Checkbook Economics, Household Expenses Rise $961 Per Month, $11,532/yr, While Incomes Remain Flat

Checkbook Economics, Household Expenses Rise $961 Per Month, $11,532/yr, While Incomes Remain Flat

With most financial media being intentionally obtuse with the Biden economic impact upon Main Street, it is refreshing to see analysis that cuts to the heart of the matter.  HatTip to ZeroHedge who provides a link to a great article outlining reality for blue and white-collar working families.

The folks at NerdWallet have taken the inflation date from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) and applied the math to real life.  The result is a good encapsulation of checkbook economics and how the Biden economy is painful for the working class.

In total, Joe Biden’s energy policy driven inflation has added $961/month to preexisting expenses.  That’s $11,532 a year just to retain the status quo standard of living.

(NerdWallet) – […] In all of 2020, American households spent $61,300, on average. This number includes everything we spend our money on: housing, food, entertainment, clothing, transportation and everything else. In 2022, it stands to reach $72,900, a difference of more than $11,500 if consumers want to maintain the same standard of living. Keep in mind, this is an average, a number that represents an approximation across all Americans, but one that’s exact to a very few. Those who earn (and therefore spend) more will see more dramatic dollar increases. Those who earn less may see less dramatic dollar jumps, but the impact of these rising prices could be more significantly felt. (read more)

If the average household spent $61,300 and inflation is adding $11,500 to the expense, that means we now have to spend 18.7% more just to maintain the current standard of living.  That average is in line with what we are seeing in the real world.

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What Hinders Revival

What are the signs of genuine revival, and what is the purpose of revival? Though we claim to seek renewal, are we in fact putting up roadblocks to God’s grace at the same time?

There has been a real focus on revival recently here at the Daily Declaration. That’s primarily because it’s part of the organisation’s DNA.

In particular, I’ve been fascinated with discovering the history of the Moravians by watching the interviews Warwick Marsh conducted with Dr Jason Hubbard. These inspired an article I wrote a couple of months ago, as well as my reading Dr Hubbard’s excellent book, Moravian Miracle: The 100 Year Prayer Meeting that Changed the World.

Also recently, Kurt Mahlburg interviewed Dr Barry Chant on revival, where he made the point that “revival” should be our normal state as Christians, as it implies a consistent increase of growth. But what we see as revival he called “divine visitation”, which he also showed was the more accurate definition from Scripture.

But for the sake of the more familiar, I’ll stick with “revival” unless there’s a direct application of “divine visitation”.

Now, I’m also looking forward to the book that Warwick is writing with Kurt Mahlburg on the rich history of revival in Australia, which I’m praying will be “for such a time as this”.

God’s Heart

Historically, though, when we look to God during challenging times for the Body of Christ (as we’re certainly experiencing now in the West), we are prone to look to past outpourings as a model for what God will do in the future. Then when we pray for revival, we’re often asking God to “do it again, Lord, as You did before”.

But from past revivals, what we won’t find is what the Spirit will do in and through us, what revival “looks like”. But what we always find is His heart, primarily for the lost, and the specific nature of His desires in that situation.

It’s vital, therefore, that we practise right thinking about God’s purposes for revival. Do we, for example, get carried away with the notion that we are the primary beneficiaries of revival, that we get to party with the Holy Spirit? Because that’s been tried and found wanting.

I recall vividly the ’90s, post-Toronto, when all we succeeded in doing was to isolate the outpouring inside our four walls, reducing its scope to our own fascination with the physical and emotional manifestations.

In relation to this kind of fleshly response, Dr Michael L Brown, in his 1996 book From Holy Laughter to Holy Fire (now out of print), quotes the great healing ministry leader of the early 20th century, John G Lake:

“We have treated the precious Spirit of God as though He is a method of providing a means of spiritual entertainment for our souls. God’s purpose is far mightier than that. God’s purpose is that our spirit be tuned to heaven, our heart capable of hearing and realizing the songs of glory, appreciating the companionship with God and feeling flames of His divine love, expressing and revealing it to the hungry world that knows not God.”

And there you have the overarching purpose of revival: to miraculously energise the church to miraculously attract and convict those outside the church of their lost state and their need of a Saviour.

In other words, it’s not the “how” that’s the focus, but the “who”.

In  Two Minds

But so often, and on so many issues, we are not “tuned to heaven” to anywhere near the extent that we are tuned in to exalting our own pet issues and opinions. This creates division in our thinking, and ultimately in our relationships, creating sharp divisions within the Body of Christ.

How can we even pray for, let alone expect, revival if we are hopelessly double-minded (James 1:6-7 NASB)? And are we not double-minded when we are so divided on recent and current issues? Take, for example, those relating to the pandemic concerning trust (or lack of it) in governance, truth (and who’s telling it), and the balance between individual rights and communal responsibility.

