on the role of her fellow leftists in this mess.

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. She devotes more time to these factors than she does to the Bush Administration's culpability (which, to my mind, is remarkable).

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. Call it the Era of Multi-Cultural Lending.

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