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Last May, Joan McCarter wrote a fantastic story about her ancestors and their long history in the American West. She wrote about the legacy left by her kinfolk, generation after generation. Like all salt of the earth folk, that legacy was tied to the land that provided. There was one sentence in that piece that made feel like I was missing out on something:

Life didn't change appreciably when they moved back to take over the McCarter family ranch and homestead in Idaho.

Joan's great ancestor embody the American dream. I think it is something all of us can relate to. I'm not talking about venturing west and going cowboy. I'd be more feckless than Billy Crystal in City Slickers. The American dream as it relates to building things and anchoring things. Wouldn't you like to have your great-great-grandchildren be able to return to a place that is theirs, that will always be home. That thought made me think about how we think of home and what it means for the American dream and those people who still believe it is something worth pursuing.

Reading Joan's piece wasn't the first time thoughts of legacy have come to fore. Years ago I visited the ancestral home of a very close friend of mine who comes from a New England family that can trace its roots to 1774. There are pictures on the wall of Revolutionary War veterans, Abolitionist preachers, Suffragists...all the way up to people who stormed the beaches at Normandy. It is a moving experience seeing what people have built and assembled over the years. Their letters preserved in a place where they need not be moved. None of these people were famous or great in their time. That isn't the point. They saved things. Then their people held onto them. Today my friend can connect her children to this place, making it something more than a shelter.

Many familes in America grow up with none of this. The sort of families that move around and pay rent are quite common. My grandfather was 60 years old when he built his first home, something we all celebrated as if a child was born. That little house in Trinidad, which he built himself, is now being rented by someone. My parents brought me up in public housing projects because that was all they could afford in the beginning. Having just arrived in America in the early 1970s with nothing, housing provided by the city was the only thing better than homelessness. For 13 years of my life, I saw the 1980s crack epidemic up close. I also remember how difficult it was to pay the rent. Even project rent was hard to pay sometimes. And then, the moving. We moved to other buildings within the project several times. Then we finally moved out to a run-down apartment building. And then another. And another. Sometimes we moved up, as in our apartments got bigger or the buildings better. Sometimes we moved laterally, as in just somewhere long enough to hold us down while my dad was laid off from work. Finally, my dad was able to gain his citizenship and join a good union. We still moved though. Paying rent. Sometimes behind, sometimes ahead.

The rent iss always a topic of discussion in a low income house. Rent should have had a plate on the wall next to my mother's beloved Martin Luther King, Jr. and John and Bobby Kennedy commemorative plates, because it was certainly discussed more than they were. When my parents were jovial, I knew the god of rent was pleased. But woe unto us if the god of rent was not satisfied. In those times, meals were not as bountiful and asking for things brought swift denial and maybe a bit of cursing. More church too. When I would come home from school and hear my mother in her room praying and wailing as my ancestors had taught her to, I knew that rent had made her do it. We had one television and my father controlled it. If rent was unhappy, we had televangelism on 24/7. If rent was sated, then we were free to see The Cosby Show. "Don't you see, boy? We have to pay the rent!" That meant I would have to do without.

Things changed when, after many years of toil, my father bought his first home, a large Victorian. It took him one year of sou sou to save up the down payment. I remember what a joy it was to have a home. A room of my own. Our own little piece of the world. Something for my sister to inherit, of course. But maybe me if I ever stopped being "a bad boy." As a teenager, it was like getting a social promotion. "I live in Ditmas Park," I'd say, as if I always had. No longer a project kid who moved around, I had what we all really understand as a home, in the physical sense of the word. A place that is yours, your children's, your grandchildren's.

For many today, getting that first crack at building the sort of legacy that Will McCarter or my Dad did is becoming impossible. The complexity of financial instruments has made things unstable, unsure. Buying a home is no longer thought of as a dream come true, but a risky, almost reckless endeavor. What must it be like for those millions of children who are moving from place to place all over the country? Many of them are not fortunate enough to draw on a tight-knit community of immigrants as my family could. Families are more scattered and community ties less pulled together. Chances are if you are paying rent, you probably don't know your neighbors. If you do, how long will it last?

Owning, keeping, and passing on a home is at the very foundation of the American Dream if you grow up poor. I still remember the great party that was held on the lawn of my house. My mother couldn't hold back the tears, the many pats on the back that made my father swell with pride. His talking about how great this country was. How he was going to give this house to my sister, which he did, because I made too much mischief to be responsible. What pictures will my niece's grandchildren see when they walk around that big old house? What are we losing when all these things become just another blip in a great game of money management?

Somewhere underneath all the mortgage-backed securities, automated notarizations, etc., there is a dream. A dream of someone who believed that if they just worked hard enough, they too could get a piece of the pie. I saw that dream play out right before my eyes in my own little way. I've also seen it turn into a modern-day national nightmare. I've seen friends from my old neighborhood rent, buy, and end up renting again just in the last five or six years. We are sliding backwards into "rent for life." For many families in 21st century America, there nothing else goin' on.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:04 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Food Stamps Tme Lapse (13+ / 0-)

    According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, food stamp usage has increased almost 60 percent since 2007.

    Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

    by Scarce on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:08:05 AM PST

  •  Debt and improverishment (9+ / 0-)

    make for an easily coerced population.  The Democratic party's complicity in free trade, gutting workers' protections, attacking the safety net and destroying public education can't be ignored.  

    America -- and the american dream -- has been sold and is no longer available in markets near you.

    "With all the wit of a stunned trout, prodigal stumbled clumsily into the midst of a discussion . . . " -- droogie6655321

    by prodigal on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:12:26 AM PST

  •  Thanks For The Intro To "Sou Sou" (11+ / 0-)

    That was a term I wasn't aware of. but most of all this two graphs got me:

    The American dream as it relates to building things and anchoring things. Wouldn't you like to have your great-great-grandchildren be able to return to a place that is theirs, that will always be home. That thought made me think about how we think of home and what it means for the American dream and those people who still believe it is something worth pursuing.


    It is a moving experience seeing what people have built and assembled over the years. Their letters preserved in a place where they need not be moved. None of these people were famous or great in their time. That isn't the point. They saved things. Then their people held onto them. Today my friend can connect her children to this place, making it something more than a shelter.

