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On Rescuing Lost Paddle-Boarders and the Right to Raise the Rent

Tea & Two Slices is a long-running local news round-up by NEEDS frontman and veteran dishwasher Sean Orr, who lives and works in Gastown, deeply aware of his privilege.

Tell me your party is full of landowners without telling me your party is full of landowners: B.C. to lift rent freeze in 2022. Remember when they promised us an $400 annual rent rebate? Remember when they promised to add teeth to B.C. tenancy laws but have only issued a grand total of 7 penalties on landlords in 2.5 yrs of its existence? Remember when they lifted the eviction freeze in the middle of a pandemic? Remember when they failed to enact any meaningful rent control, meaning landlords can kick out tenants or threaten them with eviction until they sign a new lease?

But please, tell me how hard landlords have it? Tell me that a 1.5% cap on rent increases is nowhere near the inflation rate of 3% and that their expenses have gone up. Tough titties! Those are the pitfalls of property investment. If it’s really so hard, get a second job, rent a room or sell the property. Except that it’s far more likely that a landlords revenue from rent is about 3 times what their expenses are:

In Vancouver alone there are 30,000 empty homes. 1 in 5 homeowners own more than one property, and the vacancy rate can jump to 6% and yet rents still increase. These people aren’t struggling. Land owners increased their net worth by an extraordinary amount since the beginning of the pandemic, and to raise rents now is reckless and entitled.

But that’s what happens when you commodify housing to the degree that it can’t fail. Because housing investment represents a record share of Canada’s GDP. Not a single political party in this country is working in our interests: None of the Parties Are Willing to Drive Down Home Costs.

Providing incentives for first-time homebuyers, low interest loans to developers and so on, all fuel out-of-control asset price inflation driven by the tsunami of central bank cash flooding the financial system. And the cancerous consequence of all this is the ballooning asset value of urban land.

All three parties propose to pour more gasoline into the out-of-control dumpster fire of urban land value inflation — an inflation that has seen Vancouver area land values more than triple since 2010 while the values of the buildings on that land barely budged.

Like, I’m really sorry you borrowed money based on the over-inflated value of your home, but as long as wages continue to stagnate, house prices have to fall. And so you have this situation where millennials become disillusioned and angry while boomers just dig their heels in: ‘No one is saying boomers didn’t work hard’. Of course, boomers also benefited from a robust national housing strategy, an intact social safety net, low tuition, and of course, wages matched productivity…

People don’t like to think that they benefitted from unfairness, so the reflexive move is to say “I worked hard for what I have!” No one is saying that boomers didn’t work hard, or don’t deserve what they have, or shouldn’t have what they have. I’m saying we [millennials] work hard, too, and are priced out of the housing market. Things are objectively harder than they were. We have the data. You want to talk about your surplus of what there is now a scarcity of? Read the room.

Related: Sabrina Maddeaux: Home ownership is becoming a lost cause and the Liberals did worse than diddly squat.

“Sure, polls tell them housing now tops COVID-19 as the main election issue for GTA voters and cost of living is by far the top issue for Canadians under 40, but their overall tone and approach lacks a real sense of urgency — let alone anger. Politicians of all stripes act like millennials have politely asked to speak to the manager about their housing costs, when many are temperamentally closer to burning the entire joint down.”

By burning the entire joint down I assume they mean burning a marijuana cigarette down to the “roach” and then binge watching RuPaul’s Drag Race to escape the overwhelming fact that they’ll never own a house, elections don’t matter, our planet is burning, plague rats are running wild blocking hospitals and berating nurses, and the rich just keep getting richer.

$5M mansion owners pay very little income tax in Canada. Conservative candidate is fighting to protect them from BC’s speculation tax. Of course, as soon you mention a wealth tax a horde of Tylers from Red Deer who think its aimed at their shitty suburban McMansions they paid for with their oil money stomp their feet, like bro, this tax isn’t going to affect you in the slightest why are you so mad?

Meanwhile: Tents being removed from homeless camp in Vancouver park. A Vancouver park that was only made possible because of a tent encampment. The irony: “Rosa says there are indoor housing options available for those currently camping in the park and they have until Thursday at 10 a.m. to leave.” As usual nobody talked to the campers to get their side of the story. What do those indoor options look like? Are they safe? Can couples live there? Can they have pets?

I guess that would that mean we see poor people as human beings and not “rats coming through the cracks” as Gastown resident Phoebe Beckett calls them: Restaurant patio theft caught on camera in Gastown. Something isn’t right about this story. First, that’s not a “theft”, that’s a demolition and second, this is the third time it’s happened to this guy? Hmmm….

Some good news: First Nations to regain control over own housing in B.C., after nearly 100 years.

Even more good news, seemingly absent from mainstream media: Indigenous Resistance Against Carbon: Report. “Indigenous resistance has stopped or delayed greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to at least one-quarter of annual U.S. and Canadian emissions”. Holy shit, why isn’t this on the front pages of every paper? Haha just kidding I know exactly why it starts with a “C” and rhymes with “olonialism”.

Anti-logging protest becomes Canada’s biggest ever act of civil disobedience. The difference between this and War in the Woods is that these militarized RCMP chuds have been raised on a steady diet of Call of Duty, Monster Energy drinks and copaganda and are thoroughly enjoying inflicting violence on these young people.

“At Clayoquot, the relationship between us and the RCMP was almost cordial. They did their job, we did ours,” said Warren Kimmit. “That was the way policing should happen. There’s no question there’s nothing to be gained by the violence that’s happening here. And that violence is just increasing as they become frustrated with our ability to lock the road down.”

“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”- Johnny Rotten: We Backed BC’s Climate Plan. Now We See It’s Not Enough. “B.C. has the strongest climate plan in the country” is a bar so low it’s a pub in the Marianas Trench.

Mass rescue of paddleboarders caught in heavy wind, waves and current near Lions Gate Bridge. Holy shit, if this isn’t the most perfect visual metaphor for that specific strain of reckless entitlement that oozes from the narcissistic psyche of Vancouverites. That sort of New Age casual and cheerful indifference to their surroundings combined with a Dunning Kruger-like confidence that if anything goes wrong somebody will bail them out. It’s the same thing that gets you frat parties at UBC and UVIC or people throwing cigarette butts into Stanley Park during wildfire season or the person who dumped hundreds of pounds of fresh halibut in Vanier Park or the coyotes that have gotten so accustomed to our carelessness that we have to kill them. The rules never apply to us. It’s alway for someone else.

Louder for the people in the back: “It’s all very well for people to want to express their opinion, and they have the right to their opinion, but they don’t have the right to their own facts”: Protest against vaccine passport snakes through Vancouver. I don’t really want to waste my energy on these people so here’s Ian Young:

It’s much worse than we thought: Organizer of B.C. hospital protests, Kristen Nagle, recently claimed that you can’t catch a virus. I just…can’t.

‘This could have been me’: B.C. family that was once vaccine hesitant loses loved one to COVID. Tragic, but I worry that these stories will just cause pro-disease folks to double down. We need to get at the root of why we are such a selfish, inherently anti-social society completely unable to tackle crisis after crisis. Probably has something to do with the conservative project’s distrust of government and rapid insistence on individual rights over the collective good vis a vis neoliberal austerity hollowing out essential institutions like education and healthcare.

We like to think that kind of extreme libertarian-tinged evangelism has its apex in places like Texas and their recent anti-abortion laws, but it’s everywhere:

Who says Vancouver has no culture and is just a vague collection of corporate brand loyalties? A giant Browns Social House full of North Face-wearing basics who think stand up paddle boarding and Whiteclaws are the peak of what this town has to offer: ‘My fave hangout is gone’: customers feel ‘stung’ by Burnaby Starbucks closure. We’re like the Olive Garden of cities. Vancouver is the guy at the party who just “discovered” Negronis and won’t stop talking about Tame Impala and asks what your personal best is on the Grouse Grind then hands you his real estate business card but assures you that he’s not “one of the bad ones”.

…And who looks back fondly at the spectacle that was 2010: No one wants to host the Olympics anymore — will they go away?.

Weird flex: Canada aims to block Chelsea Manning from entering country.

Long read of the day: Has Covid ended the neoliberal era?

There are 3 comments

  1. “People don’t like to think that they benefitted from unfairness”: I suppose, but I prefer to be honest: of course I’ve benefitted from unfairness, as has practically every other white person in North America, starting with the fact that almost the whole continent was violently stolen from the non-white people who were living here when Christopher Columbus and his pals showed up.

    But I’ve also benefitted from something else those “boomers” are apt to refuse to acknowledge, namely that the people who ran the world before them were less myopically selfish. For example, when I was growing up in California, public universities were nearly tuition-free. “The Master Plan for Higher Education in California drafted in 1960 advises ‘that state colleges and the University of California shall be tuition free to all residents of the state.'” (https://theorion.com/30633/archives/editorial-rising-fees-not-part-of-original-education-plan/) Even by the time I started at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, tuition was only about $90 per quarter. Now, it’s over $3000. That didn’t just happen; it was in no way necessary. It was a deliberate choice made by foolish and greedy politicians and voters.

    So not only have most people who fulminate against “kids these days” benefitted from unfairness, many of them have also benefitted from the relative far-sightedness and decency of earlier politicians and voters, which they have voted repeatedly – for Reagan, Harper, and a host of others – to repudiate.

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