Caroline Sheridan was a brilliant, beautiful and talented society woman in Victorian England in the early 1800s.
She was also beaten mercilessly by her very prominent husband (a member of Parliament), who also falsely accused her of adultery, publicly humiliated her in a show trial, and stole her three kids away from her – and destroyed her life.
Her husband was able to get away with it because when an “Englishwoman of Caroline’s era married, she ceased to exist, legally. Her husband took possession of everything she had, then and in the future: her body, her money and her children.”
This of course gave the men of the era license to do pretty much whatever they wanted to the women, and it utterly suppressed 50% of the country’s talent pool (women).
The men of the era rationalized these rules by convincing themselves that women were actually inferior and needed protecting. Worse, the men also convinced women that they were inferior, as even Ms. Sheridan “accepted male superiority.”
But now, as we all know, unleashing women into the workforce and everywhere else has been a major reason why western societies have flourished so much in the 20th and 21st centuries. And women now dominate in universities, grad schools, and many professions, such as medicine and of course real estate. Without the aggregate contributions of women, we would probably be a century behind where we are now.
And every country that continues to hold women back, such as many Middle Eastern countries, remains markedly backwards economically.
Anyway, Ms. Sheridan’s story was illuminated today in this WSJ book review: The Married Woman Who Fought Back – and it prompted this blog.
As a student of history, I have seen how many major institutions have used paternalistic rationales (“we need to protect people”), similar to the one I write about above, to completely suppress entire demographic groups or populations as a whole. The Catholic church of the middle-ages is a great example, as it suppressed education of the masses “to protect them” while it actually just kept the church in power.
And – this is how it relates to real estate and mortgages.
Some of our politicians and regulators have become more paternalistic than ever lately when it comes to all aspects of society. I won’t discuss health policies or speech or anything of that nature to avoid sounding too political, but I will touch on mortgages and real estate.
The NREP published this video today about the CFPB ramping up its enforcement actions, and it is an excellent example of what I am talking about. The CFPB epitomizes the kind of paternalism I reference above, and while some of the regulations it enforces are good, many more simply make mortgages far more difficult to obtain for no reason and/or far more expensive for the consumer.
On the real estate front, excessive environmental, building, green energy, and zoning regulations have added so many costs to the construction of a home, that those costs now constitute a major factor behind our current inventory shortage – particularly at the low end of the market (hurting the least advantaged the most).
So yes, I will admit that it might be a bit of a stretch to relate a Victorian-era abuser to today’s regulatory environment 😊 (I mostly just wanted to write about the article because I found it so interesting).
But – it does seem like the paternalistic regulations of today are holding back our economy and society much like Victorian laws and mores did then.
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