Bad mortgages ran the economy into the ditch, and the housing built was often very hard on the environment both directly and indirectly.

Because the finanicial part of the building industry has been largely nationalized, there is a golden opportunity to build in a way that helps all of us. The government can see to it, although this doesn’t mean it will (a new Bush Administration would just milk us and then turn things back to those who made the mistakes).

Here are some environmentally (and economically) friendly ideas. Memo To US Government: Five Ways To Fix The Housing Industry. by Lloyd Alter. Design & Architecture.

To paraphrase from the article.

1. No more low density suburban sprawl — death to new McMansions.
2. Make the housing you own energy efficient. Most of this is low hanging fruit — not expensive.
3. Put a limit on how much carbon a residence can use/emit regardless of its size — more space would require use of alternatives to coal, natural gas, oil energy.
4. No more hurricane bait — houses in places where they get destroyed every 10 or 20 years will not be insured.
5. If you don’t want to abide by these simple standards, don’t ask for a mortgage. Pay cash.

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

5 Responses to Now that the government owns those who give mortgages, how can this power be used for the public good?

  1. john weis says:

    Ralph, these are all very good ideas but could you wait to get them enacted until my wife and I can build our own McMansion? We are special, you know.

  2. Josh Neumann says:

    The ideas might work, but I’m tired of the government being the one that mandates everything. Believe it or not, if you let people use common sense, you might be surprised what they are capable of.

  3. John,

    Yes, me too 😉


    The problem with the mortgages was not an excess of government mandates. It was a lack of rules and a lack of oversight for those few mandates that had not been repealed or watered down.

  4. April Clauson says:

    The ideas might work, but I’m tired of the government being the one that mandates everything. Believe it or not, if you let people use common sense, you might be surprised what they are capable of.

    I think that is alot of why we are in trouble, people did not use common sense, is it common sense to take on 2 mortgages to buy a home? Most of these loans are 2 mortgages, is is common sense not to read the fine print and mtg. paperwork, spells out the fact of rates rising in a year or two, yet so many folks stated that the realtors did not inform them of that, well bad on the people buying the home for not reading and taking the paperwork to a lawyer to review. Is it common sense to buy a 50-60,000. car on a 6 year loan? is it common sense these folks used? I think not..and regulation is needed by government, because look at what has happened without it. Folks are greedy and stupid sometimes…

  5. TPageCO says:

    hurricane bait…flood bait…fire bait…these are the uninsured clowns that get interviewed after their houses are destroyed. Floodplain regulations (or wildland fire or coastal regs) are there for a reason. Maybe a little enforcement would be more helpful.


October 2008


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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