by Gen Ferrer
We are for the most part enduring the same things in the first world. Salaries increase nominally (or decrease) and everything else increases substantially, particularly private property. Private property, even when it slows down or drops, still maintains a level for the most part unaffordable to single income earners. A home was once a realistic goal for a young couple looking to raise a family on a single income. Salaries provided enough for the sustenance of the family with a little extra for savings and home maintenance. Today we see a different picture with both parents forced to work in order to make the basic payments. They have been hit hard by property values as well as the burden of property taxation.
The market determines real estate values by the demand of an area being met under the current supply regardless of local average income. Wealthy out-of-towners may buy up an area, increasing the market value of those towns, whilst the offspring of those townspeople, people who have no intention of cashing in on this new profit, are forced to move out or swallow themselves in possible foreclosures and/or lifelong debt. In some cases, young people are looking elsewhere in the United States for a future home. With little incentive or support to start their own business or to find comprehensive work, the new generations must leave or suffer exorbitant real estate prices and bloated property taxes. The first world is playing a game of musical chairs with local residents moving to other areas of their home state, or in some cases to another state altogether in order to secure for themselves a little property.
In the 1950s the average citizen was able to afford a modest home on a single income in Long Island, New York. His wife was able to raise the children, giving them a Christian upbringing, spending quality time with them and sharing in their children's activities (little league games, schools, etc). Property promised to be an asset paid for within a reasonable amount of time and the promise of inheritance handed over to the next generation.
Today the margin between a monthly mortgage and wages is wider than that of previous generations. A couple must work. Their paychecks barely make enough to sustain a mortgage so they must look to other locations in order to survive with just enough to get by. Due to the steep financial climb of real estate, a family must consider an area where property is comparable with the wages they earn. If they can afford this luxury they may move to greener pastures even as they wave their local communities goodbye. If not, they must rent to avoid foreclosure. They find themselves in the hole of renting, a pit so deep one can find it quite difficult to climb out. Renting weakens the chance of property ownership and becomes a spiral that affects the inheritance of future generations.
We have forgotten to ask ourselves the most important question. If for all the talk of great economies or the depressing unemployment figures we are truly progressing as a society. I trust the readers of these articles we write at The New Distributist League must be asking themselves the same questions we do: namely, whether a society is basking in economic glories when we regress into liability or require two people to remain in 30 year real estate debt versus the one of the past. Are we better off when we have disposable goods at our finger tips at rock-bottom pricing, when we can't afford the thrift of life-long materials like our parents had and maintained? Are we better off outsourcing our jobs than controlling our own means of production through self-ownership? And finally, are we more secure working for companies interested in the ghost entity, with no promise of attaining a pension or without job security than working persistently to be self-sustained?
Interestingly enough, these are the questions asked in the United States as in the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain or Italy. They are the preoccupations of pubs in Ireland or cities in Canada. We are not speaking of underdeveloped nations or countries where our labour and services has disappeared to. We are speaking of the first world and that is where this New League is writing from. We are asking if we have progressed or regressed. We are asking if paper towels for 1 dollar is more important than the kitchen. We are looking to quality and value and thrift. We are questioning whether we wish to continue to consume from companies which turn their backs on their nation, believing they may return to sell to to that nation. We are defying socialist and capitalist politicians who ignore these questions, choosing instead to create needs which do not exist as an excuse to centralise more power.
Finally, I wish to tell the reader of a nefarious opinion I have similar to the whispering of the ear by Chesterton. I fear the society which continues to believe in choice above goodness, consumption instead of thrift, rent instead of ownership. It is the match lighting the fire of slavery. The Socialist insists on property appropriation as a consequence to an imagined cause - the war of classes, whilst the Capitalist insists on property appropriation for the cause of making money. Already they have begun their secret pact. Already they are both making money by convincing us of a war of the causes. There will always be those who believe in coincidences. These insist the same results amongst the first world is simply a playful circumstance or that man has been affected by the "spirit of the age" so nothing can be done. They insist the machine cannot be stopped even if a man is left to purchase affordable land on a sinking tugboat. This is the fallacy of their tug of war. But there is one way out of this same rope and it is alone the common sense possessed by the Distributist. It is only Distributism that in this economical tug of war uses the scissor.