Apr 22Liked by Thom Hartmann

I have read your column only a few months and became a subscriber over the last few weeks. You do an exceptional job of writing timely, well researched, and compelling pieces.


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Even when you have paid off the mortgage, rising property taxes can cause you to lose your home. We must always live in fear of becoming homeless. I believe I have a condition I call "poverty trauma" from living on the edge of being homeless for so many years. I nearly have anxiety attacks when required to spend money over a certain amount.

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In a way, rising property taxes are a way investors shift the costs of their actions to everyday people. When these investors buy a house, they rent it and shift the taxes to the renters. Those still in their homes as owners are also impacted by the speculative highs of home values for taxes. Next, of course, can come a market crash during which average homeowners are wiped out and investors use the bankruptcy courts to buy even more properties.

Quite the vicious cycle!

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While paying off a mortgage, why does the mortgage payer have to pay the full amount of property taxes when they don't yet own the property?

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Excellent observation! Several years ago I was defending a client who had defaulted on a business loan. We did the best we could to highlight the way the lender had engaged in some conduct that was arguably a defense. The judge would have none of it. She sternly lectured my client that he should not have any defense to a lender. This is very typical of how the judiciary is in the pocket of big money and banking.

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Thanks, Thom, for yet another well researched and incisive piece of investigative journalism, sadly missing from the rest of the MSM. I would include the Trump administration's $2T tax break giveaway to his wealthy friends and Trump's intimidation of Jerome Powell to keep Fed interest rates at near zero for far longer than otherwise indicated, which drove up the prices of houses that folks could afford and inflated the entire housing market.

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Doc Greeley, I doubt that Trump could intimidate Jerome Powell, but that idea would be the default option for those that don't know how the financial system works and cui bono.

The Chairman of the Fed is invariably picked by the board of the FRBNY. There are 12 FR banks, but the NY Bank is head of the snake. And the NY Fed is owned by the major financial institutions, like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, 1st Boston. and these institutions finance both parties, but the overwhelming financing goes to the Republican Party, which is always, always pro business and pro finance.

Bill Clinton carved into that action, he was for sale, and benefited from support of international financial institutions, which he mentioned at least 21 times in his speeches, and was well rewarded when he left office, broke and virtually penniless with his own non profit, the Clinton Global Initiative, which paid him a healthy salary, benefits and expenses.

It wasn't intimidation by Trump that manipulated Powell, but pure self interest he knows who the bosses are. You can get a glimpse of them here, just click on list of Primary dealers


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Thank you Thom for another great piece.

It is so clear that every major problem

In this country is based on gross greed , ignorance and corruption.

Not to mention the inability of Congress to do their jobs which is to represent the people and their interests. It seems having a roof over one’s head should be seen as mandatory in this country.

And the wealthiest people crying about having to pay taxes are obnoxious

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An excellent review of the causes of high housing prices! They can be controlled.

There are some additional solutions beyond banning foreign ownership:

• Stop the hedge funds from buying up single-family dwellings. Prohibit businesses of any type from owning single-family dwellings

* Prohibit any person from owning more than two single family dwellings.

• Stop land speculation. It contributes nothing and is purely extractive. A beginning is to tax house flipping at 100%. A study that got little publicity reported that it was house flippers who contributed significantly to the housing price increases in 2008: https://qz.com/1064061/house-flippers-triggered-the-us-housing-market-crash-not-poor-subprime-borrowers-a-new-study-shows

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More and more evidence that the United States is becoming a failed state. As more and more of the poor end up on the streets, hungry and tired, the angrier they get until finally something gives. It won't be much longer.

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Very informative. Actionable. This is one of the many issues that can be addressed by reasonable people of goodwill for the country. Thank you.

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Dear Thom - Thank you! thank you! thank you!. I have been trying to get someone (Paul Krugman, Judd Legum, etc) people to write about this. Skyrocketing rental costs are the main reason people are feeling financially strapped. It is very annoying to me when economists say people should be feeling more positive economically because economic indicators (wage growth, employment, etc) are good. They are clearly out of touch with what is going on in the real world. When the majority of renters are officially 'rent burdened' at 30% or even 50% of income going to rent, a few percentage points of wage increase will not matter. I think people complain about supermarket prices because rent is taking too much of their wages. But rent costs feel unfixable, like the weather. What can we do to get a movement going about this major problem? I look forward to hearing more about this from you. And thanks for this great piece today. I have really loved virtually all your Substack pieces but today's made me sign up for paid version.

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Anyone see the irony of Zillow reporting on rising rents and homelessness?

Our lobbying group are our Senators and Congresspeople who should be looking out for us.

Also, investors and developers have bought then torn down SROs hotels only to build very expensive condo units. And those people now want government to arrest those people who are without housing and also want small government. . .

