One of my favorite things is my memory of two years as Barnabas in this journal, commenting on absurdity and ethics in the news. Barnabas retired, but he isn't dead, and he has been poking me with his elbow recently to get another turn. So I am giving it to him today. I will be back with one of my cheery favorite things next time.
I am sorry I missed my turn two weeks ago. We were away on personal business, in an area with limited internet access, and I had run out of tuits (as in "getting a round tuit").
Bubbles Burst and Cradles Fall
The Absurd Real Estate Market
Rock a bye baby on the tree top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
One theory of the origin of these words is that early American settlers were fascinated by how native Americans could fasten their baby-boards, with babies on them, high in the trees. So the lullaby may have been a sweet reflection on this practice; but the way it comes out, it sounds more like a cynical criticism of a dangerously short-sighted system of child care. And down will come baby, cradle and all.
If the natives put their babies in the treetops, it's likely they knew what they were doing and were even more careful about them than we are about car-seat buckles. But it is not a practice for any parent to be slapdash about. Boughs break and cradles fall, inevitably, even with safeguards. We can't keep the wind from blowing. Harder than we expect.
I have been predicting the collapse of the real estate market for some time now, and am sticking to my guns—notwithstanding the specious argument that if the bubble were going to burst it would have by now. That is the sort of logic that led up to Katrina; of course it was foreseeable. A market collapse in real estate is foreseeable. It just isn't desirable.
I will withdraw my gloomy prediction if somebody will answer wisely the following stupid questions.
· How can family income go up at a lower rate than real estate prices without running out of customers for the homes?
· Isn't everybody who buys low and sells high counterbalanced by somebody else who buys high and sells low?
· Just where are the losers in this business going to live?
· Where are the service people on whom the homeowners depend—and who are required to earn less, else the homeowners cannot afford their services—going to live?
I get the impression that profit, not product, drives the real estate market. When it is perfected, no one will have to build any houses at all.