Memory marker

Restatement of “Greenfield’s theory of urban memory”: by “Michael Sokolove”: in today’s housing-themed package in the Times Magazine:

bq. I decided there should be a law: Before you knock down a house, you should have to post its picture on a nearby tree (one that will not get hacked down), because part of what’s so disturbing to me is the instant obliteration of history and memory.

Roger Lowenstein’s “article”: nicely lays out the curious history and effects of the mortgage interest tax deduction, but perhaps isn’t explicit enough: this is a highly regressive tax break that hurts the middle class. It distorts the top end of the housing market by giving the upper class an incentive to build McMansions instead of more productive investments (for example, workforce housing), which raises prices for everyone through gentrification. Meanwhile, the working class ignores it; they just take the standard deduction, which is about equivalent to the interest on their $100,000 mortgages — and anyways, at their (well, mine too) tax brackets, a deduction isn’t worth nearly as much as a credit.