Tag Archives: housing market

The Housing Market Is A Crime Against Humanity

 

The legal process of buying a house has been made so complicated that you have to hire a licensed professional who has taken a course on real estate laws to help you buy your home. During the process of buying a house your real estate agent will introduce you to a long line of fees that you won’t understand, don’t agree with, and in many cases, are completely unnecessary. You’ll be forced to lock in an interest rate that changes daily for no other reason than it can. By the time you close the deal on your house you’ll have signed so many papers your hand will hurt.

The justification for all of this is to protect you, but after all the charges have been tallied up, your 30 year mortgage will cost you twice the price your house was advertised at, but you won’t know that until after your charismatic real estate agent has made your head spin with 300 pages of legal jargon and schmoozed you into signing your future away so they can get their cut of the closing costs.

The justification for charging you twice what your house is worth is because the bank takes a risk. That excuse is overdramatized to the point of being a lie. In fact, the more your bank overcharges you and the less upfront it is about those charges the more likely you are to default on your loan. Your lending institution will also deflect the blame by saying a lot of the cost is taxes, which only proves the government is complicit in overcharging you for your house. The government doesn’t have to tax you to death on your home. It doesn’t have to make it hard for your family to own your own house. They just do it because that’s the way it’s always been done, and the reason it’s always been done like that it because there’s money to be made in it.

The immediate consequences of this system are obvious: home buyers get screwed out of their money and are set up to default on their loans, but the problem is worse than that. Since there’s so much money to be made selling overpriced houses to suckers, the rich (who can build houses cheaply or buy existing ones with cash so they don’t get screwed on a 30 year mortgage) have a lot of incentive to buy up as much land as they can and build houses as cheaply as possible. This results in cities full of dilapidated houses that require constant repairs being sold at astronomical prices.

If it weren’t so easy to screw over the little guy, property values wouldn’t be so inflated. If property values weren’t so inflated people could afford to pay off their houses and wouldn’t default on their loans. Then lending institutions would not go bankrupt, and governments wouldn’t have to “bail out” lending institutions.

But the system is designed to screw over the little guy, and that causes housing bubbles, which result in millions of people losing their homes and even more never being able to buy one in the first place. And even after the American taxpayers bailed out the lending institutions that screwed them in the first place…the process of buying a house is still exactly the same as it was before. The little guy is still getting systematically ripped off in the exact same ways, and the consequences will continue to remain the same until the fundamentals of the housing market are changed.

If the government was the sole lending institution through which all property purchases were financed it could set low, stable interest rates and eliminate all the predatory fees banks throw into the process just because they can. If the government collected the interest on housing loans it wouldn’t need to impose such oppressive property taxes on homeowners. Those taxes could be slashed or eliminated, increasing the working class’s ability to pay off their mortgages. Real estate agents could still assist home buyers, but they should have a fixed wage set, say $1000 per house. Period. This is a generous sum of money for what’s often less than a week’s worth of work, and it doesn’t incentivize overpricing houses to pump up the realtor’s commission. Building codes should have higher standards. This won’t lower the cost to buy a house, but it will lower the cost to maintain a house, which will increase the likelihood that a home buyer will be able to pay off their mortgage in the long run.

Finally, how much land does one person need? Why does one person need to own 10,000 acres? The more land one person owns the less land there is for everyone else. You can argue that everyone has a right to own as much land as they want, but when there’s no land left for the poor, the effect is the same as denying the poor the right to own land. If a law were put in place limiting the amount of land someone can own or the frequency with which they could flip their property it would prevent housing bubbles. This would kill the big business surrounding the housing market, but that business needs to be killed. It doesn’t benefit society in any way. It’s a drain on society, and when you consider that every dollar a home buyer spends on their mortgage is equal to time spent at work, you ultimately pay for your house with your life. As it stands, the exploitative nature of the housing market steals people’s short, irreplaceable lives. I won’t hesitate to say that it’s a crime against humanity. If all of this money weren’t tied up in the fake fees business it could be released into the economy to stimulate actual businesses that have a real-world benefit to humanity.

