I live alone in a small brick home in a neighborhood almost as old as I am. In most parts of the world, three generations would consider my abode a place of luxury – running water, heat, even air conditioning.
But, what is out of reach now in much of the world, might become the norm for future generations of Americans. That staple of the American dream – a home of one’s own, a home that one owns – faces many threats.
Yes, skyrocketing home prices and high lending rates are the usual suspects.
But, the corporate socialism that directs our government to the benefit of our oligarchs erects other roadblocks as well.
As my old boss, pal and political ally George H. Russell observed in a letter to The Huntsville Item in 2021:
” An entire page in the May 11th Item was devoted to exposing the irrefutable fact that there is no private real estate ownership in America. All homes, ranches, buildings and other ‘real’ property is owned by our communist government. Property taxes are not taxes at all. The so-called property taxes are rents forced upon people who may have worked 30 years to pay their bank or mortgage company believing that after the loan was paid off that they would actually own their homes.
“That is not the case at all as failure to pay rent to the corrupt communist system will result in eviction and one’s home will be ‘sold’ on the courthouse steps to another person that will then begin the process of paying rent to our communist government in order to live in the home.”
(I prefer to call our present system “corporate socialism,” not “communism,” but the overreach is the same.)
Russell lives in Texas, where cancerous population growth has sent housing prices to the moon. This is then reflected in rising property appraisals. In big cities and small towns, people are selling their homes because they can no longer afford to pay taxes on them.
An even more egregious form of this alliance between governments and the wealthy centers around the concept of eminent domain, the “right” of a government to take someone’s property for the betterment of the whole community.
Eminent domain was originally intended for projects requiring rights-of-way. And the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s proposed land grab near OKC demonstrates the differing opinions as to which communities are worth benefitting.
Worse, the definition of community betterment has been expanded to include more money in the tax coffers via greater profits for corporate vultures.
Developers have convinced some taxing authorities that a neighborhood of family homes could generate more tax money if the taxing entity would seize the property under eminent domain and then sell it to the developers for a huge project: profits for the developer; more taxes for the complicit government. Homelessness for the evictees.
Donald Trump tried to seize a widow’s home this way for limousine parking for the Atlantic City casino that his ineptitude could not keep open. She beat him in court.
She was lucky. Many corporate-friendly courts have approved these land grabs.
As early as 1933, Alfred North Whitehead observed: “Today private property is mainly a legal fiction.”