MINOT, N.D. — Rarely do things end well when the politicians take it upon themselves to dictate a market’s direction.
Once upon a time, about a generation ago, the political class decided that homeownership was a thing worth promoting. They observed that homeowners tended to be prosperous taxpayers and supposed that if they gamed the system so that more people owned homes, we’d have more prosperous people.
The logic was specious. Homeownership is a product of prosperity, not a cause. Still, the argument was a plausible enough veneer for policies that promoted a boom in the housing market and made many people rich.
Banks gave loans to people who couldn’t get them before. Homes were built and purchased. For a while, it seemed to be working fine, until suddenly it wasn’t. What we got was the subprime mortgage market, a teetering house of cards built on top of loans to people who had no business getting them. When it collapsed, it hurt us all.