Or when in one breath we say, “Revive us, O Lord”, yet in the next, we’re commenting on issues like the globalist intentions of groups like the UN or the WEF, and we pine for the Rapture, crying, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

Why do we act as though our rescue is more important than revival and the harvest of souls that is its natural fruit? Can we really expect God’s fiery blessing to fall on us when we see the kind of fear-induced division these and other similar issues foster?

After all, these are the kinds of issues Jesus told us to expect, yet not to fear:

“But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
~ John 16:4, 33 (NASB)

In relation to that double-mindedness, a few months ago the Holy Spirit gave me three words that highlight this current attack on the Body of Christ: Diversion, Deception, Division. Satan is attempting to divert Christians from their true devotion, development and direction by deception in relation to false narratives and fear about world events. This leads to the division that is a consequence of the conjoined dominating mindsets of cynicism and scepticism, which are the antithesis of faith and trust in our good God.

Are we not double-minded when we focus too intently on these issues at the expense of other issues, for example, those relating to social welfare? Are these not equally issues of concern for Christian Conservatives?

To go one step further, are these not the very issues which, along with the “culture war” issues, where we find the corrective to the slow drift to the Left of Conservative parties in Australia? These together lead to the only true repudiation of the vague and empty Utopianism of the Progressive Left. So why do we often treat them as though they’re mutually exclusive?

In my very first article here at the Daily Declaration, I made that precise point:

“Conservatism cannot be what it claims to be — ‘conservative’ — for just one class in society. Conservatism is all about conserving the best for all, seeking to improve the lot of all.”

It was such an issue — the national rental crisis — through which the Holy Spirit touched me deeply and prompted me to write this article.

Selfishness vs Cultural Change

I firmly believe that not only should engaging with such issues be a defining characteristic of Christian Conservatism, but it is actually a defining characteristic of true revival. Revival doesn’t just transform lives and see large numbers brought into the Kingdom, but revival transforms culture.

In fact, it’s fair to say that if we claim we’re in revival, yet the surrounding culture remains unchanged, then it’s not really revival.

As Dr Brown puts it in From Holy Laughter to Holy Fire,

“… we can roll on the floor and laugh every night until three in the morning, but if the world around us remains unchanged, that is not revival. If the way we live outside the building does not become characterized by holiness and sacrificial love for the Lord and the lost, that is not revival.

And if everything that happens in our revival meetings comes through the hands of human vessels — without the supernatural visitations outside the Church, without the abiding Presence, without the clear evidence that God Himself has stepped down from heaven in power — that is not revival.”

In that case, it’s fair to ask if we in Australia are prepared for revival. Are we moved to more than a brief pang of sadness by the plight of the new “middle-class poor”? Will we even notice when their ranks swell due to the multiple pressures of stagnant wage growth, sharply rising interest rates and high inflation? Because, sadly, most of us see something like that story on the news about the rental crisis and it’s pushed out of our minds by the very next story.

This is because our age is marked by what I call apathetic insularity. Similarly, Francis Schaeffer, over 50 years ago, prophetically identified the two ruling aspirations of people in the future: peace and prosperity. Peace, Schaeffer defined as the overriding desire for a life unruffled by trouble; and prosperity, he explained, is the affluence achieved by acquiring more and more material goods. When this attitude takes hold of a person, their hearts are effectively locked shut to any outside influence of anything beyond their own situation.

And as those aspirations become a greater influence over our mindset, we’re also locked shut to our need to grow spiritually. But because the Holy Spirit continues to speak into our spirits, while we continue to heed our material aspirations, isn’t this the root cause of our double-minded condition? I think one of my favourite Christian singer/songwriters, Mark Heard, defined this most eloquently in his song, We Believe So Well:

“But we believe so well, don’t we tell ourselves?
Don’t we take exclusive pride that we abide so far from hell?
We might laugh together, but don’t we cry alone
For the ashes and the dust we’ve swept beneath the holy throne.”

There was a similar time in Israel’s past when they “believed so well”, and as a consequence, the prophet Isaiah delivered a stinging rebuke from God:

“Cry loudly, do not hold back;
Raise your voice like a trumpet,
And declare to My people their wrongdoing,
And to the house of Jacob their sins.

Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways,
As a nation that has done righteousness
And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God.
They ask Me for just decisions,
They delight in the nearness of God. ‘Why have we fasted and You do not see?
Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’

Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire,
And oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast for contention and strife, and to strike with a wicked fist.
You do not fast like you have done today to make your voice heard on high!

Is it a fast like this that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed
And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed?
Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Lord?

Is this not the fast that I choose:
To release the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the ropes of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free,
And break every yoke?

Is it not to break your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light will break out like the dawn,

And your recovery will spring up quickly;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry for help, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,
And if you offer yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the need of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness,
And your gloom will become like midday.