    I am blessed that is kind of my situation. We still have land we've owned since 1860's (although a lot, lot less of it). A house my great, great grandfather built my parents now live in. I assume one day I might.

    My parents, once my father retired, moved back to that house in a town we've lived in since 1867. It is just the way the "world" is to me. It is hard for me to grasp what it is like for so many of us where that isn't their "world."

    And I find that sad, cause that isn't the way it is supposed to be in the United States.

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

    by webranding on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:15:20 AM PST

    •  I've backed way of blogging lately (12+ / 0-)

      Back to working through a mountain of family papers that got passed along to me.  (I kind of suspended that effort when I took up here at dK 5+ years back.)  I never met my grandfather, who died before I was born.  My dad never met his grandfather either, for the same reason.  But both of them, over the course of several decades, did genealogical research.  I've got what you'd call primary historical documents - the elder was a preacher, and all his diaries of pastoral visits survive.  Stuff like that.  Different story than BBB's or mcjoan's, but definitely some stories.

      Putting it all in a database, there's like 3500 names, and all sorts of stories - totally WASP, it takes me through Salem witches for one example.  It's not just the family story, it's a whole culture going on.  Seeing the same patterns repeat again and again, then noting some variance.  The rash of Puritan children named after virtues, as sure as DFH's gave kids names like Rainbow and Moonchild.  And names turn up that make me smile:  Deliverance Dodge, Delight Fox (like something a stripper might choose for a stage name today.)  It strikes me as mean to name a child Silence, but it happened.

      exmearden: Grab every minute of joy you can. 8/30/09

      by Land of Enchantment on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:30:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My Father's PhD Is In History So (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jnhobbs, luckylizard, princesspat

        as you might guess we have detailed and organized family research back to around 1520 (we were in Scotland at that time). Yet that is more cause folks before him worked on it and pretty much saved everything.

        It is pretty amazing actually. My father has now moved almost all of it online. I have to admit it hurts my head to even wrap my mind around it all.

        I wish you good luck. I can ASSURE you future generations will be very happy you took the time and effort to organize it and put it all together.

        "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

        by webranding on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:36:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm thanking him now (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mofembot, luckylizard, princesspat

          That part of the family's deeply rooted in New England.  I always knew there was Mayflower on my mother's side, but it's looking like I might be turning it up on the other side, too.  At any rate, it's traced back, again and again, to whomever was born in England and came over to Massachusetts - mostly before 1650.  (Scotland, too, but mostly English.)  Less work done on the other side of the pond.  But there were three men who took excursions around New England researching this from around 1880 to the 1930s, and everything's sourced.  They got into the early Kodaks, too, and photographed grave stones along the way, even in private graveyards that weren't easy to find.  Correspondence of various sorts, too.

          That work's all on my father's side; less available on my mother's.  I got her to take me to the old cemeteries around home a coupla years back, and I photographed gravestones, too.  The great grandmother was born in Chicago (her mother in Wisconsin), not long after the big fire in the 1870s.  Her death date got me her death certificate at the town hall, which put me onto her parents.  Her mother's people lead right back to New England, even mixing it up a little with my father's roots (and a tangential tie to President Coolidge in Vermont.)  Her father, not so much luck yet, and he's interesting.  There are conflicting things online about his provenance.  I'm suspecting/hoping he was a French Canadian who headed south; census has him living at a different location in Wisconsin/Minnesota throughout the 1800s.  At least Canadian migration would be a little variation on the typical recurring story.

          BTW, would you like to drop me an email about what your dad's posted online?  Might be it overlaps with the big database I've got going on.  (And, if so, he might be interested in what my forefathers put together, too.)

          Once I work through the content, the originals are gonna get donated to an archive somewhere.  Probably the one focused on New England in Boston?  Need to do some tax planning about that, get appraisals and so on...

          exmearden: Grab every minute of joy you can. 8/30/09

          by Land of Enchantment on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:11:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Sou-sou doesn't sound like a bad idea (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mint julep, Egalitare

      For most of American history, minorities did not have access to banks, and alternative arrangements like sou-sou or the Asian mutual assistance societies were the only way to make use of OTM (other people's money).  Today, when insolvent banks are sitting on their bailout money, credit is far more likely to be usury than unavailable, and formerly middle class white people are finding themselves outside the system, friends, family, and tightly-knit neighbors should look for ways to help each other out financially.

  •  asdf (8+ / 0-)

    A dream of someone who believed that if they just worked hard enough, they too could get a piece of the pie.

    That is the dream that the likes of Goldwater Sachs have parasited.

    Just because they give you a seat at the table doesn't mean that they want to feed you.

    by stevej on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:15:56 AM PST

  •  I'll bet you are less of a "bad boy" all the (7+ / 0-)


    I didn't know you immigrated so I'll say the same thing I say to all immigrants. Welcome, glad you're here.

    "slip now and you'll fall the rest of your life" Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:17:39 AM PST

  •  Sometimes (17+ / 0-)

    ... I really wish I could Rec a front page post.

    exmearden: Grab every minute of joy you can. 8/30/09

    by Land of Enchantment on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:20:46 AM PST

  •  Military brat. (8+ / 0-)

    When I was growing up, we never lived in quarters more than two years, never lived in a state more than three.

    I saw my paternal grandmother a few times when I was a child. I can't remember anything memorable about the meeting. Met my maternal grandparents once. Met my mother's brother and my cousins a few times, my father's brother and my cousins a few times. I doubt I'd recognize them if I passed them on the street today.

    Maybe that's why I just don't get it. Yes, I think it would be wonderful to have known an extended family, to have felt that connection. And I certainly think it's interesting to find out how anyone lived one hundred, two hundred, three hundred years ago. History is one of my favorite subjects.

    But my interest in such people has nothing to do with whether they are related to me. And something I just find laughable is for people to brag about--not value or find interesting, but brag about--having some famous ancestor more than three generations back, as though that little bit of shared DNA somehow makes them more valuable or important.

    My sister once found out, through two elderly grandaunts, that the first Sykes to come to America was a Sir William Sykes. Showed up here in the late 1600's.

    "Sir William!" My sister said, "Sir William! Wow!"

    I just had to laugh. I pointed out that mere "sirs" are at the bottom of the English gentry scales and that for all we knew, Sir William was a crook on the run from debtors prison.

