Thursday, July 02, 2009

The CUL-DE-SAC Syndrome Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream by John F. Wasik

The following Book Review has been sponsored by FSB Associates
The American Dream or Nightmare? The roots of the worst housing bust in generations lie in the mythology of the American dream.

I grew up believing in the “American Dream”. I believed in having a yard with a picket fence, 2.5 kids and a home in a nice community. But the recent economic collapse has made me reconsider the “American Dream”. I was holding on to my one last strand of hope and then I read this book. John F. Wasik, you have officially ruined the DREAM.

In the books preface Mr. Wasik makes this very stinging statement:

The American dream – and what it has cost us – is what underlies the crisis and what this book explores. How did we come to believe that a home should be an investment worth enough to propel millions to leverage beyond their ability to pay? In an age of burgeoning info-technology, why are we still building homes with the latest nineteenth-century techniques? What was the market behavior that drove homeowners into subprime loans and moving ever farther away from jobs and cities? How did we come up with the idea that we should buy as much house as we can afford, with no regard for the cost of heating and cooling it and the time and expense of getting to it?

Before I read the book I assumed it was going to be a bash the suburbs type deal. This book was not exactly what I thought it would be. Mr. Wasik talks about the dying concept of the suburbs from the way houses are built to the location of the communities. This is a real policy wonk book that gives figures along with timelines. It’s a book that should be used for classes on Real Estate and Urban Planning.

This book also breaks down what it means to own a “Green” house. And I emphasize an actual “Green” house. I bet you didn’t know we were getting suckered when people say the phrase “this is a green house”. He also explains why our commute to work everyday is making us ill. If you want to know more, you are going to have to read the book.

In the end, Mr. Wasik wraps everything up by giving solutions to the problems. The solutions, in my opinion, have some merit. This is one of those books that you hope your elected official is reading but they probably aren’t. This book is not for the faint of heart. If you are in love with the concept of the “American Dream”, it’s actually a tough pill to swallow. But it’s what we need right now. We need to start thinking about the way we live. Based on the information in this book, this is the start of that conversation.


Max Reddick said...

The American Dream has always been just that--a dream. So many people have worked themselves into a early grave trying to achieve this ideal--especially black folk. However,how many really do? And how many die with only a stack of bills as evidence of their struggle?

Citizen Ojo said...

This is true. I think now we are going to through a re-examination phase. It's going to be interesting to see what comes up from this.