Mortgage Crisis? Blame George Bailey
It's A Wonderful Life hero helped poor buy unaffordable homes
By Jess Kilby,  Newser User
Posted Oct 12, 2008 1:26 PM CDT
The current financial crisis has its roots in mortage lending policies that date back to the 1940s, as exemplified in the classic movie 'It's a Wonderful Life.'   (©SqueakyMarmot)
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(Newser) – The housing bubble that triggered the current economic crisis began with a post-Depression attitude toward owning a home presented in the classic Christmas flick It’s a Wonderful Life, writes Ross Douthat in the Washington Post. Hero banker George Bailey’s chief goal was to loan the poor enough money to buy homes they couldn’t really afford because owning a house would “make them better citizens.”

Despite criticism from both left and right, this outlook has shaped American policy for the last 60 years, notes Douthat. And although economic and environmental concerns will likely push America in a more urban, European direction in the coming decades, giving up on Bailey’s picket-fence dream entirely would mean letting go of “something that's uniquely precious about American life," he writes.