14 June 2021
This may be controversial, but the COVID-19 pandemic has been bad news. Devastating, even. The worldwide death toll has surpassed 3.72 million, and the damage to the economy (which in turn has a direct impact on the population’s welfare and life expectancy) is the worst since the Great Depression. But as my high school history teacher taught me, for every crisis there are both losers and winners.
In the case of Covid, the majority of these “winners” are the very individuals that least need or deserve an extra boost to their (quite literal) fortunes; billionaires. You may find it difficult to repress your fury at the fact that Jeff Bezos- Amazon CEO and world’s richest person- has increased his wealth by $637 billion during COVID-19 so far. $637 BILLION. So far. This is while the crisis pushed millions more Americans into poverty.
But on to the good news. Selfishly, I’m stoked that Covid has simultaneously produced a mild silver lining for people such as myself. That is, renters.
For the past few years, I’ve been struggling with a gradually growing, hidden bitterness over my friends’ newfound financial stability as I continued to live like a uni student- minus the binge drinking and AusStudy payments. This might shock you, but watching your friends experience the happiest times of their lives while you study to get the laundry done can make you feel a bit sad!
So maybe it’s understandable that when market conditions caused by border closures (amongst other factors directly related to the pandemic) drastically reduced rent in Sydney while raising house prices, particularly in cities such as Newcastle (the very place my friends are currently looking to buy), I’m feeling a tiny bit of schadenfreude?
Schadenfreude is a wonderfully descriptive word that means a feeling of happiness at others’ misfortune. I kind of love it, even though it goes against all my values. But screw values when you’ve been feeling the underdog for so long. Right?
It gets unfortunately complicated when the people whose misfortune you’re gloating over are the very friends who’ve tried to support you through the difficult times. They’re not Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk. But as soon to be, homeowners, maybe they can afford, both literally and figuratively, to be the object of a little schadenfreude. Until, of course, things turn around for me. In which case, the market had better turn around ASAP, and screw renters.
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