On the vagaries of federal housing and education “help”

by Ryan Streeter on November 26, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

The college bubble in America has finally started getting the attention it deserves, but lost in most of the commentary is this important point from Walter Russell Mead:

It’s pretty clear that federal housing policy not only helped inflate the housing bubble, but wrecked the prospects of exactly the low income, marginal, first time home buyers well intentioned people were trying to help. The same thing seems to be happening in the world of higher ed: low income students who are struggling in higher ed are getting the royal shaft as the result of poorly thought through policies intended to help them.

There is a social justice component to our housing and education policies that doesn’t get the attention it should. Our federal policies have pushed us toward false measures of success (elevated homeownership regardless of the type of loan, or college admissions with no regard to completion) that have hurt lower-income individuals and families most of all.