And then they came for your home mortage tax deduction…

home_taxesFrom Georgia State University  and the department of “let’s just all live in uniform state sponsored mud huts“, comes this latest inanity, blaming carbon emissions on your ability to get a tax deduction for the American Dream of owning your own home. I wonder what sort of home Kyle Mangum lives in?

US housing policies increase carbon output, Georgia State University research finds

Land use policies and preferential tax treatment for housing – in the form of federal income tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes – have increased carbon emissions in the United States by about 2.7 percent, almost 6 percent annually in new home construction, according to a new Georgia State University study.

Economist Kyle Mangum, an assistant professor in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, measures the effect of various housing policies on energy use and carbon output in “The Global Effects of Housing Policy,” which he recently presented at the IEB III Workshop on Urban Economics in Barcelona.

Mangum’s empirical study uses data on local construction activity, housing consumption and density, labor and materials cost, and local populations and incomes for the nation’s 50 largest metro areas, ranking them by annual carbon output per person.

Policies that affect the amount of housing consumed per capita and housing density are the two major drivers of carbon savings, he finds.

“Larger homes consume more energy,” Mangum said. “Lower density home sites increase gasoline use. Also, many ‘easy-building’ Sun Belt regions that have attracted more new home building are higher energy-use locations.”

His research suggests removing federal tax subsidies for housing and updating land use regulations to encourage higher density in higher energy-use locations would lower the country’s overall energy use, reducing its carbon emissions.

“I find that the federal tax treatment of housing has added a nontrivial amount of carbon output by increasing housing consumption,” he said. “Also, imposing stricter land use regulations in high carbon output cities would decrease the nation’s overall amount of carbon output by approximately 2.2 percent – about 4.5 percent in new construction – primarily by decreasing the amount of house used per person and then by encouraging movement to more efficient low-carbon cities.”


Mangum also finds:

High carbon cities contribute about twice as much per person as the low carbon cities;

Many quickly growing cities are above the national average in energy consumption;

Cities with more housing area per person use more electricity per person.

Download a copy of Mangum’s working paper at


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They continue to worry about “carbon”, when isn’t it “carbon di-oxide” they wish to worry about?

I’ve begun to think this isn’t an error, but shorthand for carbon-based life forms, especially humans, and, perhaps coincidentally, carbon-based (lumber) housing.
My specialty is construction. Our industry is the definition of energy-intensive. We build infrastructure that can last a century, as most homes do. So, if one seeks to assess our carbon-consumption, the assessment must be made over time span consistent with the life-cycle cost of infrastructure – between one century and one millenium. A useful assessment would be the life-cycle of the city of Detroit, which includes a de-population and reduced density phase and spans a couple centuries. Such assessments must account for the availability of rail transport, which is what permits low-energy commuting over large distances and large time frames, and bedroom-community social and commercial concentrations. These assessments require such a multi-disciplinary approach (energy calculations, economics, and history) that it’s impossible to believe the research reported has sufficient rigor without first assessing the qualifications of the researchers. The first clue that’s something’s amiss is that the study discusses “cities” not a “city,” or even a small selection.
Can thus guy estimate the energy cost of producing clinker for grinding into cement? What about the difference in efficiency between a modern steel construction smelter and the old rolled beams running out of Bethlehem Steel? (Modern construction steel is almost completely recycled.) Does he know the materials cost or shipping cost for wood I-joists (made from crop-grown timber)? What about the shipping distances for typical ready-mix hauls (usually locally operated and owned)? And I’ve not even touched the materials outside my specialty – structural engineering. Imagine all the costs associated with insulation, roofing, wiring, HVAC systems, gypsum sheathing inside the house, and furniture and fixtures. Just: wow.
Nope, he’s studied the problem based on ANNUAL “carbon,” and the home mortgage interest deduction is the problem. Genius!
Gentlemen, the objection I have to this study is that it suggests further government intervention as a solution. The goal of such publications is to adjust the distribution of winners and losers among various regions and cities, and this adjustment favors established infrastructure contrary to economic drives to abandon the infrastructure for more favorable efficiencies. That, and it’s not merely a rent-seeking proposal, it’s slave-seeking.


Not letting people build outside the tropics would reduce home energy use immensely.


Agenda 21 manifest, lets cram humanity into high rise ghettos


Here in the UK we lost our mortgage tax relief years ago. So the proposed policy must work, because Britain has a much smaller carbon footprint than the US, so its all down to our mortgages eh? Here’s me thinking it was due to our relative size, but hey, you live and learn.