    I admire the deeds of those who came long, long before us. I think it's wonderful that your friend can enjoy the stories and legacy of her family. I'm certainly proud of what my father did during WWII.  

    But those who act as though being related to someone famous or distinquished, no matter how far back in the pedigree, makes them something special?

    Absurd. Very human, but absurd.

    Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

    by Sirenus on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:20:58 AM PST

    •  It isn't just military brats who are deracinated (9+ / 0-)

      Anyone with a parent (usually male) with an itching foot and an itching palm, who always uproots the family to go where the money is better, can grow up like that.

      I don't miss having a house that's been in the family for generations. I miss having roots in some place where everybody knows me and my family.

      And, absurd as it is, I miss the one point of stability during my childhood: my grandmother's house, where I could always go and be welcome. She had to sell it when she got too old and frail, and her medical expenses ate up all the profits, so there wasn't even any money to be left. Nothing but memories.

      If it's
      Not your body
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      AND it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:27:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We moved a lot when I was a kid as well. (4+ / 0-)

        We started out in Queens, moved to St. Paul (I went to kindergarten there), and then moved back to Queens. We then moved to Long Island just before my 14th birthday. I am still sore about that move 45 years later. It uprooted my whole world. My problem is that I am not really from any where. I have lived in my current house for over 25 years, far longer than I lived anywhere else. I wanted to make sure that my kids were from somewhere.

    •  to derive a false sense of pride (0+ / 0-)

      for being pedigreed of course is ridiculous. and elitist.

      but for people to have the ability to time travel and turn back the clock and trace their lineage to centuries past -- that is a marvel for some of us who can barely trace their own parentage.

  •  More people pay rent these days (9+ / 0-)

    Or mortages. Very few own their own home (in my circle, anyway). Mortage has become just a high priced rent that never ends.

    I don't feel ashamed for renting. I used to, but then I saw what was happening to the people who were 'buying' a home.

    I have never considered myself responsible enough or finacially secure enough to buy a house. Pretty sad.

    When you all look for your souls, you had better find something that looks like JOBS.-Brooklyn BadBoy

    by Krush on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:27:04 AM PST

    •  There's good reasons for renting (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, Nulwee, Egalitare

      Especially if you're not gonna stay put.  It's so friggin' hard to sell, one should think long and hard about buying anything nowadays.

      exmearden: Grab every minute of joy you can. 8/30/09

      by Land of Enchantment on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:32:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Perpetual mortgages (8+ / 0-)

      This is something that I don't really understand.

      In the 90s and 00s, the average "home owner" moved into a new house every five years or so in the US.  That, of course, ensured that they would never be mortgage free.  In fact, that moving schedule pretty much ensured that most of the appreciation in the value of one house would just go into the closing costs of selling it and buying the next house.  Of course, many people had been convinced that this is what they were supposed to aspire to -- moving up to the ever bigger, fancier home.  Unfortunately, it also had the effect of ensuring that they would never be mortgage free.

      Conversely, in the past few years, I've also read some foreclosure stories wherein someone bought a house back in the nineties, but kept doing repeated cash out refinances until they had so much debt that they ended up getting foreclosed upon.  Using a house as a piggy bank turned out to be another route to perpetual debt -- ultimately culminating in a return to renter status in many instances.

      In either case, it seems to me that this really defeats the value of home ownership:  the prospect that you will own your own place, free and clear.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:43:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sad? I don't think so (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Krush, Nulwee, mkor7

      I've rented, owned and even built and, by choice, I've gone back to renting. To me, it's freedom.  If something breaks, I make a phone call and don't write any checks. I don't mow grass. And I have a pool.

      The post is a very good one and I don't want to take away from brooklynbadboy's point. But to me, homeownership is something like marriage. Our culture assumes it's preferable. For me, that just isn't so.

      The Constitutional Convention was not an economic summit.

      by VetGrl on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:44:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My family moved a lot two (6+ / 0-)
    On average, we lived in a new place every two or so years until I graduated high school, in four states. But the big move for me was when we went from an apartment to renting a house with a yard. We had made it! And to my 14-year-old mind there was only one, all-encompassing thought: DOG! I can get a dog!

    Warning: Erwin Schroedinger will kill you like a cat in a box. Maybe.

    by strandedlad on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:27:23 AM PST

  •  One of the hardest things I've had to come to (16+ / 0-)

    terms with is the fact that this is probably not a reality for my life anymore:

    Somewhere underneath all the mortgage-backed securities, automated notarizations, etc., there is a dream. A dream of someone who believed that if they just worked hard enough, they too could get a piece of the pie.

    With each job loss, I fall farther and farther behind (of course, I'm trying to pay off 12 grand in medical bills, which doesn't help).  My fiance's credit score COMBINED with mine barely puts us over the credit score maximum (and in America, credit score is everything, even when it comes to getting a job in some cases).  And of course, it's MUCH easier to get INTO debt than it is to get it paid for (and actually CLEARED from your record).  

    I think the thing that's been hardest for me is seeing through the lie.  My job losses are NOT because I'm a poor worker, or am unwashed and rude (as Ben Stein would tell me), or anything else that society has decided it means when you're unemployed, but because corporations want to make a few extra bucks.  My needing assistance (even unemployment insurance - it was so hard for me to admit that I wasn't going to find a job, and apply for it, even though I EARNED it) does not mean I am a leech.  And the dream of any kind of upward mobility is just that - a dream.  And I can't even console myself with the hope that things will be better for my kids, because they won't unless they hit the lottery, come up with the perfect invention, or marry into money.

    If you want to fight and die for my right to sit here and bitch, sleep with whomever you want.

    by talismanlangley on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:31:23 AM PST

  •  bread and circuses (3+ / 0-)

    old Rome = New America

    are now food stamps and dancing with the stars?

    fact does not require fiction for balance

    by mollyd on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:32:03 AM PST

  •  Just pay your rent (4+ / 0-)

    to your master and shut up.

    Seriously though. I have yet to meet a poor landlord.

  •  lol-Are you calling out McJoan (0+ / 0-)

    That is not good. Just noticed that.

    McJoan is awesome. Her family is progressive minded.
    At least from what I have observed.

