Life Outside the Ivory Tower

October 26, 2008

You know that housing crisis everyone’s talking about? Turns out they aren’t kidding.

Living, as most sensible people do, in an East Coast city, reports of massive foreclosures have a very theoretical quality to them. I don’t know anyone that lives in a house, and while I am aware that one could, conceivably, own the place in which one lives, it’s not something I actually see much of in practice.

In southwest Michigan, where I’ve been spending most of my time recently, the situation is very different. Visible signs of this crisis are absolutely everywhere. One interesting manifestation of this: I spent a few days in New Hampshire before the primary there, and had a chance to look at the walk sheets used by Obama’s canvassers to record data on the voters they contacted. There were various codes used to indicate what happened at a door where a sought-after voter wasn’t contacted: ‘NH’ for ‘not home’, ‘MV’ for moved, etc. The same sheets are being used here now, but there is a code I didn’t recognize: ‘VC’ for ‘vacant’. The lack of this code in New Hampshire in January was not an issue. In Michigan today, it gets used constantly.

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