Housing As A Human Right: A Critical Look


Jake Morr


September 11, 2023

Note: This article is a variation of Peter St Onge's video, Left's solution to housing: take the profit out.

As skyrocketing housing prices continue to dominate headlines, some left-leaning publications argue that the root problem is treating housing as an "instrument of profit." Notably, the left-wing magazine The Nation recently advocated for a shift toward considering housing as a "human right." However, according to Peter St Onge, Ph.D., this perspective could do more harm than good.

The "Human Right" Angle

St Onge discusses the notion put forth by publications like The Nation that housing should be considered a human right, like energy, contraceptives, and even air conditioning. However, he challenges the feasibility of this concept: "The question is simple. If housing or air conditioning is free, instead of an instrument of profit, who is going to build it?"

The Three Options

According to St Onge, there are only three options for how things get done in society: "Profit, slavery, or do without." Houses are not magically constructed; people work hard, often under challenging conditions, to build them. If the workers and those who lend them money aren't making a profit, what's their incentive?

The Illusion of "Free"

St Onge argues that dismissing profit as a motive leads to two likely scenarios: either the houses won't exist, or the labor and resources for building them will be extracted through force, a form of slavery. In the current system, taxation could serve as this mechanism. "You work, a bureaucrat takes it, and he gives your work to somebody else, slicing off a bit to cover his cushy government job," St Onge says.

Entrepreneurship Over Entitlement

So, how should society address the issue of people who genuinely can't afford housing? St Onge's solution is straightforward: "Make it as easy as humanly possible to start a business both as an entrepreneur and to hire others." A job, after all, is the means through which most people afford a house.

The Perils of Creeping Socialism

St Onge concludes with a warning against the idealistic views of socialism that have permeated education and media: "There are few ideologies whose marketing is so cheerful and whose reality is so brutal as socialism." He cautions that adopting such a stance could lead to shortages, outrageous prices, and a growing disconnect between earnings and ownership.

In an era when housing costs are a central concern, Peter St Onge's critical analysis provides a counter-narrative that challenges the notion of housing as a "human right". It highlights the complexities and potential pitfalls of such a perspective. To stay updated on this and other nuanced discussions, make sure to subscribe to Peter St Onge's channel for insightful analysis and updates.

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