Thursday, August 13, 2009

Shorter Victor Davis Hanson: Europeans don't care too much about conspicuous consumption, and they don't live to work. USA! USA!

Seriously fatuous stuff. And it underscores the ethnocentrism of the America First crowd. There is no reason, none whatsoever, why owning a house is superior to owning or renting an apartment. Indeed, one can argue that it is worse, since homeowners are more bound to a specific region and won't be as easily able to move to greener pastures if the local economy takes a hit. Living in a home costs more energy and is a less efficient use of space. Now, admittedly, there are rewards to doing so, but this question isn't obviously correct, as Hanson believes.

One interesting wrinkle: I once talked to a professor in college who was from Canada about government and taxation there. She said that the taxes were higher in Canada, but that when she was living up there, she always had more money to spend. It makes sense--the price of auto insurance (mandated for drivers in California), the mostly invisible price of health insurance here, etc. are substantially mitigated if you're living in a place with tight restrictions on insurance practices and single-payer healthcare. Living in an apartment is cheaper than buying a house, generally speaking. I find this point surprising, all in all.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.