HGTV blamed for housing and credit crisis
When I first saw Jim Sollisch’s piece in The Wall Street Journal, I had to read it three times. The first time, I thought it was an Onion-type piece and was waiting for a punchline. The second time, I had to read it to make sure Sollisch was serious. The third time, realizing he was indeed serious, I read it for content.
Apparently, we’re blaming the housing and credit crisis on HGTV now. That’s right — HGTV.
Seeing that I have a wife and the cheap DirecTV bundle, I’ve seen my share of HGTV. I’ll even admit that I’m entranced by it’s anchor show, “House Hunters.” Seeing people ignore raw potential and lament an otherwise beautiful and affordable house because of some unfortunate paint color makes me yell at the television almost as loud as I yell at Harry Reid or Keith Olbermann. Just last night, in fact, when my wife and I were watching it, we debated whether or not we’d try to be on the show in 18 months when we make our move to Charleston, S.C.
“Do they pay people anything to have cameras follow them and show what fools they are?” my wife asked, after one particular couple on the TV managed to complain about everything, and thinking about how we’re going to need impeccable timing to sell this house, move almost 700 miles, and get me prepped for the South Carolina bar exam all at once. “If they do, I’m in.”
Blaming HGTV and the glut of housing-related television shows for the housing and credit crisis is akin to blaming ESPN and the “World’s Strongest Man” broadcasts for the time when I tweaked my back while heaving a large window air conditioning unit onto a shelf in my garage.
Oh, because Magnusson Van Der Noordenfjord can throw full beer kegs into a third-story window, I suddenly feel the need to toss this three-room Westinghouse unit up onto a chest-high shelf instead of putting it on the ground next to the workbench.
Sollisch’s whole premise is just as absurd. Somehow, because television viewers see other people improving their own homes or moving into other homes, they’re suddenly inspired to move into a place beyond their means, stock it full of stainless steel appliances, and wait for the creditors to call. By golly, if it weren’t on TV, nobody would do it! In reality, last time I checked, it takes a person to sign the loan application, to go out shopping for a new home or for new appliances. Similarly, I may see advertisement after advertisement for a dozen tasty-looking Chicken McNuggets, but I’ve still got to drive to McDonald’s, select them and pay for them before eating them (and paying for them again in the little boy’s room 30 to 45 minutes later).
Let’s stop placing blame where it doesn’t belong. Just as it takes a person with a spoon to eat that quart of Haagen-Dazs, just as it takes a person with a trigger finger to fire that .40-caliber Glock into somebody else’s chest (or into your own leg, if you’re a multi-millionaire wide receiver who chose not to get a permit or, at the very least, spend $50 on a holster), just as it takes a cowardly Hamas terrorist to hide behind civilians and fire rockets into Israel which warrant a response in kind, it takes a homebuyer to throw caution to the wind and buy too much house.
Of course, the banks and their recently relaxed lending standards were complicitous in all of this, but even with regard to those standards, blame must be placed where it belongs. Banks were forced, for the most part, by our federal government to relax those lending standards in the name of “social engineering” and class warfare. Despite warning after warning, including 18 separate warnings from the Bush White House, the congressional influence continued. Suddenly, jobless illegal aliens could secure bank loans so long as they could provide a utility bill or two to verify some sort of identification. Suddenly, people like my wife and I could not only buy too much house, but do so with zero money down.
But it still takes someone to make that bad decision. Believe me, I know. And to blame those bad decisions on prime-time cable television is just doggone ridiculous.
So, in 18 months or so, when you see my wife and I visiting homes in the Charleston area on HGTV’s “House Hunters,” hopefully (1) I’ll be thinner and (2) you won’t feel the need to yell at us and your television should we once again buy too much house.
And, if we do abandon all common sense and rationalize too much house, hopefully you won’t blame the television for making you do the same.