I have solved the economic crisis. Next!

Lately, I’ve been thinking of ways we could restructure society to better meet our needs, or least to better meet my needs, which is fundamentally what’s important. I’ve been thinking about property and housing. A lot of the issues which caused the current economic crisis were housing related. People bought houses only to find them worth less than they paid for. People lost their jobs and couldn’t pay their rent.

Now, a comfortable house is nice, but what do we really need, from a housing perspective, to sustain ourselves? In the old days, we got by with a teepee or a cave. In the modern era I think most of us could make it with some kind of bedding, a shared bathroom and a shared kitchen. A desk would be nice, but you can always go to Starbucks.

In order to obtain such accommodations in your average American city, you’re looking at rent in the $700-$1000 range (at least.) Does that really make sense? Why couldn’t someone take an entire floor in an industrial building, fill it with a hundred or so cots, throw in a couple bathrooms and kitchenettes and rent each space out for $10 a night (around $300 a month)? It’s not fantastic living, but if you just lost your job or walked away from your mortgage, it would be a way to stay above water and even save some money.

I presume we can’t do this because of housing laws and zoning regulations. These laws are partly motivated by well-intentioned rules mandating safety and a certain standard of living for people, but I suspect that local governments are conspiring (perhaps unwittingly) with property owners and landlords to keep rent prices higher. It’s a lot easier to rent a crummy apartment for $800 a month if it’s still cheapest game in town.

I tend to find libertarian arguments that we can create a utopia by deregulating markets somewhat na├»ve, but this strikes me as a clear case where they’re basically correct. This solution wouldn’t be problem free (you’d need a couple security guards on hand to keep people from getting on each other’s nerves) but I think it could allow people to weather economic storms, and maybe even get a decent chunk of the homeless off the streets. (It’s almost as effective as my “feed the homeless to sharks” proposal!)

6 Responses to “I have solved the economic crisis. Next!”

  1. John

    An intriguing idea, basically you want to create flop houses. I think disease/disease carrying insects would be a problem, especially with transients, but then again hostels seem to be able to deal with that, more or less.

    Maybe they could just flood the area with disinfectant once a day/week/month…

  2. John Saleeby

    Yes, there would have to be a strictly reinforced hygiene regieme. This would entail trained staff and drive costs up.

  3. Wil

    Yeah, I was actually going to refer to them as flop houses but was wondering whether the reference would be lost on younger viewers. Basically, you’d need the same enforced hygiene you have in the military. If people can’t match it, they get kicked out. It might push the costs up, but not that much. The crux of my argument is really this: the average apartment could be split into three living spaces with a shared bathroom and kitchen, and thus rent could be a third of what it is.

  4. John Saleeby

    But who gets to decide what we’re going to watch on TV?

  5. Wil

    Yeah, that is a big issue actually. But this gets into an idea I proposed sometime last year — the digital vagabond. Basically it’s a class of people who have some kind of iPad type device which has all their digital media on it. If everyone had one of those, you wouldn’t need to fight over what’s on TV — you could watch it on your device.

    Frankly, consider this: let’s say we develop some kind of digital alternate reality system which we interact with either using 3-D glasses, or maybe even plugged directly into our brain stem. At that point, your housing needs are pretty minor. You could literally sit around in those pods like the human batteries in the Matrix while you wander through a virtual world. Now, of course this kind of lifestyle would be horrible on the human body, but I bet we could find some sort of middle ground in which we do get some exercise and proper nutrition, while not requiring a lot of space.

    Of course, a world in which everyone lives in a pod and is surrounded with neurological alternate realities is a ways off in the future — at least three or four years.

  6. John Saleeby

    Animals will sneak up on you and MESS YOU UP!! BEARS!!! LOOK OUT FOR BEARS!!!