Mike the Mad Biologist

Can we please stop claiming that prices and wages are determined by the invisible hand? This supposed inscrutable force is often quite scrutable and goes by the name power. Consider this hate email liberal activist David Sirota received after a TV appearance (boldface original):

I made a simple point that America is now more economically unequal than it was just before the Great Depression. I subsequently received a wave of very angry hate mail…[one such email]:

I think I am in the majority of Americans who are sick and tired of the unproductive living off of the government. They have become satisfied with a meager existence because it requires no effort on their part…

The recent “tax cuts” for Americans is a farce. Taking money from the productive and giving it to the non productive creates an even larger segment of do nothing folks. I own 6 four family units and one 12 unit building in Cincinnati, Ohio…When the so called tax cuts were announced, I immediately raised the rents on all units to be a few dollars more than the “cuts”. I raised the rents, not because I needed or wanted more money but as an act of rebellion and anger at what is happening in this country.

….In this email, we literally have a landlord bragging about taking his anger out on renters, because the renters had the nerve to get a meager tax cut.

During the last decade or more, we’ve been subjected to incessant propaganda about how wages and salaries are arrived at justly (or mostly so) by wonderful free market mechanisms. If the organized Wall Street looting doesn’t convince you, this greedhead should. Wages, rents, and loan terms are determined by power relationships as much, if not more than, as any free markets. CEOs and executives receive great pay packages, not because they improve shareholder value (snicker), but because they can. Stack the board with cronies and loot the shareholders. The asshole above can hike rents for no good reason because he can (and somehow I get the feeling the extra proceeds won’t be donated to a good cause).

Free market, Easter Bunny. Same difference.

Comments

  1. #1 Oudknoei
    March 24, 2009

    I love the notion that his tenants are, by definition, “non-productive” even though they presumably work and pay him rent. He, on the other hand, is “productive” because he OWNS the buildings they pay rent on. If they (the renters) were to truly start living off nothing but welfare, they’d probably be unable to pay his rents and he would no longer be “productive”.

    We, as a society, really need to figure out how to get to the point where “productive” is defined as someone that creates/discovers something or provides a useful service and simply owning a bunch of crap doesn’t make you productive.

  2. #2 John
    March 24, 2009

    One can only hope that the jackass who wrote the email is just the generic internet blowhard who, far from owning rental units, is just some random worthless scum who spews hate on the internet because he can.

  3. #3 Eric Lund
    March 24, 2009

    The alleged landlord claims, “I immediately raised the rents on all units.”

    Now, I have never lived in Ohio, IANAL, and for ten years and counting I have been paying a mortgage instead of rent. But when I was a renter, I usually signed something called a lease which has a variety of contractual obligations in it, one of which is that the rent is set to an agreed-upon amount for an agreed-upon period of time. He can certainly try to raise the rent on his tenants who are month-to-month or whose leases are up for renewal (whether he would succeed in this economic climate is another question). But for those tenants who are under a lease agreement which is not approaching the expiration/renewal date, he would be in breach of contract if he did “immediately” raise the rent, and would be very likely to get into serious legal trouble if any such tenant called him on it.

    A real landlord would know this. So I suspect that this guy is either an internet blowhard, as John suggests, or an incompetent landlord. Either way, he is a toxic person.

  4. #4 Heather
    March 24, 2009

    Hey there, Mike. I am exposed to sort of attitude among a small segment of my friends and family. In France, the minister for finance was being grilled on the TV this morning because of yet another example of a company that is in part alive thanks to government contracts and subsidies, but is still going down the drain, and the CEO was taking his golden parachute of 3 million euros to leave because he was incompetent. The journalists asked, isn’t that immoral? And the minister replied, yes.

    Unfortunately, if any tenants are on periodically negotiable leases, the idiot cited would be within his rights.

  5. #5 Pierce R. Butler
    March 24, 2009

    Hey, no fair. The Easter Bunny never gouged anyone.

  6. #6 Julie Stahlhut
    March 24, 2009

    Being a tyrannical landlord is productive?

  7. #7 Eamon
    March 24, 2009

    This guy should get some slaves to whip!

    …oops! He already has (metaphorically speaking)

  8. #8 JThompson
    March 24, 2009

    See, when people like this say “productive” what they usually mean is “white” or at least “not poor”. Usually the former.
    Catch these nutjobs just right and they’ll rant about how that minority over there is a non-productive member of society, even though that minority over there is an engineer, scientist, doctor, etc, and the ranter is an unemployed trucker.
    They create value to society by the simple effort of continuing to exist and by voting republican.

  9. #9 Eamon
    March 24, 2009

    @JThompson

    Maybe in the USA…

  10. #10 The Ridger
    March 24, 2009

    Most minimum wage people living in apartments are on month-to-month because they simply can never save enough money for first-and-last-and-deposit. So they are fair game for slumlords who gouge them. His apartments probably don’t have kitchens, either.

    And even if he isn’t really a landlord, he’s clearly a sad, sick individual who fantasizes about tyrannizing over the poor and (yes, I agree) non-white.

  11. #11 The Ridger
    March 24, 2009

    Dang. I meant to write “week-to-week”.

    Plus, 2 posts in 2 minutes is too many? Wow.

  12. #12 sex shop
    March 25, 2009

    Hey, no fair. The Easter Bunny never gouged anyone

  13. #13 pimapen
    November 22, 2009

    Are you a professional journalist? You write very well.

  14. #14 single-parent
    February 10, 2010

    great site! some great information

  15. #15 pimapen
    February 18, 2010

    Hey I just wanted to let you know,

  16. #16 Rich Man
    December 6, 2010

    You cant beat the free market