Steve Edelman Caused the Financial Crisis

Uh, so who’s Steve Edelman, you ask?  What mortgage broker, risk pool derivatives firm, Wall Street bank, politician does he represent?


None of them, of course.  This is far more insidious a conspiracy than that! 


Back in the late 1950’s, the pop sociologists were all bloviating about a book by Vance Packard called The Hidden Persuaders.  Its premise was, essentially, “the devil made me do it”.  We are all helpless, manipulated by psychological forces we don’t perceive because they flash past so fast that they subliminally impress our minds with messages we absorb, but are simply not aware we are taking in.  Of course, this was a screed against Madison Avenue and the advertising business, this being the same era as the other rebellions against post-war conformity- The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, screeds against “built-in obsolescence”, etc.


Even though this was overblown conspiracy stuff, the basic principle still applies and always will.  Many years ago, a very wise entity, intimately understanding of human nature, said (paraphrased from Exodus 20:17): “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.”


What?  That’s the entire basis of modern economies!  Better Homes and Gardens, In Style, Southern Living, This old House, Extreme Makeover, Martha Stewart, Bob Vila, you name it.  Virtually everything out there, whether advertising or entertainment, is predicated on making us jealous of somebody’s house.  Maybe not my next-door neighbor’s tarpaper shack, but certainly the place over in that other neighborhood.


So Moses described the issue a few years back as “covetousness”.  In the 20th century, we called it “Keeping up with the Joneses”.  Today, we call it “getting our fair share of the American Dream”, usually via a maxed-out MasterCard, and, for the last few years, a second, third, and fourth mortgage layered onto our tarpaper shack down in the wrong end of town.


And that brings us to Steve Edelman.  I first realized how insidious and dangerous he was when I read a comment by the perfesser on Instapundit to the effect that his beloved Instawife, upon returning home from a medical procedure, relaxed by watching HGTV to learn how to “accessorize a room”. 


Here we had the World’s Richest Blogger, and his highly educated spouse, living high in Knoxville with Mazda sports cars and audio-video equipment to rival a cable TV network, and they have HGTV up on the new flat screen digital television.  All because of Steve Edelman, the former local daytime TV host-turned-producer, who creates and films the lion’s share of HGTV programming from his San Francisco headquarters.  


To quote from a news story “His company’s shows currently airing on HGTV include Color Splash, Curb Appeal, Designed to Sell, Decorating Cents, Design Remix, Double Take, FreeStyle, House Detective, Landscape Smart and Sensible Chic, plus three new ones that recently premiered, Sleep on It, Get It Sold and Find Your Style. Edelman’s series on the DIY network include Bathroom Renovations, Fresh Coat, Home Transformations, Weekend Handyman, Wood Works and Kitchen Renovations.”


Nineteen shows on 24 hour a day cable TV, all planned to make you want to take out an excess mortgage and overpay your income to get a house that matches a gated community.


Isn’t this one of those situations where the FCC should step in?  At least, to forbid my wife from watching any more HGTV?  (Please?)


One Response to “Steve Edelman Caused the Financial Crisis”

  1. notfromaroundhere Says:

    A little tired of HGTV?

    Seriously, though, here in England where everyone loves to blame American mortgage bankers, a little magazine called the Economist published a fantastic survey of the financial meltdown a few weeks ago. Far from being just about mortgages and rich world debt, it highlighted the impact of emerging economies, especially China and their currency peg and large reserves of US dollars. Anything that the fed would do with rates would influence the US market and China differently, and so there was an uncontrollable and vicious circle going on where China’s growing economic strength was harming the American economy, but the US is powerless to either tell the Chinese to drop their currency peg or stop buying so many dollar reserves. It was fascinating stuff, I do say.

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