So here we have, on the one side, those seeking to decarbonize our energy production, and on the other those who assume there will be no decarbonization. Have these yokels from Ga State
U travel just a little to the north, into South Carolina, in say, 30 months from now, and they’ll find that increased energy consumption has virtually no effect on carbon emissions, thanks to SC’s mostly nuclear-generated electricity. They also apparently aren’t buying into the notion of
practical electric cars arriving on the scene anytime in the foreseeable future, which again places them at odds with their fellow Greenies. Sounds to me like their suggestion to cram folks together rests on some pretty shaky assumptions all around.


We all know a couple of high carbon users with too large houses, Al Gore and James Cameron. Hypocrits par excellance.


For centuries the few remaining liberal arts graduate students left after collapse of the higher education bubble of vastly inflated tuition based on government loan sharking will use Internet archives to study human differences, in collaboration with geneticists, as a record of human folly revealed by the perfectly obvious climate deception being taken up as a culture wide cause, and why the temperamentally anti-science instincts of religious parties helped being it down.


No mention of energy efficient building materials. More of the same, but no different.


If you build a bigger house you probably use more wood and thus more carbon.
Unless they are talking about CO2, of course …. .

Stephen Richards

Utter stupidity. Time to throw students out of uni when they graduate and get them into real work.


As written above, no mention of energy efficient building techniques that can quickly render any mention of big houses = “bad” nothing more than “big house” envy. Lower density homes usually have more green space and trees. I would call that a carbon (dioxide) sink! Oh, and even if I live in a big energy efficient house on a large block (which I do), I can choice to take public transportation to work (which I do). So. In your eye! BTW, show me a picture of the mud and bark hut, constructed on a vacant lot that you are living in Mr Mangum. Live by example, not by edict.

Lawrence Todd

I agree completely with the professors arguement and we will start by requiring college professors/lectures to live in dormitories in order to reduce their carbon footprint and promote better contact with students


And a couple other things! No mention or accounting for live style choices. I am fanatical about recycling. On our large lot we have several raised garden beds which we grow what we can. Compost piles in various stages. When required I get my son off is iPad on the weekends and get his hands dirty pulling weeds and cutting the grass with a push, rotary mower. It all goes on the compost piles with any food scraps we have. My son and I do projects together, like build box solar ovens and cook what we grow because we can.

Krudd Gillard of the Commondebt of Australia

The tools of Obama, gathering his Red Brigades.

Krudd Gillard of the Commondebt of Australia

Also, I love your “And Then They Came For…” series, Anthony. Keep it going. Regards,


Hmmm, Wonder if Kyle Einstein will also calculate the number of lives saved, especially children, by lowering of the crime rates? Why does he hate children?


Anybody remember how Al Gore’s utility bill was tracked down? Any hope of finding another?

How about the counter argument that higher density housing, based on statistics, means higher crime rates, higher murder rates, and shorter lifespan.

Really!!! Is this guy drinking kool aid?? Or is he on the same disconnected channel as Kerry!?


A better solution would be to live in the temperate environment of the underground. Build large underground cities. We would soon become the Morlocks of an HG Wells fantasy.
Sometimes what appears to be a good idea at first is just another way of turning us into Morlocks; like living in high density housing.


Just an example of one way that “mitigating” carbon dioxide will send us all into poverty. Except the Al Gores and UN leaders etc of course.


What is the positive reason why people should recieve a subsidy in the form of lower taxes to buy a house?

Liberals have been trying to get rid of the Home Mortgage deduction for years. This is just another justification for their attempts.
But an interesting thought occurred. Liberals are of course all for open borders – allowing MORE people in. It is known that the US, without immigration, is on the same level as Europe – in other words, we are not having enough children to sustain our population. So all this new home construction, which causes global warming, is due to immigration, which also is a pet cause of liberals.
So this quack from GSU is saying the major cause in the US of global warming is the liberals own policies. Kind of poetic justice.

Tom in Florida

What does who owns the property and pays the mortgage and taxes have to do with how much energy is used? Are they suggesting that renters use less energy than owners? I would take issue with that as it is pretty well understood that those who do not have a financial stake in property tend to do less maintenance which leads to higher costs in time, money and energy in the long run.


Again… assuming that there IS any global warming to “fix”…
17.9 years and counting.


