Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Housing Does Not Cost To Much

Housing doesn't cost to much, people are to poorly paid. Housing does not cost to much because planing and construction regulations make it too expensive. Housing costs to much because lack of regulation, lack of protection for working people, has allowed incomes to collapse so low people can no longer afford healthy diets, healthcare, even healthy lives, housing included.

Zoning exists to ensure that what gets built is of appropriate quality and location to house the citizens who deliberated and enacted the regulation. The answer to shortages of housing of such quality is infrastructure investment to build the systems to support more distributed density as required by demand for housing in proximity to sources of income. Of equal importance is jobs, sources of income.

Building Codes do not cause buildings to cost to much, they cause them to be built safely and to be safe. Declining wages cause housing to cost to much. Building Codes exist to prevent unscrupulous people from building and selling dangerous buildings or building them in ways dangerous to the people doing the actual work of building. If no one can afford safe buildings, societies resources are not being adequately distributed. There is certainly plenty of wealth in our society, it just does not find its way to anyone who actually works on anything real.  

The labor market has been "de-regulated", a euphemism for the removal of protections for workers from the exploitation of bald market power by corporations and other employers. Proposals to apply the same euphemism to construction and planning would simply make cities and buildings less safe for people who work on real things or have been displaced from employment by deliberate policies that stem from the belief that dis-employing people is an appropriate way to control inflation.

This policy of keeping prices down by preventing people from earning a living creates the appearance that safe, well designed and constructed housing in appropriate locations is an extravagance we can't afford. Our world only gets better when our policies are set to improve it. To the extent we set policies to improve the lot of the already wealthy and comfortable, the lot of everyone else deteriorates. What we can not afford is to waste the lives of our population. Housing does not cost to much, unemployment and underemployment does.

Underpaying the American work force as we have done since the 70s makes housing cost to much. 

Human Aren't Lazy

Humans aren't lazy. Laziness must be taught. Show me a lazy person and I'll show you someone who learned somewhere that effort was a waste of time and that no real benefit would come of it. This usually happens in schools. This is a tragedy, almost beyond belief.

Have you ever known a pre-school kid who wasn't a bundle of energy and excitement? It kills me to admit that I've known several and they were products of brutal and dysfunctional homes. Every other kid I've ever known hasn't learned that life isn't worth the effort until they began to attend schools, and most managed to maintain interests outside despite them.

One must patiently demonstrate that hard work yields no meaningful rewards over a sustained period. Negative feedback helps, verbal abuse and threats of physical punishments, occasionally the punishments too, help. The purpose is to prepare consumers to engage in meaningless drudgery to afford expensive necessities made that way deliberately to require consumers to engage in meaningless drudgery so that some corporate executive or share holder can skim off whatever real value is created by meaningless drudgery.

There are plenty of jobs that this has been a suitable preparation for, our current "recovery" features them and almost nothing else. And we continue to teach kids to be consumers rather than creators despite all those corporate executives and share holders having decided they should not pay people for meaningless drudgery, it would be better to get interns to do it on their parents dime. To repair this will require a comparable investment to that mal-investment we call "education" in showing people that to the extent they make efforts to improve their lot, they will benefit materially and psychologically from their actions and the harder they work the more they will be rewarded.

The good news is that wherever this has been tried, it has worked. If people are allowed real benefits from making the world a better place, they will make a better place in it. The problem for executives and shareholders is if you allow this, people will decide for themselves what makes their lives better and likely won't want the bullshit goods and social structures corporate profits depend on.

Apparently our corporate titans at Davos would rather have the mass of humanity simply die than give up the control they impose through their economic dominance. There is no other explanation for the corporate indulgences in every facet of our current economic model. Everything we need to make the world a better place is in the hands of people who are quite happy with things just as they are, and if you're not happy with this best of all possible worlds, for them, you are quite free to starve, or get cancer, or robbed or whatever misfortune you can't afford to avoid.

It is a set of decisions made by the powerful to allow us to better ourselves, or to insist as they now do that our efforts be directed toward bettering them. Having invested over the post Buckley vs Valeo era in the necessary modifications to our governing structure to optimize all its branches for the needs of corporate executives and the commercial empires they control, these executives and business institutions have apparently decided it is better that most people just quietly die off rather than improve the world.

We don't have to let this happen, though its so far developed that whenever organization to oppose it starts, corporations and the government they own coordinate both propaganda and police action to disrupt, discredit and re-direct. And of course, the people most victimized by these changes are just those who have learned helplessness in school, those who have learned to be "lazy" because nothing has ever worked for them. None the less, trends that can't go on for ever, won't.