On Avocado Toast

On Avocado Toast

May 19, 2017 · 3 min read

Last week, while millions of students were busy studying for final exams, millionaire Tim Gurner sat in one of his 5,700 properties and explained how millennials are at fault for their current struggles. Insisting that we cannot afford homes because of our own irresponsible spending, one of the wealthiest men in the world unironically named overspending on avocado toast as a culprit in the current housing crisis.

As many have noted, Mr. Gurner was only able to begin his real estate empire thanks to $35,000 gifted to him by his grandfather. While Gurner claims that this money was used to secure a much larger loan of $120,000, it is clear that he is anything but a “self made man” whose accomplishments could be achieved by just any hard-working individual. Today, the average American owes more than $100,000 in total debt. The fact that Gurner started above water at all shows his privilege. A girl I went to highschool with is currently working three jobs, in an effort to save enough for university, and still barely managing to cover her cost of living. That is what being self-made looks like. To equate Gurner’s blind luck with her desperate climb is frankly disgusting.

Gurner is a lottery winner standing atop an ivory tower and shouting blindly that anyone can win, if only they would buy more tickets.

Most egregiously, he chooses to target a disadvantaged generation with his tone deaf attacks. Millennials face more than $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. Even the most fortunate students are likely to spend their adult lives paying off loans for an education they were forced to purchase. Further, we are likely to die younger than our parents, breaking a trend which goes back to the foundation of our country. A startup launched this year in California preys on that desperation, offering “text book money” in exchange for the blood of millennials — blood which will not go to hospitals for emergency use, but rather will be injected into wealthy boomers as an “anti-aging” treatment.

I am incredibly fortunate by all accounts, and even still, I will graduate with just under $100,000 in debt, even before graduate studies. Growing up, I watched the older millennials enter into an economy which was ravaged by moguls like Gurner, and can look forward to one which has only recovered for the rich. Three years ago, one of my friends hung himself in his dorm room at MIT. He was the victim of a system which worked him to death while accusing him of laziness. I have trouble naming even one peer who has not suffered anxiety or depression thanks to that double standard. For Mr. Gurner to sit on his throne and label my peers as irresponsible freeloaders is not only grossly unjust, but homicidal. The blood of our generation is on his hands, and he has the audacity to blame us for bleeding.

Worst of all, I am confident that neither ignorance nor incompetence lead to Gurner’s murderous idiocy. He knows how unfair the system is, and is quite aware that our struggles are not caused by trendy meals. He attempts to mislead us because, if we recognize that the system is rigged against us, then we will try to change it. That would mean forcing men like Gurner to earn their keep without exploitation, and he knows that. So he tries to blame us, desperately hoping that we will continue working ourselves to death for his benefit.

Gurner represents a much larger problem facing our modern world. Today, a group of incredibly wealthy oligarchs wages war against the young for the crime of wanting justice. Facing economic stagnation, global environmental disaster, and ever growing inequality, we must not allow ourselves to be duped into apathy.

We deserve a better world, and we don’t have to give up avocado toast to build it.

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Housing II: On the Market by C. E. Silvera IV

Already I can hear the worried cries of landlords and real estate agents: “But what about the housing market? How would we know how many houses we have? What about their worth? How would we maintain stability without the market? How would the construction workers who build the houses be paid? Surely we must keep the housing markets!”

    Indeed, the landlords and real estate agents should be worried, for their power is most definitely in danger. They hide behind our worries of shelter, health, and safety as if their needs are the ones in danger, as if they are like us, and yet, they leech off of and dominate us because we are truly different. The landlords do not care for your wellbeing, the real estate agents do not care how the construction is paid for, and they have never cared for those whom they sell to. They only care for the money in our pockets, and the wealth they claim from controlling our property. And yes, it is our property. We live in these homes, why shouldn’t it be ours? We built these buildings, why would we not own them? We need housing, why wouldn’t we naturally have a claim to some of the excess? There are folks without housing, yet plenty of houses. Why not give them quickly to those who need it? 

