Amid tea parties and occupations, bailouts and collapses, Arab Springs and government-shutdowns, it may seem that the world is spinning out of control. One of the most important factors— the real-estate boom and bust — remains at the center of things, said Robin Kolodny, a political science professor at Temple. "Foreclosures are happening around people," she said. "What they thought was their retirement nest egg is now worth much less. The American dream is to own a home. If you own a home you will take care of it and so will your neighbors and the rising tide lifts all boats."