Why We Need Landlords
A tweet by the widely followed “Existential Comics” account recently made the rounds.
It might be easy to dismiss, but with more than 345,000 followers, the account apparently appeals to a lot of like-minded people.
The tweet caught my eye in large part because of how many people liked what amounts to a very economically ignorant and naïve “pop quiz.”
The point of the sarcasm, of course, was to demonize any greedy people who believe in private ownership of housing. How coldhearted you must be to support landlord ownership of housing! Don’t you know greedy landlords will just rent to the richest and leave the poor homeless? That’s what the profit motive does!
The only acceptable answer for any decent person, of course, would be for the housing to be “distributed” in a more equitable manner. Apparently, we are not supposed to think about the great inequality between the rulers granted the power to distribute such important resources like housing and those reliant on the whims of the rulers for their housing.
Nevertheless, the profit motive is clearly the villain in this story, under the belief that a more equitable means of distribution is desirable.
Below are three main points demonstrating the fallacies contained in this tweet.
It Begins at the Ending
The most obvious problem with this “pop quiz” is that the starting point is one in which 100 houses already exist. But houses don’t just exist in a state of nature. They need to be produced, using scarce resources like labor, land, lumber, sheetrock, and many others.
The houses must be produced before they can be “distributed.” The pop quiz ignores this, instead just assuming the houses exist with no recognition of how they got there in the first place.
Moreover, isn’t it convenient that the “quiz” also assumes a hundred houses on an island of a hundred people?
Why did the builders choose to build a hundred houses? The easy answer is that there are a hundred people on the island.
Article from Mises Wire