    Truly, the very nature of the housing market is the best evidence against its existence. You cannot call a system of distribution efficient if it fails to serve millions yet leave millions of homes empty and divert production to create the shabby, rotten sardine cans we know as apartments. And as for condos, they are nothing more than house just beyond arm’s reach, a sardine can made aesthetically pleasing. If there is even one of us that lacks proper housing, yet we have housing open and empty, then we have failed as a community and as a people. But those of us striving for housing are not at fault. We do not control the markets, and we do not benefit from their rigid hierarchy of production and distribution. If they force the construction of houses yet refuse to give them to those that need them, opting instead to exploit our suffering in order to gain power from it, perhaps we should refuse to build for them. If they refuse to give us the houses we need, perhaps we should refuse to give them our power, our labor, and our wealth. On the question of assessing our inventory, that is, how many houses we have, when exactly were markets needed in order to count? In no way are markets necessary for the process of accurately counting the amount of goods we have in any sense, nevermind their “necessity” in gauging the worth of said goods. The worth of housing is in the ability to house us. The worth of housing is in the shelter they provide, the meeting of our needs and desires. The worth of housing is in our ability to live, and anyone that says otherwise, or that the worth is why we should be exploited, is a bold-faced liar that has something to gain from exploiting us. As to the stability guaranteed by the housing market, I don’t believe the Housing Crisis of 2008 was a very stable time at all, yet the market was used to it’s fullest extent in the years leading up to the crash. If stability is what leads us to die in the cold, the rain, the heat, or otherwise, perhaps it shouldn’t be so stable. If stability leads to Mankind being exploited by a deceptive and greedy minority, then we should advance into instability. If stability is what kills us and enslaves us, then we should welcome chaos, since it would appear to be a better host. If the market brings men to tear at one another for scraps while those with real power pull the strings and guide the turmoil, then the market should be destroyed, the strings cut, and the puppeteers ripped from their thrones and destroyed for their crimes against Humanity. The exploitation of our housing is systematic genocide, and the market is the main component of said system. Lastly, on the payment of those who construct our housing… They are not paid by our rent, the purchase of the house, or by mortgage, nor or they paid in our bills. They are paid wages by their bosses, which is separate to the entire housing market scheme, yet is similarly despicable. They do not gain even a lick of anything from the ridiculousness of the housing market, nor any market system. They simply yet another exploited group of people toyed with by the puppeteers, the Governing Class.

    I believe I have made my points extremely clear. By no means do we, the commonfolk of the world, benefit from the housing market. Therefore, we must by all means get rid of it in favor of construction and distribution by need, allowing everyone their own personal house to live in, not only because we very easily can,  but because we should have already done it in the first place.

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Housing III: Landlords and Companies by C. E. Silvera IV

    Most people do not own the building or even just the room they live in. There are those who openly rent, whether it be rooms or flats, and there are those who “own” their housing in the form of condos and townhouses. Regardless of the name, the unifying principles are that you will be paying a draining fee to an individual or group of landlords simply for needing shelter, that the land and developments are owned and under the jurisdiction of the landlords, and that therefore the law benefits the one who owns more in this situation than the one who owns nothing. Our current society is one of hierarchies. As such, the law is built to keep up those hierarchies above all else, and in that, protect and increase the power vested in the top at the expense of the bottom.

Why Landlords Exist.

    The human brain is amazing. It is able not only to compute to lengths still unknown, even by estimate, not only to dream and to think in processes, but is capable of driving the human body. However, even with all its power, it cannot drive alone. It requires the nervous system to manage the muscles of the body due to its position in the skull, the separated, solitary top of the body. Such is the situation for our societal hierarchy. The Ruling Class is few, yet powerful, controlling all of the resources and wealth they command. However, due to their height and self-inflicted seclusion, they require middlemen and puppets in order to be capable in their domination, just as any other society requires many to organize many. Just as the Boss requires Managers to keep up his own stranglehold on his employees, the Ruling Elite requires landlords to manage the stranglehold on our need for shelter and property.

    Our society, just as any other, is driven by need. Humans labor for the specific purpose of fulfilling needs and overall desires, most of which only include the highest possible quality of our basic needs. A hierarchical society, such as a Capitalistic Society, requires the head of society to secure all resources required for production, distribution, and fulfillment in order to exploit the needs of the rest of society. So such is the relationship between the Ruling Class and the landlords. The Ruling Class organize the housing resources and middlemen into a specific market, with a number of subset markets within the overall housing market. Within the markets, they organize the resources under several individual landlords and landlord companies, which not only increases the efficiency of market maintenance but also maintains the exploitation key to the hierarchical model. This is not to say that everything is literally top-down. Capitalists rarely build their machinery in such a deliberate manner. Rather, aesthetically, the machinery is built to seem disconnected, and the parts separate and independent from one another, yet functionally it is all one big beast in control of a malevolent owner. This is why there are so-called “landlord unions” when there was no need for them in the first place, when they are already so well organized. 

Landlord Companies, and Consolidation.

