Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Mortgage Deduction, or The Makers and the Takers

         I think the mortgage deduction was a terrific idea and ought to be kept.  Indeed, it ought to be expanded.  We ought to give even greater tax breaks to those who buy and maintain houses.  We need what they do.  But lawmakers, with their insatiable appetite for confiscating and squandering other folks’ money on government-sponsored projects that simply cannot succeed, are now considering its elimination.
         The mortgage deduction is good for us in many ways.  Here are just a few: 
         Human beings are creatures of incentive.  They have a nose for, and tend to follow, the path of personal benefit.  The mortgage deduction is just such a benefit.  It gives folks a reason to work hard, to save, to buy a house, to maintain and improve that house, to grow a family, and to maintain stable relationships – all good things in so many ways.
         To work hard is to have a job, keep that job, and to produce goods and services, which adds to the nation’s wealth, not just to one’s own.
         To save is to live responsibly and to make available through banks and other lending institutions more money for investment by others, investment that creates more jobs and more goods and services, also adding to the nation’s wealth.  More jobs mean more taxpayers, which means more government revenue precisely because of the mortgage deduction.
         To buy a housemeans being responsible and productive for many, many years -- or else the house is gone and you are on the street.  Economic stability is good both for families and for the economy.  When millions of folks buy homes and keep them, it’s good for the nation.
         To maintain a homerequires constant investment, which means more commerce and more jobs.  It also means better neighborhoods and the persistent watchfulness needed to keep those neighborhoods that way.
         To grow a familyin an environment of hard work, responsible action, foresight, personal stability, and community involvement is a blessing to all concerned.  Children raised in that context with those values are an enormous asset to the nation on all levels.
         To maintain stable family and community relationships is the best apprenticeship for the next generation and its ability to provide future stability, which is the prescription for avoiding the devastation wrought in our inner cities by a welfare system that destroys families, encourages instability, and that fosters irresponsible action and violence.
         In other words, the politicians in Washington want to cut things that make the nation better, things like the mortgage deduction, but not cut the things that undermine us, things like welfare and entitlements, which injure the very persons they are ostensibly designed to help.  It’s as if they never heard that you get more of what you incentivize and less of what you tax.  Let’s incentivize responsible home ownership and not broken families.  To the left that sounds evil, which is proof the left does not understand what its higher taxes and its higher subsidies have done to America and its citizens.
         But please understand that I’m not simply blaming the politicians.  Ultimately, we’ve got no one to blame for this but ourselves.  We voted the bums into office.  We’re getting what we deserve.  We’ll keep getting it until we learn to vote more responsibly.  Home ownership tends to do just that.  It tends to make us vote more responsibly.  When you’ve got something, you’ve got something to lose, and you vote so as not to lose it.  When you’ve got nothing, you vote so as to get something.  There’s nowhere else to get it except from others.  That rapacious incentive is the death of personal responsibility and autonomy for all concerned, the makers and the takers.     

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