The rent is still too damn high
The bank bailout cost each of us $5,000 – no wonder ordinary working Americans can’t make ends meet. You know what I say
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 27 October 2010 13.00 BST
In the 18 October 2010 debate between New York state gubernatorial candidates, Jimmy McMillan of the Rent Is Too Damn High party stole the show.
The rent is too damn high.
That’s what I was thinking when the five guys jumped me as I was walking down a street in Brooklyn at two in the morning. At least, that’s probably what I was thinking, since that’s what I’m thinking most of the time.
I didn’t see them, obviously. I don’t have Spidey sense; I don’t have peripheral vision. I’m a 10th degree black belt in karate, but, in the real world, there is no “crouching tiger”. There’s a car, exhaust steaming out like dragon’s breath. I was pushed through an open door.
They tied my hands, blindfolded me. One said, “This is what you get when you talk about what you don’t understand,” or words to that effect. I could figure sending guys after me if I hadn’t paid the rent – some of those landlords are straight-up criminals, it wouldn’t surprise me – but I had. They wanted me to simply stop talking about it.
And they meant business, taking me to a wooded area off the parkway. I kept hoping this was some sort of prank. That my blindfold would come off and I’d be staring into a TV camera, into the face of Joe Francis or Paris Hilton.
I won’t lie. Despite my three years as a helicopter door gunner in Vietnam, I was frightened. In Vietnam, I could see in the dark, shadows and voices guiding me through the jungle. Here, I could see nothing.
But I could smell gasoline.
They poured it over my head.
What did I say that had gotten them so mad?
George Bush and Barack Obama spent $700bn bailing out the banks, after the banks’ housing Ponzi scheme collapsed. Obama spent another $787bn on the so-called “stimulus package”. Every man, woman and child in America paid $5,000 to rescue Barack Obama and John McCain’s top-hat-and-monocle-wearing friends. And the unemployment rate is still 9.6%. You still can’t pay your mortgage or rent.
If the banks had collapsed, every homeowner who needed to could have called the bank and said, “I’m going to only pay you what I can afford, and you’ll have to take it because you’re too weak to say no.” The free market would have solved the housing crisis. Obama and McCain only wanted the free market to apply to the little man, not their rich banker friends.
Banks have seized thousands of homes. What can we do?
First, reverse each and every foreclosure where bankers filed false documents. Arrest those bankers, right now. Filing false documents in court is illegal. Treat the banks like any other racketeering organisation that schemes to make millions by breaking the law. Bring the paddywagon, and give all these homes back to the families.
Second, nationalise the banks. If they say they are “too big to fail”, and hate the free market when it applies to them, then make them a government organisation. Cut the average top banker salary from $20m a year to $45,000 a year. Bankers do not deserve big money. The free market has spoken: their businesses collapsed.
Third, use eminent domain to seize all of the other thousands of foreclosed properties that blight the urban landscape, and transfer them to families needing homes. The supreme court of the United States says that eminent domain can be used to transfer land from one private owner to another in order to further economic development (Kelo v. City of New London).
Finally, if we believe the free market theory, that putting cash into people’s hands is the best way to boost the economy, then how about a rent freeze? High rent is the cancer and low rent the cure to this economic crisis. The rolling back of rent would give people money they can spend.
Grandmothers can’t afford their medication; or, if they can afford it, they can’t eat. You work 40 hours a week and you give all your money to the landlord. You’ve got no money for clothes. You’ve got no money to go on vacation. Even if you live in a homeless shelter, you have to pay $350 a month for rent.
When police found me that night, tied to a tree, at about 4am, I had some choice words for them.
The rent is still too damn high