    When you all look for your souls, you had better find something that looks like JOBS.-Brooklyn BadBoy

    by Krush on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:32:45 AM PST

  •  Thank You for Sharing This (16+ / 0-)

    For those of us who grew up where there was nothing but the rent.  While I wasn't in the Projects, I grew up in the Brownstones which often were in worse shape because at least in the projects you could harass the government for repairs but with the brownstones it was a private owner whose whims about property maintenance depended almost entirely on whether he was getting his "rent" on time.  So I do feel you.  And, definitely, feel this:

    Owning, keeping, and passing on a home is at the very foundation of the American Dream if you grow up poor.

    Now folks know why I do what I do, focusing on property law, helping people with their homes, including low income homeowners in particular.  It is because I still remember when I bought my little tiny home in the 'Hood, 25 years ago, something my parents never were able to do.  Because it was always about the rent.

    But you did leave off one important thing:

    The rent is (almost always) too damned high.

    If you don't stand for something, you will go for anything. Visit Maat's Feather

    by shanikka on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:38:39 AM PST

    •  media once covered this story (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shanikka, mkor7

      about a nyc landlord who purposely hired a super who was an ex felon with a past history of sexual assault. the assumption being that an ex felon was hired in order to intimidate renters not to rock the boat.

      while msnbc plastered the super's face like crazy, i kept wondering why didn't similarly expose what this landlord looked like. this jerk should have been turned into a social pariah.

  •  Thanks for writing this (8+ / 0-)

    I'm not normally given to getting a bit misty eyed - life's hardened me and tempered my steel.  You personalized a core feeling in me, though.  

    This country has chosen the path of least resistance.  There is no retracing of steps on that path; no going back.

    It's sad.

    If I show my support and enthusiasm for positive change, I create an environment that enables the change to be made even better.

    by Richard Cranium on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:40:17 AM PST

    •  And the reason why this country is great is that (4+ / 0-)

      it's often chosen harder paths. This country did not have to force a constitutional crisis and kill half a million Americans to keep the union together, but it did. This country could have sat silently instead of creating a gold standard debate and changing the plantation-based Democratic Party into a populist "people's" party.  We could have chosen to remain somewhat similar to early 20th century Russia--a land of splendid mansions, hundreds of millions of poor and a middle class of several million total.  We chose to create a more stable economy and social mobility, and that was hard. Apollo 11?

      Granted, we finally got health care after decades of Democrats killing it and Republicans destroying it. I don't think we're out of greatness yet. But the American people have become so timid and easily manipulated. OMG! Money! Money is our God lately.

      "darn those facts" VClib -9.38, -5.18

      by Nulwee on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:57:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  this lament of fatalism (0+ / 0-)

      heard up and down this thread is disturbing. with all due respect to axelrod, we don't need to accept things as they are.

  •  Barack Obama said in one of his speeches (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, DBunn

    during the campaign, and I'm paraphrasing, that we end generational poverty by making it possible for families to have something to pass on to their children, something of real value like a home, so each generation can build on the past.

    As elementary as that may sound, it made an impression on me because so often I've heard people talk about inheritance in a circumspect, or even cynical way, for any number of reasons.  It was nice to hear it described, instead, as an honorable gift to future family.  

  •  The irony of your diary (13+ / 0-)

    is that the essence of the American dream shouldn't depend on ancestry.  In a supposed meritocracy, anyone, regardless of their upbringing or (lack of) inherited wealth should be able to achieve the dream reasonably within their own lifetime.

    However, it's an unavoidable fact that generations of accumulated wealth, especially via property, increases one's chances of stability and success.  I talked about this and how it affects race inequality in a diary once.

    This is why the inheritance tax is so important in our society.

    I am 42, and I have yet to experience financial stability.  I have had moments where I thought things were getting better, and then something comes along and takes it away.  An accident, a break-up, the economy... And with every setback I get further behind because the period of stability never lasts long enough to get ahead.

    That's the problem in America today.  Too many people are living on the edge; one disaster (and it doesn't even have to be that catastrophic) can send a family reeling for a decade.

    The GOP needs to pick at least one thing if this is going to get any better: living wage/unions, protective tariffs, end the uber-rich tax holiday or a better social safety net.  Although I would prefer all four.

    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:48:27 AM PST

  •  I'm around 30 years old (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl, Krush

    For my parents' generation, owning a home was part of the American Dream and for various economic and other reasons buying a home was generally a good decision.

    The dynamics now are completely different. I elect to rent and have friends who also elect to rent despite having the savings and (for now) income to buy because buying simply does not pay for itself and is often a bad deal.

    I've seen friends from my old neighborhood rent, buy, and end up renting again just in the last five or six years. We are sliding backwards into "rent for life."

    The aberrant part of this situation may be that your friends ever got to buy at all, not that they are renting again. [I have no idea the economic situation of these people, merely speculating].

    If you rent, at least the rent is predictable and your landlord is responsible for any variances. You know you need to come up with $800/month, and that's it.

    It may sound harsh, but if you can't put your hands on $2000 at any time, you have no business owning property.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:48:47 AM PST

    •  What rubbish! (0+ / 0-)

      I elect to rent and have friends who also elect to rent despite having the savings and (for now) income to buy because buying simply does not pay for itself and is often a bad deal

      Anything can be done right with the proper preparation, and anything can be done intelligently. Home ownership is no different. Tens of millions of Americans have prospered because of home ownership.

      It takes work, no doubt. It takes planning and research and a lot of "sweat equity." For those not prepared, or not willing, to assume those responsibilities, yeah, I guess home ownership is a bad deal.

      And many simply are not in any financial condition to ever buy a home at all, much less make home ownership sustainable and profitable. I get that.

      But home owners contribute to stable communities. So do renters whose sense of community is over and above their living conditions. Slackers don't.

      "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

      by Ivan on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 10:15:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        burrow owl

        Tens of millions of Americans have prospered because of home ownership.

        Yeah, and even more tens of millions are now in horrible shape because of it. I'm not saying homeownership is a good or a bad thing inherently. It's just that you need some financial and other resources and many people don't have them.

        It takes work, no doubt. It takes planning and research and a lot of "sweat equity." For those not prepared, or not willing, to assume those responsibilities, yeah, I guess home ownership is a bad deal.

