The Case for Making Rent Disappear

The Case for Making Rent Disappear

To understand what’s at stake in the fight for rent cancellation, we first need to understand the significance of rent. In the US, rent is the vehicle for a wealth transfer from the poorest third of the population to a mere 7% of US residents and a relatively small number of corporate entities. The mom-and-pop landlords that make up that 7% face more precarity than their corporate counterparts, underlining the importance of COVID-19 mortgage cancellation. But many tenants live one paycheck away from homelessness, representing a far greater and more vulnerable segment of the population.

Leftist Benefits are In-Kind, Actually

Leftist Benefits are In-Kind, Actually

The argument goes that cash benefits, such as UBI, afford recipients the dignity to choose what they need, versus in-kind benefits which paternalistically define that need for them. By removing government restrictions on spending, they allow recipients the freedom to consume on their terms. However, this so-called choice is in name only without a guarantee that basic needs will be met. The context of housing provides one example of this. The reality of cash benefits is that even where choice is not restricted by the state, it remains restricted by the failures of the market.

Property Without Autonomy

Property Without Autonomy

I want to suggest, however, that autonomy—even Dagan’s rehabilitated, communitarian conception of it—is a myth. Rather, the dependence and reliance (the vulnerability) against which autonomy is pitted is not pathogenic. It is not pathological. It is not an error to be fixed or a deficiency to be remedied.”

Property, Collectivity, and Restraint

Property, Collectivity, and Restraint

Dyal Chand’s concern is that Dagan’s vision does not ensure the level of collective restraint that will be required to pull us back from our current state of crisis. Some of the choices that Dagan argues should remain available to self-actualizing individuals, particularly those that allow for more individualized decision-making, may simply be unwise to keep available at a time when the pursuit of autonomy through property has produced serious collective harms.

Liberal Property Law vs. Capitalism

Liberal Property Law vs. Capitalism

This is part of our symposium on Hanoch Dagan’s book, A Liberal Theory of Property. For a concise version of Dagan’s argument, see this restatement. Image credit: Sam Abell, National Geographic. Hanoch Dagan has written a wonderful, thoughtful, and thought-provoking book. Its publication could have hardly come at a more prescient time. Many observers and commentators rightly despair over the…

Liberalism, Property, and the Means of Production

Liberalism, Property, and the Means of Production

In this post, we specifically consider liberal defenses of private property in the “means of production”. This focus allows us to put the liberal defense of private property into dialogue with Marxism, with which it shares a broad humanistic heritage and many particular normative framings. Our focus also connects liberal property theory with a variety of later critiques of private property in certain productive resources, including those of the progressive and realist lawyers who generated American doctrines concerning “public utility” and other modes of resource governance that are neither strictly “private property” nor strictly matters of state control.

What the UK Student Rent Strikes Reveal about Financialization

What the UK Student Rent Strikes Reveal about Financialization

The Bristol Rent Strike, which now has over 1900 students pledging to withhold rent, is one of the many ongoing student strikes across the UK. Over the past few months, students at roughly 20 universities including Manchester, Oxford, and Cambridge have organized mass rent strikes, demanding overall reductions in rent, no-penalty contract releases, and better accommodation conditions. But one significant obstacle stands in their way: Many of these students live in financialized student housing—in buildings owned not by universities but by multi-million-dollar corporations. The financialization of student housing has fundamentally altered the relationship between universities and students and, in so doing, has complicated student resistance against housing injustice.

Privatized “Affordable Housing” Is A Scam

Privatized “Affordable Housing” Is A Scam

You hear it everywhere: we need more “affordable housing.” It’s a seemingly uncontroversial call, and yet… a group of members of the LA Tenants Union were compelled to document the many and profound problems with the dominant model of privatized “affordable housing” in the United States.

Rent Cancellation: Social Protection in Uncertain Times

Rent Cancellation: Social Protection in Uncertain Times

With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, interlocking structural inequities in health, employment, and racial justice have buffeted vulnerable populations. The looming “eviction apocalypse” sits at the nexus of these three ills. Black and Latinx people have the highest COVID infection, death, and unemployment rates nationwide. Mass evictions would only worsen this situation, preventing these households from sheltering in…

Slumlord Capitalism v. Global Pandemic: LPE on Covid (vol 3)

Slumlord Capitalism v. Global Pandemic: LPE on Covid (vol 3)

As part of our ongoing effort to bring you the best LPE work on COVID-19, today we bring you this piece from John Whitlow, followed by a roundup of LPE COVID writing published elsewhere.  The poet Langston Hughes once wrote, “I wish the rent was heaven sent.” With a record 10 million Americans filing for…