Monday, October 24, 2011

Give Me Your Wealthy, Your Well-Heeled, Your Select Few, Yearning to Buy Our Houses

A couple of weeks ago in my post about Obama’s fast-tracking of the latest “free” trade agreements, I asserted that bipartisanship in Washington is actually the worst possible thing for average Americans. On those rare occasions when both parties agree on a particular measure, it is almost always designed to help rich people. The latest sad example of this phenomena was reported by the Los Angeles Times on Thursday:
American consumers and the federal government haven't been able to bail out the sinking U.S. real estate market. Now wealthy Chinese, Canadians and other foreign buyers could get their chance.

Two U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would allow foreigners who spend at least $500,000 on residential property to obtain visas allowing them to live in the United States.

The plan could be a boon to California, which has become a popular real estate market for foreigners, particularly those from China.
You hear that, you poor, American deadbeats? You slackers aren’t pulling your share of the load to bail out the construction, real estate, mortgage and investment banking industries, so we have to enact yet another measure to sell out the country from underneath you.

So who is behind this latest nefarious scheme?
"Many people want to come and live in the United States," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who introduced the legislation Thursday along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). "They will be here spending money and paying taxes, and the most important thing is they'll sop up the extra supply of homes we have right now compared to demand, and that's what's dragging our economy down."

The legislation would create a new homeowner visa that would be renewable every three years, but the proposal would not put them on a path to citizenship. To be eligible, a person would have to buy a primary residence of at least $250,000 and spend a total of $500,000 on residential real estate. The other properties could be rented.

The program would come with several restrictions.

The purchase would have to be in cash, with no mortgage or home equity loan allowed. And the property would have to be bought for more than its most recent appraised value, Schumer said.
I was no fan of former New York Republican Senator Alfonse D’Amato, but he had it exactly right during the campaign in which he lost his seat to Chuck Schumer when he referred to his opponent as a “putzhead.” Yes, Senator Schumer is correct that America has a long tradition of encouraging immigration. That’s what all of that windy verbiage penned by Lazarus and inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty is all about. As you’ll recall, it concludes thusly:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
But you can forget all of that lofty nonsense in an era in which the current frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination has seriously proposed building an electric fence along the southern U.S. border with enough juice to kill any illegal immigrants who try to cross. We don’t want your huddled masses anymore. Just your millionaires—people who can come here and instantly join the 1%. Because who else other than a millionaire is going to have $500,000 in cash laying around to invest in U.S. real estate?

Let's also recognize who most of these millionaires the "honorable" Senators Schumer and Lee want to bring here really are--Chinese businesspeople who likely made their millions by destroying the natural environment of their home country and exploiting the cheap labor of their countrymen. If you want to see what the "modern" China is really like, watch this horrible video (hat tip: Mish Shedlock)...but I warn you, it is GRAPHIC. China is a country where the average human life has little if any value. However awful America's belligerent foreign policy may be, we haven't sunk to this level on the domestic front...yet.

What really strikes me about this proposal is just how transparently desperate it is. Putzhead Schumer and his Senate colleagues know that the dismal condition of the U.S. real estate market is still the biggest threat to trigger an economic collapse in this countrty. Were Bank of America, for example, forced to open the books on its mortgage-lending portfolio, there is little doubt that America’s biggest bank would instantly implode.

So there you have it. America has become a land of the millionaires, by the millionaires and for the millionaires. As far as your “leaders” are concerned, it no longer matters whether you were born and raised in this country, or whether you went off to fight in its imperial wars. All that matters to them is whether you have a fat bank account and can afford to help bail out their buddies in the financial industry.


  1. Hi, Bill,

    Appalling, but not at all surprising. Nor is it unique historically -- the Ottoman Empire did almost exactly the same thing in the 18th-19th centuries, selling out land, businesses, training for their army, and even their national treasury to European powers. That didn't work out too well for them; they were the "Sick Man of Europe," manipulated by almost everyone, and we're pretty much the "Sick Man of the World" now.

  2. @gus - Yep, and given how it all turned out for the Ottomans in WW I, it sure isn't a good omen.

  3. My understanding is that the bill grants the right to buy property and requires them to live in the property for at least 6 months a year. However, it doesn't let them work here. So, you are dealing with people who are rich enough to buy a half million dollar property and live in it for 6 months a year without having a job (in this country).

    Presumably, they will be helping our country by buying many rolls of toilet paper and employing those people unfortunate enough to actually be American citizens, but who cannot afford to buy a house because these people are driving up the market ... but that's okay because at least we can get those good landscaping jobs that used to be held by all those people we are currently deporting as fast as we can... and, hell, I guess it doesn't really matter since we couldn't afford a house on a landscaper's salary anyhow. So, WTF, sounds like a plan!

    Seriously, you can't make this shit up. Another day in a declining empire. And the beat rolls on...

  4. "and the most important thing is they'll sop up the extra supply of homes we have right now compared to demand"

    Economics 101, if there is an excess supply relative to demand it means THE PRICE IS TO HIGH to clear the market. But no above all the current housing prices must be maintained (it's an attempt at a bank bailout ultimately, it's not even about the real estate agents or construction workers, it's about the banks), even if the U.S. housing market must be opened up to the whole world and free toasters (um I mean free visas) thrown in.

  5. As history shows, having that works oh so well for the everyday people of a country. Although a foreign upper class is usually imposed by force/conquest, I don't see much of a difference in the long term -- we're rapidly heading toward a new form of feudalism. As happened last time, that UC is already more loyal to itself, regardless of individual member's passport nationality, than to wherever they live.

    @ anon -- I'm not a fan of economics; although it has some valid points (including the one you make), most of it is de facto religious gobbledygook twisted to justify BAU. Until it takes into account environmental impact, it will remain a non-science and be out of touch with reality.
    That said, your point is valid overall; instead of selling to the UC, Americans ought to take such properties by squatter rights and/or towns do so by eminent domain and use them for affordable apartments since the same dirtbags keep foreclosing on our homes.