“If you build a bigger house you probably use more wood”
Not always true. Larger homes tend to span longer distances, and make extensive use of engineered wood products. Although 9 & 10 foot ceilings are common for some silly reason.
“No mention of energy efficient building materials”
The building code doesn’t push it. Unless you’re building a custom home and spec otherwise, you’ll get code minimums.

@Paul – higher ceilings require less cooling. Heat rises and there are not too many 9 foot people around.


Show me how you heat oceans with air then we will talk, until then its a bunch of Chicken Little hand waving. Using the the modest temperature change in the atmosphere to heat oceans is like using a blow dryer to heat an Olympic sized swimming pool.
Instead of chasing an imaginary problem like climate change lets take on real problems there are plenty.


I wonder what sort of home Kyle Mangum lives in?

This may be an appropriate question for Al Gore whose hypocrisy is well documented, but not right out of the gate for anyone who proposes a disagreeable idea. It borders on the kind of character assassination the alarmists routinely practice. We’re better than that.

Ed Fix

“I wonder what sort of home Kyle Mangum lives in?” A Spokeo search suggests a huge, hypocritical blind spot. But then, those on the philosophical left generally seem untroubled by hypocrisy.


I often ask children, “Should we do everything we can to help the environment.? They universally answer yes.
Then I explain they would have to move out of their house and plow under Disney World.
It seems like Mangum has maintained the mentality of an 8-year old.


For those who wish to be informed here’s an interesting little read regarding the history of the mortgage interest deduction.


>> “I wonder what sort of home Kyle Mangum lives in?”
This is pretty easy information to find these days on the web, so the idle speculation is indeed unwarranted. I agree with the commenter above.. Anthony, you’re better (and normally fairer) than this. I just did the search, and it looks like the assistant professor is not being the hypocrite that many of the CAGW disciples typically are. Extremely modest residence, and looks to be a renter rather than an owner as well.
REPLY: Well you see I am fairer, I never did the search that you performed nor wrote about it as you have. I only posed the question. It is a valid question to ask if someone is being hypocritical when they dictate how others should live their lives and what privileges they should have – Anthony


So lets keep people out of the “easy building”sun belt regions because that’s where the hypocritical leftist elitists need to live. Everyone else to ghettos the north. You know I agree with this “Study”and the first place we need to densify is Chevy Chase. Let’s cram a nice dense carbon neutral ghetto in that neighborhood.


Tenure is often misinterpreted as the license to be stupid.

[snip let’s not go there – mod]


I find that the federal grant treatment of universities has added a nontrivial amount of carbon output by increasing rhetorical bloviation


Its not the mortgage tax deduction (a red herring) that’s a problem, its the ability to borrow large sums of money today with little or no down payment that obviously increases CO2 emissions. It allows a person to buy something large and expensive today (car, boat, house, airplane, etc) and start emitting CO2 immediately where if they had to save up before purchasing the CO2 emissions would be delayed. Take away the mortgage tax deduction and you can still borrow huge sums of money. The greatest source of CO2 emissions is probably lending practices, after all everything that burns fossil fuels was probably bought with debt, but here’s the problem, our debtocracy (borrow and spend/invest economy) depends on easy lending, and to end that means to collapse the economy. From a CO2 emitting perspective, a save-and-invest economy is 100x better than a borrow-and-spend economy, but from an economic perspective, to shift from our current borrow-and-spend economy to a save-and-invest economy would be shocker … probably total economic collapse. Who gave us our current financial system … the government … who benefits from it the most … the government (a huge borrower) … the financial system/CO2 emitting conflict is one of those things government prefers to not talk about, but if they are serious about it, the financial system must also eventually shift IMO.


Here’s a clue:
“Andrew Young School of Policy Studies”

R. de Haan

100% Eco Facism with the same scientific level as Eugenics to proof the inferiority of the Jewish Race as an excuse for the Holocaust.
If you guys don’t throw out hacks soon the slaughterhouses will be opened again.
Start with Goebbels the Second:
He is a total nutcase.
This becomes evidently clear when Goebbels the Second tells us he is looking for cooperation with Iran to encounter ISIS in Iraq.

Jim G

bobl says:
June 17, 2014 at 12:20 am
“Agenda 21 manifest, lets cram humanity into high rise ghettos”
“Oh, flew in from Miami Beach B.O.A.C.
Didn’t get to bed last night
On the way the paper bag was on my knee
Man I had a dreadful flight
I’m back in the U.S.S.R.
You don’t know how lucky you are boy
Back in the U.S.S.R. (Yeah)”
The Beatles

Alan McIntire

So Kyle Magnum discovered that making people poorer causes them to spend less on energy (and everything else). This is an argument for cutting off all funding to state universities to reduce fossil fuel use – people will become more ignorant, poorer, and will automatically use less energy as a result.

