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Copyright (c) 2012 Fordham Urban Law Journal
Fordham Urban Law Journal

ARTICLE: THE HOUSING CRASH AND THE END OF AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP

May, 2012

Fordham Urban Law Journal

39 Fordham Urb. L.J. 1183

Author

Matt Stoller*

Excerpt



Introduction
 
To many Americans, it feels like the United States is a different country than it was just a few years ago. It is hard to explain to teenagers today that there was a time, even a short time ago, when political institutions did not seem riddled with corruption and when Americans were not split by stark economic and political lines. Such memories increasingly describe what sounds like a foreign land, not the American system we know today. The narrative is widely understood: economic gains go to the top while costs and risk are shifted onto everyone else.

The most obvious economic manifestation of this difference is the foreclosure crisis. Much as divorce became a culturally common activity in the 1960s, the rise of a foreclosure epidemic has made the loss of a home a searing but familiar experience for tens of millions of Americans.

Why is this happening? Why now? And why are American political and cultural leaders ratifying this shift by collectively asserting, as the U.S. Bank CEO framed it to frustrated business owners in November 2011, as essentially stop whining and "get over it"? 3 An exploration of the American housing system provides clarification on these questions; it is housing as a whole that has led the change, as both a foundational element of the American community and the key financial link between the elite sectors of the economy and the population.

The relationship between the shifting housing environment and the rest of American life is ...
 
 
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