        And many simply are not in any financial condition to ever buy a home at all, much less make home ownership sustainable and profitable. I get that.

        So what are we arguing about?

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 10:44:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Actually, there are two dreams underneath it all. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, DBunn, mkor7, tardis10

    Actually, there are two dreams underneath it all.

    When I read this sentence:

    Somewhere underneath all the mortgage-backed securities, automated notarizations, etc., there is a dream.

    I thought that it was a nice, clear-cut way to sum up how owning a home is so fundamentally simple and important to so many people.

    Then, I realized, that all the secondary financial bullshit and fraud exists because a few other people have dreams, too: the dreams of having really nice homes, of having bigger homes than they know what to do with, and of having more than one such home like that -- and the easiest way those people know of, to get such homes, is to take advantage of so many other people's hopes and dreams, and screw them out of enough money to fulfill their own dreams.

    Their dream; our nightmare.

    Politico: Because Republicans need something to jerk off to.

    by Christopher on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:51:56 AM PST

  •  You and Lawrence Lewis (5+ / 0-)

    have made such great additions to the editors-at-large. Nice post to see first thing when I turn to Daily Kos.

    "darn those facts" VClib -9.38, -5.18

    by Nulwee on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:52:02 AM PST

  •  I know so many people who just a few short years (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, DBunn, mofembot, thomask

    thought they had nearly half their mortgage paid off, whom are now underwater on it.
    Several of them have been forced to just walkaway.  It's just crazy, and so tragic.

    " It's shocking what Republicans will do to avoid being the 2012 presidential nominee."

    by jwinIL14 on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:55:16 AM PST

  •  Thank you for this diary, it is needed here... (5+ / 0-)

    there has been so much attention paid of late to American homeowners and their plight that those of us who do not own houses, condominiums or McMansions have been swept under the rug. We are the people who have been pre-marginalized, and don't even show up on the middle class "woe is me" tally sheet. Our government, the one we pay for, bends over backward to ignore us, and only glances our way to crack the whip occasionally when the revenue we produce seems in danger if being insufficient. Again, thanks.

  •  This is why (12+ / 0-)

    I am so angry with the Democrats in Congress and in this administration.  Or I should say, this is the biggest reason why.

    People losing their homes, and no appreciable help from the people who are supposed to be representing us.

    The wealthiest few were bailed out.  There is a manic and fraudulent scheme going on right now to rush foreclosures through, and very little help for those trying to maintain a roof over their heads.  Families are losing their homes at alarming rates.

    The threat of losing your home is terrifying.  Other than food, it is the most basic of needs.  And the people who are supposed to be representing us have failed us terribly, all in the name of preserving the wealth of the few.

    And where are they right now?  On recess again.  And our Congress is set to adjourn early, after having spent the better part of the last six months raising money for their campaigns and giving speeches and NOT helping the people they are supposed to serve.

    And instead of using every precious minute left with their substantial Democratic majorities, they are going to leave early, and leave us in the lurch.

  •  but the rent is too damn high! - eom (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, Lying eyes, tardis10

    fact does not require fiction for balance

    by mollyd on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:08:26 AM PST

  •  I understand the emotion but don't agree with ... (0+ / 0-)

    the policy.

    Home ownership in our crowded country leads to suburban sprawl, environmental degradation, and without any prospect of economic growth, financial strain and ruin.  Promoting home ownership was a Clinton initiative, and he was proud of the increases he achieved, and the social initiative may have had very positive roots.  It's not a good policy for us at this time.

    We can promote cooperative and condominium ownership -- possibly -- with shares expenses and management costs -- that strikes me as possibly reasonable and marginally possible.  But 300 million people is too many people to have individual house and land ownership.  Our sheer numbers are only going to grow and make this even more impossible.

    I don't think there is any going back.  We have ruined this idea.  It's not going to come back.  Forget-about-it, as they say here.

    Dirigiste vs Free Mkt -6.25/ Libertarian vs Authoritarian -4.72

    by bob in ny on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:08:49 AM PST

  •  I don't know if I'll ever own a home (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I live in New Jersey. I believe the AVERAGE price of a home in NJ is about $350,000. I always figured you should have at least 10% for a down payment, which means I'd have to have about 35K laying around. Who has that kind of money laying around? Not me.

    I'm 40, with a Masters Degree, and I work three jobs. And I still can't afford a house in this state.

    That being said, however, I actually consider myself fortunate. I'm grateful for my jobs. I'd like to own something someday, but even if I don't, we live in an affordable, clean apartment in a good complex (central air, dishwasher, etc). Plus, we're in a great school district (my daughter just made honor roll the other day). Something breaks, I call the landlord. Summer time? I enroll the family in a municipal pool complex two towns over.

    So no "American Dream" in the traditional sense for me. But I don't have any complaints. IMO I'm a lot more fortunate than some people WITH homes (no threat of foreclosure, etc.). Maybe that's defining the "American Dream" downward but, again, it could be a lot worse.

    This is just my take FWIW.

    A village can not reorganize village life to suit the village idiot.

    by METAL TREK on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:19:21 AM PST

  •  I don't want to own a home. (0+ / 0-)
    Way too much hassle for one thing. I don't want to be on the hook to fix everything and worry about a damn lawn.

    I also don't want to be tied to one place if I can help it.

    "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."-Jessica Rabbbit

    by Common Cents on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:28:35 AM PST

  •  Really great writing bbb. (3+ / 0-)

    Reminds me of my childhood. Except it wasn't housing projects but farms, motels, and wherever else my parents could find would take them in.

    My parents didn't finally own a home until I was moved out and in my 20's and doing my own thing.

    I'm ambivalent about homeownership. I've owned and sold what? 3 houses? And in my fourth.

    I started questioning the economics of it a while ago. Though it is nice to have a place you can call "mine." (I think Wells Fargo would beg to differ with that.)

    From what economists are saying, we can't look at homes any longer as that nest egg they were for our parents and grandparents. If you're buying a home these days I guess you have to look at it as "the place you call home" and something you will have when you retire.

    But it's not going to pay for the kids college nor fund your retirement any longer they claim.

    Unfortunately, it looks like the places where you can put your money as an "investment" are ever shrinking towards one place: Wall Street.

