Subsidizing McMansions

From Robert Samuelson yesterday:

[G]overnment subsidizes these supersize homes along with suburban sprawl and, just incidentally, global warming. In 2008, the tax deduction for mortgage interest payments will cost the federal government $89 billion. The savings go heavily to the upper-middle class and the wealthy — the least needy people — and encourage ever-larger homes. Even with energy-saving appliances, those homes are likely to generate more greenhouse gases than their smaller predecessors. As individuals and a society, we’ve overinvested in housing; we’d be better off if more of our savings went into productive investments elsewhere.

Like subsidies for the original suburbs — new highways, schools and sewers — and under-investment in cities, the tragectory of our growth orientation is deep but within our reach. The age of petroleum and anti-civic land use policies is far from over, as we’ve just spent 10 years in another national explosion of development in that vein. When peak oil hits, it will take quite a while before we adjust our development from this pattern.

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