A Little Story About Mac and The Renter
By John Pearce
Imagine that you're renting a house that's owned by a company Mac recently bought as an investment. You've lived in this house most of your life and never want to live anywhere else. You rent the house because the thought that you could buy it never occurred to you - you think that such houses can only be owned by big companies.
Although you've never met Mac, he seems like an okay landlord. You are a bit concerned, though, because the house is aging and he now rarely repairs or replaces anything that is still working. Before he bought it, things seemed to work better and the guy who did the maintenance lived a couple houses down the street. Now, when things fail or break, like when the untrimmed tree limb took out part of the roof recently, it takes quite a while to get someone out to do the repairs - even though the rain and cold is leaking in through the hole.
This wouldn't be nearly as bad if, when he took over the company, Mac hadn't promised that he'd spend a lot of money to upgrade the appliances, trim the trees, and replace anything in any of the rental houses that needed it. Three years later, your refrigerator is making funny noises and the lights keep going out unexpectedly. You've thought about complaining to the Housing Authority, but you've heard that they're very chummy with Mac and other renters' complaints have been ignored. In fact, they've approved his two requests in three years to increase your rent even though the house is in worse shape than it was when he took over.
Then one day you read in the paper that a family down the block is buying Mac out gradually and will use what used to be Mac's profits to repair and replace long-neglected items. They will also eventually pay less in mortgage payments than they were in rent! The article goes on to document how Mac and his minions spent huge sums of money trying to convince the family that buying the house would cost too much and was, in total, a terrible idea. The family realized that Mac was afraid of losing the huge monthly profits and would say or do anything to keep the money flowing out of the pockets of the many families who rent his properties and into his so that he could continue to buy more houses, big commercial buildings, and even entire airports.
Now the questions... with this new-found knowledge, would you choose to talk with your family and discuss whether you could also become owners instead of renters? Or would you put the paper down and watch the latest American Idol competition?
As long as Puget Sound Energy owns the electrical system in Thurston County, you and the rest of us will always be renters paying ever-increasing electricity rates - currently the highest in Washington state and scheduled to rise again this May. If you and the other Thurston voters give the Public Utility District the go-ahead to gradually take control of our electricity, we all become owners who bought at the right time. We also get to choose our electrical future.
It's up to you. Sign the petition; ask your family, friends, and neighbors to sign it; contribute your time and/or a few dollars; and take control of your electrical future.
For more information, go to http://www.ThurstonPublicPower.org or call (360) 259-0551.
John Pearce is chair of the Thurston Public Power initiative.
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