the holistic radical

August 19, 2007

society changes when people complain

Filed under: Uncategorized — sesame seed @ 5:53 pm


why a blog, why letters to the editor, why media? because of this simple premise all around: that society changes when people complain. doubt this? test the converse and find that true: society does not change when people don’t complain; when people stay silent, nothing happens. complaining is the enemy to the status quo; complaining is the first step towards action. unfortunately, people are so brainwashed and disconnected from the suffering of others that they have to be convinced something is wrong.

My renting odyssey–perhaps your question will be answered or helped here

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — sesame seed @ 5:37 pm

Some things I learned about renting from asking Student Legal Services about my renting issues

1. I don’t like my current place and am thinking of leaving. I don’t want to give notice because I don’t want to give the landlord a way of billing me or finding me after I leave, to make me pay for the rest of the lease. Can I just leave and have them come to find an empty apartment?

This is called abandonment and it can cause problems because, without notice, the landlord can always play dumb and act like “I didn’t know it was abandoned” (despite not receiving rent and seeing an empty, unlocked apartment). Then they could take their sweet time in renting it out again, all while collecting rent from you.

But with notice of your leaving, in most places, the landlord is required to make a good faith effort to re-rent it (i.e., even if it is a pain in the ass, it is their job).  It would be “nice” for you to find your replacement, bu, ultimately, you paid to live there, you were not paid to live there, and it is not really your job to find your replacement. In a major city, posting an ad on something like Craigslist or the ad page of your local weekly paper should be enough to at least drive people to your landlord. When your landlord gets some inquiries, it will be clear to him/her that they should focus their energy on the place and leave you alone (to hate your new place, of course).

Will leaving a terrible apartment (just abandoning it, not even formally breaking the lease, as described above) affect my credit history even if I only have debit/checking and no credit?

Yes. Landlords look at credit histories before accepting you as a tenant even if you have no credit cards. Each time you rent an apartment, it can be considered like opening an account. Thus, landlords can see how your renting prior apartments can count toward your credit score. You should check your credit report once a year even if you have no credit cards.

Thus, as said above, just leaving the apartment, even if you think you are “teaching the landlord a lesson,” is not recommended. Always give written notice, even if it is not the optimal amount of notice. You don’t want to be held liable for more money than you have to be.

Breaking a lease just for leaving early (not for being behind in rent–assuming here that you are all paid up) will usually not show up on the credit report.

Sould I ever try to get evicted so that I can get out of a lease without being held liable for paying for the rest of the lease?

No. Finding apartments after being evicted is virtually impossible, because virtually no landlords ever want to rent to someone who was evicted, for any reason, even if the apartment was terrible.

[My interpretation: we’re in a “free society” that punishes nonconformists, and doesn’t give people second chances. So you have to just know these things, and conform from the get-go. Heaven forbid you should not have the parents or friends who would be teaching you these unsaid norms–where do you go for simple, unbiased information? Heaven forbid you like being a lone wolf–how do you survive?]

A problem that I’m having is that a lot of places have one-year leases and I don’t plan on staying in this city for one year. How can I get shelter? Should I just lie in order to get into a place? “Sure, I’m fine with staying one year.”

While it is possible to always “just lie,” you will have the same problems with leaving before the end of your lease–be prepared to accept financial responsibility for 1-2 months at least while your landlord attempts to find a new tenant.

Obviously, try to find a lease that’s shorter if that’s what you need–6 or 9 months or month-to-month.

[My interpretation: The laws exist to protect the landlords, not the tenants. The landlords are practicing usury in the renting of their apartments, and heaven forbid they should lose even 1/2 month or a month of income. They don’t provide people with shelter–they just have an income-generating operation. They don’t care how many times people have to uproot themselves in their lives, because they never do it.]

The apartment “manager” won’t give me the contact information of the owner. She says the owner has a lot of buildings, is very busy, doesn’t want to hear from tenants, etc. I’m not happy with the “work” the manager does and do wish to have direct contact with the owner. Is this kosher? While I realize seeking out the owner might not make me the most popular tenant, how can I find out who the owner is?

You can look up the owner on the Internet. Try the local city department of buildings, and cross your fingers.

I’d love emails on how to go about renting more intelligently or how to enrich this post.  This information should be public so that landlords can stop intimidating hard-working, rent-paying tenants. The laws should change to be in better favor of the tenants, but until they do, tenants have to pool their intelligence and experience and help each other.

August 18, 2007

Required Viewing and Reading

Filed under: Uncategorized — sesame seed @ 5:10 pm

Required viewing: Jesus Camp (hosted by Google Video)

75% of homeschooled kids are evangelical Christians.

This scary statistic makes me glad that we have public schools available in this country, plagued with problems though they are. Kids are so easily brainwashed, and homeschooling is apparently an integral part of the brainwashing process. These parents socially isolate these kids, and then the only social activities they are allowed re-confirm, or center around, religion, further reinforcing those beliefs. These kids are not allowed to be kids and have their own thoughts. This is truly frightening, because these kids also come to inherit capital, occupy the middle and upper middle classes, and then impose their morality on the majority of the world–which is poor, non-white, and non-Christian. Parents should not be controlling their children’s thoughts. These evangelical parents are censoring their children’s souls. When these children grow up and find out that there’s more to life than blind faith, that they have to think and work and meet people who aren’t like them, they’re going to face a devastating nervous breakdown. I pity these isolated, starved children. They’re only doing what their parents shove down their throats because they want to be loved. Instead, these parents show their “love” for their children by making them fearful of “sin.” We already had this once in this country–the evangelical puritans. People couldn’t take the strain of being told that they were constant sinners, and that everything they did was wrong.

I hope these children featured in the film can see themselves in ten years and have a good long cry for all the shit their parents put them through and made them say in order to receive the love they deserve unconditionally from their parents. In my opinion, these children were abused psychologically. What these parents imposed on these children is psychological violence. These children are taught to hate themselves unless they follow god in the exact same way as their parents. They are not allowed to feel their own emotions or live their own lives. One can only hope they will overcome this veil and see themselves and choose their own way to live, instead of blindly spreading and parroting the same words to others. Maybe someday these children will realize that they are being horribly manipulated, and will want to end their desire to manipulate others. Personal faith is one thing, but when any “religion” crosses into “fundamentalism” or “evangelicalism,” then it’s not religion or even a way of living. It’s a way of controlling and condemning others. It divides people rather than helps them, forcing morality down their throat.

Second scariest thing in the film: a “pledge of allegiance” to the bible.
We need to work together in this world. Isolating your children, evangelical parents might as well do us all a favor and make your own “utopia.” Why don’t these people go off and make their own country and leave the rest of us, who know how to think and reason independently, alone? You know, the rest of us who believe in “science,” methods, cooperative ways of working for all?

In theory, we have separation of church and state. In reality, we don’t.

Required viewing: Wal-Mart: The High Cost of a Low Price (hosted by Google Video)

The Waltons (the founders of Wal-Mart) think that they’re “good Christians,” too.
A short run-down of what they do in the normal routine of business operations:
–Pay their workers so little that they have to turn to the state to get health insurance benefits, food stamps, WIC, and other state benefits
–Destroy workers’ spirit by indirectly coercing them to work overtime that is unpaid (well, they don’t have to–unless they don’t want to get fired)
–Harass workers who wish to start unions
–Shake down local governments to give this multibillion-dollar corporation generous tax subsidies and zoning permits to come into new areas cheaply
–Actively works to put local stores out of business, so that they can monopolize all the profits in a given area
–Destroys the environment by polluting the products of their stores all over local landscapes–Wal-mart is one of the largest polluters in history
–Enslaves foreign producers in many countries, including China and Bangladesh, committing serious human rights violations, including establishing cramped housing, unsafe factories, and grossly underpaying its workers

Two caveats about this film:
1. Everything bad that can be said about Wal-Mart, especially its exploitation of foreign labor, its intimidation of its domestic workers, and its yen for putting small mom-and-pop neighborhood stores out of business, can be said about any mass-merchandiser, any Big Box retailer taking over America and turning America into a strip mall. I’m talking about Sears, Best Buy, Circuit City, K-mart, etc. If you’re serious about change in this country, you really can’t support any of these stores. You really just have to change your lifestyle. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Buy secondhand clothes (preferred) or American Apparel (sweatshop-free clothes; check online store for sale items).
2. Capitalism clearly provides no incentive for any company–Wal-Mart is just the most visible–to provide health insurance or other benefits for its employees. Health insurance must be nationalized. The workers paid pittances by Wal-Mart who are forced to go to Medicaid, CHIPs, etc., in their states aren’t even benefitting from the highest quality of care. Why? Because far more tax breaks are going to corporations like Wal-Mart, instead of taxes going to fully fund health programs that would help everyone. If health coverage extended to everyone, administrative costs would drop tremendously. If the argument that health care is a human right is not enough, the efficiency argument should resonate. Capitalism just can’t do it. Capitalism is designed to keep the majority of people as disempowered laborers who work 20-30 years, reproduce, and die, and then let their children become laborers, and keep them too busy to think and too poor to cry out against the jobs that are working them to death.

