Tom Purcell, 8/10/2015 [Archive]

Renting, the New American Dream

By Tom Purcell

Get this: Renting is the new American dream. And that doesn't bode well for America.

According to a report by the Urban Institute, American homeownership rates are the lowest they've been in years and will continue to decline.

Homeownership, which peaked in 2006 at 67.3 percent, now sits at 63.6 percent, according to the U.S. Census American Community Survey. It's been dropping ever since the financial collapse of 2008.

Between 2010 and 2030, the Urban Institute estimates, 22 million new households will form. The majority of them, 59 percent, will be renters, while just 41 percent will be homeowners.

Which means more households will vote for Democrats over Republicans.

According to a University of Virginia Center for Politics study, you see, "homeowners are much more likely to vote for Republicans than renters (34 to 18 percent), while renters are more likely to vote for Democrats than homeowners (44 to 35 percent)."

That's because the responsibility of homeownership — the continuous hassles, expenses and taxes — brings out the conservative in even the most diehard liberal.

Boy, did I learn that lesson the hard way.

I had my first taste of ownership 17 years ago after buying a fixer-upper that made Herman Munster's place look like the Trump Palace. The house nearly killed me.

When I tore off a rickety porch enclosure, I was stung multiple times by angry hornets.

It took me weeks to catch the mice in my attic, which woke me every morning at 3 a.m. as they scratched the ceiling, building their nests.

I nearly died the day ground bees attacked me. I poured a big cup of gasoline down their hole and nearly burned my house down when, after lighting it, flames shot out, 20 feet high.

I haven't mentioned the snake incident, the electrical problem (I had to rewire most of the house) or how, every time it drizzles, the water in my basement makes Niagara Falls look like a lap pool.

Nor have I mentioned the battle with the septic tank, or the moron who dug it up and broke the lid — causing me to hand-dig a couple of tons of earth surrounding it while straddling the stinky thing for three days.

These are just some of the many miseries common to homeowners — miseries renters don't know the first thing about. Add to these the constant trips to the hardware store to fix the things that break, as well as the taxes and other expenses that make homeownership a costly pain, and the typical homeowner will vote for more conservative principles.

Homeowners are more likely to vote for people who won't raise our already costly utilities and property taxes. We'll vote for the candidate whose policies will lower, rather than increase, the cost of building materials.

We want the person who will put an end to federally mandated low-flow toilets and washers and dishwashers — toilets, washers and dishwashers that don't flush or clean very well.

My vote is for the politician who initiates pro-growth policies that will get homeownership back up to 2006 levels.

As homeownership increases, America will become much grumpier, thus much more likely to vote Republican.

We'll demand simpler and lower taxes and other commonsense reforms. The economy will boom. Our property values will soar.

Then we can sell our homes at great profit, become renters and vote for Democrats — and finally start to enjoy life for once while we mooch off the people dumb enough to still own homes.


© 2015 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of "Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood" and "Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!" is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using this column in your publication or website, contact or call (805) 969-2829. Send comments to Tom at

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