    Funny how that happened. Methinks it's no accident.

    Every election either the democrats lose or the republicans lose. But in every election there is always the same winner. And he drives a Mercedes.

    by Methinks They Lie on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:29:42 AM PST

  •  Trinidad? (0+ / 0-)

    My parernal great  uncle built a hotel there.

    He saved the money he made as a builder in London and as a bookie and moved over there in the late 40s.

    TeaShirt Psalm: 40-18 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.

    by Salo on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:34:31 AM PST

  •  We are entering the age of neo-feudalism. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, santamonicadem

    Democracy's stronghold, the middleclass, is disappearing.  Thanks to "Free Trade" (NAFTA etc), deregulation that allows monopolistic power to take over, and the fact that half of our legislators work for those monopolistic powers rather than America.    

    I grew up in rentals...but it wasn't the place that counted, it was the family. (at least for me)   And although we didn't have oodles of "things" we were wealthy with ideas and books and compassion for others.

    "I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong." Richard Feynman

    by leema on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:36:12 AM PST

  •  Some of the homesteaders were single black women (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep

    who carved out their own special places in their communities.  One, in a singular case of reversed reverse discrimination, was the only woman allowed into the saloon of a small Montana town - treated as a real man among real men.

    There were a lot of non-black single women homesteaders and ranchers as well.

  •  overview (0+ / 0-)

    Reaganomics redistributed wealth to the rich--to keep the economy going, the banks loan sharked to the poor--the kited economy burst--we're screwed. Dems still don't explain how St Ronnie wrote this script--they're either clueless or in cahoots.  

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:38:17 AM PST

  •  Beautifully written. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, mofembot

    And eliciting many thoughtful comments.  The times they are a'changin' for sure.

    Personally, I've been a "homeowner" several times, a renter many times, and now, at 71, a mobile home "owner" in a park where I also pay lot rent, but have a small fenced yard with some roses and other perennials, can have a dog, twice a week trash pickup, street right in front snowplowed, tree maintenance, some other amenities.  Not an investment, as mobiles are personal property and don't appreciate.  But better than renting an apartment, that's for sure.

  •  I inherited some postcards of my grandma's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, tardis10

    ... from between 1906 to about 1916, all sent to her in Rockford, Illinois. I had the chance to go to Rockford in the 1990s and thought I would see if the house my grandma grew up in was still standing. So I got out the postcards, and was astonished to see that she had lived in at least 5 different houses during that time period. But I don't really mean houses, either, I mean parts of houses, flats. I had no idea that there wasn't an "ancestral home." There didn't seem to be much difference between the places her family had lived: all middle-lower-middle, seemed like.

    Fast-forward to the early 00s. We went with my parents to visit a true ancestral home in Hogganvik, Norway, where mom's ancestors had built ships. There are a few houses in the hamlet there, but only one bears the ancestral surname. The rest have scattered. My great-grandfather immigrated to the US after the last ship his family built sank (and was uninsured).

    Mr Mo and I own a tiny house in a tiny village in a remote part of SE France (which is where I'm writing this). This is the fourth house we've owned: two were in Pittsburgh (one of which I will always lament — it was a wonderful house), one in the Boston area. Do my kids consider this tiny rowhouse home? Maybe the youngest. The older two have scarcely seen this place. And we are now living mostly in Germany because of work.  ("Peripatetic," that's us these days.) Subletting furnished places is dreary: the furniture isn't ours, doesn't reflect our preferences, and of course there's no point or even right to dealing with décor at all.

    My parents sold our family home to retire away from LA. I don't blame them, but I miss the place. And their current home does not have the same anchoring feel to it.

    Will Mr Mo and I end up acquiring someplace that will feel like an anchor point for our kids (and their kids, if they have any)? Hard to imagine, given the ocean that separates us from two out of three and the even wider ideological gulf that makes it increasingly less likely that we would move back to the US. Et je le regrette vivement—I deeply regret this.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking essay.

  •  Home ownership and job stability (5+ / 0-)

    are irrevocably linked in the American dream.

    How many people work for one company all their lives?? How many people can find employment in the same field locally so they don't have to move for job opportunity?

    What happened to the idea that if you worked hard enough the company would respect your labor and you'd get a gold watch and a small, but livable pension for retirement after a lifetime of work?

    Owning, keeping, and passing on a home is at the very foundation of the American Dream if you grow up poor.

    Having grown up moderately poor, I would suggest that stable employment is the bedrock under that foundation.

    Wish I could rec this diary; well done.

    It's only water. What could go wrong???

    by MrSandman on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:42:56 AM PST

  •  Nicely put. Question for the community. (0+ / 0-)

    I have a friend who is a Dem, but she believes that owning a home is no longer a part of the American Dream. She thinks that some folks will just have to accept that they can't afford it and she even told me once while we were having a discussion, an argument really, about workers, wages, rent and home ownership that if I wanted to own a home I should consider moving from Santa Monica to a less expensive state! Whew, was I mad. Yet, how would someone like me who earns very little own a home and I really don't think  is a right, but indeed a privlege. And what about environmental issues. Houses, especially big ones leave a huge ecological footprint and apartments not so much. Anway, looking for advice on how to convince my friend that her anti-worker, only the privleged get to have it all attitude is a worldview I can't stomach.  

    •  She's right, though. (0+ / 0-)

      Anyways, there's nothing wrong w/ renting.  If more people rented, and if we didn't have this absurd ownership-is-the-end-all-be-all attitude, we probably wouldn't have had the crisis to begin with.

      •  Not sure I agree with you. (0+ / 0-)

        But, I do agree we can't all own homes, but what she is advocating for, in my mind, is a society with many more haves and have-nots. In other words, greater inequality, which is bad for democracy. I agree that renting is not so bad, I rent, and luckily I'm in a rent control apt in Santa Monica, but my sister, who lives in OKC has four kids and she rents a really nice, big apartment, but she wants a house to have a backyard for her kids to own pets. Home ownership is also an important investment and in fact is probably the only major investment a person is going to have and I understand why its pursued.

        •  What's the answer? Price controls? (0+ / 0-)

          Those tend to work out badly.