And let’s not forget that McDonald’s is the largest real-estate holders in the US and rapidly taking over the world. Starbucks, Subway, and every other chain business, retail or food, all operate the same way. They aim to take over communities and dominate the profit base and virally infect their way around the globe–and when they’re out of natural resources to exploit, they’ll jsut invent chemicals to warp our already polluted brains, our brains which have been ruined by their chemicals already. They want to turn the world into an economy-of-scale according to their profit motives, not what’s good for the people or the planet.

Americans don’t seem to understand that going to one store for everything, from tools, to clothes, to dry goods, is not a good idea. It’s monopoly, and then when a company has a monopoly, they don’t have to have “low prices.” It’s bad enough we have capitalism, but capitalism without competition is just a coddamn prison, a stranglehold on any illusion of freedom you might think you have.

It’s really sad that people who can afford to shop elsewhere can’t look beyond themselves and their selfish holding on to money, they don’t see the harm in buying a shirt, for example, that would pay a living wage to the worker–because they need to take their vacations every year, because they have to consume a certain number of movies, etc…
by the way, it’s often their 37th shirt in their closet, which they’ll wear maybe 5 times before throwing it out–or maybe they think they’re “enlightened” and not part of the problem if they give it to a thrift shop instead…

On the flip side, it’s just as sad that so many people are overworked and held hostage to their small, crappy apartments because of the greed of landlords that they can’t afford to pay any more for the basics of life, and so have to shop at stores like Wal-Mart, selling cheap but crappily-made products that keep people coming back to Wal-Mart?

Americans just have to lower their consumption of material things in general, and then they will have a better quality of life. As disparities in wealth increase and natural resources become more scarce, we have a choice: increase the profits of a few, or look for the well-being of the many?

see these and many more documentaries at TV Links: tv-links.co.uk (legality of which is unknown and at own risk; I use it to find stuff from Google, as Google video could be easier to navigate)

August 14, 2007

Two trends capitalism refuses to admit are related

Filed under: Uncategorized — sesame seed @ 3:46 am

Yahoo news story on the 10 least affordable markets–not a single one is a shocker, the usual suspect cities;

but think outside the norm for a moment and juxtapose that with the article about US life expectancies dropping compared to 41 other countries.

Is there a connection between these two articles?
You bet your bottom dollar there is.
(And, alas, it is all about the bottom dollar–and whom the dollar puts on the bottom.)

Could it be that when housing is seen as an “investment,” rather than a human right, as it is seen at least somewhat in other countries, people suffer because 1. they can’t aford to move anywhere, 2. wind up living where they don’t want to live, and 3. suffer health effects psychologically and physiologically from not living where they want to live. It is long past time that we realize that living in shitty housing can effect mental and physical health–and it’s long past time that we stop realizing this in just the tut-tut, “isn’t that unfortunate” abstract, or the “we will need to run more studies” hypothetical, but the real “let’s make some policies to change this garbage behavior of ours already” kind of action.

Alas, too, other countries are very eager to follow American cutthroat capitalistic models, and as they do, we can expect that their life expectancies will also decline over the long term, just as ours are now. The fact of the matter is that the “free market” can not secure the welfare–or well-being, of all of its citizens. If anything, capitalism is designed to exploit the many in order to make a few rich. The rich few become rich arbitarily–by and large, it’s not because of their “hard work” or “special talent.” The ghettoes and paper rooms of shitty apartments like mine everywhere around the world are filled with people who aren’t lazy.

I love how the Yahoo/ Forbes.com article on the top 10 least affordable housing markets completely blames “regulatory restrictions” for making places more expensive. Yeah, who needs steel bars in their apartment buildings? And why pay construction workers a living wage? And why not use lead paint if we can get away with it? And why should buildings in hurricane areas be hurricane-proof, etc? Who needs these “Regulations”? They’re for schmucks, right? We’re trying to build here!

