Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Affordable Housing

Over the weekend, an email request went out from the Republican Party Headquarters for volunteers to help serve dinner at the homeless shelter, as a possible ongoing community service project -- and already the response has been so overwhelming, they’ve had to create waiting lists for this involvement. Obviously, this is an issue that ignites ready interest in a way many traditional political topics do not -- and maybe should be addressed before the transportation problem, as a community priority -- before projections of what to do if things continue on the foreseeable path.

One of the ways of addressing the housing problem in many futuristic societies, has been the very valid concept of community or co-housing -- like the Next Step Project is. I’m not convinced the prototype is not a longterm solution -- in a more evolved and graduated form. In climates like these, community housing is the preferred arrangement because one doesn’t have to be cooped up inside their personal units -- to ensure warmth. People do spend a lot more time in community areas -- not limited to just their living rooms.

The problem is the big gap between the “free” and the conventional entry-level market offerings. Many people pay a lot for very little -- actually worse than what those at the Next Step project provides, but at least they can call it their “own,” whatever satisfaction and comfort that means. I recall looking at a unit a while back in the basement of somebody’s house that actually looked like a prison cell -- and even back then, the owner wanted top dollar for it -- the same as the very attractive units right across the street.

Jobs are also the same way, as well as any other relationship/transaction between people. The quality differences in experience is not always indicated by price; the best tend to be undervalued and the worst, overvalued -- and not, as the seller may indifferently remark as though providing non-prejudicial advice, “You get what you pay for.” Top dollar will not transform a prison cell into a castle, no matter how long the lease. Many jobs are nothing more than the right to abuse another person -- or the right of everybody in that organization to abuse each other.

Those are the unreported stories -- beyond the familiar stories of drug addiction and mental illness -- the abusiveness and exploitation of the weak and vulnerable, not limited by the rich and powerful, but increasingly from the middle class who would like to be the rich and powerful. That is more highly likely in my experience than the mistreatment of the poor by the rich. The poor and the rich actually have a symbiotic relationship in that they depend on one another, and throughout history, have been associated with one another. The rise of the middle class has largely come from pitting the poor against the rich -- as their own justification for what they are entitled to, as their just deserts.

One trade association will claim categorically they are worth more than all the others -- but that all members in their organization have the same value, and only as the owner of the prison cell appraised, “You get what you pay for.”


At July 11, 2006 10:13 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

One of the differences I detect between the Republicans and the Democrats, is that the internal Republican organization is becoming much more of a cohesive force beyond merely electing public officials -- while the Democrats (correct me if I'm wrong), are much more reliant on external organizations, to shape their desitny -- as in the unions, MoveOn, the endless special interest groups, fragment them.

The difference is in discovering the common bond -- rather than merely exploiting the differences.

At July 11, 2006 10:21 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

That's why the newspapers and mainstream (mass) media is also losing their base. You can fragment up to a certain point and then the urgent need becomes to reintegrate society rather than produce one more division which some person can proclaim themselves the spokesperson for.

The problem with George Orwell's vision of 1984, is that he did not foresee that everybody would want to be "Big Brother."


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