A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a site named Angry Renter through a Google ad. I rarely click on Adsense ads, but this one intrigued me. The site presents a petition for renters to sign in hopes of stopping a housing bailout. I perused the site a little bit and figured that online petitions never really work, but I left a comment anyway and moved on.
Interestingly enough, this weekend I read an “expose” by the Wall Street Journal about Angry Renter. The gist of the article is that Angry Renter is a fake grass roots campaign run by a non-profit organization called FreedomWorks.org ran by a bunch of fat cats including Steve Forbes. They also listed the expensive properties the leaders of the organization owns. They also quoted the president of FreedomWorks.org saying “I’m an angry homeowner who pays his mortgage”.
I found it funny that the Wall Street Journal needed to write this article because it shows that maybe Angry Renter is really pissing someone off. So what if Angry Renter is run by homeowners? Homeowners pay income taxes also, and I don’t think any sensible person wants their money to be used to prop up bubblicious housing prices so that their children cannot afford a reasonable home. I also don’t think anyone wants to contribute their hard earned money to banks that scoop in billions of dollars a year by being legal loan sharks. Though the site is biased, some of the statements on Angry Renter are true. For example, renters do not get tax rebates for renting, and for all intents and purposes, renting serves the same basic need as buying a home. Why is there such a clear discrimination? Renters do wield less political power because they own less money as a whole compared to the banks and homeowners. So what is the problem with one little non-profit group with rich donors wanting to give renters a voice? Additionally, it is also true that most homeowners are responsible and didn’t buy into the housing bubble so that they don’t need a bailout. So why should all of us suffer for the folly of a few?
I am just surprised that all of this is happening in America, a place that prides itself on freedom, democracy, and free market. Why should people have the freedom to be stupid and irresponsible, but not be encouraged to manage their money wisely? A general housing bailout seems to send the message that saving money for a downpayment and renting is stupid because as long as you bought a house the government will protect you. Why don’t they apply bailouts to obsessive gamblers that were “tricked” by the casinos, or stock speculators that lost their shirts during the dot com bubble? Why is the housing bubble so special? The answer is simply that the banks want their money back from people who can’t pay, and they are disguising their greed and grapple for survival as a humanitarian mission to “save the troubled homeowners”. Give me a break because I don’t want to pay for mortgages that I did not sign for.
So the bottom line is, I don’t think you need to be a renter right now to be angry about the impending giant housing bailout. Currently, the House has passed a $300 billion bill for housing aid which President Bush and the White House is threatening to veto. Unfortunately, old George only has a few months left in office and as long as the Democrats stay in power this housing bailout will probably go on regardless of how many signatures people collect. Anyway, I hope more bailout bills never go through, but that is probably just wishful thinking. Meanwhile, I will be a patient and maybe slightly angry renter.