On the dole

Here in our part of the country, we wonder how sustainable our local economy can be when new business ventures are being subsidized by (often poorly administered) state and federal government spending, unwise tax breaks, and the like. We lament that our cities and schools must be stabilized by taxpayers’ money. We look longingly at the promised lands of North Carolina and Arizona and Florida, with their never-ending expansion, their shiny new neighborhoods and amenities, their boundless construction projects and job-filled economies.

The excellent blog Calculated Risk reminds us that the “success” of many of those regions has also been heavily subsidized — just in a different way.

Let us, instead, ask ourselves what constitutes the “upper and middle classes.” If they “moved up beyond their means,” then . . . their means are what, exactly? If 100% or near 100% financing is required to keep these neighborhoods stable (loans over $400,000 for houses in the $400,000-$450,000 price range), then in what sense are they neighborhoods of the “upper and middle classes”? Does our current definition of “middle class” (not to mention “upper class”) include having insufficient cash assets to make even a token down payment on a home?

In this light, Central New York doesn’t seem quite so pathetic. A tumbledown house it may be, but it least it wasn’t built on sand.