Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Causal Confusion

You've probably heard or seen commercials from the National Association of Realtors about "the benefits of home ownership."  These include better grades for kids, more cohesive family units, higher employment, and unicorns (I think I made that last one up).  To hear them tell it, if everyone just bought a house, everything would be better. 

Even granting them the best of motives, this is irresponsible advertising and giving people false expectations.  And I don't grant them the best of motives.

You see, the premise of these commercials is a fallacious conflation of causal relationships.  For my Liberal readers: it gets cause and effect backwards.

In the early days of my blog, I addressed it this way: frugality fosters wealth, not the other way around.  You see, the fact is that couples who are committed to each other and their children, who work hard and save money, and who have the personal habits associated with those things will tend to own homes.  It is not owning the home that makes them committed and hard working.  Exactly the opposite, it's the commitment and hard work that makes them good candidates for home ownership.

Unfortunately, this disease does not simply effect the NAR.  It seems to have spread everywhere.  Colleges tell you that getting a degree will enhance your prospects, when the truth is (especially in this age of degrees in Underwater Basket Weaving), that the kind of people who are likely to be successful are the same ones who will tend to get college degrees.  More over, they will tend to get STEM degrees, not Liberal Arts degrees.

This really gets to the heart of our "because I deserve it!" society.  We have ceased being a society of personal responsibility and liberty- the society that built this nation into the greatest on earth- and have become a society of "steps to success" and "easy money."  Our grandparents and great-grandparents did not believe that there were certain steps that would lead to wealth and prosperity.  Rather they realized that accomplishing certain goals would require certain steps.  Our parents, for various reasons, began getting that backward, and they imparted that to my generation. 

Now, people believe that if they go to college, they are owed a job when they graduate.  They believe that once they sign to purchase a house, they are owed prosperity and a good school and a job.

It's completely backwards, and it will change.  The only question is if it will change because we, as a society, set out to change it, or if it will change because the gods of the copy-book headings will force it on us.

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