One of life’s truisms is that, on the whole, renters don’t take care of property as well as owners do. Why should they? They have no investment in the structure. If they don’t mind the aesthetics of a scuffed baseboard, stained carpet or dirty walls, it doesn’t matter. When they leave the property, they leave scuffs, stains and dirt behind.
An owner, on the other hand, has a monetary incentive to keep things nice. Even if the owner doesn’t mind living surrounded by wear-and-tear, when he or she wants to sell, those signs of cosmetic or structural decay will affect the price the owner ultimately receives for the property. One of the things I learned during many years of house hunting (we were picky) is that the new carpet that the owner installed for $10,000 results in a sale price that’s $20,000 higher than it would have been with the old carpet.
I was thinking about that today when I read somewhere that approximately 50% of Americans don’t pay federal taxes. This means that approximately 50% of Americans are renters in this country. They have no ownership interest. If the thing falls apart, so what? Their money isn’t involved.
This post is not a plea for higher taxes. I will be furious at the Republicans if they agree to Obama’s demand that they raise taxes. It’s insane to take money from the functional private sector and put it into the dysfunctional, bloated, corrupt, slow-reacting, bureaucratic, labor-controlled federal government. I’m just saying that those 50% who don’t pay any taxes now should pay taxes, even if it’s only a nominal amount. They need an ownership stake in this country, and making them dependents of the federal government is not the way to do that.