Government Tries to Prop Up Housing Industry
Throughout the United States, there have been a handful of protests happening for different reasons. With most of these rallies, like people protesting for the economy to reopen, media and Democratic politicians call the people paid puppets of the Republicans, or suggest they want minorities and poor people to die by spreading the virus. Though while those economic protests are happening in places like Michigan and California, there’s an entirely different set of protests happening in New York City, which media and politicians view as brave, patriotic and necessary.
The protests in NYC are demanding rent suspensions and outright free housing as a human right. The argument is admittedly quite long and nuanced, but to sum it up, some people suggest that the right to live in a stable, comfortable shelter that meets their needs is a fundamental human right of existence, and it should be provided for free. These people believe that private property is the real reason people suffer more during these pandemics, not the actual virus itself.
This isn’t some fringe idea. Major power-brokers in the world seem to side with this, like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Powerful politicians believe this, like Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. While no one can be sure if they agree with it, it’s a fact that major mainstream news networks provide entirely favorable coverage to this stance, like MSNBC, CNN, Vox, and many more. And it’s usually all the same demand, once you remove the wrapping paper: Government should do away with private property altogether and offer housing free to not only Americans, but any immigrant who wishes to travel to America to live.
Though one should ask themselves an honest question, regardless of their political leanings: Is this a good idea?
Sure, to think about a utopian world where people just have houses, jobs, money, food and healthcare as a right is a great thing. It seems right; it seems like justice. Though opponents of this vision would ask, “Who’s paying for it?” Though perhaps a more important question: Can government pull it off?
From the public school system and the DMV to Medicaid and Medicare, government seems wholly inept at running things. Private industry has myriad issues, but nothing compared to government waste and incompetence. Are there specific examples we could view?
Where Private Industry Excels
Housing projects are a great study for this particular topic. With this, we see what happens to properties when government build and control them, and allow tenants to live in them for free. While “projects” have a negative, connotation, keep in mind that there’s no set race for housing projects. People of all races, creeds and cultures live in them in America. However, they invariably meet the same result. The tenants who live in them, by and large, do not take care of the upkeep. They fall into disarray, and the tenants demand that government fix them. And why wouldn’t they? They were government houses, built and provided by the government. Essentially, government becomes the landlords, so the tenants themselves believe they’re not responsible for fixing the places.
What happens is that the projects are demolished every two decades or so, rebuilt for billions of more dollars, and the process just repeats and repeats. The real issue is that, with government-granted housing that people fall into by virtue of being poor, there’s no incentive to care for these properties. They’re not personal properties. They’re not private properties. Everyone understands here that they’re government properties. So if they get torn up, government will just come along and mend them.
Imagine this extrapolated out onto society as a whole. Imagine a nation where every home was owned by government, supposedly holding it in care of the people. Imagine the number of people who would care about the property and assume responsibility for its upkeep, versus the number of people who wouldn’t care at all and expect government to fix things.
No matter where one stands on the issue politically, the honest truth is that private ownership allows for a vested interest in something. A thing that is yours, a thing you pay for, is taken care of better than something that was just handed to you.
So while it might be a good thing for government to prop up the housing industry in the short term, there’s no feasible way that it works out well for everyone in the long term. We simply have too many examples of things going horribly wrong with this model.
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