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Apr 22·edited Apr 22Liked by Thom Hartmann

The SCOTUS will be taking this issue up today and, needless to state, the result will be baleful. I am constantly amazed at the Dorian Grey nature of the United States in that it does not mind its ugliness...it just doesn't want to see it in the mirror as is the case with mass incarceration, racism, Anti-Blackism, drug addiction and lack of healthcare for all.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?

It ain't the "fair haired" one.


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You are obsessed with race Rohn. You mention it redundantly racism, anti Blackism,as if they were the only sins. Poor you. Racism is one of our original sins, yes but not the only sin., but that is all your tunnel vision can see.. Poor you. Maybe MSNBC should hire you for a Sunday Show.

How about sexism, ageism, bodyism,, antisemitism, Islamophobia,Christian triumphalism, ethnicism, homo and transphobia the list is endless.

My guess is that you are also homo and transhobic.

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Apr 22·edited Apr 22

Truly grizzlie reading. Thank you for this superb exposé. Although, I challenge the "Food" item in that chart. Food is still solidly in the greedflation ranks up here. Even Costco prices are far higher and sales are extremely infrequent on items that used to appear every two or three months in their sales brochure. Shrinkflation is especially noticeable in Costco's packaging of large Kleenex tissue boxes. Each box used to contain 325 sheets that now contains only 230. But this is off the topic at hand.

Unmentioned is the other primary aspect of Americans' inability to afford reasonable housing -- namely, wage suppression. 85% of American workers are classified as "nonmanagerial". Nonmanagerial weekly income, adjusted for inflation, was LOWER in 2017 than it was in 1972, and it probably still is today. As market setting employers continue to steal workers' productivity gains, wages, payments of FICA taxes and Social Security benefits stagnate, extending income insecurity and grotesque inequality into retirement and death.

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Two factors are driving homelessness in the United States. One is the stagnation of workers wages with the minimum wage being static since 2009 which along with few unions has led to a severe drop in income. The second is the cost of housing with the 100% focus on single family residences built on lots in much the same manner for the past 140 years.

What is needed are unions and an end to the zoning laws that tie developers' hands and prevents the construction of higher density and less expensive housing. It also results in higher costs for land use and higher costs for water and septic services and for fire and police protection. Even Habit for Humanity is building single family houses and so not making a dent in the problem.

Whenever capitalists are allowed to take over the public commons for profit the result is more people who are unemployed and more families that are homeless. This goes all the way back to the Inclosure Acts in England and Scotland that resulted in the criminalization of ordinary people and their being shipped as criminals to Australia. This process of theft by the elites continues to the present day with monopsony practiced by corporations with Wal-Mart leading the way.

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We might have dealt with these issues had Roosevelt's 2nd Bill of Rights become part of our national agenda:


But Republicans throughout government fight hard against each, while not mentioning that bootstraps are the only solution they support.

Scotus will soon rule on this, I expect their decision will affirm their acronym as "Spreading Cruelty Over The United States."

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Twenty-five to thirty percent of the people living on the streets got there because they are mentally ill and nearly half have substance abuse problems. If you are not crazy or stoned to begin with, you likely will be. 

Let's all say it together: REAGAN! When the people in charge can see there is a problem (the mental institutions and the costs) but have that Republican brain, they are going to do the first thing their gut tells them. In this case it was de-institutionalize and push all the cost off onto the states. Homelessness took a while to become a nationally recognized issue, but now it's everywhere, because of the free-market financial policies Thom has written about today.

I helped with a "homeless count" and met a young guy who lost his apartment over traffic fines, getting jailed because of them, and then losing his job. Oh we are HARD on crime, alright!

The right-wing thoughtless gut reactions, their hard-line ideology over mental illness, our version of health care (also causes mental illness and financial disasters), and Libertarian free market nonsense has gotten us here. Goodness only knows what the Republicans on SCOTUS will add to this misery with their decision!

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Ali's, I honestly believe all the right wingers know how to do is exterminate all of the people they hate and that does include losers of all races and religions and non-religions. But maybe the largest group of all?

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Apr 22·edited Apr 22

There is an element of disrespect, disregard, and racism in all of it. I really don't think extermination is part of their agenda, but how high the misery index goes doesn't seem to concern them either. Making life live-able? Future generations? They "feel" it should all happen without governing the greedy, grifters, and psychopaths.

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Ali's, I do think extermination is part of their agenda and torturing people also. They are sadists. It is all about the bottom line. If you can't make a buck for them, or be a soldier for them, you don't deserve to live! Trillions and trillions of dollars in all different currencies have been wasted by these greedy psychopath dictator parasites for thousands of years!

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As a psychologist, I feel it is important to point out that the cost of rent accounts for only a fraction of the reasons for a homelessness epidemic in America. The majority of people living on the street have significant mental health problems including addictions to drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse often starts as autopsychiatry to cope with anxiety and depression over things like job loss.

