Rent Assunder

25 June 2008

In the 70’s and 80’s (at least in England and Australia) the Government did all it could to make us into Capitalists.  Buy a House!  Buy Shares!  Send Your Children to Private Schools!  It seemed that anything that got us into more debt was OK by them.  The cynic in me thinks that maybe while we were all consumed with worry about paying for all this, we couldn’t spare the time or effort to bother about what the Government was up to.

Children in detention centres?  Very sad, but I’m not sure how I’m going to pay my own children’s school fees this month.  People sleeping on the streets?  Well, at least they haven’t got to find the money to pay a mortgage. 

And while it doesn’t seem very principled, I can mainly understand it.  Most people’s first priority is to make sure that their family is housed and fed and until they’ve sorted that out, they have neither the money nor the will to deal with other people’s problems.  And I think that’s probably the way Governments like it. 

Families used to think they were quite well off if they had a roof over their head, bills paid and children clothed and fed.  We have now decided though that not only must people who pay rent rather than a mortgage be poor, they are also fiscally stupid, intellectually inferior and, certainly in Australia, they are practically considered second-class citizens.

A friend of mine, Jejune, has been spitting blood about this as a result of an ANZ Bank advertisement on television here.  Bank Manager turns up at private house, with pretty model and a posse of press, to present an award to one of their mortgage holders.  The man who answers the door says “But we pay rent”.  The trophy is grabbed out of his hands, the entire mob looks at him with contempt and off they trot to find a more worthy recipient.

And last week, the demonisation of tenants reached new lows, led by the ABC no less.  A truly horrific crime was discovered in Queensland when 18 month old twins were found dead in their cots, apparently starved to death (they weighed about the same as new-born babies).  The family was described by the journalist as “living in a rental property”.  What on earth is that about? 

Paying rent, not a mortgage = being irresponsible = neglecting and abusing your children? 

A strange equation, me thinks.

One comment

  1. Well, as you know, I’m in total agreement!! Great post!!

    I’ve even had one of my brothers (the money-orientated one) say that clearly our parents failed in teaching me about money because I still rent (while he married into a very wealthy family, and swans off to Thailand for holidays regularly)! Grrrrrr! We made choices such as having children young, living and working overseas, and having academic careers, which were badly timed with Australia’s property increases.

    When speaking with several real estate agents at the end of last year (when we moved, yet again), they unanimously said that Australia was having to move into a more Europe-like situation, where most people rent, long term, and may never own a home. However, in Europe, the conditions for renters are SO much better (long term leases, pets allowed, alterations allowed etc) – we’ve got a ways to go!!

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