The Future of Housing
Buying, Building and Renting Impossible: The Move to Simplicity or a New Paradigm
The overwhelming lesson of the last two great economic rounds of the last 83 years is that the current way of housing for everyone is unsustainable and unachievable. Whether one looks at individual building, mortgaging or renting, the message in the end is the same. A few wind up with everything and the rest of the people are homeless or under threat of homelessness. The few claim ownership of it all under threat and intimidation, run the banks and decide on who gets what and who does not in their manipulations and machinations. Yet there are solutions to this giant mentality of a company town world wide mess that breeds collective robbery and control by warfare. Let us look at what went wrong and then the only paths that are left open and choose one from them.
Civilization at its root has always been about class division between the owners, the lords, the kings and queens, the dictator, the oligarch-monetarist, the presidents and other elite and the rest of humanity structured in a hierarchy. It has evolved through history to wind up with the supreme leader at the top with the greatest powers and freedoms, the immediate administration of the leader by way of governing bodies of “elected officials” or lords, the great financiers, the military, police and security, petty bureaucrats, factory bosses, landlords with the workers who produce everything of value labouring at the bottom. Some of the foregoing positions may be combined such as lords being the heads of banks and stock exchanges. Other lords and government official may be landlords or the head of the military, but these all hold the same relationship to the worker at the bottom insofar it is the worker who supports all of them through the production of surplus value. It is this surplus the allows for specialization and the creation of complex structures as a result, such as infrastructure, military hardware, huge power projects, buildings, transport, houses, cars and so on. The more complex the commodity of production, the more work from different disciplines have to be involved to produce it. Thus something like a house/home involves the direct participation of several trades to manufacture it. Very few people today can manufacture an entire house from scratch with all the amenities such as plumbing and power. All of these take a long line of production from raw resources such as trees, sand, copper and rubber among others to bring these together in a complete home. They involve a wide range of productive disciplines. Each specialization takes workers who are familiar with the processes involved in just that field. Few know any other line of discipline. In addition, the structure of financing has evolved where the worker receives fiat promissory notes in exchange for their labour. Few workers receive the finished product of their labour. This goes to the owner of the means of production, who gives them the fiat currency in exchange for their hard work. The wage is too small for almost all workers to obtain that combination of disciplines of production called commodities that are assembled into a house or car.
The banks intervene not only in the issuance of the fiat currency and in trade, but they only do it because they can profit in the exchange with added fees and interest. There are very few “volunteer” bankers who exchange without some personal gain in the process. When a worker approaches the bank, they often do so with the only collateral they have by way of future work. Even this is not enough in some cases. There has to be some guarantee that work will continue due to demand. Many jobs fluctuate due to demand that also fluctuates due to underproduction or overproduction. Some work is more steady, such as that of a military leader, a doctor, a lawyer, a pharmacist or the head of an agri-business. Most jobs are more transitory. The bank then becomes involved in speculation on work futures and gives a loan to cover the cost of a complete home or car. These are known as mortgages and automobile loans. In order to buy something that is far in excess of the income made from the issuance of a fiat currency wage from specialized production, the worker needs to multiply that income to obtain the object of their desire. If this cannot be done, then they either rent from someone who can, or face homelessness. Banks typically loan against collateral and for a house or car, that collateral is the house and/or car, the title of which is held by the bank against future wages until the entire sum with interest is paid in full. Service fees and interest are charged to handle the financing of such large ticket items. Very few people can pay the full sum on demand and thus are forced into taking out such financing in order to secure a place to live or reliable transport to go to and from work. Landlords who are financing large housing complexes often do so with huge mortgages. Spaces are rented out to assist the landlord in paying down their huge mortgages. The landlord faces a similar fate if they suddenly lose the bulk of their tenants and can no longer afford to pay the mortgage. When the complex is foreclosed, those tenants who remain and continue to pay rent may suddenly find themselves facing eviction along with the non payers.
When an economic crisis hits, forcing many people out of work, facing foreclosure and the loss of their home and/or car, the point is driven home that unless they had the entire input into making these commodities free and clear, the bank winds up with them being the holder of the title along with all previous payments, fees and the interest.
Building a teepee from available materials
Let us turn back the hands of time and see what one person can afford on the wages of their labour. An individual could easily manufacture a teepee, wigwam or igloo. If they wanted a boat, they could make a dug out canoe or a birch bark canoe from readily available resources without outside input. This has been proven historically and is still being done by large numbers of people. A few people could reasonably be expected to manufacture a yurt from easily available resources at hand. None of these would have running water or electrical conveniences run off an electrical grid. Those are separate issues. They may have furniture that is also made from locally and readily available resources. They might also be able to do it without invoking the use of wages from other work. As a direct result of the economic crash of 2008-09, many millions are now living in pre-manufactured tents. These people are already candidates for making their own shelters and many do in the slums of the world. Often the problem that prevents this from happening is two fold. Land is controlled by the rulers and the ignorance of building anything but a clumsy and flimsy shanty abounds. The space in many slums is rented out by landlords who send in their bully boys to collect a meagre rent. Failure to pay means eviction like in the developed world with the added bonus of having the shanty torn down and personal possessions trashed. In regions far from civilization, structures like teepees and wigwams abound and little is done unless a territorial dispute erupts with the ferocity of a modern war.
Another option is to construct a teepee or wigwam on a floating barge, also made from locally available materials like wood or reeds. This has been done throughout history and is still being done by the reed people of Iraq who live entirely in the marshes bordering on major rivers. They have managed to build fairly complex structures like floating mosques as well as home of reeds on reed barges. These people live entirely off the land, fishing and growing marsh plants like rice for vegetables. They do not pay mortgages or rent, but their future is under threat by developers who seek to alter the landscape for profit making enterprises. Some have already been evicted and now form a growing population of the new poor who are not familiar with the overtaking civilized ways. The same is true of the Inuit of the north who make igloos, wigwams and kayaks from locally available resources, some of which is a simple as compressed snow.
We live in a world where the intrepid aboriginal way of making ones own shelter is being phased out in favour of mass development. However, with economic crises abounding, millions are being forced into homelessness and find themselves in an identical position of those driven off the land for development. The result is a contradiction where sophisticated houses and developments are abandoned and empty while those needing shelter go without along those evicted form teepees, wigwams and igloos. The contradiction comes from a mode of production for profit that requires relentless expansion in a closed ecosystem that does not allow for infinite expansion. When the limit is reached, collapse is inevitable. There is no solution forthcoming from the current paradigm except where war levels old markets to make way for the financing of new ones. The workers of the world are in need of a new paradigm of cooperation such as never seen before lest they with the less civilized counterparts languish in eternal homelessness. The choice is becoming increasingly obvious; to squat individually in a teepee, wigwam or igloo and trust world grasping structures don't mow you under, or to cooperate and take over what was collectively made in the first place without the intervention of the elite such as rulers, bankers, landlords and the like with their military and financial muscle. Almost everyone currently has some specialized role in the productive or maintenance side of civilization and it is time that this worked to the benefit of collective humanity and the ecosystem rather than a handful of power and wealth obsessed elite. This will take an awakening that appears to be falteringly occurring at this time, but needs to go far beyond the current paradigm. Failure in this will result in collective misery hithertofore not manifested in history.