But your dearly beloved politicians aren’t talking about that, and they’re not going to, and you should be asking why.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

Predatory Capitalism Creates Poverty
Socialism and Communism
The Life of the Rich
The Life of the Poor
Oppression in the Workplace
Success and Retirement
The Housing Market
Healthcare in America
The Stock Market
Banks
Taxes
Cryptocurrency
Fixing the Economy
My Tweets About Economics

Collapse Is The Product Of Unsustainability. Sustainability Is the Product Of Sustainability.

The economy is bad, and every politician running for office these days gets hard pressed to explain how they’re going to create jobs and raise wages. The problem with looking to campaigning politicians for answers to the world’s problems is they’re only going to tell you the answers that win them votes. So you can only expect to get the “Sunday school answers” from them that gloss over the hard, embarrassing roots of economic crises.

They’re never going to tell you the economy is bad because it’s fundamentally broken, and it’s not that the economy just all of a sudden broke after working properly for some time;  it’s designed to eat its own tail. So, technically, it was successful at doing what it was designed to do.

If you don’t know how America’s economy works, here’s a quick introduction. Companies try to sell as much stuff as possible. They try to spend as little money as possible for the things they buy and charge as much money as possible for the things they sell.

On the surface, this formula may seem reasonable. Lots of companies have gone bankrupt because they made products that lasted forever, and once everyone bought one, the business couldn’t sell anymore. So companies have learned not to make things that last. They make products as cheap as possible not only because it guarantees them more sales after those things break, but cheap junk is also cheap to produce. So companies make a higher profit at both ends of their business model. Then they can make even more money if they constantly raise the price of everything for any reason that sounds remotely justifiable.

 

 

There’s no giant conspiracy behind this. The state of the economy was probably inevitable. Businesses that minimize expenses and maximize profit make more money than businesses that sell high-quality products at reasonable prices, and once a business has more money than their competitors they can buy all the advantages they need to put their competitors out of business. In a free (or even not so free) market only the most profitable businesses survive, but when the majority of businesses sell the cheapest products at the highest price you cross a tipping point where the economy just eats itself alive.

Mass consumerism is burning through all the world’s natural resources at a mind-boggling rate. This destroys the environment and raises the cost of goods as resources become more scarce. Instead of those resources being used to build a permanent world, they’re used to fill garbage dumps and pollute the eco-system. Then we have to divert more resources to managing these problems we’re creating. All the while the businesses we rely on to sell us the products to manage the problems we’re creating keep raising keep selling us cheaper and cheaper tools while their cost keeps going up for any reason that sounds remotely justifiable. So for every two steps, we take towards a stable economy and a clean environment we take one step back.

But that’s a best-case scenario. In the real world, we’re running as fast as we can towards an economic collapse by making everything as expensive as it can be. The more expensive everything gets, and the more often people have to repair the things they’ve already bought, the less people can buy, which means the less demand there will be for new products, which means unemployment will go up, which means people will have even less money to buy more products to justify more jobs. This is a straight-forward domino effect straight towards collapse.

 

 

But the cure sounds as bad as the disease. If everyone made products that lasted and sold them for reasonable prices then many businesses would go bankrupt, and the ones that survived would never make enough capital to expand significantly.  This is a recipe for unemployment and ultimately… starvation.

However, unemployment is only a bad thing if the only reason people need jobs is to make as much money as possible because everything is expensive as possible and everything breaks. If people could survive for free (or next to free), then they wouldn’t need to work 40+ hours a week. We have the technology and skills to allow people to live for free if we would only use them.

Consider what you need to survive. You need a house, food, clothes, water, and electricity. How expensive is it to get those things? As it stands rent costs at least one-third of your wages. Food is grown in foreign countries, covered in toxic preservatives and shipped to foreign supermarkets that charge such high prices they can afford to have regular sales and still make money off of deeply discounted sale items. Your clothes are made in sweatshops in foreign countries and shipped to stores around the globe where their price tag is marked up thousands of times higher than they cost to produce. Utilities are largely run by private companies that charge as much money as they can while their executives live more luxuriously than any medieval king could ever dream of.  When you lay it out like that, there’s obvious room for improvement in this system.

