The Great Depression Online




Great Depression Online Archive Issue:

The Great American Nightmare

Great Depression Online
Long Beach, CA
January 08, 2008

Inside This Issue You Will Discover…

*** Suburbia Gone Mad
*** Tent City Suburbia
*** The Great American Nightmare
*** And More

“By the hundreds and thousands these abominable houses cover the bare hillsides, like gravestones in some gigantic and decaying cemetery.”  -- H.L. Mencken, The Libido for the Ugly

Suburbia Gone Mad

Ontario California, in southwestern San Bernardino County, has historically been known for its abundance of dairy farms. 

That’s why, while driving through on the way to Las Vegas several years ago, we were shocked to find its new found abundance of McMansions; a vast sea of identical two story homes, walled in housing tracks, brick roofs, cul-de-sacs, and mega-plex shopping centers.

It was quite visible that the developers had gone mad.  And in their crazed dash to reap massive profits, they had barfed out a massive and sterile suburbia of intolerable and repulsive horror.

Who’s living in these things?  We wondered.

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last summer, we got our answer.  In fact, we found ourselves inside of one of these monstrosities.

It was a birthday party for the son of our wife’s high school friend.  They had moved out there from Los AngelesSan Gabriel Valley seeking a new and affordable suburban home.  We found other young families who’d moved from Orange County for the same reason.

There’s something enchanting about an inflating housing bubble that softens the mind and warms the heart to ideas that would otherwise be absurd.  Paying a half-million dollars to live among dairy farms is one.  Paying a half-million dollars for an hour and a half commute to work each day is another.

To be fair, once inside the house it was quite nice.  Vaulted ceilings in the living room, a curvy banister staircase, 5-bedrooms, 3-baths, and, yes, the kitchen even had granite countertops.

But to get anywhere worth going, one must drive for miles and miles; 37-miles to Los Angeles, 28-miles to Anaheim, and 114-miles to San Diego.  It’s certain that $3 per gallon gas was not part of the equation for most home owners when choosing to live in this outer suburb.

And now that prices are falling, problems are rising…

Tent City Suburbia

We recently came across the Reuters article “Tent City in Suburbs is Cost of Home Crisis”.  Dana Ford reports the following…

“Between rail road tracks and beneath the roar of departing planes sits ‘“tent city,’” a terminus for homeless people.  It is not, as might be expected, in a blighted city center, but in the once-booming suburbia of Southern California.

“The noisy, dusty camp sprang up in July with 20 residents and now numbers 200 people, including several children, growing as the region east of Los Angeles has been hit by the U.S. housing crisis.

“As more families throw in the towel and head to foreclosure here and across the nation, the social costs of collapse are adding up in the form of higher rates of homelessness, crime and even disease.”

Here we’ll pause to say that we wish hard-times on no one; even those now paying the price of their financial imprudence.

The Great American Nightmare

For is it wrong to want a place of your own to call home?  After all, isn’t that the Great American Dream?

Unfortunately, for many that dream has become a nightmare.

We can only imagine the knot one must feel in their stomach when, standing outside, gazing at their Ontario McMansion, they come to the realization that the home they paid half-million dollars for, they can only sell for $400,000, just as the teaser rate on their ARM is adjusting upward, beyond what they can afford.

Breathing deeply, to take in the full ramifications of their deepening conundrum, we presume the ever-present and rancid stench of rotting cattle feces provokes the knot in their stomach to turn over…and over…and over.

Alas, the nightmare’s only just begun.

Sincerely,

M.N. Gordon
Great Depression Online

P.S.  The fine folks at Elliot Wave International are offering a free report: How to Prepare Now for the Ultimate Real Estate Opportunity.  History tells us that property values can and Do go down significantly from time to time.  As real estate market woes are expected to continue, lessons from the past can be the key to preparing for your future.  Access this free report -- How to Prepare for Now for the Ultimate Real Estate Opportunity -- here.

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