And if all new construction happens to be condos for people who happen to be in the middle class and up, and with good credit, and well-connected with references, and if this happens to reduce rental housing, and happens to make it harder for low-income people to find housing, who cares? What, you don’t want to wrangle up a huge down payment for a place to live and you don’t want to be tied down to one place for ten or twenty years or more? Well, you could always “flip” the property, right? Screw over your fellow man, everyone does it! And everyone gets a cut except the poor. We’re not being exclusionist. This is just “how the world works,” you know. You just have to get with the program. And, by the way, there’s nothing wrong with our attitude. If you can’t play ball, if you can’t conform to these terms, you’re the one who must be the criminal. After all, if you don’t want to pay half or more of your income on housing, and you don’t have steady employment, or if you don’t want to work 70 hours a week for a certain “standard of living,” well then, who the hell are you?

One step toward improving housing for all would be to prevent people from owning, say, more than 2 properties until homelessness were solved. (Yes–homelessness can be solved with enough political cojones, i.e., if there was enough public outcry about it instead of acting like homelessness is just another “unfortunate” fact of life and demonizing the people–the human beings–who are homeless. In fact, family homelessness is the fastest rising kind of incidence of homelessness there is currently.) Another would be to prevent people from “flipping” properties–e.g., speculation–perhaps through some partial residency requirements or from –“gasp!”–controlling the market. (See, for example, recent NY Times article about how people tend to get divorced once the value of their property increases their net worth, so they split up and then take the excess profits from the house’s sale and go their separate ways: “If they can afford to split the house, they can afford to split.”) I mean, we control interest rates, but we can’t accomplish rent control in most cities? Why’s that? I mean, I’m no “economist,” but you can tell I don’t like Milton Friedman.

(Naturally, both of these ideas would require state control/ intervention, and hence they probably won’t happen any time soon, as the state is so connected to corporate interests. The factors behind that longstanding phenomena would constitute a whole other entry onto itself.)

That’s inherent in capitalism’s design, folks. That means that there is no way capitalism can not screw people over. It’s not in capitalism’s interest to admit this, or admit that making housing a commodity and the subsequent shortening of life span that’s associated with it, is harmful to people on multiple levels. However, the sooner we realize this, the sooner we can see the interconnection of these forces, the sooner we can perhaps make government do what it was designed to do–to provide for the less fortunate and ensure that no one is deprived as a consequence, direct or indirect, of someone else’s excess.

links:

http://promo.realestate.yahoo.com/least_affordable_us_real_estate_markets.html

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070812/ap_on_he_me/life_expectancy_8

nyt piece (i’d love not to have to reproduce it, but nytimes loves making its intellectual property inaccessible after a certain amount of time, unless you’re a business/academic user paying huge amounts to get this information):