          •  Not sure. Subsidies? We do have (0+ / 0-)

            public housing you know, but the builders/investors usually find a way to short it, or get around it.  Corruption is rampant. I don't know the answer, but increasing inequality isn't good either and living in a city where only the rich can afford nice homes and everbody else who wants to own a home has to commute two to four hours a day is maddening and increases anger toward those who can afford to live and work nearby. And consider this, if you live in rent contol apartment, rent in Santa Monica and environs is very very expensive.

  •  This is a lovely (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, 3goldens, HCKAD, mofembot

    piece of writing. And there aren't always a lot of opportunities to say that around here.

    Makes you think a lot, too.

    One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.--A.A. Milne

    by Mnemosyne on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:48:38 AM PST

  •  Family history can be hard to trace (0+ / 0-)

    I am fortunate that my paternal grandfather traced back at least to my great-great grandfather who came over from Germany and was conscripted into the Confederate army as a wheelwright. He said fuck that and went to TX to lay low until the end of the war. He then moved to KS and that is where my fathers side of the family mainly hails from.

    On my mothers side we have an ancestor who came over on the Mayflower but I don't have alot of detail on that. Bottom line, history can sometimes be traced if you are determined  enough, I am too lazy personally.

    "When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout"

    by not4morewars on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:50:28 AM PST

  •  The American Dream has been dead for a while (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Cheap debt only let it walk the earth for a couple decades as a zombie.  Once the plutocrats morphed from self-serving but comparatively sane and intelligent blue-bloods to a bunch of clueless nouveau-riche provincials and Wall Street cowboys high on fantasies of endless credit and the service economy, its days were numbered.  The mortal blow was when the factories were given away to East Asia in exchange for a line of credit; even the fall of the unions into political irrelevancy was only a side-effect of that.

    I don't think there's any hope for the American Dream coming back, certainly not when you take global warming and Peak Oil into account as well.  Even without them, so much has been destroyed that we'd have to rebuild our manufacturing capacity from scratch, only this time, no-one who matters is in a position to make money off it.

  •  growing up poor (5+ / 0-)

    I teach college and do a volunteer outreach program with my students at the poorest elementary school in town. At first they seemed like normal kids, but as I got to know them and worked on projects with them here are some of the things I discovered.

    When making art about their life the thing that would be a house for most kids, is a motel room door.

    When I wanted to have them cut and glue, I had to buy scissors and glue sticks, and provide the magazines and paper. The school had no supplies. I bought them from my own money, and left them there for the kids to use.

    The kids eat 3 meals a day at school, 5 days a week. The school takes care of them from 7-7. Breakfast by Head Start, lunch by voucher, and dinner by the Food Bank. Their parents arrive about 6:30 to have dinner with them. I have no idea what they do on the weekend.

    Recently I was working on funding for a project that culminates in an exhibit. I was trying to decide if I should give them the frames, the representative from the school suggested I just let them have the images. She said they move so often that she has learned to think in terms of what they can carry in a suitcase.

    Student turnover is 30% per year. So it's hard to plan on them actually being there an entire year.

    The worst thing that happened was a kid's mother was killed by gang violence. There was no help for this child and he was trying to cope the best he could, but how does an 10 year old deal with something like that without any help?

    The program is an incredible effort to provide these kids with normal opportunities and dreams, but it is such a tremendous uphill battle. Our policies as a nation are making it worse not better.

  •  Whoa up, this is too freaky..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, 3goldens, santamonicadem

    My kids were just here, all stressed out over the antics of their landlord (while they were on vacation). In the midst of calming them down, the landlord calls me, seeking some path to diplomacy. Not exactly the kind of three-way you'd find any pleasure in.
    After some shuttle diplomacy, i finally looked the kids in the eye and said: this is how it is when you rent, it sucks, i know, i've been there.
    I got this place just before Reaganomics hit home and nearly lost it 3 times while he took from the poor and gave to the rich (an unbroken trend for the last 3 decades). This caused two things to happened: a) i became more politically involved for the big picture and b) prioritized my spending and more fully embraced deferred gratification for my family's personal snapshot.
    I have every expectation that they'll catch-on to this adult-world thing, but i can feel my hair turning grayer in the mean time.

    Welcome to the Corporate States of America ®, give us your money, then die quietly.

    by geez53 on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:59:01 AM PST

  •  I hated living in a rented place (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, geez53, stolen water, tardis10

    when I was a kid. I was born in a small house on my grand parents property. Large extended family, my mother's sisters, their husbands and kids, they all lived there. It was all I knew and loved. We had dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, even a monkey. It was paradise to me and it came all crashing down when my father rejoined the air force and we moved 70km away to a city I knew nothing about and didn't care to. I was 8yo and I was angry. I hated my new school, a big, dark brownstone without any grass or trees just paved over court yard with an iron fence surrounding the place. To me it was like prison. The apartment we lived in was bigger than our house, we each had our own room, a large kitchen my mother loved, but I missed being close to my siblings and most of all I missed being able to sleep over at my fav aunt's or even in my grandmother's big bed.
    I lost my roots the day we moved and it was painful. I now have my own place, a tiny old house with a big yard in the 'hood' after years of living in rented places with crummy slumlords who never repaired anything. I don't miss it. When I moved here I could finally breathe again.

  •  Ditmas Park is beautiful. (0+ / 0-)

    Not going to find much there less than $900k these days.  Still, owning an old Victorian with a garage and yard on a tree lined street...30 minutes from Times Square.   Not bad, if you like that sort of thing.

    "President Obama will be the most liberal President of our lifetime."

    by rashomon on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 10:04:13 AM PST

  •  Rent isn't necessarily a bad thing, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, santamonicadem

    as many people have now found out who are "underwater" in their "homes," and shackled to a mortgage that they can't get fixed to reflect current economic realities. The important thing is that you should have a choice whether you rent or buy, and housing should be affordable.  Unfortunately, the "market" doesn't always make that distinction.

    Anyway, thanks for the diary.

  •  not only were people cheated out of their homes (0+ / 0-)

    the big banks like wells fargo and bank of america did racial profiling in targeting minorities to push them into predatory subprime loans.

    ceos of these big banks should be in handcuffs. instead, they got rewarded with a bailout and bonuses.

    to add insult to injury, the HAMP program (which is supposed to give people a helping hand in avoiding foreclosure) is nothing but a scam, piling on extra fees on the pretext of modifying loans that people already under siege can ill afford. signing onto to HAMP increased your odds of going into foreclosure and losing your house.

    what was it kanye west said?

  •  Where is the common good (3+ / 0-)

    in this Dream? I am from the other direction, upper middle class, wealth based on literally selling the small ranch and becoming Landlords and weapons designers. Renters and ditch diggers was the fate of irresponsible unworthy people, other people who were losers, not our fate they said. Home ownership was a series of steps upwards in a society the considers wealth creation and ownership the measure of your worth.

    I rented most of my life, my dream was not ownership or wealth. Mine was living my life doing meaningful work and being a contributing part of a community that valued and sustained common good. My inheritance from the ancestors I see in old tintypes is not what they left in property not really physical just the freedom to dream and to live their lives without crushing poverty that makes ownership the end goal of life.  

    Dear Landlord

    Dear landlord
    Please don’t put a price on my soul
    My burden is heavy
    My dreams are beyond control
    When that steamboat whistle blows
    I’m gonna give you all I got to give
    And I do hope you receive it well
    Dependin’ on the way you feel that you live

    Dear landlord
    Please heed these words that I speak
    I know you’ve suffered much
    But in this you are not so unique
    All of us, at times, we might work too hard
    To have it too fast and too much
    And anyone can fill his life up
    With things he can see but he just cannot touch

    Dear landlord
    Please don’t dismiss my case
    I’m not about to argue
    I’m not about to move to no other place
    Now, each of us has his own special gift
    And you know this was meant to be true
    And if you don’t underestimate me
    I won’t underestimate you

    Bob Dylan




  •  What a thoughtful and thought-provoking diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stolen water, tardis10

    It angers me deeply that so many of our country's children are being forced to live without security--and in so many ways.  Food, shelter, clothing--the basics of life--no longer a surity anymore (if they ever were) for so many innocents!  It is this deliberate, criminal wreckage of so many people's lives that was brought on by insatiable greed and utter lack of morality by the scam-artists/thugs/wealthy criminals of the banks and mortgage loan companies that just sears the soul.  The absolute evil of this entire criminal enterprise bewilders me because it is of such magnitude.  I periodically ponder on how can people do this to other fellow human beings?  

    And what is incomprehensible to me is that it seems to be the States' Attorneys General who are dealing with this.  WHERE is the US Dept. of Justice?!  This isn't "political"--it is about JUSTICE.  Either the laws mean something--or nothing matters.  Why have laws if they are applied inconsistently.

    You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy, but you cannot have both. ~ Louis Brandeis

    by 3goldens on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 10:40:49 AM PST

  •  Make Way for Tomorrow (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stolen water, tardis10

    Last night I watched Leo McCarey's Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) about an eldery couple who lose their home and their grown children can't make the sacrifices needed to take care of them. An amazing, sad film.

    Early on, the parents call the children together for a meeting to let them know eviction is imminent because "they can't make the payments". Social Security was only a few years old when the film was made...

  •  Beautifully expressed, bbb (0+ / 0-)

    And no way do I believe you are bad.

  •  My wife tells me that if we lose our jobs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stolen water

    and subsequently lose our house that it's OK as long as we have each other. She's right, of course, but it will still hurt and feel like failure to lose the house.

  •  This is what THEY want. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stolen water

    The Republicans and the money-changers. They want to be lords of the land and charge rent to us peasants. Is "My Liege" or "My Lord" the appropriate term now for our betters?

    I, too, grew up in public housing, back there in Detroit, and swelled with pride when I bought my own home (with the assistance of the Veteran's Administration) at age 21. I'm in my 50s now and one bad month away from losing my current home.

    The saddest thing to me is how willing so many of us American people are to give things to our "betters". Tax cuts, bailouts, our Social Security Savings, our 401Ks. Maybe some of it will trickle back down on us. Who know?

    A tax cut for the wealthy is the opiate of the rightwing masses.

    by edg on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 11:45:46 AM PST

  •  Thank You (0+ / 0-)

    thank you for sharing your story.  my family came to the us in the 1860's and stayed in queens - woodhaven and the next generation went to long island.  my generation is still on long island (at least 75% of us) but where my children and grand-children wind up i hope is outside of new york state.  just too expensive to live here.  so if the cost of housing makes them move or nys taxes, the old communities of former generations will be lost to them.

    by Renie57 on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 12:05:24 PM PST

  •  Sea level and Real Estate (0+ / 0-)

    Coastal home and business owners are the key missing link in the environmental block.  They stand to loose billions as the weather gets wilder, and they might already be looking very nervously at the actuaries calculating flood insurance policies for the next decade.

    Coastal landowners have a lot of political muscle as a group.  Further, they don't need to care about the environment in order to get active;  they just need to care about their investments.  Show them the money and they will come on board.

    "Politics is the entertainment branch of industry." -Frank Zappa

    by TheGrandWazoo on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 02:04:04 PM PST

  •  Thanks for sharing, Brooklynbadboy... (0+ / 0-)

    I really love that you shared your story of 'home' in such a thorough and articulate way at the beginning of this week of drama, expectations and history...the story does have a happy ending...He bought a house!!

    That you were tagged with the bad boy moniker as a child is unfortunate (I hope that your dad is still around and has read your assessment of growing up..)

    .. as a teacher I see you have risen above your father's limited expectations it should be....not sure how old you are...but assume at least 30?? so you have a full idea how difficult life can be when you are the one in charge

    as a parent of a son who seems to have his own way of being in the world i take hope that he too will find his footing, as you seem to have done ....  

    The idea of an ancestral home... is deep in our consciousness, but there is also the saying, Home is where the heart is...

    here's hoping that your heart is full, contented, and that you have a wonderful holiday with or without family....

    Ocassional reader of DKos...with little time... but had to comment

    Three candles that illumine every darkness-truth, nature, knowledge. Triad of Ireland

    by nocalgal08 on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 09:59:17 AM PST

  •  Being homeowner is good. Being landlord is better (0+ / 0-)

    Even people who are renting now and for the foreseeable future, should still own a rental property. It's a good time tested investment strategy for people who have the basic skills to maintain a house.

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