Matt Walsh, as normal, is spot on. Renting isn’t freedom. Ownership is.
This used to not be a problem of understanding in any way, shape, or form. Americans were shaped by the idea of the yeoman farmer; a small freeholder that owned his land, working the soil and raising a family on property that was his. Rather than scrape and genuflect a lord for the privilege of farming a plot of land, rather than live on some collectivized piece of hell with hundreds of other starving peasants, the American man owned his property and worked it by his own hand. His house was his. His land was his. The fruits of his labor, especially before the passage of the income tax, were his. Such were the men Jefferson spoke so highly of in his works and letters; they were recognized as the guardians of the Republic, as their progenitors had been the legionnaires and guardians of the Roman Republic (before Marius’s reforms) a millennium and a half earlier.
But, with industrialization, things changed. Property ownership was still a central feature of our republic, men wanted to own property and did so. However, that changed somewhat as they moved off of their land and into cities. Rather than owning a house and farm, they paid rent to live in a crowded apartment. Rather than work the land, reaping the fruits of their labor, they worked in dangerous factories that someone else owned, receiving wages rather than earning profits. Ownership disappeared for a large fraction of the population.
Since then, the problem has only gotten worse. While Americans of the past still recognized the virtue of property ownership, modern Americans seem not to. The Great Reset crowd crows about how we’ll all be happier in the coming century because we “won’t own anything.” Younger Americans, priced out of the housing market by hedge funds like BlackRock, are forced to rent either a house or an apartment. Rather than own a small shop, lead a crew of construction workers, or live as a contractor, the bug men of the modern-day remain fixtures of massive corporations, working for a check rather than earning profits. They don’t own their labor, their employer does. They don’t own their abode, their landlord does. They don’t own their life, others do.
That’s a major problem. Renting isn’t freedom any more than tossing quarters down a slots machine is. Rather, it’s a corrupting act that leads to ill-maintained properties, a lack of seriousness, and precarious finances.
The average owned home looks nicer than one that is rented. Renters have no reason other than aesthetics to maintain the outer appearance of the house, mow the lawn, trim the hedges, plant a new flower bed, or ensure trash is picked up; doing so is the responsibility of the landlord, who will do as little as possible because he doesn’t live there. Homeowners, on the other hand, have the added incentive of owning something and wanting to keep it nice. It’s their house, not someone else’s. They can, by virtue of their own effort and sense of responsibility, turn a simple building into a pleasant home and because it is theirs they will do so. So if you rent, you’re “free” to not maintain the building and instead rely like a toddler on a grown-up to care for it, but we all know that’s not really freedom, that’s just an excuse for sloth and license.
Furthermore, homeownership stimulates responsibility and investment. If you have a mortgage, you have to settle down and find a way to pay the mortgage bill. You can’t skip around like you can with apartments, moving as you please and moving in and out of jobs at will. Sure, in both cases you’re paying a monthly bill, but in the case of a mortgage, you’re stabilizing your future and investing for the long haul. With rent, it’s just a throwaway check that’s the same in Pittsburg as Texarcana, LA as NYC. You’re not investing nor do you have to settle down; you’re floating like an amoeba in the sea of Life. Owned houses build settled families, apartments and rented houses build leagues of transients, drifters that float around.
The left wants you to believe that “floating” is freedom. They’re so wrong. It’s not “freedom” to avoid marriage, family life, and the joyous responsibility of raising children. That’s dodging life. It makes you a slave to your passions and impulses. Similarly, renting isn’t freedom. You’re not “free” if you keep wandering, never settling down and becoming part of a tribe, you’re just a restless wanderer. You could be kicked out out an apartment at any moment, let your restlessness rule you, or find that you’re ruled by chasing the pleasures of the flesh rather than accomplishing great feats and building a future.
Individuality is well and good, and it is a celebrated, American value, but it’s traditionally been tempered by the knowledge that there is value and freedom in living a life of duty and fulfilled responsibilities.
Freedom comes from living well. Those who the left describes as “free”- the drug users, the boozers, the sluts- everyone ruled by passion rather than thought, aren’t free. Their slaves to their nature. Those who live upright lives of moderation, virtue, and accomplishment can be free. Owning a house stimulates that. It forces you to invest in property, leads to you settling down, and gives you something that is yours, not another’s. Owned space is important; man is free when what surrounds him is his.