Maybe the “Cartoon” House Period is Over

Maybe James Kunstler is right; maybe the whole “cartoon” period is over. Kunstler argues that the suburbs produced houses that were only parodies of the real thing. The porches were only meant to look like porches – from a distance. There were picture windows, but no pictures worth looking at – just another cartoon house across the road.

And the shutters were not real shutters – but mock shutters you couldn’t close.

What occurs to us is that his critique of modern suburban architecture applies to the whole economic period, beginning in the early 70s…and lasting right up until the present. The GDP grew, but it was mock growth, not the real thing. People spent money they didn’t have buying things they didn’t need. People felt richer, but it was ersatz wealth – a misleading sensation caused by inflation of their house prices, credit cards, cheap products at Wal-Mart and home equity lines.

The whole economic model was a scam. You can’t really get rich by spending more money. It’s saving money…and investing it in productive enterprises…that makes you rich. Yet, for the last 30 years, the feds have been encouraging consumer spending as a way to boost the economy. Wall Street turned over trillions of dollars – pretending to “add value” by better allocating capital and credit. What it really did was to pay itself huge fees for loading down the whole society with debt. And even the wealth supposedly created in the stock market turned out to be phony. Compared to increases in the price of gasoline, the Dow went nowhere for the last 40 years.

Bill Bonner
for Markets and Money

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.
Bill Bonner

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re your comments about “cartoon houses”
I was talking to a friend about how the Mcmansions being built on the outskirts of Melbourne resembled girls doll spending money to fulfill the subliminal childish fantasies of their spouses?

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