The Liars’ Club – Restricted Membership
August 26, 2015
Unfortunately, we can’t all be members of the liars’ club (aka, the rich and powerful). In order to accumulate enormous wealth it seems that one would have to stretch the truth a bit, actually more than a bit.
Driving to the office today, near Los Angeles airport, I just counted, within a two block area along La Cienega Boulevard, more than thirty homes on wheels – motor homes, trucks with campers on the back, small bus-type vehicles, and one sort-of-neighborhood set up with outdoor cookers and sun-shading tents. Most of these homes-on-wheels look like they were salvaged from the wrecking yard. This is a just another example of the effect of the housing situation in this area – along with the depressing drive along several streets downtown where the homeless seem to have permanent encampments and a walk along Venice Beach where they sleep wherever they can at night and hangout during the day seeking assistance from the visitors.
An article in the Los Angeles Times today – Tiny Houses, Big Dispute – features a young man who is fabricating “tiny houses” for shelters about the size of a parking spot on the street, and parking them on the street for a person to sleep, although without the luxury of running water or sanitation facilities. Of course there is a fierce battle looming over their legality, but it certainly seems preferable to sleeping on the sidewalk. Exactly where would be the running water and sanitation facilities there on the sidewalk?
None of this may last long since the city recently passed ordinances to make it easier for officials to break encampments and confiscate bulky items and personal belongings left about, as if the homeless had anywhere else to store their accumulations of belongings – you know, such things as clothing and sanitation and health related items.
Needless to say, they didn’t pass any ordinance requiring the city to provide shelter for the less fortunate. In their moderate defense however, they have been working on it but at a snail’s pace and way too late.
Another L.A Times article – New Tally of Life on the Street – tells us that about 13,000 people on public assistance tumble into homelessness every month in Los Angeles County. Although many of them recover to some extent, chronic homelessness continues to grow. During a period from 2002 to 2010 more than 9 million county residents received public assistance at some point from problems of disability, mental health, criminal justice and foster care – and of course from the Bush-Cheney economy prior to 2007, which drove many residents from their homes due to sudden joblessness and the impact of the unmanageable payment increases of the subprime loans so generously bestowed upon them by the Liars’ Club.
Is there any wonder why having a place to sleep is such a problem? How many of us would be there if we were jobless for any length of time.
If you work 40 hours per week at minimum wage in California you will have gross income of about $1,500 per month and net income of less than $1,400. Based on this, you could squeeze out maybe $600 for rent if you want to eat and have transportation, health care and clothing. That is if you live close to work and don’t have serious health problems. The median rent in Los Angeles County is about $1,800 per month. Good luck with your $600.
It takes an income of almost $50 per hour, almost $100,000 annually, to rent a median priced Los Angeles house. The median home price is $537,000, which would represent a monthly mortgage payment of more than $2,500 with a 20% down payment, an amount that few would be able to accumulate. With questionable credit the monthly payment would be much greater. The median household income in Los Angeles is $56,000, from which you might be able to devote $2,000 or less per month toward a mortgage payment if you want to eat, have transportation, health care, and clothing – and get your kids educated.
There is a boom of new apartment building especially in the downtown area. The rental rates for one bedroom apartments are advertised at more than $3,000 per month for the most part, not a normal solution for those earning less than $100,000 annually. Rental rate increases in California in general are in the 5% annual range, Los Angeles has been greater in the last few years except in rent control areas which cap it at 3% in recent years but allow increase-to-market on re-renting of vacancies. It seems those earning incomes lower than normal are being driven further to the East, making traffic and daily travel time all the worse and making it more difficult to work two jobs, which all minimum wage workers must do to survive.
The home ownership/rental price increase situation is not restricted to California, it is nationwide to some extent. The percentage of the U.S. population who own their homes has fallen to 63.4%, the lowest in 48 years, according to the census bureau. Recent data from Zillow states a 4.2% annual increase in rents in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us the wages increased in the U.S. by 1.9% for the year ending June 2014. Go figure!
The gap in income and wealth – income and wealth inequality – is no more apparent than by just examining this one example from one part of the country. If you read the real estate section and the glossy pamphlets therewith on Sunday you will find page after page of display advertisements of homes worth millions of dollars, some up to $150 million. These advertising pieces weigh enough that some people would need two hands to lift them. Good luck finding ads for smaller homes which might be affordable for those earning an average income. Of course, the property closest to the ocean appreciates faster than any other most anywhere in the world. But this situation affects about 10 million people in the Los Angeles area alone, not just those who live near the ocean, and similar examples can probably be found throughout the country. Those who are unable to break into the “liars club” are losing ground and the obstacles to a median lifestyle with equality in educational opportunities are becoming insurmountable.
We need to raise the minimum wage, which will benefit the class of workers who are mostly all renters. We need to tax capital in order to reduce our national debt to zero and enable us to rebuild our infrastructure, which will provide full employment and make housing more affordable for everyone. No one needs a billion dollars. No one needs a hundred million dollars. No one needs ten million dollars. No one will suffer from such action as taxing capital and everyone will win from a growing and healthy economy – and a better educated populous with equality of opportunity.
Okay, maybe we should just tax the capital that was accumulated by stretching the truth a bit, such as: false advertising, outright swindles, robbing the poor to pay the rich, vulture lending, penalization for having poor credit, manipulating interest rates and stocks and bonds, unreasonable rents, Ponzi schemes, unfair tax avoidance, monopolization, patent protection, offshore tax evasion, other tax evasion, eminent domain, and one of the biggest – the due process of law, in which the working class cannot afford to participate.
The above methods of wealth accumulation are all standard operating procedures of the Liars’ Club as sanctioned by their Board of Pilferers. They have all passed the test of time and are considered as legally valid professions and been deemed as rewards for hard work, unlike the easier work, such as: garbage removal, street sweeping, construction labor, and teaching school to all of the undisciplined future Liars’ Club heirs.
Think about it!