Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Tony Alexander Doctrine, or 39 things to give up if you want to buy a home

(After BNZ economist Tony Alexander)

If you are a young person seeking first home ownership what do you do? Take courses in basic building and home maintenance skills, find a dunger or even a meth house to strip (you heard me), and do it up. Basically, be prepared to do what the Boomers did. Start out in a desolate new suburb of clay – or even Hamilton – or build and live in what will become your garage whilst building the rest of the house around you in the following few years. This is completely true. Every house you see around you was built by a Boomer on weekends.

And how to finance it? Go to cafes and spend as much on lattes, muffins, frappes, wraps, etc. as often as the Baby Boomers did. Get takeaway as often as they did and consume as much food beyond daily calorific requirements as they did. Because Boomers were lean, too, the sweat on their chiselled bodies glistening in the late afternoon sun as they endlessly built or repaired their homes after a day spent at the office, servicing the patriarchy.

Sorry. Where was I?

Mend clothes instead of buying replacements like they did. (Yes I know everything about the changed economics of the clothing industry.) Upgrade your electronics as often as the Boomers did. (Never mind that a television in the 1950s cost as much as a car today.) Subscribe to the same number of TV channels as they received. (Never mind that there was only one channel and everyone paid for it through tax.) Change your telephone as often as they did. Drink the same limited range of domestically produced non-boutique beer and wine as they did, at home, at the local motor lodge or working men’s club.

Did I just tell Millennial women to stay at home? So what if I did.

Hire as many gardeners, landscape designers, decoration consultants, plumbers, Feng Shui consultants, window washers, dog walkers, dog washers, cat whisperers and general handymen as they did.

You see, here at the Bank we are staunch opponents of the services industry and of consumer culture generally. We’re willing to put this in writing in the letter accompanying your complimentary, pre-approved credit card, which is in the mail.

Okay so my boss, Anthony Healy, emerged from the world of shadows in which he apparently dwells to point out the thing I wrote about the Boomers was offensive and stupid. But the point is that the world has changed and if purchasing a house is your goal then there is no shortage of things which those who already have purchased sacrificed as they built up their savings. Things people have cut out have included...

· Cafe visits.
· Going to restaurants and bars.
· Smoking. (It is well known that Boomers never smoked.)
· The latest telephones, games consoles, cars.
· Hired help like dog washers, landscape designers, etc. You may not believe that I am banging on this again, but I just did. Every day I see Millennials getting their dogs washed by liveried professionals, all within sight of the landscape gardener whom they keep on retainer in spite of the fact they don’t yet own a home, let alone a home and garden. This is folly.
· Weekend and evening leisure time because they took an extra part-time job.
· Privacy – by taking in flatmates or student boarders, or renting out space on Airbnb, or taking their showers by running naked in the rain.

Here are some other things.

· Yet more consultants like cat fondlers, gutter decorators, ant alphabetisers.
· Not only Feng Shui but also doors, windows and the very concept of indoor-outdoor flow. Go live in a box that opens from the top.
· Sky Television.
· Phrases with the word ‘sky’ in it.
· Looking at the sky, except when overcast.
· Netflix. Freeview. Any audiovisual content you're not getting paid to watch as part of a market research exercise.
· Flavoured rice.
· Potable water.
· Milk not purchased at a petrol station.
· Meat that isn’t shredded or minced.
· Meth, except on weekends.
· One half of all bodily organs that come in pairs.
· Music outside of public domain records on wax cylinders or vinyl that you have trained yourself to play in your head while licking the grooves, and whatever you can overhear by standing next to somebody wearing loud earphones on public transport, or by running alongside cars with very powerful stereos.
· Birthdays and other major anniversaries.
· The concept of human friendship.
· Coffee. If you need a shot of caffeine during your working day, smell the breath of an Italian.
· Store-bought candles or shoes. Learn to make your own instead. Once equipment and labour are factored in, this isn't going to save you any money, but it's going to keep you occupied so you don't take to the streets and set fire to my place of work.
· Any item of clothing not made of sack, or former barrels.
· Expensive holidays overseas.
· Even more expensive holidays under the sea.
· Smashed avocado on toast, which can cost upwards of $55,000 a portion.
· All lifestyles except for the paleo lifestyle – especially the part where you get to live nomadically in a series of rudimentary shacks.
· A full, expensive-to-maintain head of hair.
· Roofs, especially if they go by the more expensive spelling ‘rooves’.
· Bank economists.
· Car and burglar alarms. Replace these by training yourself to live in a constant state of alarm, like a meerkat.
· Any meals that aren't cooked from scratch. And I mean from scratch: I want to see you working that flint.
· The latest videogames. Your grandfather didn't need to play Call of Duty: World at War, because he fought in an actual war. Go fight in a war.
· Pitchforks. Effigies. Gasoline. (You see where I'm going with this.)
· Electric light. The night is surprisingly rich with sources of natural or otherwise free illumination. If you have trouble locating them, consider befriending a moth.
· All poetry except for found poetry.

Above all, remember: the reason why it has become so much harder for ordinary people to own their own home is that the world has changed – big, sweeping structural changes which us poor bankers have neither in any way contributed to or profited from.

The world has taken all the changes it can bear, and it cannot be changed any further.

Please do not try to change the world.

Thank you.