…grant a visa to any foreigner that wishes to buy them, as a bill co-sponsored by Senators Charles Shumer (D., N.Y.) and Mike Lee (R. Utah) proposes, the Wall Street Journal reports.

This would actually kill two birds with one stone.  It would sop up some of the excess housing inventory, while also expanding domestic demand by spurring an increase in legal immigration (the buyers would be granted a residence, not a work, visa).  The bill requires that at least $500,000 be spent on residential real estate to qualify for the visa, ensuring that the buyers were wealthy enough to spend like overleveraged Americans once they got here.  And actually it’s a three-fer, because “exporting houses” would serve to ameliorate the effects of the enormous trade deficits the US still runs.  Saudi princes could return the dollars we send them for oil by buying houses and moving here.  

It’s doubtful it will pass.  It sounds too much like selling the Empire State Building to the Japanese, or some other such outrage the nativists complained of when it was the Japanese that were going to overtake and destroy the US economically.   

But there is so much money floating around the world these days that it’s not hard to imagine such a bill leading to a recolonization of America, so long as it remained a stable and reasonably safe place to live.  Instead of “bring[ing] us your poor, your tired, your wretched masses” the country would welcome the rich, the well-rested, the elites of the world.  America would become a giant country club, but with Predator drones protecting the links.   

 

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