August 12, 2007
Buy Low, Divorce High
By CHRISTINE HAUGHNEY
FOR years, Michele Kleier, a real estate broker on the Upper East Side, knew why one of her most persistent clients was calling even before picking up the phone.
The client, a former high-ranking fashion executive and perpetual volunteer at her children’s private schools, was checking the price she could get for her nine-room co-op in a prewar building. When the market reached a high, she told Ms. Kleier, she planned to divorce her husband, sell the apartment and live on her share of the profits.
Last year, Ms. Kleier delivered the long-awaited news: Manhattan luxury apartments were at a peak. The client went through with her plan. Now the woman calls from her new condo in California, raving about the weather and the distance from her ex-husband.
“She felt that she couldn’t walk out on him until she had the money to move away and buy something on her own,” Ms. Kleier said. “The real estate market allowed her to buy her freedom.”
A little-noted side effect of the property boom of the past decade has been the real-estate-enabled divorce. Home values might have slid in some markets, but in the New York City region, where prices remain high, divorce professionals like therapists and lawyers, along with real estate brokers, say unhappily married couples are cashing in appreciated homes to underwrite a split.
“The equity that there is in real estate is one of the impetuses why there are so many divorces,” said Nancy Chemtob, a Manhattan divorce lawyer, adding that the net worth of her clients has doubled in the past three years mainly thanks to real estate. The price of the average Manhattan apartment was $1.3 million as of June, up 7 percent from a year ago, according to the real estate brokers Brown Harris Stevens.
A spouse who has not worked, like Ms. Kleier’s client, might decide that with a divorce settlement enriched by real estate, it is possible to maintain a comfortable standard of living. Or a breadwinning spouse might recognize that even after dividing community property, it will be possible to live well as a single person.
“No matter what the net worth of the client,” Ms. Chemtob said, “the $3 million apartment is now the $7 million apartment, and the $7 million apartment is the $14 million apartment. Half of a lot is a lot.”
That is how Sharon Sheinker thinks about the real estate equity she and her ex-husband accumulated over a 16-year marriage, which she said made the decision to legally separate easier.
The former couple made enough on their first apartment in New Jersey, and then on a second home on Long Island, to build a five-bedroom house in a gated community in Dix Hills, on Long Island, four years ago, for $1.1 million.
They recently signed a contract to sell the house for $1.4 million, less than the asking price of $1.579 million. But Ms. Sheinker calculates a $60,000 profit each year over the past four years. She will use her share to buy a smaller house in Dix Hills and continue to run a charity, A Gift From Alexa, in honor of her 6-year-old daughter, who is autistic.
“Money is freedom,” Ms. Sheinker said. “I don’t need the mansion. We made enough money to be able to get divorced and support two households.”
Economists are familiar with this phenomenon. Even though divorce rates are declining over all, as far back as 1977 the economist Gary Becker showed that couples experiencing any unexpected, drastic rise in net worth are at risk of divorce. (The same holds true for a drastic decline in net worth.)
Extrapolating from survey data, Dr. Becker concluded in The Journal of Political Economy that “a greater deviation between actual and expected earnings increases the probability” of divorce.
Although couples who see their incomes rise steadily generally stay together, those who make more money than they ever expected are vulnerable to divorce. They realize that they are less financially dependent on each other and that they might have chosen different spouses if they had more choices at the time, said Dr. Becker, who teaches at the University of Chicago.
Dr. Becker, who won the Nobel Prize in 1992, also explored in his divorce study the economic argument for what many people today call trading up, or finding a trophy spouse.
Noting that 75 percent of men and more than 70 percent of women remarry within 15 years of a divorce, he found that divorced men with higher earnings have the greatest likelihood of remarrying. This implied, in his view, that men who have come into wealth have an incentive to divorce because they believe they could better their situation.
“They feel, given their status now, they can find other people of a type that appeals to them more than when they got married,” he said in a telephone interview.
Kenneth Mueller, an East Village psychotherapist, says he has about a half-dozen clients who are real estate executives. Some, he said, have used windfall wealth from property to strengthen their marriages — like paying for counseling or adopting children. But others are emboldened to divorce and remarry. He said some men conclude that they can find a new spouse because their first wives were “not what I really wanted.”
Of course, not all couples sitting on greatly appreciated homes are headed for divorce court. The likelihood of divorce depends on the strength of a marriage before the advent of unexpected wealth, according to Evelyn Lehrer, an economist who expanded on Dr. Becker’s findings in 2003.
In her study “The Economics of Divorce,” published in the book “Marriage and the Economy: Theory and Evidence From Industrialized Societies,” Professor Lehrer concluded that couples who are likely to divorce after an unexpected change in assets often had weaker marriages to begin with. It is not the new wealth that causes the divorce; the money is just the catalyst.
Stephanie Coontz, the author of “Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage,” compared the current Gilded Age to an earlier one in the 1920s, when, she said, divorces spiked at a time of rapid wealth creation. In times when people accumulate wealth, she said, they often think they don’t have to abide by society’s conventional rules.
“When people get a lot of wealth in a hurry, it’s more easy to act upon their impulses,” she said. “You get used to sending back a steak because you don’t like it. You send back a wife.”
Real estate these days seems much on the minds of couples who are in counseling. Elyse Goldstein, an Upper East Side psychologist, said that half the couples she has seen in recent years have brought up real estate as a relationship issue, and 15 percent regarded it as a serious one.
“Real estate has become a language of emotional barter in terms of registering pains, hurts and resentments,” Dr. Goldstein said. “If they can’t have love, they can have real estate. There are a lot of fights about who is going to benefit from the windfall.”
SUSAN KATZ, a fashion industry sales executive, said that real estate battles with her ex-husband over their home in Roslyn Heights, on Long Island, have dragged out over three years, involving three lawyers and $350,000 in legal fees.
She said that real estate was not the original cause of the divorce. But it has become the central issue as she and her ex-husband fight over what the house is worth, and how much she must pay to buy it from him.
Ms. Katz finds that some women who are divorcing can’t cash in on the value of a home because they or their spouses borrowed against it. “Women think when they get divorced they can have half of the house,” she said. “Most women don’t realize how much this house is mortgaged.”
And then there are cases in which couples decide a divorce settlement would ultimately be too costly because of the on-paper appreciation of their property.
One New York real estate executive, who has separated from his wife and would not speak on the record because he is unsure if he will divorce, said most of his peers in the industry who are unhappily wed seem to be staying put. They don’t want to carve up the real estate portfolios they bought or built during the boom.
“I know plenty of people who are enormously wealthy and just don’t want to cut it up,” he said. “They find it hard to divide the real estate.”

