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August 02, 2021

Non-Ownership Culture Crashes Into An Era of Scarcity In Cars And Housing

I own my house. I own a car. I carry cash. My phone is full of music that I own. I even have some real books I can read. There are many threats to my liberty, but choosing an “ownership lifestyle” gives me some security against denial of service and from a scarcity of housing or conveyances.

There is a strange phenomenon among many people today - especially younger folks and residents of urban areas – they take a bizarre pride in owning close to nothing. They rent their homes, their music is streamed, they rely 100% on other peoples’ cars for transportation. I know several people for whom it is a badge of pride that they never carry a single dollar with them. They have a phone, a Venmo account, and an unfailing belief that they’ll always be able to access the internet and pay for any services with just that.

Over the past several years, journalists (a class of people that is heavily represented by young urbanites) have pumped out article after article praising the benefits of renting versus owning, especially when it comes to housing.

7 reasons renting a home is better than buying one (Business Insider)

I hear you, but your home is still a lousy investment (USA Today)

Renting Is Cheaper Than Buying, Almost Everywhere (NY Times)

When Renting Is Smarter Than Buying (Kiplinger)

Renting is often an excellent option, and for many reasons. But it can be also be a catastrophic non-option when there are no available properties to rent.


A person I know in Texas (“Pat”) is unable to renew the lease on his rental house because his landlord has decided to sell the house, a decision likely driven by skyrocketing home prices in that market. Pat now has to move out, but he’s in a tough spot, because with so many people flooding into his Texas city, there is almost nothing available to rent. If a comparable house becomes available, it is now much more expensive and it still gets snatched up immediately at the inflated pricing. Pat has reluctantly looked at apartments, but the same shortage exists there, with prices that have soared in the past year, and which are well in excess of the rent he paid in recent years on a single-family house. He’s in a tough spot and he can’t figure out where to go. Had he bought a home a few years ago he wouldn’t be in this crisis.

This article is from Business Insider, which has published a blizzard of those “renting is better than owning” columns in recent years: The price of renting a house is exploding for everyone who can't afford to buy, and Southern cities are getting especially expensive.

Oops. Some of those renters might have been able to buy a house a few years ago before home prices exploded, but now they can neither afford to buy nor rent.

How about music? No one under 40 even buys music any more, right? Why buy when you can stream? Well for starters, the music you want to hear may get banned by streaming services.

Starting With R. Kelly, Spotify Pulls Artists From Playlists For 'Hateful Conduct'

Spotify Partially Lifts Its Morgan Wallen Playlist Ban

After watching social media purge so many conservative voices – including the President of the United States, you can bet that Spotify and Apple will soon be completely devoid of any music that isn’t properly woke. Heck, cancel culture has already come for Hank Williams Jr, who was kicked off Monday Night Football for daring to criticize Obama. If you don’t own Hank’s music in physical media, the day will come when you won’t be able to hear it at all.

It’s not just music. Netflix Reveals 9 Movies and TV Shows Banned From Its Platform Around the World You probably shouldn’t expect Animal House to remain available from streaming services much longer.

Above all other possessions, car ownership equals freedom, which is the primary reason that the American left has been at war with car ownership for several decades. Owning a car in New York City is challenging and expensive, but still, the vast majority of those who were capable of escaping New York City in 2020 didn’t escape via subway or a taxi. They drove their private cars to New Jersey, or the Hamptons, or the Berkshires. Or if they truly embraced freedom, they made a one-way, permanent drive to Florida – the new beacon of liberty.

When a hurricane hits the Gulf Coast, the people evacuating aren’t taking an Uber or a “ride share.” They are overwhelmingly driving their own cars. Many of the people without cars are the ones who “ride out the storm” because they have no way to evacuate.

But what about the young and car-less in hip urban areas? Well, this doesn’t sound very fun either:
‘It is not dependable for me at all’: Boston.com readers weigh in on the Uber and Lyft shortages

“I legit almost had to hitchhike home,” said a reader who waited more than an hour-and-a-half for an Uber to arrive.

Unfortunately, if that Uber passenger tries to go buy a car now, he is in for some tough shopping.

Empty Lots, Angry Customers: Chip Crisis Throws Wrench Into Car Business (WSJ)

Somewhat related, those who have trusted all their digital wealth to third parties operating online or in the cloud may find they can suddenly not access it at the most critical times. The Christmas Day Nashville bombing was a wake-up call to many who lost their internet and the use of their credit cards.

AT&T outage puts Chattanooga's biggest retailers on cash-only payments

Yep, cash is a good thing to have in a time of crisis. As is housing, transportation, fuel, food, and means of self-defense. Owning a house and a car indicates that a person believes in self-reliance. Those who trust that others will always be able to provide those basic human needs have learned some hard lessons recently. Perhaps the constant upheavals of the past 18 months will spur a revival of “ownership culture.”

(buck.throckmorton at protonmail dot com)

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posted by Buck Throckmorton at 03:17 PM

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