Wednesday was a productive morning. I completed some research and was feeling accomplished. Then two stories hit me as I left Starbucks on my way to my political program.
First, word came down that once more a murderer gunned down many students at a high school. This time it was in Florida. I was disappointed with my initial reaction. It was kind of, ‘There we go again. Next story.”
Second, NPR featured a story about the difficulty teachers are having a hard time purchasing a home in Denver. Did you know Denver was the second least affordable city for teachers because of real estate prices?
The Florida massacre will be well covered I am sure. It is likely to follow the same lame coverage where the excitement is rampant for three to five days. People scream for gun control. And then America loses its attention span for a few weeks until the next massacre. Even as these events are graphic and painful, sadly, enough people are not dying to make most in the nation at one time feel it is an existential problem for them. Our national level of empathy is still very lacking.
The story about the teachers is not just a Denver story. It is a national story. Folks in my country of origin, revere teachers. I find it appalling that we disregard and disrespect teachers as we do in the United States. In my opinion, educating is the most important profession in the country, as educators are the ones who maintain the continuum of knowledge over time.
The NPR story revealed the following.
Denver’s rocketing housing prices have made it the second least affordable city in the country for teachers. Based on average salaries, only about one percent of teachers here can afford to buy a home. ...
A tidal wave lies ahead for DSST and other Denver schools, where teacher salaries are in the $40,00 to $60,000 range. More than 70 percent of DSST teachers are under 35-years-old.
A survey in 2017 found 30 percent of staff wants to buy a home within three to five years. In order to make that happen, DSST launched a pilot project and invited Landed to Denver to speak with their teachers. ...
A San Francisco-based company called Landed, a self-styled “social mission real estate brokerage,” has an approach that has helped an estimated 200 California teachers develop a plan to get into a home (25 of which completed purchase of a home).
Here’s how it works: homebuyers put up 10 percent of the down payment. Landed puts up the other half.
"It is not a loan – it is a shared investment,” Landed’s Emily Eshman tells the teachers.
She explains that there are no monthly payments on the down payment support. If the home goes up in value when it’s sold or refinanced, Landed gets 25 percent of the appreciation. If the value goes down, Landed assumes 25 percent of the loss.
The big advantage to these educators is that if they can come up with 20 percent of the down payment, there is no mortgage insurance, which saves about $200 to $350 each month says Eshman. A 20 percent down payment also lowers monthly mortgages payments compared to a 10 percent down payment.
Landed sounds like a benevolent company helping teachers, But the entire enterprise exposes metastasizing cancer of various types within our economic system.
First, teachers are underpaid. Educators work more than just their hours in class. I watch them at as I blog in Starbucks grading papers and preparing lessons. Sometimes they come in in groups with their kids, and as one listen in to their conversation, it is evident it is a stressful job not only with pay but the constant fear of when some eruption with guns or parents are likely to occur.
The second is the fraud that is our economic system. We are led to believe that the market magically adjusts to reality. Capitalism is supposed to provide the most efficient manner to allocate resources. Society, regions need teachers. If an area cannot efficiently deliver the services, food, and shelter for all the professions that make that society viable, then it is a failure.
Landed corrupts the reality of the failure of the economic system by extracting even more from the have-nots. They've created a business that generates a financial instrument that makes overpriced real estate affordable and profiting by taking a cut of the appreciation. The companies existence promotes higher prices because homes that would go unsold requiring a price fall are now sold.
There are over 3.6 million Teachers and over 1.3 million college professors in the United States of America. That is a significant constituency that can tip elections in close races. While educators lean Democratic, a significant percentage are not. Given the reality of educators, their home is the Democratic Party.
But here is a more important reality we all must sell. The vast majority of Americans should be Democrats based solely on their needs and wants. But how do we make that clear? Many economic issues are not framed in a manner the average Americans can understand. Many are led to believe that things are just the way they are and immutable. Americans need an advocate who mitigates the systemic economic issues that put the masses at a disadvantage. The Democratic Party must make it their priority by using real stories where the economy is harming people in real time and provide a roadmap to solving the problem.
Also published on Medium.