The following piece, as promised previously, was written for a Philosophy magazine that i have recently subscribed to. The entry had to be less than 1500
words and it should be about Property, Ownership and Homelessness. I have included references to all three terms in this piece and I am hopeful that it therefore meets the criteria. It may win an award, it was entered for that purpose but I'm sure
there are a huge number of entries and so i'm not holding my breath. Anyway, the competition is due to close so i thought Well if it doesnt win then at least my readers can read it and think about the issues raised. Enjoy...
In talking about the term 'property', I should first define what I consider it to mean. Possessions, things, land, houses,
cars, jewellery, clothing, etcetera can all be 'property' that you use, that you have, that you hold, that you buy, sell, trade, throw away or even give away sometimes. Property used to include slaves or even wives and children back in times past. Now, of
course, not so much and certainly not in my world, from all reports though there might be a couple of places this sort of thinking still exists.
Not being a 'shopper' per se, I, like
anyone else have needs such as a bed to sleep in, a table and chairs to sit at, eat at and sometimes converse at with others. A television to stay entertained, informed or misinformed as the case may be. There are more things I think of as needs and these
are stuff to cook with and a refrigerator to keep things fresh and cold. All of this is wrapped up in a package that includes a roof overhead, walls, floor, doors and windows. You know, the basics, of course there are a few more items contained within, nothing
A car, an automobile, a vehicle of some sort is a necessary evil in this country with all the running costs that they suck down. They are necessary simply to get around
but like most other modern technology such as mobile phones and computers they are ultimately consumable and upgradable. Buying another vehicle is a process most go through every few years and the old one depending on its condition gets sold on, traded in
or even dumped.
Having had periods of stable employment, unemployment and even self-employment has meant accommodation, a roof over my head has not always been a sure thing. For me
personally, I have been lucky so far that I have not stepped foot into homelessness, my parents always had a roof over their head while I was growing up and in this place I am always welcome to stay. We were not rich when I was growing up by any means but
not desperately poor either. You would say I had a 'middle class' upbringing if one was looking for the best fit/description. That's not to say we didn't have struggles, worries and certainly there was an amount of labour sold to maintain this basic standard
Although they had a house to come home to, my parents were otherwise fairly risk averse. When I dared to talk about investing in a business idea, striking out on my own
and becoming my own boss or even trying to purchase a rental property they would try their best to knock those ideas on the head. They had been through some uncertain times many years prior and never wanted to return to that precarious position. Certainly,
like all parents they wanted better for their child/ren. Their solution to any talk of investing like this was more education with the hope that lead to better employment opportunities and ultimately becoming an owner-occupier in a house/unit of my own.
Later on they might have looked more favourably on investment property but by then the market was up and my means were down. That's not to say I didn't give home ownership a go, I did,
I became an owner-occupier in what some would call a 'dog box' for a relatively short period of time. Being still young enough to want to travel above all else I subsequently decided on selling up for a small profit rather than renting the property out with
all that that entails and expanding the already burdensome mortgage. This particular decision might be my one regret moving forward given that not all my plans came to fruition.
fear of risk that was instilled in me early on weighed heavily at that time so I sold up and that small profit did not last too long. Today, many years since, I am yet again in different circumstances and can only dream of home ownership and all that comes
with that. Thought about simply, the ability to put a nail in the wall and hang a picture if I so desire without seeking the landlords permission has great pulling power.
house, unit and/or flat many times I know the value of, or at least the nuisance value of having and keeping too many possessions. Many of these things moved with me at great expense over time or more recently have been sold through garage sales and online
through sites like Gumtree. It's a strange feeling to part with some of these items but I have tried to not think about it too much. Later on, I find I might regret parting with individual pieces but I see it as a necessary part of moving on with life.
So, property to me is a dream, an aspiration, sometimes a push to earn more and work harder. It can, and often is a burden to bear as well. I'm not sure I see private property as 'theft'
necessarily but I have seen a hoarder in amongst all his things and it doesn't seem to bring him happiness. There are things there that others could and would use but they get lost in his ever-increasing pile. Certainly there are items that he has lost or
that have been taken by others because of the nature of his overflowing accumulation. In that instance, is that theft or just reappropriating items without approval? The owner would obviously call it theft because the pieces were taken without permission and
under current law the individuals removing the items could be punished by the state if caught and convicted.
As I get older I do not want too much, as previously mentioned I want
to be able to sleep comfortably, eat well, be in good company and know what's going on. I am not interested in status symbols such as the mansion and the fancy cars however I would like to win the lottery simply so I can do more of what I want to do and less
of what I have to do. Of course, if I were to get a sudden windfall it would mean investing in property so I guess I would buy in to certain societal standards/norms. It is, after all, a more recent theory that in my own extended family being young and invested
heavily in property is now seen as somewhat praiseworthy.
It beggars belief that someone is seen as a forward thinker and rich because they have multiple investment properties in
a portfolio even though this means a tsunami of debt even if it is in interest-only loans. Of course, in this game the more you possess, the more you can borrow and therefore the more you can obtain. The big question is though: How much is enough and how much
is too much? In addition, what does it mean for others trying to enter the market? Well, I can tell you that it increases the degree of difficulty as it raises the price and therefore how much more the person has to raise in order to gain that foothold. Some
would see this as the downside to negative gearing and the level of investing by previous generations.
Home ownership is another dream sold by advertising, real estate agents and
other market profiteers to all of us in a free-market capitalist society such as ours. Family, government and society as a whole contribute to this situation and will sell the idea to each generation as a sign that one has made it. One is seen as smart and
working hard when one has gained a toehold in the race for property. It is probably the biggest and most expensive purchase of our lives and is increasingly out of reach for a fair percentage of the population. People who, while continuing to dream of home
ownership, will rate others highly who own their own home and own investment properties Some of these people will probably never be able to live it themselves and will continue to contribute to others prosperity by renting.
Economists and investors think of property, here I mean land and housing as the business of supply and demand with the calculations around return on investment, capital expenditure and resale values. They will have primary residences
and like owner-occupiers have more personally invested in the roof over their own head. They see their homes as castles and they will surely defend them to the enth degree. This is why we have fences, borders, gates, locks and security systems in order to
stake our claim and warn others not to enter without permission. It is what it is, all of this to stop, or at least reduce the chance that others will take it from us. Especially now in a time of crisis.