In my view, the ever-increasing homelessness population has been due mainly to government policies. During the 60’s and 70’s. Most State hospitals were in need of major restoration or replacement. That would surely need a tax hike. Coincidentally, drugs like Thorazine, Haloperidol, and Prozac enabled outpatient treatment for psychoses and other severe mental health disorders even though hospitalization was the preferred environment of treatment. That led well-intentioned liberal organizations to challenge the legality of civil commitments as an unfair infringement on personal freedoms. The result was fewer and shorter forced hospitalizations, and many patients were released to their communities way too soon for outpatient treatment. As far as legislators were concerned – problem solved.

Instead, the problem of mental health treatment soon created a flow of mentally-ill people whose outpatient placement often resulted in homelessness due to wandering off, forgetting or stopping medication (most had unpleasant side effects like drooling and walking like a robot). There was limited space in homeless shelters, so the majority wound up on the street because there were then, and still is, a shortage of mental health outreach workers to bring them back to treatment and restore their welfare checks, etc.

Why didn’t homeless people search for alternative housing? I heard two recurring reasons from homeless people for why they preferred to stay on the street. First, many had been victims of physical and/or sexual abuse in city shelters and/or they had been robbed in their sleep. Second, they were concerned that they would have to stop taking illicit drugs and/or sober up. That too made street life a more appealing option. That, coupled with the lack of trained outreach workers and facilities to treat the homeless with serious mental health issues created a perfect storm for expanding homelessness.

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Also it is hard to find anybody in their right mind that wants to take care of a homeless person. Some are very disruptive and eat a lot of food and are ungrateful besides having bad drug habits.

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The solution is a living wage tied to purchasing power based on the minimum wage of 1968. You can also give 50% of the money earned by employers for their worker hours. You could lower that to 33% if society offers very low cost healthcare, education, and housing. Purchasing power is more important than most any other measurement. Taking out anti-social players is always helpful.

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The annual COLA the government uses is designed as a way to keep people groveling. It is predicated on a "basket" which does not even approach reality, and every manufacturer, middleman, service provider jumps on the bandwagon when the COLA is announced my local ISP, raised his monthly rates from $70 to $80, my Pest control service, has bumped their quarterly rates, over the last four years from $66 to $100. Food is bumped from around $1 an item, in the end I am left with less cash than before the COLA.

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Just this morning, I was discussing my plan to take care of this elsewhere. Just an election away. In the short term can use homelessness as a weapon. Shoot the monopolists.

Relocate Democrats to save democracy and fix homelessness.

I use Wyoming as the prototype -- the most Republican state. Liz Cheney lost her primary in 2022 49,339 to 113,079. In the General election, the Democrat, Lynnette Grey Bull, only got 47,250 votes.

1. Register everyone who trends Democratic. Wyoming Native Americans accounted for more than 42% of the state's coronavirus deaths but comprise just 2.3% of the population. Most not registered -- need a mailing address. Many registered Republican. By census 12,359 (2022) in the state. That has to be wrong! More on the Wind River Res than that! https://www.fieldteam6.org/

2. Wyoming's voter population is less than 219,000. Relocate 250,000 Democrats. By comparison DC has no representation but in 2016 had 670,000 registered to vote! Wyoming has 2 senators one house member.

3. The unemployment rate in Wyoming is 2.8%. The following jobs provide housing. https://www.indeed.com/q-housing-provided-l-wyoming-jobs.html?vjk=a01a4f112ac74cd1

4. Consider the tens of thousands of homeless Californians who cannot afford housing but qualify for HUD chits. Wyoming has the lowest average cost of living among all of the Rocky Mountain states,. Average Housing Costs in Wyoming: $662 to $1,622 per month. The state has just 274,371 housing units, according to 2021 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

By comparison, Los Angeles rents rose to $3,515. Statewide, the median rent was $2,941 per month. The average rent in New York, NY is $3,760 per month. This is 148% higher than the national average rent price of $1,514/month, making New York one of the most expensive cities to rent an apartment in the US. Relocation could save billions in the long run funding volunteers to relocate.

5. Millions of Puerto Ricans living on the mainland because SSI is not applicable on the island. SSI is portable within the states. Relocate to gain statehood for PR and DC!

6. Check out North Dakota. https://www.katrinaforussenate.com/ https://www.katrinaforussenate.com/wolves

7. Rinse and repeat in the Dakotas,

My hometown has a pitch. Good housing for peanuts. Many homes for under $40,000. https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-search/New-Castle_PA/price-na-40000 One house in NY /CA = 15 houses in flyover country.

Like Thom says, come the revolution, the problem could be easily fixed by Congress to protect our real estate market from the vultures who’ve been circling it for years.

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In Wisconsin, you must have proof of address to register to vote.

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