Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Needs vs. wants"

Today's LA Times includes an op-ed by Milken Institute researchers James Barth, Tong Li and Rick Palacios Jr., titled "McMansion economics ... The typical American home has grown about 40% larger over the last 30 years. Downsizing houses would free up income for education and healthcare."

Some of this is well known. Tax and other policies have for years favored home ownership. But the authors do not mention this. Instead they discuss American's "love affair with McMansions." They want the love re-directed towards education, cultural enrichment, infrastructure, etc. They do not look for new policy measures. "It only involves individuals rethinking their needs versus their wants."

What a thin reed! Some of us have a tough time pinning down needs vs. wants -- especially when we consider all of the margins of consumption. We only want policy to be neutral so that we can enjoy the freedom to choose.