There are ways we can make housing, clothing, food, and utilities drastically cheaper. If we do that, the economy won’t make as much profit, but people won’t need to work for (or save) as much money to survive. Plus, if they don’t have to spend money on housing, food, clothing, and utilities then they’ll have more money to spend on job-creating products.

I’ll make a few suggestions how to lower costs on these expenses, but I’m not trying to convince you those are the right ideas as much as I’m trying to convince you that everyone (especially politicians) should be thinking and talking about lowering the cost of survival to improve our quality of living and our chances of survival.

Here are a few suggestions to stabilize our economy and our lives:

 

Housing

Taxpayers pay a lot of money to the government through the course of their lives under the assumed condition that their government will use that money to improve their quality of life. Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and similar social services are all swamped by people who are too poor and sick to survive. Half the problems those social services address could be solved if people had free housing, even if that “house” was nothing more than a cramped efficiency apartment. If it was free and guaranteed then everyone will have a better chance of building a secure, healthy life…and career.

Governments can claim eminent domain over property, and we can build extremely cheap, strong, eco-friendly buildings with sandbags. America certainly has enough prisoners to put to work filling sandbags. Once these are built, there’s no need to charge citizens extortionate fees or taxes to live there. If poor people can live there freely and securely then the cost/benefit analysis of doing drugs and committing crime will plummet with their stress level.

This isn’t giving the poor a handout. The poor pay more in taxes in their lifetime than it would cost to build sustainable sandbag houses for every person in the world three times over in sin taxes alone. Even if that’s not precisely true, the point the remains.  Poor people pay taxes with the understanding that the government will use it to raise their quality of life. You can pay for houses for the poor with poor people’s own money if governments would just stop spending poor people’s taxes on such aggressive police and militaries who prey on civilians. And stop having the poor subsidies tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy.

I really want to beat this horse to death, because this is such a simple and obvious concept that it’s easy to take for granted, but it’s profoundly important. Governments exist to help the taxpayers who fund it. Nothing…nothing…nothing…nothing… in the world will help first-world taxpayers more today than having a free house. Setting up a system to provide everyone with a free house should have been one of the first things any government ever did. And with the technology we have today this is more possible than ever.

 

Food

There’s no need to get rid of super farms altogether or ban international food shipments. They serve a purpose, but there’s no need for the world to rely solely on them for its food supply. You can grow food anywhere. You just need a place to grow it and someone who knows how to make it grow. If you grow it right next to you then you don’t have to ship it anywhere but your kitchen before you consume it. If governments build free housing complexes they could incorporate gardens and small strips of farm/ranch land into the layout. It would be inefficient to try to grow all your food there, but any amount you could grow onsite you don’t have to pay to import. If you can grow 30% of your food onsite then you can reduce your living expenses by 30% while creating local agriculture jobs for skilled and unskilled workers. That’ll also reduce food-shipping-related pollution and resource-consumption by 30%.

But this method wouldn’t work in suburbia because suburbia is so inefficiently designed. That’s not a reason to disregard urban agriculture. That’s a reason to abandon the suburban city model.

 

Clothing

If we can’t clothe ourselves without forcing children to work in sweatshops then we should just walk around naked. But we don’t have to rely on sweatshops, and we don’t have to pay $90 for a shirt. There should be a global ban on importing sweatshop clothing. That doesn’t mean sweatshop workers should lose their jobs. That means factory workers should get paid a living wage and get to work under inhumane conditions. But that’s not going to happen as long as CEOs reserve the right to exploit their workers and have the incentive of being able to pocket as much of the company’s profits as they want. Cap executive pay and put a limit on how high the cost of products can be marked up. Make profit sharing mandatory. And finally, let an impartial, international health organization set health and safety standards for commercial merchandise.  The only “negative” consequence these changes have to cause is stopping executives from being able to afford to live in utter, shameful luxury. As long as business executives can’t pass their costs off onto their workers or customers then everyone else will enjoy a higher quality of living while still being able to afford clothes, shoes, and all the other products we buy.