And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

~ Isaiah 58:1-12 (NASB)

More recently, Keith Green gave us a similarly prophetic wake-up call:

Just like Judah in Isaiah’s time, we too “ask… for just decisions” on issues that directly impact us. We also “delight in the nearness of God” in our meetings. But we fail to recognise God’s heart and focus for the lost and “the least of these”:

“To release the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the ropes of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free,
And break every yoke”

This is why we as Christians need to be so very careful that we do not absorb elements from the surrounding fallen culture, ruled as it is by “the spirit of the age” (Ephesians 2:1-2). When we do, it effectively dulls us to the needs of “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40).

Paying the Price

These attributes have now come to define the culture in fulfilment of Schaeffer’s prediction. And as politics is assuredly downstream from culture, then the kinds of social infrastructure our politicians are able to bring to fruition are limited by what we are prepared to pay. There are always complaints about not enough schools, hospitals, and too much traffic congestion, among other grievances. We also complain about taxes being too high.

So let’s be honest: who among us would be willing to pay more in tax to see those needs realised in the shortest possible time? Or are we, even as Christians, like the rest of society, too wedded to our material aspirations to even consider it?

I was reminded of this when I read the recent article here by former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Ramesh Thakur, where he made an excellent point:

“Pandemics have long been identified as one of many global challenges for which the world should have prepared in advance.”

But the problem I see is that if any government announced that they needed to, for example, massively increase the hospital capacity to cover such a future challenge. This would involve a cost of many tens of billions of dollars, requiring an increase in the income or GST tax rate. Would we be supportive of that?

If any proof were needed that such forward planning would provoke a negative response, you don’t need to look any further than the issue regarding the dedicated quarantine centres built for returning travellers during the pandemic. These are now empty, and being labelled as “white elephants”.

Yet there was so much criticism of governments for not being prepared for the influx of citizens wanting to come home from overseas. So these now empty quarantine centres are the exact thing that many were criticising governments for not having ready at that time.

More double-mindedness!

On this basis, think again about the plight of those caught in the rental crisis. Even if you are moved by their plight, would you applaud moves by governments to undertake the kind of program that could alleviate the problem in the shortest possible time? What if it meant a fast-tracked public housing program that required increased taxation?

So, if we have, to any extent, imbibed “the spirit of the age”, and become indistinguishable from the culture, then before we can experience an outpouring of revival should we not expect the Spirit to come to correct and purify us?

If that’s the case, then the words God spoke through the prophet Malachi come to mind here:

“Behold, I am sending My messenger, and he will clear a way before Me. And the Lord, whom you are seeking, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of armies.

“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like launderer’s soap. And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.”
~ Malachi 3:1-3 (NASB)

Again, this from Dr Brown’s book:

“This is a picture of revival too. He brings judgment, not just joy. He comes with claims, not just charisma. He is demanding, not just delightful. He is the Lord of all, not just lovely and adorable. He refuses to merely “fit in”… He died for us all, and He died for all of each of us. He expects all in return. Encountering the Son of God is radical. Surrender is total and absolute.”

I don’t know about you, but for myself, I find this incredibly challenging just reading it as I type! But Dr Brown has more to say:

“Yet we often drift from this truth. We serve God out of habit and worship Him by rote. We divide our life into little compartments. We give Jesus a nice compartment of His own! But when He comes in revival power, when He is glorified in the midst of His people, then He stakes His claims and renews His rights over the flock He purchased with His blood…

He is the fullness of God in bodily form (Col. 2:9), the all-consuming fire, the Lord of glory. And when we cry, ‘Come, Lord, consume me!’, He just might do that very thing.

Do we grasp the meaning of those words? “Come Lord” — the King in His majesty; the Creator in His splendour; the Master in His holiness; the Son of God in His might. Do we really want Him to come?

“Consume me” — in fire, in flames, in a blaze of purity; until my carnal flesh is burned beyond recognition and a new creature shines forth; until my will is totally absorbed in my Maker’s; until the unseen is far more real than the seen; until I am utterly dominated by my God.

Is that what we want, or are we merely seeking a little brushfire to warm and cheer us, or a Holy Ghost cookout that will satisfy our cravings? Once you pray, “Consume me, Lord”, you can’t negotiate with the flames.”

Dr Brown’s sobering judgement raises some questions that we need to consider: what do we need to change to be prepared for this kind of divine visitation? Are we prepared for it to involve God’s purifying Presence? Will we submit everything to Him? Are we prepared to, as Graham Cooke describes it, “kiss the Hand that hurts”?

I think that a good example from Scripture of this, of the alternative to division or apathetic insularity, or both, is found in the kind of devotion displayed by Mary of Bethany. She sat at Jesus’ feet, soaking up His teaching, which He described as “the good part” which was the “one thing… necessary, … which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42 NASB). That devotion to His teaching led to a sacrifice at great personal cost:

“Mary then took a pound of very expensive perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
~ John 12:3 (NASB)

This beautiful song by Rend Collective gives this act even greater relevance for us:

So, what comes after this? As I mentioned, God never uses the same kind of circumstances, and no two revival outpourings are similar. The one common denominator in all of them is a burning desire among God’s people to see God bring transformation to the whole culture, which I will address in another article in the coming days.

