Can somebody please explain Habitat for Humanity to me? Church groups in this area seem to love Habitat for Humanity. Al and Tipper Gore are poster children for the group; it seems all the news photos I've ever seen of Tipper have her hanging Sheetrock. In Durham it's practically a civic religion: there's even a Habitat for Humanity thrift shop, where we almost bought a short-term couch over the weekend.
I know HfH is represented by Jimmy Carter, who's got to have the most integrity of any politician I've seen in my lifetime, and it's got that feel-good, 1970's, up-with-people vibe. But... isn't it staggeringly inefficient for affordable housing to be built by well-meaning middle-class folks in their spare time? Whenever I've considered volunteering for HfH, I've been stopped short by the consideration that, hmmm, I'm not a homeowner either. And, believe me, I've been part of at least one of these projects in which a grizzled old construction foreman tries to coax a bunch of fresh-faced college students who have never held a cordless drill before to renovate a burned-out old rowhouse. It ain't always pretty.
And now I'm just going to come out and say it: the most efficient way to build affordable housing is for the government to tax the hell out of those well-meaning, Volvo-driving liberals (and their Escalade-driving counterparts on the right) and start a big, old-fashioned program to hire construction workers all over the country to fill the housing needs of the population. Maybe this new government agency can hire some of the people who have lost their jobs in the much-heralded productivity booms on farms and in factories. There's room there for the engineers, too, given a bit of adjustment for professional specialties. And while they're at it, maybe all these workers can do something about our crumbling infrastructure too.
Well, I'd ask what we're afraid of but I'm afraid I'd hear the words "Ayn" and "Rand" in the answer, and then I'd have to demolish somebody with a baseball bat. And nobody wants that, not before dinner anyway.
[That sound you hear in the background is the deans at Hoity-Toity College taking steps to revoke my degree in economics. Thanks for your concern.]