Rent hikes ‘looting by another name’ – Parker
Landlords who hiked rents in the wake of last month’s Christchurch earthquake are just “looting by another name”, according to Mayor Bob Parker.
There have been reports that some rents have risen 150 per cent in a city where many have been left homeless by the magnitude 6.3 quake on February 22.
“I think that’s looting by another name. I just think that’s appalling,” Mr Parker told TVNZ this morning. … It shouldn’t be happening. We’re not going to get through this if people take that approach.”
This has provoked a response in Parliament. National is going to “listening to the advice” of Gerry Brownlee. Labour’s Annette King is calling for limits to be imposed on rent hikes in the city.
This is a situation where I think by far the majority of us would react and feel as Parker does. It seems simply wrong to exploit people for profit in a time of tragedy.
But if we can recognise the wrongness of it here – why can’t we recognise it more generally? Looting by another name is pretty the standard mode of operation for unregulated “market forces”. When we make obscene profits by selling medicines at insanely high prices in third world countries, when we charge “international prices” for our food while people go hungry, when we privatise assets already owned by people and sell it back to the rich ones to make a quick buck on, when we let the “invisible hand of the market” reduce us to nothing but consumers and grind us down into low wage poverty, what do you think is really going on? It is looting by another name.
All of my posts for March will finish with this note. While life goes on as usual outside Christchurch, let our thoughts be with those who are coping with the aftermath, with the sorrow of so many who were lost, and with the challenges ahead.