In the meantime, here’s another Rend Collective anthem that I think is a fitting prayer to take us from here to there.

___

Photo by George Webster.

Thank the Source

Labor Replaces Wokism with Workers in Soviet-Lite Housing Cash Splash

Labor Replaces Wokism with Workers in Soviet-Lite Housing Cash Splash

Labor is trying to entice voters with a tempting social housing programme, but a closer look reveals several pitfalls. There are better ways to ensure housing affordability.

Alongside his noir new look, Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has unveiled a raft of what appeared to be “Australia first” policies.

The opposition leader declared on Sunday that a Labor government would ‘buy Australian’, manufacture precious metals in Australia, stand up for Australian workers, and help Australian women earn more.

Labor’s biggest enticement? A radical shakeup of housing affordability for lower-middle-income earners.

Government Housing

In 2021, Albanese promised a ‘five-year plan’ to save Australians afflicted by an over-inflated property market.

A Labor government, he petitioned, would cap property prices, and devote $10 billion of taxpayer funds to open up 30,000 new social housing dwellings.

This will be — a summary provided by Labor asserted — paid for by ‘investment returns from the Housing Australia Future Fund,’ which is to be created by an Albanese government.

Additionally, The Sydney Morning Herald explained,

‘A Labor government would contribute up to 40 per cent of the purchase price of a new home and up to 30 per cent of the purchase price for an existing home, with people being able to buy out the Government’s stake over time.’

This includes a property cap on market prices in metropolitan and regional centres.

For example,

‘The property price would be capped at $950,000 and could save homebuyers up to $380,000 on a new house and $285,000 on an existing house.’

Albo’s affordability model also promises to build on the current Morrison (LNP) program whereby the Government goes guarantor for first home buyers ‘of up to 15%, helping 10,000 eligible owners, per year, ‘avoid paying mortgage insurance [which can cost] up to $32,000.’

However, the gloss is lost in the small print.

Excluded

Eligibility criteria for the extended guarantor program pretty much exclude low-income earners, primarily single-income families.

Labor’s plan only applies to locals who ‘have a taxable income of up to $125,000 per year for singles and $200,000 a year for couples.’

Countering Albanese’ vote-catcher promises, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s finance minister, Simon Birmingham (LNP-SA) told the ABC:

“Our [current] policies are delivering outcomes for Australians, and importantly you get to own your own home. You don’t have Mr Albanese at the kitchen table with you owning part of your home.”

When Australians look at the choice between what Labor is offering and the Coalition’s current and future plans, Birmingham added, Australians fully owning their own home, rather only owning a part of their own home, “makes the Coalition’s policy a far more compelling” choice.

Birmingham, noting the success with the LNP’s own housing affordability programs, stated that if re-elected the Morrison government will be expanding the current guarantor program from 10,000 places to 50,000 per year.

Thus negating the ridiculous cost of mortgage insurance, which when pinned alongside ludicrous rental prices makes saving a decent deposit for homeownership in Australia unattainable.

Stealthy Socialism

One Nation’s Pauline Hanson called the voter candy, “another step closer to socialism; the first step to fulfilling the World Economic Forums ‘Great Reset’.”

Adding, “If we’re to make housing affordable for Australians, start by closing the door to foreign ownership, and lower immigration numbers — it’s not rocket science.”

To those paying close attention, it’s been obvious for a while that the Australian real estate market has outpaced wage growth, and the goalposts keep moving.

Coincided with strict subjective lending criteria, this has made it almost impossible for young people and working-class families to enter the housing market.

Labor’s latest electioneering “promissory note” to voters is a serious temptation to those who’ve been left behind by real estates, bankers and debt-crazed investors.

This is why it’s no stretch to state that Labor’s proto-socialist (Frankfurt school-esque) promises, to well-positioned-but-not-quite-there first home buyers (read Aussie battlers), puts Labor back in the race to Kirribilli.

Distraction

Thanks to gaffes, and a woke defence of radical-leftist politicking, Albanese has been on the back foot since campaigning for the election began.

Shifting the election narrative to housing affordability away from an embattled defence of transgenderism over and against women’s rights is a smart manoeuvre by Labor party strategists.

Putting Australian workers before wokism will regain traction, and legitimacy with Australian voters who have ditched the Labor party because of its far-left lean.

The fresh, politically sober, “back to basics” look — the secure a “better future, better government” for Australians — platform could be an election-winning formula.

Ultimately though, Albanese’s “five-year” plan is a trap.

Behind Labor’s polished image of Anthony Albanese as a neo-noir “working-class” man, higher taxation waits like a ravenous wolf.

Hidden behind his promises sits another blatant reminder: vote Labor, get Socialism.

Better Options

There are far better proactive steps government can take without increasing its reach into our lives.

Instead of increasing the gruelling government overreach, politicians serious about solving housing affordability should be aiming to:

  1. Increase incomes by reducing income and payroll tax.
  2. Remove all “no jab, no job” mandates.
  3. Secure jobs by cementing protection for informed consent into the constitution, as part of wider constitutional reform. One which serves the people, by unblurring the lines between the separation of powers, caused by political manipulation of the language in the construction.
  4. Allow people to use their own money.
  5. Free up superannuation, so that first home buyers, per person, can withdraw up to $20,000 from their super accounts to add towards their home loan deposits.
  6. Release more land for residential development, with water capture infrastructure attached.
  7. Freeze foreign investment in residential zones. Cancel all, and stop any, future plans for Net Zero; which end in hidden carbon taxes.
  8. Set up a Royal Commission into the Real Estate industry, and the apparent monopolisation of the property market.

Don’t be seduced by the dazzle. Labor’s newfound pro-worker proposals only serve Labor’s woke ideals.

The long-term approach to solving housing affordability is creating opportunity, raising incomes, allowing workers access to their own money, limiting foreign investment in residential zones, improving building approval turnaround times, reducing land, and insurance taxes — all of which hinder homeownership.

Albanese’s vote-grab will lead to an expanded government. A government that has already proven that in the right environment, it has no problem with abusing its power.

Soviet-lite socialism isn’t the solution.

There’s a big difference between politicians doing something, and politicians making it look like they’re doing something.

What looks good for us, isn’t always what’s good for us.

If the government can take your job under the guise of “the greater good”, with part ownership, they can take your house, and maybe the cat, kids, and the whole kaboodle too.

___

Originally published at Caldron Pool. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio.

Thank the Source

Communism is a Fashion Accessory for the Young Woke

Communism is a Fashion Accessory for the Young Woke

Teen Vogue’s recent article on abolishing private property is utterly wrongheaded. The columnist has no concept of basic economic principles.

Envy used to be one of the deadly sins. But it is no longer a sin, it’s a virtue. And it’s no longer called envy. It’s now called “social justice”.

Teen Vogue featured an article entitled: “Abolish Landlords. Housing is a Human Right” by which the editorial team really mean, “Give Us Your Place to Live Rent-Free”.

Teen Vogue - cancel rent

Communist, er, columnist Kandist Mallet wrote:

“While we’re working to abolish the police, we must also work to dismantle what the police were put here to protect: property. What is more evident of the legacy of settler colonialism and its violence than the idea of the ownership of land?”

Ignoring the fact that it’s disingenuous to argue against the abuse of indigenous people’s property rights while simultaneously arguing for the abolition of property rights in general — reading this, you couldn’t be blamed for thinking: “Wow, there’s free stuff up at the offices of Teen Vogue! Ignore security and the hipsters pedalling at their cycle desks, they want you to have that iMac Retina 5K.”

I’m not sure how Teen Vogue’s advertisers feel about the magazine encouraging its readers to eschew possessions, but if Kandist Mallet feels so strongly about abolishing the idea of private property, why doesn’t she lead by example and reassign her property to the collective?

Oh wait — Kandist doesn’t own any property!

Suddenly “abolish the police” makes sense.

Property Wrongs

Kandist wants to abolish police who, by her own admission, are the only ones standing between her greedy hands and your hard-earned property.

She writes:

“We need a housing movement based on a rejection of the construct that any one person should own this earth’s land.”

Her use of the phrase “housing movement” is revealing. She is arguing for a world in which your house moves to her. “Give me your stuff” was always the goal of Marxism.

I’m not sure when Teen Vogue — which is supposed to be a fashion magazine for young people with a cervix — became the Romper Room edition of Pravda, but Kandist Mallet is a typical collectivist, by which I mean, lazy, envious and entitled.

Unwilling to work and save so as to own a property, she demands that others who have worked and saved have their properties taken from them and given to her. Because “fairness”.

Wait until Kandist finds out that state-provided housing for all doesn’t mean luxury condos with pools and gymnasiums, but three families per unit with bedsheets to divide among them and elevators that don’t work.

Cancel Everything

Warming to her theme, the Teen Rogue writer continues:

“We should cancel rent outright as this pandemic rages. And we should work toward a world where landlords no longer hold this sort of power over people’s lives.”

Good idea. We should also cancel rental car fees and work toward a world where Hertz no longer holds that sort of power over people’s lives.

We should cancel grocery prices so we can work toward a world where Woolworths no longer hold that sort of power over people’s lives.

And let’s cancel room rates at the Hilton because five-star hotels shouldn’t hold that sort of power over people’s lives.

When Kandist argues that one group of people shouldn’t have power over another group, what she really means is that no one should be able to deny her anything she wants.

Illogical Equation

Kandist promoted her article on Twitter by asking:

“If my rent money is paying for my landlord’s mortgage, shouldn’t I be part owner?”

No, Comrade Kandist.

Your landlord owns the property because your landlord took the risk to build the house and your landlord lives with the responsibility to maintain the house. As a reward, your landlord gets to make a profit.

For paying rent, you get to live in a nice place without any risk that property prices might fall and without any responsibility for rates or maintenance.

And if you don’t like that, you could always try owning something.

But using Kandist’s logic, if for some crazy reason I used my money to buy a copy of Teen Vogue, shouldn’t I be her editor?

She ought be careful what she wishes for.

An article in Teen Vogue calling for the abolition of private property just goes to show that communism is a fashion accessory for the young woke. Hopefully, it goes out of style soon — like before we get to the millions of state executions part.

The good news for Teen Vogue and its journalists is that jellyfish have survived for millions of years without a brain.

___

Originally published at The James Macpherson Report.
Subscribe to his Substack here for daily witty commentary.
Photo by RODNAE Productions.

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Most Cities’ Responses To Homelessness Actually Enable Even More Homelessness

Most Cities’ Responses To Homelessness Actually Enable Even More Homelessness

$837,000. That’s how much one single unit to house one homeless person is costing taxpayers in Los Angeles. 

The $837,000 units being built in L.A. are part of a $1.2 billion “Housing First” program to build “affordable” housing. But the city can’t build fast enough to keep up. Despite vast amounts of money and record-level housing placements, the city’s homeless population keeps growing. This sad situation is another indication that good money dedicated to bad policy not only goes to waste, it makes the problem worse.

Housing First is the philosophy that every unhoused person has a right to subsidized, permanent housing without any participation requirements such as treatment for or recovery from a severe mental illness or a substance use disorder. In contrast, a treatment-and-recovery approach would seek to shelter those suffering from homelessness while providing them the individualized treatment they need in order to one day maintain a home of their own.

Utah is in a similar situation to L.A. In recent years, Utah and specifically Salt Lake City were lauded by the media for dramatically reducing their chronically homeless population by implementing a Housing First policy.

But a 2021 state audit reveals that the city and the entire state continue to struggle with growing homelessness. “Although the state’s funding for homeless services has increased, the number of homeless individuals in Utah has also continued to grow,” reads the report. Unsheltered homelessness in Utah has tripled since 2016.

The audit reports that Salt Lake County needs $525 million to provide housing to people experiencing homelessness, and taxpayers’ costs will only grow since most people never move out of subsidized housing into more independent living: “Because few residents move on to more independent forms of housing, few new spaces are made available in the existing facilities.” The top reason the audit lists for residents not moving on is because they “choose not to address the mental illness or substance abuse issues that led them to homelessness.”

Here we get to the crux of the matter: Housing First fails because it does not address the typical root causes of homelessness – namely, severe mental illness and substance use disorders that go unaddressed. Money dedicated to Housing First initiatives is making an already bad problem worse.

$10 Million Goes to Waste in Seattle

A recent well-intentioned donation in Seattle makes for another tragic example of good money chasing bad.

Those who regularly work or walk through downtown Seattle are familiar with homelessness encampments blocking sidewalks and filling parks, and the sad sight of their inhabitants shooting up in broad daylight or muttering incoherently. That’s why a collaboration of good-hearted Seattle businessmen and philanthropists just announced a $10 million donation to combat chronic homelessness downtown. Their hope is to clean up downtown and house those suffering from homelessness.

But Seattle’s strict adherence to Housing First will ensure that the donation will worsen the situation and harm those suffering from a mental illness or drug addiction.

Like L.A. and Salt Lake City, Seattle is loyal to the idea that homelessness is first and foremost an economic issue, and that its solution is found in housing given away for free without any requirements to deal with any underlying issues that led to homelessness in the first place. But the vast majority of the chronically homeless population in downtown Seattle needs much more than an overpriced apartment.

According to Seattle’s 2020 point-in-time count, 73 percent of the chronically homeless population were suffering from a psychiatric or emotional condition such as schizophrenia or depression, and 64 percent were suffering from a substance use disorder. Despite this, only 7 percent of King County’s homelessness budget was spent on “access and supportive services” in 2017. More than half of the county’s $195 million budget went toward subsidized housing.

Sadly, in spite of massive budget increases in subsidies, the city’s homeless population grew 17 percent from 2015 to 2020. Nevertheless, Marc Dones, the CEO of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority who will be overseeing the spending of all King County homelessness efforts, insists that the main driver of homelessness is economic and that the city simply isn’t spending enough money.

“Our system does not have enough money. I’m not afraid to say it repeatedly,” he told KOMO News. Newly elected mayor Bruce Harrell said his administration will be holding fast to Housing First.

A Better Solution

Less money would go to waste if policymakers shifted to a treatment-and-recovery approach. Unfortunately, current federal policy prevents cities from exploring this option with federal funding. The good news is, many private agencies without government support are addressing the root causes of homelessness.

Agencies like the Helping Up Mission in Baltimore, Md., and the Orange County Rescue Mission in California are great examples. Helping Up, in partnership with John Hopkins University, provides a robust mix of targeted wrap-around services that has led to a 52.2 percent increase in mental health wellness. As mental health wellness has improved, employment readiness has also increased 77.1 percent, with an average starting wage for program participants of $17.88 in 2021.

The Orange County Rescue Mission’s substance use disease recovery program, which graduates around 50 people each year, has found that 85 percent of their graduates have maintained sobriety for at least two years past their graduations.

The Housing First approach is failing. Unsheltered homelessness has been a growing problem in cities across the nation, increasing by 20.5 percent nationwide between 2014 and 2019. Housing First fails the cities that have implemented it, and it fails surrounding cities when the homeless population moves into neighboring jurisdictions.

If policymakers want to be serious about truly alleviating the suffering of those experiencing homelessness and keeping their streets safe, they need to spend their money wisely on treatment-and-recovery approaches. Dones is wrong. More wisdom in policy-making is needed, not more money.


Caitlin Bassett is a policy analyst for the Discovery Institute, covering our present homelessness crisis. She has a bachelor’s degree in politics and policy from Liberty University. Dr. Robert Marbut, Jr. served as President Trump’s homelessness czar. He is a renowned national consultant, working on the issue of homelessness for more than three decades.

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California City Giving Blacks Housing for ‘Theft’ of Homes to Build Highways

The California city of Santa Monica is offering housing to black families that had homes in the path of the newly constructed Interstate 10 and other urban renewal projects built in the 1950s.

Beginning in January, those former residents and their descendants will get “priority access to apartments with below-market rents in the hopes that they’ll come back to the coastal city in Los Angeles County.”

Nichelle Monroe, who said in a Sacramento Bee article that her grandparents were “forced out” of the Pico neighborhood, said she doesn’t think the program goes far enough. She wants help buying a home of her choice.

“But what else is there?” Monroe said. “The theft is still there. The generational wealth is still gone.” 

The Bee reported that highways and housing are racist:

Santa Monica’s act of civic penance is an attempt to recognize the harm done to largely black communities during the post-World War II era of freeway building and urban renewal, the [Los Angeles] Times said. The program is part of a nationwide movement to compensate residents for racist harms related to housing and property. In September, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that authorized the return of shorefront land known as Bruce’s Beach to the descendants of a black couple who were run out of Manhattan Beach nearly a century ago.

Affordable housing will also be available for families removed when they city bulldozed another Black area, Belmar Triangle, to build the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Children and grandchildren of those who were displaced will be eligible. Some 600 families lost their homes when Interstate 10 was built through the Pico neighborhood,  according to the Los Angeles Times.

The city program initially will be open to 100 displaced families or their descendants who earn limited incomes, but city leaders hope their efforts will grow into a national model to address past racist policies.

“We will be able to right a historic wrong,” Santa Monica City Councilwoman Kristin McCowan told the Times. “Eventually, we’re going to do that for more and more people. And if other communities start to do their share, you can see a real tidal wave potentially across the country.” 

The Times article claims that more than one million people lost their homes in the first to decades of interstate highway construction — a system of roads that connects states across the United States. The Times reported blacks were targeted when the roads were planned.

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Homebuilders Capitulate to Inflation, Ramp Up Construction Despite High Costs

Homebuilders Capitulate to Inflation, Ramp Up Construction Despite High Costs

U.S. homebuilders ramped up construction at a much faster pace than expected in November, bringing to an end two months of contraction and four months of lower than expected growth.

Construction started on new homes at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.679 million in November, a nearly 12 percent gain from October, data from the Commerce Department showed Thursday.

That was a far biggest acceleration of home building than economists had expected. The consensus was for housing starts to come in at 1.563, which would have been a 2.8 percent gain. The previous month was revised up to 1.563 million.

Builders broke ground on single-family houses at a rate of 1,173,000, 11.3 percent above the revised October figure of 1,054,000. Compared with a year ago, starts are down 0.8 percent.

Housing starts have been sluggish, surprising economists to the downside since August. Housing starts actually fell on a month-to-month basis in August and September, defying predictions that a shortage of homes for sale and skyrocketing prices would drive construction up.

The sluggishness was largely blamed on the scarcity of labor and the high costs of building materials. Lumber costs have been volatile this year, spiking this spring, crashing this summer, and rising again in recent months.  Builders appeared to be holding back on projects hoping price levels would come down.

November may have been a tipping point when builders realized that prices would continue to rise and waiting would only make construction more costly. Materials and components for construction rose 1.6 percent compared with October, data from the Labor Department’s Producer Price Index showed this week. Compared with a year ago, prices are up 21 percent. Services costs for construction were up 14 percent.

Last month, the pace of permitting for new housing units began to pick up and it increased again in November. Permitting for new homes occurred at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.71 million, up by around four percent from October and one percent from a year ago.

Compared with last year, housing starts were up in the Midwest and South,  the largest market for new houses, and down in the West and the Northeast, the smallest market. On a monthly basis, starts exploded higher in the small Northeast market, rose in the South and West, and declined in the Midwest.

The total number of housing units under construction but not completed now stands at 1.486 million, the highest level since December 1973. The number of single-family units under construction is 752,000, which is the highest since May 2007.  The number of units authorized but not started is 258,1000, the highest since September 1974, more evidence that inflation had been holding back builders in recent months.

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How Easy Federal Money Could Be Laying The Groundwork For Another Housing Crash

How Easy Federal Money Could Be Laying The Groundwork For Another Housing Crash

If you think federal policies have caused sticker shock when you go to the department store or buy groceries, just wait for even more effects on the housing market. Unlike most prices for consumer goods and staples, for housing, what goes up can indeed go down—and may do so in the relatively near future.

It’s another example of government causing one problem, then coming back with a “solution” that causes even more difficulties. The federal government has spent the past two years pumping up all manner of asset prices—stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies, you name it—via easy money policies. Because these asset bubbles have also hit home prices, Washington now will make housing more “affordable” by having the federal government take on more risk.

We’ve seen this movie before—it caused the financial market crash of 2008-09. It may not end well this time, either.

Bailouts for Rich Communities

On November 30, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-backed mortgage lenders, would acquire mortgages worth nearly $1 million ($970,800, to be exact) in some high-cost locales (e.g., San Francisco, New York City, etc.) next year. In other areas, Fannie and Freddie will buy mortgages of up to $647,200 in 2022. In both cases, the numbers represent an 18.05 percent increase in loan limits for 2022 compared to 2021.

Fannie and Freddie do not lend directly to borrowers themselves; instead, they buy mortgages from banks, bundle them, and sell them as securities to investors. But because the companies, which were placed into conservatorship during the last housing crash, have access to more than $250 billion from the Treasury—and an implicit guarantee for additional bailouts besides—lenders generally offer lower rates, and smaller down-payment requirements, for mortgages that meet Fannie and Freddie’s guidelines (i.e., “conforming” mortgages).

Fed Promoting Asset Bubbles

The increase in loan limits for Fannie and Freddie next year comes due to the epic run-up in housing prices this year. The National Association of Realtors reported that median prices for existing homes rose 16 percent in the third quarter compared with 2020 levels—the highest annual increase in home prices since the organization began keeping records more than half a century ago. And the skyrocketing home prices appear near-universal: In the second quarter, median home prices increased at a double-digit rate in a whopping 94 percent of metropolitan areas.

Some of the increase in home prices stems from lifestyle adjustments since the coronavirus pandemic, with families seeking more space, and often moving from urban to suburban environments. But much of the inflation in home prices has the same source as the inflation in other prices: The Federal Reserve’s policy of printing money.

Since the pandemic first hit, the Fed has purchased $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities—the securities that Fannie and Freddie sell—each month. Those monthly purchases have driven mortgage rates to rock-bottom levels, encouraging individuals to refinance their house, or take on additional mortgage debt. The lower mortgage rates created by the Fed’s intervention have also driven the home-bidding wars that have led to skyrocketing home prices.

While it recently announced it will start reducing the amount of its monthly asset purchases, the Fed still plans to continue those purchases until next June. In other words, it will continue to inflate the real estate bubble it has created for six months more.

In the meantime, Fannie and Freddie—whose market share has already surged to 60 percent of all new mortgages, up from 42 percent before the pandemic—will take on more risk for the federal government by guaranteeing even larger loans. If the Fed has to raise interest rates dramatically to respond to ever-increasing inflation, that move could precipitate a housing crisis, and a financial crisis, just like the ones that hit when mortgage rates began to rise in 2006-08. Once again, taxpayers—meaning you and me—could be left holding the bag.

Solutions, Not Bailouts

Fixing the problems in the housing market requires a threefold approach that addresses both demand for homes and the supply of housing stock:

  1. Ending the Fed’s quantitative easing, which has artificially lowered mortgage rates, stoking bidding wars by encouraging borrowers to take on bigger and bigger loans;
  2. Reforms to zoning and other laws that make it easier to build new homes or repurpose existing buildings (e.g., office and retail space) into homes and apartments; and
  3. An end to supply chain problems and other distortions that raise the price of supplies for homebuyers, such as the tariffs on Canadian lumber that the Biden administration recently doubled.

None of those actual solutions involve increasing loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If borrowers feel they have to take on more financial risk to get a toe on the housing market, then by all means, have at it.

But taxpayers shouldn’t have to assume that risk as well, which they do currently with every mortgage Fannie and Freddie assume. A more sound housing policy would see Fannie and Freddie get wound down—a move that, when coupled with the steps above, would go a long way towards ending the “boom and bust” problems in the housing market that could leave taxpayers holding the bag for a second time in as many decades.

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