Pamela Gray

If there ever was a reason for businesses to go on strike, this would be a good one. If businesses go on strike, the entire machine stops working. The same machine that is currently being forced to fund Obama’s golf trips while Embassy personnel in Iraq are hunkering down hoping our troops get there in time. Just how much more are we going to have to swallow before this dipwad and his liberal elected and appointed pals are voted out, marched, tarred and feathered, and put on a rail out of Washington? The only way this whole shebang gets turned off is by reasoned majority rule in every branch of government cutting off the teat.

Robert W Turner

I bet Magnum is eating steak and lobster tonight after creating this publication on behalf of UN Agenda 21 elitists. I don’t entirely disagree with the premise however because I’m not a huge fan of suburban sprawl. I’m an even bigger opponent of current construction of homes that tend to use shoddy methods and are made from young soft pine wood. Moore, OK unfortunately serves as a perfect example of what’s wrong with how homes have been built over the past few decades.
Earth-sheltered homes should be the norm by now in places they’re practical. Imagine if all the subsidies for renewable energies over the past 10 years would have instead been used for subsidies on advanced home construction. Insurance rates would drop and domestic energy use would decrease (possibly by more than what renewables have added), reducing overall energy cost, and ultimately boosting the economy. Not to mention being in an earth sheltered home during a natural disaster feels just a wee-bit more secure.


What, no mention of the subprime lending that drives vehicle sales? It stopped momentarily after the Great Recession and then continued on its merry way.

Tom J

Economist Kyle Mangum
I think Kyle’s problem is that his ancestors put the ‘n’ in their last name in the wrong place. Perhaps he’s the first (perhaps not) of his family to subconsciously realize this mistake. So, perhaps to compensate, he’s advocating that we all live like overcrowded rats in a cage with the resultant violence and mayhem that automatically ensues. (I’m assuming you know about that research, Kyle?) Perhaps inhabiting such a society is a way to truly prove one’s manhood. I can see no other reason for advocating it since, unless one is at the very top tiers of income, overcrowded cities have historically been breeding grounds of potential violent outbreaks, crime, pollution, and oh yes, the occasional epidemic.
It’s not too late. You can change your last name to Magnum.

Bob Layson

To be taxed less is not to be given anything.


I’m a condo dweller. Like the lifestyle. Have a large three bedroom unit, and a very large shared common yard.
I rather like the idea of a Condo/town. A single building holding four or five thousand people with a small mall built into the ground floor that provides all the basic services. No reason for the units to be little dank holes in the wall, they could be spacious and well lit, maybe looking out over a central atrium like those new Cruise ships.
All utilities and waste stream centralized. How about an electricity generating trash incinerator working along side a gas-fueled power generator so it has it’s own electric grid.
Surround it by acres and acres of park-land.
As long as it was a private development it would likely remain a low crime area. Wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot stick if the Government had anything at all to do with it.


Shhhhhhh, don’t tell them about the 20 million illegals and the structures required to house them.

Mangum directly states as his objective: “decreasing the amount of house used per person.”
He’s not an economist, he’s an anti-economist, whose object is not to increase human prosperity but to “lower the country’s overall energy use, reducing its carbon emissions.”
To be exact, NONE of the academic economists EVER do even the most basic due diligence in calculating the external value of CO2. They are supposed to weight the climate outcomes predicted by the IPCC by the probability that the IPCC’s projections are correct, but they all omit that step, simply assuming that the IPCC’s projections are correct. Shameful.
Analyzed correctly, the external value of CO2 is unambiguously positive:
Kyle Mangum calling himself an economist is like his sister Crystal Mangum calling herself a victim.

Ga State is also a huge pusher of Equity in education and doing whatever it takes to get graduation rates up for students of color. I listened to the University President spout his social justice views at a program at Emory a few months ago.
And Atlanta is considered third, after Portland, Oregon and the Twin Cities area in MN in pushing Metropolitanism, as Regional Equity is now called. Targeting the carbon costs of larger houses fits right in with the equity push as well as the Environmental Justice push against Atlanta’s sprawl. EJ also emanates from Atlanta, but it’s headquartered at Clark Atlanta down the road, not GSU.