I agree with most everything here, except for two points.
First off, car renting is not an insanity. I do own a car, which I take obsessively good care of. In situations where I don't want the mileage, wear and tear, and fuel expenses of my "not-so-fuel-efficient" Mustang GT, I will opt to rent a car. I did it not too long ago for a 350 mile drive (one way) and I'll be renting another car again when I fly for a business trip.
Secondly, renting a house isn't a stupid idea. I've done the "American Dream" routine of home ownership and, after my experience, I will never buy another house again. To sum up my experience in a concise manner, I bought a house back in 2007. Countrywide (now Bank of America) approved me based on my credit score and all that crap for a loan amount of up to $250,000. Not wanting to over-extend myself and preferring to err on the side of responsible home buying, I purchased a home for $155,000 on a fixed rate 35 year loan. The first year or so was good. Then property values started dropping fast. Light speed fast. Before long, the same floor plan I had purchased was going for $74,000 but I kept making my house payment. Then our glorious leaders in government started throwing around this ludicrous notion of "too big to fail". Bank executives ran to Washington DC with hands out and spewing fear mongering prophecies of another "Great Depression" if they didn't receive billions and billions of dollars of government (a.k.a. taxpayer) money. Banks then sat on the money they received, refusing to modify anyone's loan, and foreclosures went through the roof. After all, when you've already been given a shit ton of money as a reward for royally screwing the economy, billions more on top of that in taxpayer funded "insurance" against your garbage loans and toxic assets, why not simply repossess all the homes and profit twofold when the economy improves and you can sell them off at a premium again? Profit!
I approached Bank of America right around the time similar homes to mine were going for $60,000 and asked for a modification and, over the next year and a half, sent reams of paperwork in for the modification process. I learned all about banks and their new "bait and switch" philosophy fast. Most people have already heard about what happens during the modification process, but basically you send in paperwork and the bank conveniently loses it. If you call about your modification, you get told everything's awesome and they'll let you know soon. Then they tell you a week later that they didn't receive some or all of your paperwork. Or it got lost. Or their dog ate it. And it goes in circles. Even sending paperwork via UPS and FedEx, with delivery confirmation, does no good. About six months into this fiasco, I gave up. I stopped paying the mortgage payment and instead put the money into savings for the next year and I let the bank foreclose on the place. They sold it at public auction for $54,000 when last I heard about it. And, because the state I live in is what's considered a "single action" state where Bank of America only gets one action against a homeowner (e.g. foreclosure), they can't collect the difference.
So that about sums up my home buying experience and why I think renting isn't an insanity. I've heard all the tirades about how letting them foreclose was a bad idea, that I should have held onto a worthless property and hope I broke even in 20+ years IF the housing market ever recovered, and I can honestly say I just don't care. If what was supposed to happen in a "free market" economy actually did happen, and banks were allowed to fail regardless of their size, and our leaders didn't buy into the fear mongering and sent the banks packing to clean up the mess they created, then I'd have been more inclined to stay in the place. As it stands now, I've adopted a new mantra. If I can't afford to buy it outright in cash, I won't buy it at all. I'll be clearing my financial house of all debt and will no longer take out a loan for anything, nor will I consider using credit cards. I'm just not interested in playing the loan/credit game anymore because I've learned that the only winners are the people who are receiving your inflated monthly payments. It's better, in my mind, to rent a place and let someone else enjoy the fun of a failing housing market, "too big to fail" financial institutions, etc..