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Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: ‘Après moi, le déluge’ on housing?

Editor’s Notebook: ‘Après moi, le déluge’ on housing?

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‘Après moi, le déluge’ — such was the famous bon-mot from France’s King Louis XIV – a guy who knew how to run a country with an iron fist, that’s for sure – and a phrase that has over the years been translated as everything from “After me, the flood” to “When I am dead the deluge may come for aught I care” and “Ruin, if you like, when we are dead and gone.”

(Wow: Ruler of France for more than 70 years, great with a quote … and the guy rocked wigs that would have Dolly Parton and RuPaul green with envy. A true Renaissance man, even though the Renaissance had come and gone by the time he was around.)

I thought about “Après moi, le déluge” while listening to the remarkably upbeat presentation by National Association of Realtors’ chief economist Robert Dietz yesterday.

In an online gathering, Dietz said all signs were pointing to a robust health and societal recovery by the middle of this year, which would leave to even more new homes being built in 2021.

But what about all the headwinds, he was asked. Labor shortages, supply shortages (and huge materials-price increases), the prospect of rising interest rates and (left unsaid but definitely there) the likelihood of a new round of business regulation by the new administration.

Dietz acknowledged all of those, but suggested that – in the short term – the hot market would keep on chooglin’ right on past the problems.

Come 2022, however, that might not be the case. Once mortgage-interest rates rise above 4%, Dietz suggested, more prospective homeowners will find themselves priced out. And while he seemed to think inflation could be held in check, inflation is like viruses – they do what they’re going to do and mock us mere mortals who think we can control them.

So there might be a bumpy ride ahead. And the headwinds might get so great, they would blow the wig off Louis XIV’s head.

NOBODY, BUT NOBODY, CARES: Let’s see: The Arlington government (including school system) has let its most vulnerable residents down over the past year its haphazard response to the pandemic.

Schools are a disaster, libraries are mostly locked up tight, etc., etc. You know the drill.

So what does the Arlington County Board do Tuesday to try and redeem itself? Puts out a statement giving its collective opinion on the verdict on the George Floyd murder trial.

Lordy, lordy, lordy. As if anyone, but anyone, cares what local-yokel officials in Arlington have to say about that.

It was all about making sure no other local government gets out in front of the pack with a statement of its own, and giving the public a bright shiny object to look at, distracting them from the systemic failures (see what I did there?) of the county government over the past year.

I gave some remarks to the Arlington Optimist Club yesterday, and noted that my first year here at the Sun Gazette, way back in the day, the County Board fivesome was: Mary Margaret Whipple, Ellen Bozman, Al Eisenberg, James Hunter III and (the lone Republican) Ben Winslow.

I’d wager that at least four of those five have gone down in county history as local legends (as has William Newman, who was on the board until several months before I arrived, when he was elevated to the Circuit Court).

Not seeing too many future legends among the current fivesome, although hope springs eternal.

THE GUY WHO HELPED GIVE US ‘PARADISE BY THE DASHBOARD LIGHT’ IS NO MORE: Over the weekend, I happened to see a YouTube video where Jim Steinman, who wrote the classic Meat Loaf song “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” explained how they got New York Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto to do a key part of the song. It was a great tale; the jury remains out on whether Rizzuto really knew the tune was a little naughty when he agreed to take part.

But then came word on Tuesday that Steinman, a prolific songwriter/musician/producer with many hits to his name, had died. There is a coincidence, and not a happy one, for you.

In his honor, embedded below is his story about Phil Rizzuto and “Paradise.” They’re up there in baseball/rock-and-roll heaven together now.

— Scott McCaffrey

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