Human Revenue Stream
As we keep saying, many American presidents and senior politicians through the ages, through many recessions, seemed to have nailed the fact that the money system is, to paraphrase their words very mildly, a corrupting influence on society. Have we really reached the stage that the governments we elect are completely in their thrall now?
In the UK there has long been an apathy towards and alienation from the whole processes of politics and democracy. And this, if that could have been deliberately planned or secretly desired, could scarcely have produced a better result in some quarter, in that the people who have the rawest deal from society are those that are least likely to vote. It’s all been completely mystified to people, they intuitively have no trust whatsoever in the process, they’re alienated from it. Perhaps that’s because there is no real choice, there is only one game that’s playing, and it doesn’t look like it could change. There is no other idea about any other way things could be. So people just turn their back on the whole thing, and in so doing, they are abdicating any influence.
It’s felt like a war on the poor in the UK, vicious and spiteful degradations of people by the government and pointless disruptions of many lives, and many children’s lives. It’s a grim time for many.
For the 36% of the population who now rent, rents rose 9.2% last year (2012), spookily the same figure as the British Gas price rises. All the news headlines, though, was about the energy rises rather than the rent rises. Carole Cadwalladr in The Observer (19oct2013) wrote about these rises here And we wanted her point about the numbers. She says it best:
Do the effing sums, someone. Anyone. A politician, perhaps? Hello. Paging the Labour party. Is there anybody out there? Because 9.2% of average annual rent – £9,084 – is a damn sight more than 9.2 per cent of average energy bills. British Gas customers – that is eight million households – face an average increase of £123 a year. Bad, but nothing compared with the £835 increase a year for the 8.3 million households in rented accommodation – £835! And that applies across the country, though if you live in London or the south-east, it could be more like double that.
That average rent increase? It needs to be found out of an average household income after tax of £16,034. How, exactly? Where? And Help to Buy? You could rename it Help to Put Rents Up Even Further. It could be retitled Help to Make Poor People Poorer. Help to Make Young People Even More Fecked. Because house prices are intimately linked to rental yields and this is just more disaster in the offing.
This article is about how many billions landlords get from UK taxpayers. The situation has progressed to golden hellos.
This article is about the report of a 1400% return on property investments since 1996. In a situation where, by far, the greatest return to capital is in an activity that adds nothing to the economy, no value whatsoever, but only extracts value, it’s no surprise the economy is fecked. How could it possibly perform effectively like that? A lot of that 1400% is rent taken from the community chest. All increases in productivity and wealth disappear into land.
And this is where we are now. Sometimes it makes sense only if seen as furtive strategic planning, as if it’s a grand plan that ordinary people, the great mass of the people, will have much less, work much harder, pay much more.
High house prices provide an illusion of economic health and have created a new renting class for a new class of rentiers to live off of. Investment companies and a new class of landlords, including much of Parliament, are snapping up properties that first time buyers would once have bought, so that they can charge them rent for it instead. This is, of course, the most literal rent-seeking and in another era might have been called profiteering.
This is Ian Martin’s view about cakeage and what he calls fracketeering.
James Meek wrote an article, Human Revenue Stream, in the London Review of Books, and he said:
The commodity that makes water and roads and airports valuable to an investor, foreign or otherwise, is the people who have no choice but to use them. We have no choice but to pay the price the toll keepers charge. We are a human revenue stream; we are being made tenants in our own land, defined by the string of private fees we pay to exist here.