The term “privilege” comes easily to tongues these days, usually in the combined explanation of good fortune and the acknowledgment of others not having the same.
These days, one badge of privilege is not having to worry about being evicted from an apartment—or facing foreclosure on the small apartment building you own. Having stability where you are, or where you will move to. Possessing the resources to obtain basic life requirements.
Many do work hard and possibly scrape by for this. Most people aren’t wealthy and can’t take the rent or mortgage or food bill or health insurance premium for granted. They aren’t as likely to mention privilege because they’re too busy keeping the Wolf of Wall Street from the door.
The latter are the forces sopping rivers of tears with bits of dried tax credits and profit opportunities. Still a minority of ownership of rental properties, so-called institutional investors snap up morsels to build their portfolios or put money into investment funds that can total many hundreds of millions so someone else can purchase the properties and send back a cut of the rents.
The small fry, who traditionally were the major provider of rental housing, get a shrinking portion. They’re trying to build wealth but find themselves pushed and stretched out because they’re the ones who many of the millions unable (or, yes, maybe unwilling) to pay rent owe.
But most of the people not paying more likely can’t. According to the Treasury Department, 60% of the emergency rental assistance program recipients are at or below 30% of the median income in their areas. Also, on average, the landlords they owe don’t have the money to keep things afloat indefinitely.
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The help continues to be slow to reach those who need it, and the problems seem to on a state level, according to Marketplace.
States like Texas and Virginia are doing pretty well getting the money out, said Diane Yentel with the National Low Income Housing Coalition. But about 15 states — including Alabama, South Carolina and Wyoming — have spent less than 5% of their money.
“We have found that many of the slower spenders for emergency rental assistance, especially the ones that are lagging furthest behind, are the same programs to have overly complicated and complex application systems, to require burdensome documentation,” Yentel said.
There are parts of the country where those who need help are dismissed as unworthy. If they were good people, a deity would provide, right? Therefore, there is something wrong with them and why send help to those aren’t deserving?
But its an argument based on a logical and mathematical flaw, in which the premise is used to justify itself.
Often, the “good” people are the heirs of callous and questionable activities of their ancestors. Generational wealth passed on through the mechanisms of tax breaks designed to maximize the volume of transfer.
Privilege is a euphemism, a genteel term that suggests a caste system in which people are afforded rights based on their status. Which does sound like the U.S.
But when people talk about their privilege, they’re excusing themselves from the moral implications. “I can’t help being in a better position than others because it’s privilege.” Pity, that.
The actual explanation of structural mechanisms that provide additional advantage to those that have already had it aren’t as pleasing. They are, however, more accurate.