August 10, 2007

some more things that are deeply wrong with the rental system of housing as it currently stands

Filed under: Uncategorized — sesame seed @ 3:31 am

–landlords seriously have to stop this “credit check” crap. most, i think, just pocket the fee, and, also, most americans by now have shitty credit to begin with due to our culture of instant gratification, expensive rents, inflation, and shitty salaries. they can’t keep denying people apartments due to bad credit forever or they’d have vacant units, maybe even half-empty buildings. all because they think “credit” is important and is somehow related to using credit responsibly–that may’ve been true in the old early days of credit when people had to actually apply for a card and prove income and actually might not be extended credit–but now, everyone is extended credit. thus, credit becomes meaningless. it is easier to get a credit card than to get a landline telephone installed.

what they should look at is savings and income. and stop bitching if they lose a month or two on a unit. these people are the scum of the earth–you can’t own the land, you can’t enslave another person. and that’s exactly what they do. housing is a human right. people who defend that right get shot. that’s our culture–anything inconsistent with capitalism–and unfettered, ruthless capitalism–has got to go. wither democracy.

security deposits–everyone’s had a time when they haven’t gotten them back. renting is the only circumstance in which you are forced to pay for damage you haven’t done yet. the assumption behind a security deposit is that “you are going to damage the apartment,” –our precious, wonderful, pure, virginal, spotless apartment!–so pay us now.

there is an alternative, landlords–it’s called billing people for the damage they make–if anyafter the damage has been done.

it’s called doing a move-out inspection, too. it means getting up from your counting-table to do a move-out inspection.

ah, but then you couldn’t profit off the interest of holding $500 or more in a bank for a year, could you? some states require that interest to be paid back upon move-out; not all do. (why’s that? because we believe “states’ rights” is more important than consistent rights, than true “equality under the law.”)

true “equality under the law” would dictate that people across state lines have the same rights and same political protections.

the fact that you can move across the country and be less protected in the realms of renting and doing business in your new home state than your previous home is nothing less than a disgrace.

and yet, this is another inconsistency of american life that is repeatedly let slide.

people who pay mortgages don’t have to pay security deposits–yet another example of how everything in this country is tailored–oh, did i say tailored? i meant hugely biased–toward the middle- and upper middle class–the “homeowner” class. but as we see below, as george no longer gives a shit about “protecting homeowners,” when the housing ownership bubble bursts, and no more money can be made off homeowners, then they can all foreclose themselves to hell.

when the upper middle class has to move into apartments, then maybe things will change for renters in this country–the victimized young, poor, minority, disabled, and elderly who can’t afford to own their own home being the majority of renters right now.

most high schoolers don’t know how economics works

Filed under: Uncategorized — sesame seed @ 2:54 am

and neither does george w. bush, apparently.

on the same day, reports about how high schoolers know little about money except how to spend it–they are blind to how interest and savings work, how foreclosures work, how credit works–

and a press conference from george saying our economy is basically good.

our economy is good? so why are so many people:
–in debt
–without health insurance
–living from paycheck to paycheck
–can’t afford to move from crappy apartments because landlords jack up rent every time someone moves in or out regardless of “repairs made” (um, changing a lock should not count as a repair–takes 10 minutes)
–working 2 or 3 jobs just to survive
–are in bankruptcy or foreclosure

sounds like a great system to me. listening to the conference (which was on npr, which i listen to on kplu, 88.5 fm seattle–great jazz station that keeps me from committing suicide and which, though i can’t afford to give them money right now, i promote rigorously by telling all my friends about), you get the sense george just doesn’t know what he’s talking about, that he has a script he reads once or twice before a conference and just gets flustered when he can’t stick to that script. the problem is, who writes the script? beyond the simplistic arguments of george being stupid and other such nonproductive namecalling, you do get the impression that, whether he’s stupid or not, it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s not doing his own thinking. whether he’s not doing his own thinking because of inability or laziness is another issue. my point is that we have someone in office for whom thinking is considered optional–that’s how deep his anti-intellectualism is. this is capitalism at its worst: just pay someone to think for you, to write your script. in capitalism, you can pay someone to eat for you, shit for you, and have sex for you too–sorry i’m stepping out of decorum here, but follow the logical consequences and see if they don’t lead to mind-numbing amounts of anger–

side note: i really hate people telling me to “put my money where my mouth is” by acting like i should give money to every charity-talker on the street. i just can’t, sorry. that obviously means i’m a bad person, right?

