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Chris Richards is a freelance writer based in the Portland, OR metro area. He is the writer/editor of The Boxing Geek, The Eclectic Radical and the Eclectic Geek and the former writer of the women's boxing column "The Sweeter Science" in The Ring magazine. He can be emailed at The.Boxing_Geek@rocketmail.com
The last essay I wrote was on the idea that our workplace (and much of our life) is governed by a system of managerial feudalism. Managerial feudalism is defined by owner-landlords who collect rents/profits from the tenant-employees whose lives they increasingly dominate. This domination is enforced by bosses, the executives and politicians who manage the property of the landlords. The result is a corporate government whose power over our daily lives is far greater than the imperfect representative government we often bitch about.
The boss runs our life for at least forty hours a week if we're fortunate enough to work full time. The actual achievement of the forty hour week is considered mythical by some and many people have to work more to make ends meet. Forty to sixty hours a week is a significant sacrifice of personal freedom to the boss. Every hour you spend working is an hour you could spend living instead. The fight for freedom of personal time to pursue life is one of the long struggles of radical workers' movements. We still haven't won our freedom.
The landlord's power is most obvious to those of us who rent. Rents have spiraled out of control for years now. We pay an increasing share of our income to the owners of our homes, so they can get richer. This keeps us poorer than we would be if we didn't have to pay rent. If our homes were truly ours then we would not be gifting this large chunk of our personal wealth to people who are already rich. Understanding this concept may blow your mind. You may also respond, "but it's not actually that easy for people who really own their homes, is it?"
The answer is another question: how many people really own their homes?
One liberal site famous for its numbers suggests that 32% of homeowners have paid off their mortgage. To do the math in the other direction, this means 68% of homeowners are paying a mortgage. People who are still paying their mortgage cannot be said to truly own their homes. Instead their home is owned by a landlord (the bank or mortgage company) to whom they pay rent (their mortgage payments) every month. The role of banks as landlords and home owners still paying their mortgage as renters requires us to take a hard look at what we laughingly call "the American dream."
Under our existing housing arrangements, a home owner spends either twenty or thirty years paying off their mortgage. If they are lucky they truly own their own house by the time they retire. At this point they borrow more money and relinquish ownership back to a landlord in order to have enough money to pay for retirement. Middle class success is revealed as a precarious trap that can be easily snatched away from working people at any time. Home ownership is still an elaborate rentalk contract favoring the landlord.
If you think of the repayment of debt as another form of rent then banks' role as landlords is even more important to the core economic policy of the United States. Our money is built on credit, with money being issued to pay interest on the debt owned by banks and billionaires. The means of doing so is the payment of interest on the national debt to billionaires who own the majority of US government securities. Central banks simply issue money to private banks to pay the interest on the government's debts.
In the most real sense, our taxes consist of removing money from circulation again in order to control inflation. Our taxes are rent paid to the government for the Public, even as the government pays interest on public debt to enrich billionaires. To put it simply: our government pays rent to billionaires with our money.