Friday, February 24, 2006

It is January 1st, the year 2100. Patrick Jones sees the morning's dawn, the dawn of the new century. But he has no reason to view the sunrise with hope. For you see Patrick is a member of the R caste -- a renter. His father was a renter. His father's father was a renter. And as he looks over to his newborn son he realizes that little Timmy will be a renter too.

Once upon a time in the mists of history there existed a brief time when anyone could buy a home. Yes you read that correctly, anyone. Oh, does Patrick wish he lived back then. He tells himself he would give anything to have lived during that golden age. But he can't. He's trapped in the present with no hope.

For today a 2 bedroom, 1 bath home in California is worth over 1 billion dollars. With a median income of $50,000, members of the R caste have no hope of ever saving enough money to buy one of these desirable homes. The only ones who are able are the fortunate H caste members, the ones who are able to leverage their home equity (which at 20% appreciation is rising at 200 million a year!), to manage the cash flow necessary for home ownership.

Patrick's sad life was predetermined when his great grandfather heard some insane bubble preacher who claimed real estate was overvalued. Patrick's ancestor listened to this fool and sold his house, thinking he would jump back in when prices dropped. But as we all know, the economic law of 20% minimum appreciation continued to work it's magic. And once he realized he was wrong it was too late. He was priced out. Forever. Oh how bitter a pill that is for Patrick to swallow. He spits a curse at that long dead fool! Why did he destroy all of their lives by being so stupid? Patrick had no answer. For who could conceive of an answer to such irrational behavior.

Eventually society splintered into 2 groups: home owners and renters. As the wealth of the H caste increased, the R caste became poorer. They found their jobs being outsourced at a greater rate and with no home equity to tap, they could no longer live a middle class lifestyle. Their spiral into the consuming darkness of poverty and hopelessness has been unabated for over 100 years. Oh, these poor wretches still cling to the bubble notion. They tell themselves it can not last forever and someday they will be able to buy a house. Someday prices will drop. Someday. Someday. Someday. But, deep in their hearts they know that someday will never come.

"Enough wallowing in the past," Patrick tells himself. He has to get ready for work. His boss is always angry if he is late because time is money to Mr. Pierpont Tollson. Mr. Tollson is a Senior Mortgage Engineer and, more importantly, a home owner. Unlike poor Patrick, Pierpont has never had to spend 1 day in school. He's never really had to do much of anything in life except consume. His position at the company was inherited and involves little actual work. Like a prince or king of a bygone age, life is good for Pierpont Tollson because in early 2006 his great great grandmother bought a condo conversion in San Diego. Such a small action and yet what a large effect it had. For over the years that converted apartment was leveraged, upgraded, sold, and parlayed into a fortune of over 30 billion dollars. And Pierpont sits today as the recipient of her largess.

Patrick tries to avoid these bitter thoughts as he puts on his sweater. But he can't stop thinking about it. If only he could escape from this trap he finds himself in. If only he could give little Timmy the life he deserves, a life better than his. If only...and then it hits him. Yes! He can give Timmy a better life. He'll put him up for adoption on Ebay to the highest bidder. Since only H caste members can purchase humans on Ebay it'll guarantee he'll end up a happier person and eventually he'll inherit from his new parents a house. And with a single tear flowing down his cheek he posts little Timmy on Ebay knowing he's sending him to a better place. A happier place. A home; something which Patrick knows he could never give him.