On the Issue of Accommodation 24.06.17
I have a place to stay, that's not the issue. My friend and I, though, are looking for somewhere to share, to reduce our rent. Edinburgh rent; I'd like to talk about this. For a cold and basic flat some 40 minutes' walk from the centre, I'm paying £7200 per year, or if you prefer, £600 per month, as a mostly unemployed, and wholly unfunded student with two years still to go on my PhD. My friend and I are looking for two-bedroom places in Edinburgh, we have our eye on a place, and though the location is perfect, it's £1,100 per month. We're not expecting a Beverley Hills condo', we'll be lucky if it includes a bath tub.
Is it me or is rent quite crazily high for what you get? I know in London it's even worse, but this isn't London, nowhere is London except London, unless perhaps you're talking San Francisco or Tokyo for a comparable situation.
It feels like things are stacked against us, my friend and I, as we rat-race around, competing against other students, our phones at the ready to fire off calls, the second the 'group viewing' is over to say, 'Yes, I want it, let me pay you the deposit, and a year's rent up front . . . What? It's gone already?'
I want to talk about accommodation. I want to talk about the way Britain is. I'm conscious through my reading of the increasing trend in global automation and growth of the low-paying gig economy of zero-hours contracts. Of how, despite the pay freezes and struggle to find any kind of part-time work, the landlords are raising rent each year, and leaving us with nothing.
I want to talk about an advert I saw recently, for a particularly impressive laptop technology. In it was a self-employed woman, beaming about the modern job market, of how the average person will have at least five jobs over their life time. She was juggling five jobs with her software, with her website, her writing of online articles, and some other stuff. And I thought: I do these things as well, for no income whatsoever, and wonder how she can thrive, how most people can survive doing what she's doing, and the truth is, there's no way you could unless you have some outrageous talent and the business acumen to exploit it, and whatever else allows some people to succeed (while others, like me, are drowning).
I want to mention the news articles I have read, on the idea of universal basic income because even the right-wing policy-makers are scared at the trend in inequality, and even a thirteen-page character-assassination of Jeremy Corbyn the day before the general election didn't completely work for the Daily Mail in the way it used to and people are getting desperate about the ways things are. I want to mention the article this afternoon, just published in The Guardian, of the ever growing problem of rent all across Britain, as landlords get ever richer, while the rest of us give them our savings.
I don't know who to talk to. I see right-wing politicians and a right-wing media, always in power, obscuring this reality like it doesn't matter, or that there's nothing to be done about it. As I'm writing this, I feel like I'm alone in a post-apocalyptic world, sitting by my radio, asking, Is there anybody out there? feeling this misery about the way it's going, and just wishing the right-wing politicians and the media that dominate this landscape weren't quite as fucking greedy and heartless about it all, their survival-of-the-fittest ethic, but you know what? I'm quite fit, a middle-class child grown up, at least I have some savings even if the landlords are taking more and more of it, but what must it feel like to not have any savings, and you can't afford to study, you just submit to your financial destiny, until the landlords take the last of what you've got, and you've got nothing.
It's Saturday night, and as I sit here alone at my computer, I am sure that this isn't what Saturday nights are for.