Unformatted text preview: Li 1 Hannah Li Mrs. Lifson College English 3 March 2017 The Housing System in the U.S.: No Chance, No Hope, No Justice For a libertarian, the housing system in the U.S. is just because the government is involved in enforcing tenancy contracts and protecting against any illegal behaviors. At the same time, it is unjust because the government redistributes the wealth into the whole society. According to libertarianism, it is justified if the government is“enforcing contracts and protecting people against force, theft, and fraud” (Sandel, 62). Both of these requirements embody the government’s duty to defend certain rights of its people. It is also justified if “the resources you used to make your money were legitimately yours in the first place” and “you made your money either through free exchanges in the marketplace or gifts voluntarily bestowed upon you by others” (Sandel, 63). However, libertarians think that “the state has no more right to force affluent taxpayers to support social programs for the poor than a benevolent thief has the right to steal money from a rich person and give it to the homeless” (Sandel, 61). All in all, in libertarians’ eyes, as long as people make money legally, it violates their right to tax them. In the case of the U.S. housing system, the libertarian will deem it as just because, first, the government is indeed in contract enforcement. For instance, if a tenant didn’t move out from a house within a definite time after receiving an eviction notice, the government would take coercive measures to drive the tenant away. Second, the government’s tolerance of illegal acts is zero under this system. This is fully shown by a typical example in the book Evicted. Under the pressure of Li 2 being evicted, Vanetta fell into despair and afraid that Child Protective Services would take her kids away, so she chose to grab money from other people in order to keep her kids be with her. Still, there is no mercy in the court or, in other words, the law. Desmond writes: “We all see the underlying cause, we see it every day in this court, but the justice system is no charity, no jobs program, no Housing Authority. If we cannot pull the weed up from the roots, then at least we can cut it low at the stem” (267). On the other hand, this case would be deemed as unjust since the poor families are able to acquire living allowances from the government every month which conflicts with what libertarians believe. John Rawls would fight against the housing system in the U.S. for the following three reasons: first, it isn’t based on the veil of ignorance; second, it doesn’t provide equal opportunity to every individual in the society; third, it goes against the difference principle. For Rawls, a social principle would be unbiased only if people chose it without knowing anything about themselves. He claims that “If no one knew any of these things, we could choose, in effect, from an original position” (Sandel, 141). Through this criterion, the principle for our community would more likely to be relatively fair. In addition, redistribution of income is an essential way to manage economic inequalities in Rawls’s theory. Thus, Rawls asserts: “only those social and economic inequalities are permitted that work to the benefit of the least advantaged members of society” (Sandel, 152). The housing system in the U.S. goes against most of these fundamental requirements. For starters, this system does nothing good for the poor who perennially face evictions. The disparities of the lifestyles between tenants and landlords are so immense that the housing system is completely biased in favor of the landlords. Besides, a majority of people are incapable of obtaining equal opportunity in many aspects of life in this system Black people Li 3 are more easily evicted; women are more easily evicted; families with little children find it more difficult to be accepted. Not only do the adults suffer from unequal opportunity, but also their children get less than others from the first day they were born, even though they do nothing wrong. Moreover, although the poor get food stamps from the government, still, this help is just a drop in the bucket which can’t improve their quality of life at all. Their income has no sign of rising, while the rent is soaring. In this case, the economic inequalities do exist but didn’t benefit the least advantaged members which definitely can’t be accepted by Rawls. For me, the housing system in the U.S. is unjust because it leaves the poor to be caught in a dilemma and because some people are born into circumstances that cause them to have nothing. First, there are many of loopholes in the current housing system that hide in the shadow of the law. A great example is that tenants are only left two cruel choices when they undergo abuse. In such a situation, they can only choose to endure the abuse silently or call 911 and be evicted, which means there is a large chance for someone to choose to tolerate illegal violence in order to keep their houses. This is absolutely unacceptable because everyone has the right to live in a safe environment and not have to choose between violence and trepidation. It’s terrible that the system makes its own people have to sacrifice their personal safety in exchange for the right to residency. Furthermore, in such a soaring material society, financial status is a key standard for owning houses. However, as we all know, personal income level is related to plenty of random factors, such as the family they are born in, the education they get, the growth environment they are in, the physical or mental disabilities they have. All of these are arbitrary and everyone is different from one another. In the book E victed , readers can see that some of the people can’t pay their rent because they are disabled. Some of the people have less motivation Li 4 toward life because they have experienced various kinds of sufferings at a young age while others can no longer bear the financial burdens on their shoulders because of unforeseen events that they have no control over. Indeed, all these are their unavoidable fates. They have to overcome these intrinsic difficulties. Nevertheless, housing, as one of the most basic needs for the human being, shouldn’t be deprived due to all these random events. These people already have tough lives. If the government cannot even guarantee them affordable residences, they won’t have chances to change their life. If this system doesn’t even give these people a chance, it definitely won’t be just. Some people object that no matter how deep the gap between rich and poor, it’s fair for the rich to own their money as long as they get it legally. For example, Sherrena, one of the landlords in E victed , finally became a landlord by putting in great efforts to gain step by step while some economic disadvantaged members are indulgent, lazy, and merely wanting to rely on the subsidies from the government. No one in the world should be responsible for other people’s poverty and misery. Consequently, the housing system in the U.S. just gives the houses to whom deserve them. However, it may not be true that the poor people don’t deserve possessing a house although they have so many defects. A person’s will to work hard, to try, to fight for future is strongly related to the character, and a person’s character is precisely shaped by family, education, and many other factors. According to the content of E victed , Sherrena used to be an elementary school teacher before getting involved in real estate which is enough to prove that she has received a good education. However, just as what were mentioned in last paragraph, education, growth environment, body health, or other factors that can affect people are all out of people’s control. It’s unfair to let these arbitrary things to determine who deserve houses and Li 5 who does not. Disadvantaged people do have a lot of limitations, but in such a system, a majority of their children, a majority of their later generations will still be disadvantaged. This is a vicious circle that never end. Housing is exactly the key point to change this situation. It is a chance. It is a hope. Without chance, without hope, where is justice? Li 6 Works Cited Desmond, Matthew. E victed . Crown Publishers, 2016. Sandel, Michael. J ustice . Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux, 2009. ...
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- Spring '17
- English, Libertarianism, Sandel, Rawl's, Evicted, economic inequalities
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