Posted on November 1, 2011 by Pat Hartman
The illustration on this page is a graphic that was shared around on Facebook without attribution. In the comments, folks quibbled over the figures. Then someone opined that the illustration is not meant to be a literal, scientific document, but more of a cartoon. Cartoons are known to be an effective method for swiftly and painlessly transmitting ideas into the brain. That’s how, for instance, MAD magazine so brilliantly created a generation of skeptics that has ripened into the game-changing idealists of the 60s.
Indeed, a bit of research determines that the source of “Homelessness by Income” is The Onion, the satirical humor magazine. Part of an ongoing series of parodies of USA TODAY‘s graphs and charts, it was published more than 10 years ago. And it’s still not funny.
This summer, The Huffington Post included a piece about the “right to rent” concept, which its author, Dean Baker, has been proposing for several years from the position he occupies as co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Baker writes,
Under this proposal, foreclosed homeowners would be allowed to remain in their house as renters paying the market rent, for a substantial period of time (e.g. five years) following a foreclosure.
Incidentally, this may or may not be a sign of lowered expectations, but in a 2009 interview about how to keep people in their homes, Baker said,
And the best way I can think of is, how about we just give people the right to stay in their house as renters, pay the market rent, for a substantial period of time, five to ten years, something like that.
At any rate, the more recent piece explains the tangle that the whole mortgage scene has become, and some of the ways in which people think it can be fixed, and how the working-class homeowner/taxpayer pretty much ends up paying no matter what.
It is no great handout. People will lose ownership of their home. But it will provide them with housing security for a substantial period of time. And it does it in a way that requires no taxpayer money and no new bureaucracy.
“Right to rent” would not, of course, help all the at-risk homeowners. Without jobs, they can’t pay rent in the house they were trying to buy, or anywhere else. But, for those who can afford it, the benefit would be great.
This idea has been mentioned again just recently, by Henry Blodget, who interviewed Professor James Galbraith of the University of Texas. Blodgett writes,
Professor Galbraith advocates giving homeowners the right to rent properties they formerly owned, which would force the banks to take losses on the original mortgages and then become landlords. Given the political climate, Professor Galbraith does not think the government will launch any programs that will significantly improve the housing market.
Speaking of mortgages, check out this disgusting story: “Top Foreclosure Firm Threw Homeless-Themed Halloween Bash.”
Aside from a small minority of rugged individualists and mentally disabled people who are so out of it, they don’t know what they’re doing, the vast majority of homeless people did not choose that condition. Racial minorities did not choose to be born as members of racial minorities, and the same element of non-choice is there in other protected groups.
They are protected in the sense that when crimes are committed against them for simply being who they are, those crimes are counted as particularly heinous, and are known as hate crimes. The Homeless Protected Class Resolution wants the indigenous homeless population to be legally regarded as a protected group.
Most people who live on the streets, in tent cities and trackside camps, in shelters, in cars, and vans, would prefer to be living in buildings. Why don’t they? Because — duh! — they can’t afford to. In fact, here’s something to consider, in regard to the Homeless Protected Class Resolution. It might not even be needed, if we had the Universal Living Wage.
We’re talking about adequate pay for a standard work week, and adequate means that a person could afford to live on it. Starting with being able to afford a place to live in, which a look at the Universal Living Wage page will show to be less and less possible for more and more Americans.
Source: “Homelessness by Income,” The Onion, 09/01/99
Source: “Right to Rent: Will the Obama Administration Finally Fix Housing?,” The Huffington Post, 06/27/11
Source: “Transcript: Thom talks to Dean Baker about “Right to Rent”,” ThomHartmann.com, 07/28/09
Source: “Yes, There Are Some Things Our Government Could Do To Help Housing, But It Won’t: Galbraith,” Yahoo! Finance, 10/24/11
Image of Homelessness by Income by The Onion,used under Fair Use: Reporting.