If you don't mind my asking, How much of your income goes on your accommodation?
Answers will be screened, unless you ask me to unscreen them.
By 'accommodation', I mean rent, or on the mortgage plus the bills that you, the homeowner, are paying - and a landlord would be paying from his rental income just to keep the property.
I bet, for most of you, it's half your income after tax.
For the 'working poor', it's somewhere between sixty and seventy-five percent, depending on where you count housing benefit and whether they receive it: some of the undocumented Eastern Europeans chipping in for the right to sleep on a sofa-bed in a *very* shared household must be paying less: at least, in weeks when they get a full week's paid employment. It's difficult to imagine anybody paying more but, some weeks, there's people struggling to cover rent - and very little else. Or less.
I've noticed that this is a massive transfer of resources from the poorest to the richest.
It's just as well that Labour, and the various rumps of Socialism, Communism, and the Liberals are of and for the Middle Classes, and will never meet and talk to someone on an actual low income. They'd talk about housing, it's embarrassing and no-one's interested nowadays; there's no votes in it, and we know that sort of talk lowers the tone of the neighbourhood and reduces the value of our nice suburban houses.
Meanwhile, the people 'down there' spending all that money for decidedly substandard housing are astonishingly passive and accepting of this unequal economic order. In the total absence of engagement by any organised political party, they probably do not regard themselves as disenfranchised, as they have never thought about themselves, or seen themselves portrayed in the media expressing themselves, in the alien vocabulary of the politically-active.
None of them, below the age of fifty, can remember what it's like to be engaged in an effective democracy, with politicians of and among them, engaging with and talking to them, representing them, and achieving tangible improvements in their housing, their employment and their children's education.
For most of you, that has to sound like laughable idealism, or a throwback to the failures of the much-derided nineteen-seventies.
I guess the best that we can hope for is that 'they' - not 'us'! - are thoroughly ground-down, exhausted, and resigned to their place in someone else's free economy. Above all, we have to hope that this exhaustion peters out in dull resentment, instead of building up a sense of justice and of anger, and that 'they' are disinclined to violent insurrections.
Meanwhile, rents are still going up in London: is this true elsewhere? It's not the bright and shiny future we were promised, but it seems to be the future that we've got: take care that you don't get used to doing less on your diminishing disposable income, and then a little less again, and then working just a little more. And then a lot more, just to catch up on the bills and maybe on the credit cards you didn't quite pay off, and struggling to make deposit on the next move, and the next, because the rent keeps going up and everything is dearer.
Or if you can't take care, try at least to notice.
And I wonder who is actually profiting from all this: 'this' being what it means, down on the ground, when the economists talk about the accelerating concentration of wealth into the hands of a tiny minority, before they all go home to read each other's economics columns in the Guardian in their nice suburban houses.