    No one is invulnerable to aesthetic, especially when the head of society plays upon ignorance. Such is the situation of individual landlords, who are finding that they are being ousted in favor of faceless, complex companies who can exploit human need more efficiently and in a more legally defensible package. Landlord unions exist primarily to boast about and share exploitation methods, however they are slowly being turned towards either boasting about a specific landlord’s expansion into a company or corporation, or another’s denouncement of housing companies, claiming that they are stealing jobs and running the little guy out of the housing market. 

    This is the highest form of comedy. The irony of crying over being exploited when you exploit others for profit is one thing, but not seeing this natural conclusion coming is another. The natural conclusion of every market is the consolidation of each one into one or a few huge corporations at the direct cost of every individual seller or smaller company, and the housing market is no different. The market is at the direct control of the Ruling Class, and the Ruling Class owns the biggest corporations and most, if not all, of the resources either directly or indirectly. It is only natural that a structure built to empower the Ruling Class would end up doing so. 

The consolidation of power from the middlemen was an inevitability that is necessary and natural to Capitalism and the market structure, and so the exploiter is exploited by those whom allowed them to exploit. This is not to support individual landlords; exploitation is exploitation. If we are to advance as a society, all exploitation must be gotten rid of in favor of efficiency in all things, truth, justice, and so on. Do not think for one second that landlords exist innocently, or that companies will be the savior of anyone but who owns them. Consolidation of exploitation is just more organized oppression.

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Housing by C. E. Silvera IV

    There is power in owning the building which you sleep in. The Homeless understand this power more than those that were born without the imminent worry that they may at some point in their lives live in a room which they do not own, a house that they can never pay off, or simply without a home at all. They understand it more because they have been striving for a home for who-knows-how-long, missing meals, being treated as bothersome germs, and being directly attacked by the laws of the State, all for the “possibility” of having somewhere to stay, only to be refused that “possibility” time and again. There is nothing more brutal than a predatory system which plays with the downtrodden it consumes as food. We should be marching by the hundreds of millions in the name of those violently left to the elements by the very nature of our humanity alone, nevermind anything else. The very nature of this brutality calls into question the legitimacy of an economic and political system which indeed desires and feeds off of the power structures created when there are those who have nothing yet feed their labor into the Community, while the Community has more than enough, to an overwhelming degree, and yet gives nothing to those which serve as its backbone. It is with this pretense which I will endeavor to denounce the very concept and existence of Housing Markets in favor of distribution and production by need in this case.

Land and Power.

    It is no small thing to own the residence in which you sleep in. Not only is it your personal space of rest and so on, but it is also a huge economic boon to both the owner and the community-at-large. Housing is a major expense for most people; on average Americans spend around 40% or so of their annual income on housing costs, whether it’s in rent and bills or mortgage and bills. Freeing up 40% of most of the world’s labor value obviously would benefit us indescribably, individually and communally, but it would also even the playing field a ton, which is why we haven’t secured quality housing for everyone yet.

    Owning land in of itself immediately grants power through the immediate security of Wealth, with the worth of the land increasing in value first slowly with time through appreciation by market standards, and secondly exponentially through the development of the land. The construction of housing is only one of many such developments, yet without it all other developments would be useless. The developments of farms, factories, and other modes of production serve to enhance and expand the worth of our labor, yet the Residence is built solely to serve and store us, the bodies of labor. Without the Residence, there is no enhancement of labor, or even complicated society whatsoever. That is the innate power of the Residence, yet we allow for that power to be monopolized by the few and vulgarized into rented out and hollowed husks of buildings maintained by the dogs of said few. There is no inefficiency worse than our current distribution of power, and our system of housing is the linchpin of that distribution. Why else would we build so many houses yet keep so many homeless and renting if there was not someone pulling the strings and gaining from such a ruckus? Humanity is not naturally set to inefficiency and stupidity, nor is it set to be twisted about and ruled by a supposed elite few of said species. The simple concept of a supposed elite in a species of supposed unintelligent masses proves not only that the existence of this hierarchical system is arbitrary, but those in power will go to extraordinary lengths to keep up their arbitrary powers. No human is born with power other than labor, yet the few of Mankind monopolizes the power of the many, our labor, along with the storage and upkeep of said labor, and passes down said control and power to descendants within their Class. 

    I could denounce the privatization of land and business as quickly as I denounce the monopolization and waste of housing, but for the sake of staying on topic, I focus on the latter. However, the bottom line of all of this is that in order to destroy the monopoly of business, we must first destroy the monopoly of housing.

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