this man, this administration, knows nothing about the economy. it’s not economical to:
–deprive your citizens of health insurance and housing
–spend your citizens’ tax dollars on tearing apart other countries
–not spend your citizens’ tax dollars on weak bridges and mass transit
–make the poor and middle class bear the majority of the tax burden, while the rich pay maybe a max of 15 cents on the dollar.

this creates unrest, unrest exacerbates already present instability, and overall volatility can’t be good for any economy. people want to be able to live and work in peace, and not have to work all the time to survive.

for example, maybe renters who work and study very hard, are human beings and don’t deserve to be treated like utter shit.

just a thought. maybe thoughts can lead to change? i see how the educational system is working lately–the kids i come into contact with have no sense of current events, let alone of history, and don’t know how to write–meaning, they don’t know how to think. wither democracy?
————

From: High School Students Find Economics Hard

by

Morning Edition, August 9, 2007 · For the first time, the federal government is testing U.S. high school students on how much they understand economics.

…The answers to questions on trade also held some surprising results — about half of the country’s high school students understood the basic principles of global trade.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12623062

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Bush Touts Economy, Urges Pakistani Elections

President Bush speaks in the White House Press Room.

Ron Edmonds

President Bush speaks in the White House Press Room. In a recent AP-Ipsos poll, only 37 percent of respondents approved of his handling of the economy, close to a record low. AP

NPR.org, August 9, 2007 · President Bush rebuffed questions Thursday about raising the federal gasoline tax to pay for infrastructure improvements and said there is enough liquidity in the market to weather the fallout from sub-prime mortgage defaults.

After last week’s bridge collapse in Minneapolis and the close scrutiny of the nation’s infrastructure that has followed, some Democrats in Congress have proposed raising the federal gasoline tax to repair failing roads and bridges.

“Before we raise taxes, which could affect economic growth, I would strongly urge the Congress to examine how they set priorities,” he said.

About $24 billion, or 8 percent of the last $286 billion highway bill, was devoted to highway and bridge projects singled out by lawmakers. The balance is sent in the form of grants to states, which then decide how it will be spent. Federal money accounts for about 45 percent of all infrastructure spending.

More than 70,000 of the nation’s bridges are rated structurally deficient, including the bridge that collapsed over the Mississippi River on August 1. The American Society of Civil Engineers says repairing them all would require spending at least $9.4 billion a year for 20 years. Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN) says his tax increase proposal would raise about $25 billion over three years.

As the president spoke to reporters, Wall Street was in a steep decline after a French bank said it was freezing three securities funds that struggled to find liquidity in the U.S. subprime mortgage market, a situation that has stalked the markets for days.

“I am told there is enough liquidity in the system to enable markets to correct,” Mr. Bush said.

Asked if he would support a “bail-out” for those losing their homes, the president said: “If you mean direct grants to homeowners, the answer would be no, I don’t support that. If you mean making sure that financial institutions like the FHA have got flexibility to help these folks refinance their homes, the answer is yes, I support that.”

Mr. Bush said one solution was to promote more “financial literacy” and transparency for financial documents because “a lot of people sign up for something that they don’t understand,” referring to complaints that many home buyers did not understand risky sub-prime and adjustable-rate mortgages.

….

