i've finally managed to get some time to write about stuff - here's a post over at my website about the hectic weekend i've had.
i was listening to morning report on my way to work & heard this item on home ownership. it's basically a couple of economists trying to convince us that nz'ers should no longer dream of home ownership. instead we should be content with renting, although they do tell us that the rental market needs to change so that people can rent for the long-term. nice of them.
until the rental market changes, what are people supposed to do? and who exactly are they to be renting from? in the world these economists are telling us to aspire to, we would have one class of people who get to own property to rent out, and another class of people who would always be renting. The perpetual tenants are apparently able to build up just as much wealth as the property owners, simply by saving & investing the difference between what they pay in rent & what they would have paid towards a mortgage.
if that's the case, then they would build up enough wealth to buy a house, surely? so they may as well just own the house they live in. this is assuming, also, that there are in a position to make savings. the problem at the moment, the reason why the home-ownership dream is becoming impossible for an increasing number of people, is precisely because they don't have enough left over to save.
but more than that, if you listen to the clip, don't you just love (ie really hate) how they dismiss "emotional" reasons for owning a home. as if emotions have no value, no basis in logic and reason. as if emotion is a thing that is divorced from and inferior to rationality. which is nonsense. if owning a home has some benefits that are based on emotional reasons, then those reasons will impact on your general feeling of well-being, and therefore your mental health.
a paper by charles waldegrave, robert stevens & peter king (which i can't seem to link to, but you can find a pdf via google), makes the following point:
Home ownership often provides an accruing asset which changes people’s perceptions about themselves in positive and independent ways. It also has the extra advantage of providing freehold ownership in later years when most senior citizens are not part of the work force.
home ownership also has the benefits of providing stability, better educational outcomes for children & better health outcomes.
so what would be the purpose of trying to convince people that they should give up the dream of owning their own home? it could be to distract from the fact that one of the main barriers to home ownership is income inequality. it could be to try to get us to accept that nothing can be done to make homes more affordable. there's always that pressure to make more land available to developers, which you will also hear mentioned in the interview, as if big sprawling cities will solve the home ownership problem. if you can't afford the transport to get to your job or to decent schools; if there aren't decent amenities & council services, and the cost of these are added to your house, then more land isn't the answer either.
the whole tenor of this piece, and of the advice given by the economists interviewed, was so defeatist. i found it alarming. it's when we give up hope & stop agitating for change, when believe things can never get better, that's when the already powerful & wealthy become even more so, and when the lives of those in poverty get worse. we can do better than this. it's just a matter of public will, which will then translate to political will.
i've been thinking of bob marley for some reason today, and so i'll leave you with this as inspiration: