905: Homeownership

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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New research shows over 60% of the financial collapse's toxic assets were created by power drills.
Title text: New research shows over 60% of the financial collapse's toxic assets were created by power drills.


People who live in rented properties often face the annoying problem of being unable to make simple changes to their dwelling — for example, drilling a hole in a wall to hang a picture — unless they first gain permission from the property owner. In many cases, if the renter drills the hole without asking permission, they will be charged for repairs.

This is one reason that home ownership can be empowering, as it allows the owner to do anything they wish with their property (at least, within the limits of the law). In this comic, we see Cueball (possibly the same Cueball seen in 616: Lease), struggling to come to terms with the realization that he now owns a home and can do anything he likes to it, such as drilling holes in the wall.

Unfortunately, Cueball gets so carried away with exercising this particular freedom that he drills too many holes in the house, and it collapses due to structural instability. Despite this being an unusual thing to do, it is apparently not unusual for Cueball, as the person he talks to on the phone immediately guesses what happened. Alternatively, it may be that Cueball's friend already made exactly the same mistake and is speaking from experience. Cueball's last statement expresses the fact that he was actually better off having someone who could dictate what could and could not be done with his residence, as then this wouldn't have happened.

The title text references fictional research showing that 60% of the toxic assets involved in the collapse of the United States housing bubble were created by power drills. A toxic asset is a financial asset for which the market has collapsed, such that it can no longer be sold. However, in this context it is also a play on the double meaning of the word "collapse", which can also refer to structural collapse. The implication is that the reason people couldn't sell their houses is because they'd drilled them full of holes to the point of structural instability, just as Cueball did.


[Cueball is in an empty room, on the phone with a friend.]
Cueball: I've always rented, so this blows my mind—this house is mine? I own a building?
Friend: Yup!
Cueball: I could, like, decide to drill a hole in that wall there, and nobody could do anything about it?
Friend: That's right!
[Cueball, off the phone, stands in silence.]
Ten hours later:
[Cueball is standing to the left a pile of rubble, on the phone with a friend.]
Cueball: Can I come stay with you? My house has a... problem.
Friend: Let me guess: you drilled holes in it until it collapsed?
Cueball: I don't think I'm cut out for homeownership.

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Thank god he didn't buy an apartment flat. Davidy²²[talk] 01:48, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

"This is an example for the misuse of statistics." Also, statics... 16:51, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

This has got to be a "financial collapse" "house collapse" pun. Jimbo1qaz (talk) 23:43, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

I think the title text might refer to the fact these types of drills are common in construction. To think that at least 60% of these assets would have had that tool involved in their creation seems like a conservative estimate. 17:36, 6 January 2017 (UTC)

Many houses are old enough to predate power drills. And the crash did hit a lot of older and poorer neighborhoods particularly hard. --Aaron of Mpls (talk) 00:39, 12 December 2020 (UTC)

This isn't true for a lot of people in the US. There are homeowners' associations that would punish you for this kind of thing. 16:37, 17 November 2021 (UTC)