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Granderson: If the economy is doing so well, why are evictions soaring?

Another migrant crisis is brewing. Unlike that of the southern border, this one will extend across the entire country.

A recent Harvard study found that half of the nation’s renters are spend a third or more of their income on housing. These are the people who are lucky enough to find housing when there is a nationwide shortage of affordable housing. Combine the rent item with the rising cost of childcare, and don’t forget groceries, and… well, you can see why evictions increased And homelessness hits record high.

Opinion columnist

LZ Granderson

LZ Granderson writes about culture, politics, sports and life in America.

We live in a time of contradictions. The United States is the strongest economy in the world and Americans’ credit card debt is at an all-time high. The unemployment rate has remained below 5% throughout President Biden’s first term, and voters disapprove of his handling of the economy. Wall Street forecast that last year’s gross domestic product grow by less than 2%, and instead it was 2.5% – Again the economy seems weak to many people.

That’s because for many people, the economy is weak.

Right away the richest 1% have more money than the entire middle class in the country. For the lowest-income Americans, rent is just the beginning of the worries.

Unaffordable rents are a continuation of the redistribution of wealth that accompanied President Reagan’s economic policy.

Before disco, the richest 10% shared 30% of the nation’s income, while the other 90% lived off the rest. Today, the poorest 90% get by on less than 60% of income. The richest 1% got 14.6% in 2021, double their share of 7.3% in 1979. according to the Economic Policy Institute.

After 1979, Reagan convinced voters to value capital more than people. Give more to the rich, and the surplus will “trickle down” – remember that? Greed is part of capitalism, but it is not part of patriotism. Reagan’s characterization of our economy conflated these two concepts, and many Americans embraced this fallacy as truth. Those who struggled to achieve prosperity were considered lazy and unworthy of help. Something was wrong with them, it was thought, because all was well in this “land of opportunity.”

It was a time when good-paying manufacturing jobs were going elsewhere. It was during this time that large, successful businesses were able to reap record profits, while hard-working employees began relying on food stamps to feed their families.

And now Congress is trying to solve the housing crisis by offering more tax credits to real estate developers. So much for the invisible hand of the free market, right? Even though there is a desperate need for more affordable housing, developers apparently aren’t making enough money to want to build it. The government must therefore dangle a carrot to ensure that successful businesses thrive even more.

Conservatives often talk about the country’s unsustainable spending. However, it is not the federal debt that should worry them the most. How much longer can 22 million people spend a third or more of their income on rent?

In 2023, some states saw eviction requests jump more than 50% compared to pre-pandemic levels – and back then the unemployment rate was higher. It’s also not sustainable.

Whether it’s living on loans to avoid taxable income or legally reporting losses while making money, the different ways billionaire owners end up paying a lower tax rate that many of their employees are well documented. When rising costs are passed on to consumers – rent, baby formula, bacon – we are conditioned to blame the government and not the crooks. When gas prices rise, many point the finger at the White House, although, of course, presidents don’t control gas prices.

This sad state of the American economy is not entirely attributable to any party or presidential administration. This redistribution continued before everyone’s eyes. However, we are reaching a point where many people are fed up with their hard work not paying off, and they are going to take action. That’s why the Wall Street Journal dubbed 2023 “the year of the strike.” Workers saw prosperity at the top and demanded their fair share.

Now more than ever, we need Congress to close the tax loopholes that have allowed trillions of dollars to be siphoned off from the many and hoarded by the few. Because the rent crisis is not a new problem: it’s the latest incarnation of the one that began when policymakers started pretending that greed was a good thing.


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