What are things worth?

Apparently, the average house price in Sydney rose by $1200 per day for the June quarter (April – June) according to the Domain House Price Report. Congratulations, if you own a house. Actually, I ought to say congratulations if you own two houses. If you only own one house, then the next house you will buy also went up in price, so you are no better off.

Why are house prices going up? The normal reason any price goes up is because of an increase in demand. More people are trying to buy houses. And yet this is not the case. There is no migration to Australia in Covid, and some people are moving away from the big cities. Sydney’s growth is slower than it has been in previous years.

The reasons have more to do with low-interest rates, planning, and tax benefits. Whatever the case, we now agree as a city that the average house in Sydney is worth $1.3m. That is what people are actually paying. What we agree on drives prices, more so than whether or not more people need to buy a house.

Crypto-currencies are an even more extreme version of the same. We agree that a series of numbers on a computer has real worth. Paper money used to be connected to gold being stored somewhere in some central bank. But it no longer is so. Our shared imagination agrees a Bitcoin is a thing, and suddenly is as real as cash, or perhaps even gold.

Our culture now believes that all sorts of fixations that we agree upon in our shared imagination are real. An expert gives something a label, and soon it’s a thing. This is a strange world. One where humanity has become creator, and we are detaching ourselves from the realities of God and his creation.

It’s all a bit unsettling. Having said that, whether or not we agree my house is worth a million, it has a roof made of iron, frames made of timber, and a floor made of sand and rocks. Only God can make those things, and those things keep the rain off my head.

Rev David Rietveld

Senior Minister


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