So there seems at present to be a lively debate about whether capitalism is hugely weighted in favour of those who already possess capital. I'm not sure why this is controversial, since the clue is surely in the name, but it appears that there is one.
And those who know me, will know that I'm forever kicking off about something or other, and last night it was rent. It occurs to me that these two topics are probably related.
A bit of context: while Mrs R and I are both from working class backgrounds, our combined paycheques place us firmly in the middle class bracket. We live in a nice, posh part of Edinburgh, itself one of most well-to-do parts of the country.
Thinking about this, it occurred to me that I've rented seven flats over the years - six of them were bought by the landlord's parents for their children to live in while at university, while the other was inherited.
I guesstimated that I'd probably paid these people somewhere in the order of twenty thousand pounds over the years - I pay round about 20.8% of my pay packet* to my landlord every month, and that sounded about right. Having just run this through the calculator, I realise that the figure is actually around about £43,000 in twelve years, and that's just the cash I forked over when I was working, not including my student years.
And this further led me to wonder why rents are set at a particular level. It seems to me that the main effect on Mrs R and I is to extract just enough cash to prevent us from saving enough to buy our own place - that is, to effectively block us from potentially joining the landlord class ourselves**. And I started to wonder whether this was a coincidence, or an intentionally desired outcome.
Then it struck me that nationally, this situation appears to have arisen from the home-ownership obsession of the eighties, which was itself in large part the consequence of the political thinking of, amongst others, fans of Friedrich Von Hayek.
Which struck me as particularly ironic - that a book called The Road to Serfdom, which panicked about the threat of the too-powerful state, had produced a situation in which I have no choice* but to pay what could quite easily be seen as an Existence Tax to a class of people who have done absolutely nothing, not a jot of work, to deserve a penny.
Basically, that the necessity of
merely getting a living in the modern era involves paying vast tribute to people whose
sole entitlement to a huge chunk of my income is having squirted out of the right
And it seems to me that, not only isn't this considered to be an odd state of
affairs, but it's widely regarded as right and just. There must be millions of people in the same boat as I am, and yet I rarely see a headline decrying this situation. But you know, there are lots about how e.g. immigrants are stealing our stuff.
I mean, I hate to judge before all the facts are in, but this does look a lot like our society is founded upon the extraction of cash from one class of people by those fortunate enough to be born to wealthy parents.
You'd think that'd be more of a political issue, wouldn't you? I don't want to sound cynical, but the fact that it isn't much of one does sort of suggest that, far from worrying about serfdom, the nation actively encourages and exploits it.
*I'm aware that many people pay considerably more than this, and I think that reinforces my point.
**The only alternative is Mrs R and I moving in with my parents for circa two years and exploiting their niceness in order to save lots of cash, which is basically of a piece with your mum and dad giving you lots of money. Mrs R and I are in our thirties.