I am about to step up on my soapbox. The biggest domestic social justice issue today is unaffordable housing. I have written about this previously, but the situation is even more acute now, so I am going to ramp up the truth level. It is criminal that a country as large as Australia and so sparsely populated has such high house prices. I say that as a home owner. What may be good for me personally, is bad for our children and the future of our country. Think for a moment about the social implications of high house prices.
Immorality: Unaffordable housing pushes young people towards immorality: High home prices delay the formation of new family units (marriage). This puts pressure on young people to sin sexually rather than get married and form a new house-hold. High house prices attack the leave and cleave principle.
Slavery: For young people who are able to get a mortgage, they are enslaved to obscene levels of debt. Their ability to follow God’s call on their life is hamstrung by a 30 or 40 year mortgage that requires 2 full-time incomes to service. For those who choose to rent, they are enslaved to ever increasing rent prices forced on them by the investor class. The Biblical language of ‘slaves and free’ are just as applicable to modern day Australia.
Genocide: While it is popular to say that young people just need to get a start home and work hard and work their way up the property ladder, this ignore the face that time does not wait for child-bearing. Menopause still kicks in around the 40’s. If servicing a mortgage or rent requires 2 incomes for a sustained period of time, then abortions will a pattern until the point where conception is no longer an option. We will have an entire ghost generation and a lost future for our nation.
How did we get here? Well, our greed and selfishness has resulted in public policy that supports the haves at the expenses of the have nots. I have some sympathy for the Occupy movement in this regard. Australians have justified a restrictive planning and development policy by believing a green theology that urban sprawl is evil. This deception has even deceived some of those who name the name of Christ. But while high home prices help the Baby boomers and early parts of Gen X, it robs the future from Gen Y and others. Therefore, it should surprise no one, if Gen Y embraces euthanasia as a means to obtain housing in the future.
How do we solve the problem? Short of praying for a crash in house prices, which would cause a whole new set of problems, there are some solutions that I see. These solutions require quick changes in policy at all levels of government.
1. Decentralisation: We need to build new towns and cities. I am not talking about endless planning, but shovels in the ground quickly. Whether that be opening up the north of Australia, or just revitalising our regions. Affordability is much better in rural Australia and we can release land and provide incentives for industry to relocate. Ensuring a sustainable wage system and building infrastructure is also required. But we need to get moving.
2. Reduce land taxes: The average block of land has 40% of its cost going straight to councils and governments in taxes, levies, contributions. Why would we advise anyone to take out a mortgage just so they can use it to pay tax? These contributions go way beyond what governments require to operate. They need to reign in their largess and reduce the cost of new land.
3. Pre-fab Construction: Even if you own a block of land outright, the cost of building a home is prohibitively expensive. Construction materials make up 35% of the cost of building while labour makes us 65%. Our high construction costs enslave new home owners to excessively high mortgages. If we get new homes built in 3 weeks instead of 3 months, the cost would dramatically fall. New estates must embrace quality pre-fab homes.
Public policy won’t change until we collectively reign in our greed and love the next generation. I would welcome your thoughts on how we can address this serious social justice issue in our own backyard. For our children’s sake, it is vitally important.