Discussed: Ecological footprints, the US housing market, and the “good old Catholic church.”

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Greed Is Good
At its peak in 2006, the US housing market was excessively influenced by an investment motive — the kind of impulse Charles Montgomery considered in “Grim Repo” (October/November). It wasn’t just the investors, mind you, but also people who planned on living in the homes they bought but were driven more by the expectation of rising values than by their actual housing needs. According to my calculations, around 20 percent of sales were attributable to the investment motive. Now, with prices in decline, the inverse of the investment motive is producing a downward spiral of the market, with US housing sales approximately 40 percent lower than they would otherwise be. The inventory surplus must be reduced before there is any hope of stabilization. So, for the next while, the vultures described in Montgomery’s article may be the best real hope for bringing the US housing market back into balance.

Willard Dunning
Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals
Toronto, ON

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Dynamite Roll
Small-town culture is a culture of prejudice, and my little corner of small-town Canada is no different. We are prejudiced against the unknown. But as Guy Saddy expertly explored in “The First Little Mosque on the Prairie” (October/November), this behaviour cannot be sustained face to face.

Like the Muslims in Saddy’s story, new Asian immigrants in my town are learning to fit into our decidedly non-urban culture, while many long-time residents are dropping their naturally defensive stance toward anything foreign. As Saddy suggests, it is often the little things, like food, that bring us together. Recently, our first sushi restaurant opened. Hopefully, it will not be the last.

Canada is a young country, founded on multiculturalism. Perhaps the time will come when every town will have a mosque, a Buddhist temple, and a synagogue within walking distance of the good old Catholic church.

Nikolai McLeod,
Coubourg, ON

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