"The things you own end up owning you." - Fight Club
Post-war, 1950s, everyone was enjoying the extravagance of having financial freedom again. Forget rationing, forget sacrifice for the war effort - it was time for television sets, fancy clothes, and nice cars!
In the decades following, people were told to capitalise on the opportunity to make money by buying a house and selling it for several times the price we paid for it! So we bought houses. We were told that, far from fat businessmen with briefcases having exclusive stock options, any of us now had the chance to buy shares, and watch them rise! So we bought shares. We were told the importance of profit - it was all about making money, and spending money, and things couldn't possibly go wrong!
But then the companies we had shares in decided that they could increase our share value by stretching further the gap between income and overheads, thus making more profit! These profits, leftover, meant more money into the pockets of us shareholders. What they didn't like to explain was that their way of increasing profit was by, well, firing thousands of people in our Western country, and paying people on the cheap overseas! This, however, left us with less jobs to go around, and less money.
What do you give to people who have no money? Access to debt! Credit cards! "Don't leave home without it!" And at least you have a home, right? Yeah! I remember renting a studio apartment a few years ago and a friend of mine at the time was looking at it with admiration, but noted how his partner kept calling a rented apartment "dead money." Let me get this right: you buy groceries and consume them to live, you pay your utility bills and use the resources to stay clean and warm, but paying to have a roof over your head is "dead money"? That's what they were saying. The reason? It's not an investment. Ah, of course.
If you buy shares, you're investing in the stock market. If you buy your home, you're investing in a house. You put your money in to get more out because prices will rise. Or will they? Well, recent history has showed us that instead of making money, people have been losing money. They did, of course, buy shares that saw their value plummet thanks to an unsustainable economic system dependent on debt. And they bought houses that then sold for less than they paid for them, just like their car did.
So, "dead money"? If you rent an apartment, not only are you one of many abodes in urban buildings taking up less space on our green planet, but you're paying for a service, like any other, with a right to hand in notice a month or so in advance to leave for somewhere less expensive should you lose that job you have (given these tough economic times and all).
Yep, all those people that kept telling us to buy shares just like them, to buy homes just like them, to own things? Own more stuff? They got owned. That's right: they got pwned!
I don't understand why so many capitalism-loving politicians speak out against the welfare state, and gambling. I mean, aside from the fact that without welfare we'll be seeing even more people gambling, these politicians condone the principle of profit whereby shareholders take a chunk of money for sitting on their lazy backsides all day, encouraging others to "dabble in the market" - which is a roulette wheel; you're not only putting your money in the hands of unethical corporations to proliferate their greedy ways - you're relying on a terribly unreliable economic system that means that, instead of winning a lot of money, you could be losing a lot. A lot of what you ain't got.
Don't gamble, kids. Let's shut down the free market capitalist casino!