Who has the right to our housing, the rich or the rest of us?
The struggle between the users and the owners of housing in Merced, Calif., is happening all over the United States. It is part of a massive transfer of wealth from working-class America to the rich and powerful – the capitalists, the One Percent.
Likewise, the takeover of the Merced city council is just one of a series of skirmishes in which the capitalists are remaking the government to press their interests ever more openly and aggressively.
The economic crisis of capitalism is hitting all of us, immigrant and native-born alike, and housing is one of the major arenas of struggle.
First, they took the homes of the homeowners who they had sold mortgages to on the pretense that “realestate always goes up.” Then they began taking the homes of people who had lost their jobs in the crash.
Now, when over-extended small investors are foreclosed on, their renters are generally given a 30-day notice to get out – even when they’ve been faithfully paying the rent. And the big banks who end up with the houses and apartments are selling them to big real-estate syndicates, who are jacking up the rents.
One after another, the Obama administration’s programs for financially distressed homeowners have flopped, reaching only a few percent of the people they were supposed to help. There are no programs, good or bad, for the renters forced out for no fault of their own.
The fight to keep renters in their homes is a fight for fairness and dignity. The fight to keep true representatives of the people in government is a fight for democracy, the defense of the many against the depredations of the few.
The economic question in
Merced is the same everywhere – who has the basic right to the housing, the people who built it and use it, or the people who have taken it from us and “own” it – the rich, the oligarchy, the capitalists?
And in Merced and city after city across the country, the political question is also the same – will local government serve the overwhelming majority of the people, the 99%, or will it become a weapon in the hands of the wealthy.