From NPR reports and the Associated Press

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12624659

August 8, 2007

this system cannot stand and will have to fall someday (a rant about renting in a competitive marketplace)

Filed under: Uncategorized — sesame seed @ 4:04 am

1. Person needs shelter to survive (let’s run with this premise, shall we? I know there are some who would believe this is not really necessary for everyone, and that the “free market” will fix everything and create tons of housing, but let’s start somewhere.)
1b. Thus, let’s also say for now that housing is a human right (although it’s not recognized by the US constitution, the UN seems to think housing is pretty fundamental and most people would agree it’s far better than the alternative, of being out in the street with no plumbing or heating or electricity).
2. Person does not want to be restricted or penalized financially for entering into a housing agreement, but is presented with a lease as a condition of securing housing, which, from 1., we have learned is necessary to survive (and from 1b., is a profoundly important human right).
3. Person cannot get any housing without signing a lease which ultimately does not protect the renter, but does protect the landlord.
4. Since person cannot get any housing without signing said lease, and since housing is a human right, we can therefore understand now that there is some element of coercion involved here. In other words, signing a lease is not mandatory per se, but see how far you get when you refuse to sign one. Like scabs in a strike situation, people willing to sign leases can always be found. There’s always someone who will cross the picket line in a selfish concern for themself, not seeing how they make things worse for their fellow.
5. Person signs lease, and moves in. Person grows increasingly frustrated with apartment because several things about the apartment were misrepresented. Person grows frustrated with landlord’s complete 180-degree change in behavior from nice and maybe even welcoming to “too busy” and unwilling to change problems they are aware of.
6. Person wants to move, but is aware they have signed a lease and fear repercussions. I hark back to 4., where they were required to sign the lease in order to get shelter in the first place. Note: I don’t want emails saying “the person could have went somewhere else.” Can we get real? That’s terrible logic, like blaming a person who died because they “went to the wrong hospital.” There’s a shortage of housing, especially affordable housing, and everyone has to move within a certain time–people don’t have years to look for an apartment; the time frame for the search is finite. When people need to not be homeless by a certain date, or when people really hate their living situation, or when people can’t afford just any apartment, there isn’t a “free marketplace” of choices. Yet another proof that true democracy is not possible under capitalism, which is inherently an economic system designed to stratify people–i.e., create separations and segregations between people.
7. What should our Person do? Will their credit be ruined? If they get a new place, will their ability to find a new place in the future be impacted? Does this system seem fair and lgical, if you step out of the system and try to see it objectively?

We know the landlord will likely immediately re-rent said apartment, but can choose to also deceive renter who left before the end of their lease, saying, “You cost me [x] months; I still haven’t rented the place out yet.” According to the “lease,” they could get money out of our person until the end of the lease, and hide the fact that they may have re-rented it a month later. As people in my family would say (sarcastically), my heart bleeds for you, o landlord.

We can thus conclude that leases promote a kind of bondage, keeping renters in miserable apartments until the end of their sentences, because they are afraid of unevenly enforced and costly draconian provisions. So we have many renters stuck in places where they may be miserable–because I have yet to meet a landlord who has ever told the truth about a) noise in the apt. and surropunding area; b) building maintenance and repairs procedure; c) getting deposits back (the subject of a future post: why “security deposits are ridiculous, unfair, illogical, bad business practice, and discriminatory); and other matters. Finally, for those units with “cleaning fees”–when is anyone going to blow the lid off this? It does NOT cost $150 to clean a small carpet. NOR does a “credit check” cost $30+. Finally, since housing is a human right, references and “rental histories” should not be REQUIRED to procure housing. They should be provided VOLUNTARILY and remain optional (a plus if a particular apartment/ area is sought after). They should not be used as another tool of discrimination (gee, who has more “references”/ social connections/ longer rental histories–> people in the middle class and up, that’s who!). People know what I am saying is the truth; they agree with me; but nothing changes. They don’t want to rock the system; they fear retribution. This is not idealism–I know landlords have to (supposedly) recover their “investment.” They only make from every person in a typical building a hundred percent or more in profit–with property taxes being paid by renters in the form of rent. Light bulbs for hallways and common areas are particularly expensive, and hiring one maintenance guy who comes by twice a week (or a grand total of eight days a month) is really taking its toll as well. I wish I could get away with paying eight days worth of rent per month.

Break your lease now! Refuse to be harassed and intimidated! Refuse to sign leases (or only seek out month-to-month leases)! Read your lease if you must have one! Real Renter’s protection laws now! Affordable Rental Housing Now! Not all new apartment construction has to be condos and co-ops for the wealthy! Protect your right to mobility and Protect your freedom of locational determination–the ability to move when you want, not when your landlord tells you it’s okay! Landlords have enough protections–and enough money! It’s not like they’ll ever stop making money–maybe we could protect the other 90% of the population for a change? When will people become discontented enough to open their mouths and insist on their rights?

I am on a lease now and I hate it–but I have to build up a damn “rental history.” Stay tuned.

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