Sunday, December 13, 2009

Crazy Ideas #10 - Trick 'Em

It was been almost an entire year since the last time that I had an idea. I think there is a strong positive correlation between how many ideas I have and how cold it is outside while I am running. The colder it is, the more I need to try to distract myself from my face slowly turning to ice, so there is a tendency that more really stupid things pop into my mind in the winter. When it is warmer outside, all of my focus is on trying to get my body into bikini-ready shape, so unfortunately there is almost no time to worry about single-handedly saving Michigan. This week was particularly chilly for December, even though I wasn't around for a fair amount of the cold.

My most recent crazy idea is an enhancement and update of the tax credit for first-time home buyers. If you don't know, if you have your contract in place by the of April, close on a home before June 30th, and are a first-time home buyer, the federal government will give you $8,000 for free. If it's not your first home, you can still get $6,500 if you meet a couple of additional conditions. This is a national program and is good in every state. In many regards, this plan has been a pretty solid success (at the very least, there is some pretty hard evidence that this tax credit has driven quite a bit of movement in home purchasing). Realtors love it because homes are actually selling, home buyers love it because it is some free money without which they may have not been able to buy a home, and it does some to be assisting with shrinking the glut of houses available on the market.

With all this in mind, I propose that the state of Michigan add a little boost to this national program if you a buy a house in Michigan - maybe something on the order of 1 or 2 large. This plan will help to solve two major problems:

1) Reducing the significant quantities of abandoned and otherwise foreclosed homes in the state
2) Trapping people who might one day want to leave the state by making it way harder for them to do so (insert evil laugh here)

Everyone agrees that one of Michigan's biggest problems is ongoing population decrease and brain drain for all sorts of reasons. If you can successfully trick people into buying a home here, they will be way more inclined to try to figure out how to make things work here rather than there (wherever there may be). Brilliant, yes. Also, vacant homes are problems for many reasons, including depressing property values, increased crime, and being generally depressing.

The next natural question is how to pay for all this. My initial response would be prostitution, but I don't know how you would go about accounting for income from prostitution for tax considerations. Borrowing can only take you so far and some would likely say that borrowing for a reason like this would mortgaging our children's future or "robbing Peter to pay Paul" (I've always wondered about this metaphor. I'm pretty sure it refers to the apostles Peter and Paul, but why would I rob from Peter or Paul to pay any of the apostles. I'm pretty sure the apostles were in a volunteer-type sort of business and their CEO, Jesus, would not be a fan of his lieutenants taking any sort of kick backs or payment. They're apostles, for God's sake. I think this metaphor works way better as a reference to Peter, Paul, and Mary, because even though they were hippies singing about civil liberties, they still wanted to get paid), but I'd be willing to mortgage my children's future. Then, they can mortgage their children's future and so on until Haley's comet collides with plant Earth.

I think what could have been a legitimately decent idea if it had been implemented earlier would be to use some of that sweet, sweet free TARP money we got to act as a Michigan-specific addendum to the federal housing credit. I'd rather lock up some population in the state than to have better painted lines on the road.

Home ownership, despite the major national real estate problems, remains a big part of the American dream, so we could help to make that dream a reality here in Michigan.

And no, this has nothing to do with the fact that we're looking to buy a home.

No comments: