News stories like this always make me feel a little queasy as a non-home-owner and a rent-payer. Of course, it’s written from a business perspective, by investors for investors. But why it classed as business news anyway? When did housing become a subset of business rather than, for example, where we sleep, where we call home, what keeps us alive and healthy or unhealthy, etc?
When property prices rise, it means four main things…
1. Poor people who have to pay rich people to live have to pay rich people more to live.
2. Rich people who get paid by poor people to live get paid more by poor people to live.
3. People in the middle who own their own homes stay pretty much in the same position, but their estate gains slightly on their mortgage.
4. People in category 1 who want to be in category 3 have to wait longer (saving more and saving slower).
And the way in which it’s reported (one vague sentence about 4 and nothing about 1; main focus on 2 and how great it is) means a couple of things too…
1. Our common-sense, middle-of-the-road, mainstream news and views are deeply indebted to the dogmas of capitalism and neo-liberalism, where GDP is god and prosperity is piety.
2. Against this backdrop, an ideas like a capital gains tax will be seen as a hindrance to innovators and entrepreneurs, rather than as an aid to equality, standard of living and public health … or a tax on parasitic passive income earned off other people’s deprivation.