I’m going to have to put off getting right down to complaining and take care of some housekeeping first. It looks like this will be somewhat of a second intro post. For those keeping score, that’s two intro posts in only three total posts. I think that’s pretty impressive. Why the second intro? I was recently approached about joining mytrendingstories.com as a contributor. Obviously I accepted and am excited for the opportunity. The venture should be mutually beneficial – I feel I can contribute some unique perspective/content to their site and in turn increase the exposure of my personal blogs beyond what I would ever be able to do myself. I also happen to like what they’re trying to do over there: truly diverse content without censorship. Anyone that’s read TheWhiteboardPig knows I’ll eventually put that claim to the test, but for now… on to complaining!
Not long ago, I read an absolutely amazing article that delved into the true purpose of the 40 hour work week. You really should read it for yourself; it is worth every minute of the many minutes it takes to read. But if you’re feeling lazy or pressed for time and that makes you unwilling to read it, it’s probably because you just worked eight hours and are attempting to live your life in what little time is left over… and that’s the idea the article revolves around. The 40 hour work week drives consumerism as you attempt to treat and convenience yourself to satisfaction (by spending money) in what little time is left over to live your life. Our society is carefully planned and constructed to control labor, and this type of populace manipulation does not stop at the 40 hour work week.
After a couple of weeks of meeting with home builders, speaking with well drillers, realtors, HOAs, and bankers, the future picture of this “living cheap” endeavor is becoming more clear – it’s not going to happen… at least not without a major struggle and a lot of creativity. And it’s why it is not going to happen easily that got me thinking about that above mentioned article. What could be more simple than stripping down non-necessities and living cheap? Surely it’s consumerism that keeps us slaves to corporate America. It’s all my expensive hobbies and eating out that force me into working a higher paying job I don’t like over a lower paying job I would like (or no job at all). If I just gave up my excessively expensive hobbies and stopping buying stuff I don’t really need, I could just drop of the grid and go hiking every day. Well… that’s what I thought. Turns out, it’s far from that easy and that good old “shelter index” lie is back to bite me in the ass. If shelter costs are the best place to reduce living expenses because they’re the average person’s largest expense (by far), then surely they’re also a prime method of labor control.
We live in a society, and after briefly skimming some numbers it appears to be true the world over, in which it is nearly impossible for the average person to own shelter without going into a lifetime of debt. Never until now has it hit me how absurd it is that owning one of the basic tenants of survival is literally impossible to legally achieve apart from borrowing massive amounts of money. It’s just something we live with and accept. Everyone knows how the American dream goes. You become an adult when you buy a house. No matter how old you are, you aren’t “grown up” and living like an “adult” until you’ve strapped yourself with 30 years of debt. We’re sold this “dream” since childhood, along with $200,000 college degrees that score jobs at Starbucks, shiny stone rings that cost two month’s salary but wholesale for 5% of that, and increasingly larger weddings that decimate savings accounts across entire family units. We’re sold the idea that people who rent are in some transient state or somehow adolescent and irresponsible. Responsible Americans “own” (i.e. rent from bank) houses. End of story. Boil it all down and you’re not a “responsible adult” in America unless you’re drowning in debt it will take you literally your entire life to pay off (if ever). And once you’re saddled up with all that debt, don’t forget to consume your entire paycheck away… except that 401k pretax money you give to Wall St. banks to manage at a hefty fee they receive whether you win or lose.
But but but… you don’t HAVE to do that stuff. Almost anyone just can buy a $50 Wal-Mart tent manufactured by starving, Chinese five year olds. True. Where do you propose they set it up? It certainly isn’t going to be in a park or other public property. Even the Forest Service is cracking down on people long-term camping in places where it’s… perfectly legal to camp. So you’re going to need to buy some land. Easy enough. There are still plenty of places land can be had relatively cheaply, and that’s exactly the part of the process I happen to be at. Cheap, nice land located. Turns out even after you get the land, our planned, labor controlling society has ensured you can’t live on that land without spending large amounts of money. Building codes have square footage minimums and structure type restrictions. Covenants spell out what you can and can’t do with your own property. And when you summarize it all, guess what these things tell you that you aren’t allowed to do with your own property? Live on it cheaply. As I mentioned in my prior post, you can forget tiny homes, RVs, small mobile homes, or anything that would be possible without bank involvement for those not independently wealthy. Build a house you’ll need a huge loan for or enjoy looking at your vacant lot.
There is no better way to ensure compliant, desperate labor than to strap everyone to a debt grenade they’ll never be able to remove. Building codes and HOAs conspire to ensure that affordable shelter is an impossibility. Affordable shelter would remove what is, by far, the largest expense every American has. This would make workers less fearful for their jobs, less servile, and less desperate to kill themselves working up the corporate ladder to “get ahead”. Those are things corporate America would never stand for. If the 40 hour work week induced consumerism is the gun to the head of labor, then shelter costs are a nuke. We may have higher living standards than that starving, Chinese five year old, but our corporate masters have still ensured we give all that extra money right back to them whether we want to or not.