Magazine June 8, 2009, Issue

The Committee to Reinflate the Bubble

(Darren Gygi)
The real-estate lobby wants another boom—but what about the bust?

At one time, the NRA was considered the most powerful lobby in politics. Swap two letters and you have a different, lower-profile powerhouse: the NAR — the National Association of Realtors. The housing bubble was a product of public policy, and that public policy was driven by an influential alliance of real-estate brokers and developers who helped inflate housing prices, and real-estate agents’ commissions, to nosebleed levels. But the real-estate lobby isn’t limited to the brick-and-shingle pushers and the guys in the gold blazers. Local governments are deeply reliant on property-tax revenue, especially for schools, while market-distorting tax breaks directed …

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

Trust the Afghan Army

Along the Durand Line, Northeast Afghanistan — The view from the Karir Pass on the Durand Line separating Afghanistan from Pakistan is spectacular. To the west, a river meanders toward ...
Politics & Policy

The Parent Problem

In late March, the Urban League issued its 2009 “State of Black America” report, which declared that “African Americans remain twice as likely as whites to be unemployed, three times ...

Features

Politics & Policy

Dunce Cap-and-Trade

Democrats in the White House and Congress are now making the most serious push ever for legislation to force reductions of U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions. The stated purpose is to reduce ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Of Beauty and Loss

Late in 1914 four young Englishmen, just out of school, met and decided it was their mission to reform their country morally, through poetry. The odds of this quixotic enterprise’s ...
Politics & Policy

The Hot Seat

This brisk history of the Supreme Court’s constitutional decisions contains much that is admirable and interesting. Nevertheless, the main lesson advanced by the book has been commonplace at least since ...
Politics & Policy

Shelf Life

The problems of mainline Protestantism in our time — the collapse of what used to be called “the Protestant Establishment” — can make for depressing reading, so it helps that ...
Politics & Policy

Waste Watching

There are very few directors in Hollywood — below the Steven Spielberg league, that is — who can make absolutely any film they want. Consider Ron Howard and Steven Soderbergh, ...
The Straggler

Office Manners

The question going round the dinner table was: Do you have any secret pleasures of a mentionable kind? The subsequent confessions displayed various degrees of weirdness: the lady who sings ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

For the Birds In the picture accompanying Richard Brookhiser’s most recent column (“Bright Wings,” May 25), the bird identified as a phoebe is a phoebe. The bird identified as a crow, ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ This vice-president, by nature, cannot be in an undisclosed location. ‐ Dick Cheney is the madwoman in the attic, the crazy voice that Republicans ought to stifle. So says the ...
The Long View

Ask Nancy Pelosi

The Speaker of the House responds to your questions. Dear Nancy: I’m a long-time reader, first-time writer. I’ve loved your work in the House of Representatives and have been reading your column ...
Politics & Policy

Postcard From Hubbard Hall

The actresses here fit their parts. Mother, daughter, student, nurse. This play concerns a farm In decline. The barn roof collapses. Chickens die, mysteriously. Gwen plays a concerned daughter. The farmer’s daughter: You know all the jokes. I want to act the traveling salesman, driving, ...
Happy Warrior

Raw Deal

Well, the Speaker has resigned. No, not Nancy Pelosi, but Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons at Westminster. It’s seven-and-a-half centuries since Sir Peter de Montfort served as ...

Most Popular

Elections

The Debate Dumpster Fire

On the menu today: You know what we’re talking about today -- that Godforsaken festival of incoherent crosstalk that was allegedly a presidential debate. It Figures That a Dumpster Fire of a Year Like This Would Bring Us a ‘Debate’ Like This Last night, I thought the first presidential debate of the ... Read More
Elections

The Debate Dumpster Fire

On the menu today: You know what we’re talking about today -- that Godforsaken festival of incoherent crosstalk that was allegedly a presidential debate. It Figures That a Dumpster Fire of a Year Like This Would Bring Us a ‘Debate’ Like This Last night, I thought the first presidential debate of the ... Read More
Elections

Everybody Loses, Which Helps Biden

Reactions to tonight's debate will likely be deeply polarized, as everything else is. There are a few things that are clear. One, this was probably the worst presidential debate in American history. There was a ton of cross-talk and shouting down, there were many bald-faced lies and obvious evasions, a former ... Read More
Elections

Everybody Loses, Which Helps Biden

Reactions to tonight's debate will likely be deeply polarized, as everything else is. There are a few things that are clear. One, this was probably the worst presidential debate in American history. There was a ton of cross-talk and shouting down, there were many bald-faced lies and obvious evasions, a former ... Read More

Ben Sasse: Everybody Loves Amy

After Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement in 2018, Ben Sasse had three words on his mind: Amy Coney Barrett. They’d been on his mind for a while. The Nebraska senator had first started hearing about Barrett from faculty at Notre Dame Law School, where Barrett was a professor, shortly after Trump ... Read More

Ben Sasse: Everybody Loves Amy

After Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement in 2018, Ben Sasse had three words on his mind: Amy Coney Barrett. They’d been on his mind for a while. The Nebraska senator had first started hearing about Barrett from faculty at Notre Dame Law School, where Barrett was a professor, shortly after Trump ... Read More
Elections

Trump Did Himself No Favors

The debate was a remarkable example of the fact that Donald Trump, the most self-serving man in America, doesn’t know how to do himself any favors. For the first ten or twelve minutes of the debate, he was walking away with it — Trumpy, sure, but in control and surprisingly reasonable-sounding. If he had ... Read More
Elections

Trump Did Himself No Favors

The debate was a remarkable example of the fact that Donald Trump, the most self-serving man in America, doesn’t know how to do himself any favors. For the first ten or twelve minutes of the debate, he was walking away with it — Trumpy, sure, but in control and surprisingly reasonable-sounding. If he had ... Read More

Chaos in Cleveland

The 90 minutes of “debate” between President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden cannot be told as a cohesive story, or reduced to a few bottom lines. It was too fast and too disorganized. Almost anyone watching would have just picked up impressions along the way. I’ve grouped mine into piles ... Read More

Chaos in Cleveland

The 90 minutes of “debate” between President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden cannot be told as a cohesive story, or reduced to a few bottom lines. It was too fast and too disorganized. Almost anyone watching would have just picked up impressions along the way. I’ve grouped mine into piles ... Read More