For our shelter, we have been shuffled into overpriced hovels yet think we're "movin' uptown" like The Jeffersons or something. And house "investing" and "flipping" has become obsessive-compulsive mania.

Modern Living

No Foundations

Construction used to be construction, not slapping up a tar-paper shack. "Houses" these days are foundationless, using scrap materials to simulate reality. We used to have real brick houses, or real stucco/plaster, a sort of concrete with wire mesh underneath for shaping and reinforcing. Houses used shiplap (notched for smooth overlap) or tongue-in-groove planking material of real, solid wood under their exterior finish. Oh, that didn't last, and we were on to plywood, for a while, then pressboard, small pieces of wood chip smooshed together, in a glue matrix, and now what? Particle board (pressed sawdust). Then they slap on some problematic finish, like vinyl siding, or EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System), and stick a million-dollar price tag on the wretched thing.

Wood siding is so popular in North America, partly, of course, because it is less expensive, and you don't need to be too talented to slap it up. But it's not fireproof, and it takes a lot of maintenance, what with painting and the like. Still, with care, wood can last a long time, especially if cedar siding is used. On the other hand, the cost of hiring a good bricklayer or plasterer reflects in the value of the house. Perhaps no one here ever went over to Europe, where their houses last hundreds of years, made of brick and stone.

Then they got obsessed with "energy efficiency," and sealed up the new houses tight, in a "vapor barrier." Unfortunately, a house needs to "breathe" somewhat, so the air inside isn't toxic. Oops! Also, "modern" external finishing like vinyl siding and EIFS, polystyrene foam covered with polymer (plastic) coating, doesn't breathe, so the sheathing beneath will tend to rot. Oops! Also, vinyl, aluminum (foam insulated) and EIFS all have the problem of emitting toxic fumes from the plastics, when burned. Oops! But these cheaper selections are favored by all these fly-by-night contractors running around.

By the way, take a gander at the Monte Carlo hotel fire in Las Vegas for a look at how ridiculous this EIFS is. Having been to Vegas a few times, I still didn't realize there were so many other bad fires there, the MGM Grand one in 1980 being the worst disaster in Nevada history. Well, of course, Vegas keeps this type of thing on the down low.

Inside our houses now, there is a tendency to "go upmarket" in the kitchens and bathrooms. Kitchens are tarted up with granite counter-tops and "premium" stainless appliances made on the cheap in China, the potty sports a hot tub, dual sinks and "designer" tiles. It's funny how the exterior and bones of the structure are slapped together, and everyone lavishes the big bucks on the non-critical elements.

Bad Investment

It's not the smartest to use our houses as "savings accounts," because when they revert to their true, depreciated values, it'll be tough on the pocketbook.

Of course, it's all part of "inflation management." Houses aren't houses anymore, but mock houses, stage scenery with little intrinsic value, built with substandard materials, and substandard skills.

As part of the ruse, they've also become huge. For one, two or three people, yet sized as though we were back to the days of The Waltons, with six kids and Granny and Grampy all bunked inside.

But, when a hulking new cardboard castle crops up on the street, its size, EIFS "tailored look," and gingerbread trim make all the old houses look sadly outdated and teeny, so everyone has to tear down and build anew to keep up.

Then there are the condos and high-rises. Crappy new disposable buildings, including "top-end" ones. People are moving into such a new tower locally — these are million dollar plus condos, and already there are complaints about the finishing/craftsmanship. I see from pictures that they're using forced-air heating, too. What the...? That's the worst, dry and dust raising. It has one advantage, besides being cheaper to install: you feel the heat quickly. But you'd think a brand new 60-floor tower would have radiant heating at those prices.

Doesn't matter though, they'll be paid off and decay and the whole building can be razed prematurely. It's just inexpensive concrete, glass and spandrel, after all.

It's "churn."

And it's the same thing as we see in war: Useless destruction, with the side-effect that money is being spent and the economy is artificially stimulated, and big bucks are made upstream.

Of course it doesn't stop there. Low-quality housing needs expensive repairs, and premature replacement parts. It's win-win — except for the long-suffering middle class that "can never seem to get ahead."

Keep in mind, working-class people used to live in smaller houses, but they had big front and back yards, and could grow a garden and do some landscaping, maybe even put in a pool. Plus, there was money for a summer cottage, maybe a boat, or an RV, and people had some stash for a bit of travel.

Today, though people pump most of their money into them, houses aren't going to last. All of them have a lifespan, even if they're well constructed, with every part wearing out or just becoming technically outdated. (Meantime, innovations from many decades back, like low-voltage light switches, get forgotten and discarded.)

To exacerbate matters, some homes are destroyed while still useful. I've seen some beautiful ones (and modern style, not those old 19th century eyesores) destroyed, just so someone can put in a larger one of those cardboard castles, or so they can put in a parking lot or such.

The housing crisis, of unaffordable homes, is inexplicable and can only be artificially established and managed. One current example is Vancouver, which, incredibly, is the third least affordable city!

The Crack Shack or Vancouver Mansion game is still online, to help lend some perspective to this "market."

In Vancouver, it's reported that it's common practice for rich Chinese to buy a house and let it sit while they are overseas for years. Also, many come to stay. Merely based on facts reported in the popular media, the implication is that this is an act of war, an invasion. Why? The Communist party in China only lets favored cronies out of the country. And, certainly, they're not going to let large sums of money simply flood out of the commie regime. Therefore, most any Chinese leaving China for Vancouver, is implicated as an agent of the Communist party, a soldier, agent or spy. Besides that, there's no way that Vancouver, of all places, would otherwise become so popular. There are many other more favorable places to spend your money.


Here's a fanciful idea for motels. Small "cabinas" suitable for living in, with bathroom and kitchenette, like an extended-stay motel room, can be built quite economically.

If there are "no vacancies," they simply build one for you, on a small empty plot (this presupposes the motel is planned for this, on a large lot). For a long stay, you the customer have the option to buy or rent it. You move in, be it for six months or whatever. Then, when you leave, you put it on the market or sell it back to the motel, or, keep it as a rental investment! Sale price would be automatically adjusted for the condition you leave the place in. Same deal when you're going to college. Everyone can have their own little home to live in for the duration. This addresses the burden of exploitative real estate practices. Profiteering shouldn't be the routine for personal residences, as it is now. Homes should be recognized as essential to society, and protected.

In fact, all homes should be owned, and cheap enough to be owned, which they would be if profiteering were rendered impossible by removing legal barriers to low-cost housing. Hence, there should be a proliferation of those little cabina-style homes. There are too many problems with renting. It is a burden on the courts, there is too much damage by bad, neglectful tenants, and too much ill-upkeep by avaricious slumlords. It's a burden on society. For those without the money, an Amish, "barn building" style of thing could be done by local charities and charitable people.

Excessive rules and regulations need purging, and a free market system needs to be followed. As the center of a city expands, then the property near the perimeter legitimately becomes more valuable. Dwellers in that expanding center can take the profit from increased land value by selling to commercial developers, then buy or build a larger place into the suburbs. When a downtown (which is to say, commercially-zoned) area shrinks, then, the residential area can expand in towards the center since the downtown land value will fall. This shrinking would occur when, say, occupancy rates in the downtown fall below a certain level.

What's nice, is that the system would be self-regulating.


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