Robert Shiller, the Yale economist (and as in the Case-Shiller housing price index) wrote an interesting piece for today’s NY Times about FHA and other government housing subsidies. He talks about the taxpayer subsidizing homeownership not only as an economic stimulus but also as a means to preserve our sense of national identity. He claims Americans believe owning a home in a healthy community is connected to individual liberties that embody our national identity. You know – a way to avoid the oppression of the masses imposed by the lord of the land, etc. After discussing the merits of renting, he says we need to retool or reinvent our financial institutions (think Fanny Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA) to create a different kind of housing while preserving our core values even if the subsidies don’t end. The subsidies should focus on “enhancing the qualities of life that we really value”. I wonder how that would play out on Wall Street.