posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 10:30 AM
So your good friend Bob here has been kicking around some ideas for solving our nation's many problems, and I think I've come up with a really great
idea that could do wonders for this country and will never ever happen in a million years. Still, if I believe in anything it is the notion that ideas
need to put out there. They need to be set adrift out there on the seas of public discourse regardless of how much institutional objection they will
First off, a bit about the impetus behind the concept. I've noticed more and more on social media that people who just a few years ago would never
have brought the topic up are talking about self-sufficiency and off-grid living. People are fantasizing about getting SMALLER houses and streamlining
their needs. Or they're looking at ways to take regular houses and install solar, wind, kinetic power. They want to grow their own food. They want to
set up a cistern system. Etc.
What's more, I've been looking at finances, at the costs that drain people of their capital and make low wages so untenable.
Now what I am about to propose here will look, initially, like socialism or communism. Ayn Rand fetishists will flip out and fire up their flame
throwers ready to call me a pinko and looter and all the usual epithets thrown around by people who can't quite admit how rigged the game is. But
rest assured, this is not an idea that rewards the lazy. This latches no one to the government teat. This is an idea designed to boost accountability
and reward personal responsibility on newly leveled playing field.
Now, I recognize that what I am about to suggest would jeopardize apparently vast swaths of the "economy" in a way that bankers and derivative
market jag-offs would paint as a full on apocalypse. They would be liars and manipulators covering their own predatory backsides. Screw 'em.
So the basics: The New Homestead Act would eradicate home/shelter costs for any and all American citizens who agree to improve the sustainability and
self-sufficiency of the property where they live. This would be done by wiping out the remaining balance of mortgages for homeowners and (far more
controversially) transfer ownership of rental properties to those tenants who agree to the term of land/home improvement.
The guidelines for improvement would be centered around energy and water efficiency as well as food production by either conventional or hydroponic
means. It would, in essence be a reset button on land ownership in this country.
Keep in mind, that this would not completely end the private real estate market in this country. Commercial and Industrial land will continue to be
bought, rented, and sold in the same way it is today. Similarly anyone who does not wish to participate in the improvement requirements (or renters
who don't want to be responsible for maintenance and upkeep) would have the option of staying in their conventional mortgages and/or leases.
Similarly, those who wish to sell their properties and move would be able to buy homes on an open market just as they are today.
This same program would also give the homeless the option of moving into empty properties (provided they are willing to meet the upkeep/improvement
requirements). This would not be difficult as there are currently more empty properties than there are homeless people in this country.
I recognize there are some considerable and practical hurdles here which I will address in the "Cons" section below but let us talk about pros for a
1) This will free up 30-60% of the average household's income for expenses and purchases other than housing. As it currently stands the money that
American's spend on simply having a roof over their head goes rather directly into the pockets of the wealthy elites. The money is poured into
mortgage holding banks and their primary shareholders. This money does not get circulated in the community at the same rate as other expenditures.
2) It would, in effect, give everyone across the board significant raises without costing their corporate overlords a dime. The 8 bucks an hour
someone makes at McDonald's starts to look a heck of a lot better when it only needs to go towards food, clothing, and utilities. What's more,
everyone has more money to spend at a far broader spectrum of visits. The banks would lose a big slice of their income, but the real economy: the
goods and services sectors would experience an unprecedented boom.
3) The guidelines for improvement and self-sufficiency would (in time) further reduce the overhead cost for families participating in the program.
Yes, they would have to spend probably the equivalent of a year's rent/mortgage payments installing wind or solar, but then moving forward they still
have no rent/mortgage related expenses AND their utility bills will be greatly reduced. Those growing their own food would see, not only a reduction
in costs, but an improvement in their diet as it is difficult to grow snickers bars, but easy to grow cherry tomatoes.
4) This modern homesteading (which can be done in all environments from the city to the country) can help usher in a return of the household work
ethic as families take on work with tangible results. For example, the chore of taking out the trash, provides no obvious benefit or value to the
modern child. Making a salad from vegetables you grew yourself is a far more rewarding experience.
The various benefits go on, but are all variations on these themes. Now, there are some cons. Let's consider them.
1) Some will inevitably see this as a form of government invasion as there would need to be some sort of system to confirm compliance with the
improvement/sufficiency guidelines. The necessary guidelines are relatively obvious and easily observable, the inspection requirements would be as
non-invasive as possible. Again, the fact that the program is optional also goes a long way towards mitigating that concern.
2) Aren't we taking from people who have worked hard and giving to people who haven't? Short answer: No. The majority of people who are being
"given" their houses here are people who have long been paying into the system. The only thing that divides most renters from owners is that the
owners at one point had a down payment handy. Yes, there are people whose primary income is through rental properties. I would daresay to do so
borders on unethical. Shelter should be a fundamental human right so long as one works on the maintenance upkeep and improvement of the property.
3) What of future "new entries" into the system? Again this might sound a bit socialistic, but I see no reason why there shouldn't be a certain
amount of government built properties available specifically for people who wish to OPT IN to the system. Those who want to work on the improvement,
maintenance, and self-sufficiency of a property can jump on board. Those who don't can choose to rent or buy conventionally.
Again, there are myriad implementation issues that would probably make his untenable. At the same time, I think it's an interesting thought
experiment and the very least.