by Travis Mateer
Today’s post is about the class war being waged against you right now. We’ll start with a macro snapshot of this war being waged via central bank policy, then we’ll move into the micro examples of how this war impacts Missoulians.
First, the macro picture summarized in one tweet:
It’s hard to deny that firing up the central bank printing presses has led to massive economic inequality, yet many Americans have no clue about this inequality engine because corporate media doesn’t like acknowledging these kind of meta-realities.
Instead of articles explaining the BIG PICTURE we get our local corporate media to put out an article like this about skyrocketing rent in our lovely Zoom Town. Here are some local numbers making life difficult for the non-wealthy in Missoula:
Average rent in Missoula stands at $1,076, according to a Sterling report from earlier this year. That’s an 8.9% increase from 2020. By comparison, Missoula’s average rent increased only 8.6% between 2009 and 2018, according to the Missoula Organization of Realtors.
Missoula is in a very difficult position due to a number of factors, some beyond human control, like the geographical reality of being surrounded by mountains limiting housing supply. Another factor is the desirability of living in a beautiful Montana college town. Add that infamous Zoom Town accelerant and what we have is an astronomically low vacancy rate (1.24%) freezing the housing picture for fearful renters afraid of the dwindling options if they are forced to move.
Here’s another excerpt from the Missoulian article featuring quotes from property manager Paul Burow:
“Our biggest issue with rental stuff right now is just supply,” he said. “Probably on a typical year, two or three years ago before the pandemic, I’d be processing 40-50 move-outs. And I’ve got like four right now. People aren’t moving. If something does come up, the prices are getting jacked because we have a waiting list of people who want it.”
And here’s how Burow explains the incentive that is hard to NOT see as simple greed:
Property managers also work for the owner of the property, he noted.
“It’s not that we’re trying to take advantage, but holy cow, our job is to rent things at the highest price possible and people are paying anything right now,” he said. “I feel bad for everybody.”
One of the policy tools that communities like Bozeman and Kalispell have tried to use is inclusionary zoning, but that is no longer an option thanks to HB259, signed into law by Gianforte in April. This bill bans the use of inclusionary zoning, something both Republicans AND Missoula liberals, like Eran Pehan, seem to agree with.
I’ve written about Missoula’s decision to ignore inclusionary zoning a couple of times over the years, like this post from March 2020 and this one from November 2019.
My question to anyone wanting to be an elected official of Zoom Town is this: if inclusionary zoning isn’t good enough for Montana, and no one has the guts to say things like RENT CONTROL, then what’s the plan? Continue using the pandemic as a scapegoat while the privileged half of Missoula who live off passive income send the beleaguered workforce to live in tents and cars?
The macro-plan from our financial elites is pretty simple: continue printing money and fuck the consequences because those consequences only seem to hurt the little people, and those people don’t matter because they lack the class solidarity to MAKE themselves matter.
In this context maybe homeless encampments play a beneficial role for the wealthy. Since more people than ever before are on the verge of becoming homeless, the visual reminder of being reduced to tent living is a potent incentive to shut-up and take it, whatever the “it” might be.
When will people realize that shutting up and just taking it is not a sustainable strategy for survival? I hope it’s soon, because the macro-moves of the sociopath class are busy implementing their GREAT RESET as I write this, and the time to resist their program for us is NOW.
Please wake the fuck up before it’s too late.
Thanks for reading.
Talked with someone last night that’s operating a new restaurant. They finally found a dishwasher, but only because they agreed to pay them $17 an hour. Last week the Iron Horse closed on Monday because of staff burnout.
The worker shortage isn’t just the enhanced unempmloyment, as the GOP often likes to say. It’s also lack of affordable housing. I talked with a guy last night that recently moved here, wants to work, but can’t find a place to live. He actually has bankable skills, but I doubt any employer here will realize them, as this man won’t find a place to live. He seemed too smart to me to do the silly $40-here, $40-there rental application game that the property management places like to play. It’s telling that PPM chose not to comment on the Missoulian’s article. They know they’re going against God, engaging in the sin of greed, and they’re ashamed of it, as they should be. But they won’t change.
Some legislator had a bill to get rid of these rental application fees for each paper application, but -surprise, surprise – it was killed.
Workers have an amazing opportunity to mobilize right now for higher wages, maybe even benefits. You’d think the Democratic Party and the unions that fund them would be all over this…but they’re not. Why is that? I don’t think unskilled, low-wage, private-sector workers seem like much of a benefit to union brass. But it seems to work in Nevada, so who knows. We all know nothing will come of it here Missoula, though.
Finally, for much of the past year, many of us have been told to stay at home. We’ve gotten used to it, we’ve reduced our spending, and we’ve begun living within our means. For many, there’s no longer a need to work 40 hours a week anymore, nor a desire. Hell, why even work 20 hours? I talked with someone last week that still has $13,000 of unemployment saved up, just sitting in the bank. He doesn’t need to work. If you can get by on less, and live more in the process…why not? Many are realizing this, and it’s another reason for the current worker shortage.
I concur with the great majority of points both you and Greg raise. As to rent control, I agree that failure to broach this is illustrative of political cowardice. BTW, the other day City Councilwoman Julie Merritt informed members of Missoula Rises that she is tired of hearing people demand rent control when the city has no power to adopt it. Now, I only practiced Constitutional law for 30 years, and only appeared in front of the Supreme Court of the United States on a constitutional and statutory construction case once, and I’m not currently practicing law, but doggone it, I’ve not been able to locate any state statute pre-empting or prohibiting ordinances by home-rule cities such as Missoula from instituting rent control in some form. If our crazy 2021 MT legislature enacted such a limitation in its final days, or of such a limitation already existed, I’d sure like for it to be brought to my attention, especially since every secondary source coming up in a Google inquiry likewise indicated that rent control is not prohibited in Montana.
As someone who believes that some form of rent control is needed in our current crisis , I readily concede that numerous studies have concluded that various kinds of rent control made affordable housing emergencies worse, by providing incentives for landlord to convert rental apartments to short-term rentals such as B&Bs or condos. Without regulating short-term rentals in Missoula (opposed by Mayor Engen’s Housing Director Eran Pehan who claims 360 of them is “too few to affect the rental market”) and also reforming use of Tax Increment Financing, careless adoption of rent control could indeed make matters worse. But the obscene rise in median rent in Missoula demands firm action sending the message that exploitation of human misery for unjust profits will no longer be tolerated in Missoula.