 

Utilities

Technology exists for buildings to collect their own rainwater, process their own waste and generate their own electricity. If building standards required every building to be environmentally sustainable then there would be little need to pay for public utilities or their upkeep. Cities could still keep public utilities in a backup fashion instead of being the single point of failure that they are now. I’m not saying it’ll be easy to convert the world to using sustainable architecture/technology. I’m just saying, as long as we keep doing what we’re doing we should expect the same results.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Predatory Capitalism Creates Poverty
Socialism and Communism
The Life of the Rich
The Life of the Poor
Oppression in the Workplace
Success and Retirement
The Housing Market
Healthcare in America
The Stock Market
Banks
Taxes
Cryptocurrency
Fixing the Economy
My Tweets About Economics

This Is How We Live Now: Part 1

Financially, 2016 was the worst year of my life financially. It hurt so bad I had to write three blogs to vent some of the emotional trauma. The disasters I experienced aren’t unusual, but that’s what makes this story poignant. My life is so normal, it’s a metaphor for every American who lives near the poverty line, who, no matter how long and hard they work, are perpetually having their life savings drained back to zero by predatory business practices.

The story of why 2016 sucked for me begins in 2008, with me being a hypocrite. Newly married and separated from the Air Force, I moved from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii to Austin, TX, where my wife and I bought a duplex for $250k.

I didn’t want to pay a realtor. So I researched how to buy a house without one and immediately learned why realtors exist. There are so many laws around buying and selling houses it’s impossible to do it without having an associate’s degree worth of knowledge. After a few days of mind-numbing reading, I laid my head on my keyboard and muttered, “Why does this have to be harder than buying a car?”

Very complicated infographic of the process of buying a home. It's too long to describe, which implies you need to hire a real estate agent to buy a home.

The next day my wife and I met a realtor who came highly recommended from a distant relative. Our agent looked like a model and talked like an auctioneer. She picked us up in a brand new BMW equipped with space-age technology. After our first conversation, I felt like I was hiring a scout to take me on a treasure hunting expedition.

Over the next week, she showed us two trashy properties below our price range, two giant, expensive houses, and one solid option just above what we wanted to spend. So we picked that one, which in retrospect, I don’t think was an accident.

The only type of houses we looked at were duplexes, because we thought the tenant’s rent would cover our payments, and it would have if the cost of a mortgage equaled the listing price of the property, but after taxes, interest, and fees, the final price of a 30 year mortgage is double whatever the property is worth. So, after we picked the house, we learned we’d need to take out a $500k loan for a $250k property. Plus, most of the first fifteen years of payments would go to whittling down the interest, not buying equity in the house. Why do lenders have to structure loans that way? Because fuck you. That’s why.

Normally, home buyers have to put down a 20% down payment to qualify for a loan, and we didn’t have $50k. However, the Department of Veteran Affairs offers a special service to veterans. In exchange for $5k, it will vouch to pay the 20% down payment if the vet fails to pay their mortgage and the house gets foreclosed on. At that point, the VA will give the lender the 20% down payment, which in my case was $50k. So if my house got foreclosed on, I’d have to pay the VA, $50k.

This is a great deal, in the sense that it removes one of the glass ceilings stopping renters from becoming homeowners, but it’s a scammy solution to a problem created by the government. Think of it this way. The government enforces laws which make buying a home impossible to do without hiring legal representation to walk you through all the laws that inflate the cost of a property so high you can’t afford it. The government’s solution to the problem it created, is for homeowners to buy the lender an insurance policy to cover their losses if/when the veteran can’t afford to pay twice the advertised listing price of a property plus another $5k.

"You served your country with honor... now let the VA loan program honor your service."

My real estate agent and the lender she referred us to explained all this to me and acted like it was completely normal… because it is. So I signed the paperwork and went on with my life, which consisted mostly of spending 10+ hours per week sitting in Austin’s notorious traffic and working 40+ hours per week at a computer helpdesk job getting yelled at for problems other people created.

I told myself it would all be worth it when I finally beat the game and could live life on my own terms. Seven years later my wife and I divorced and sold the house. Luckily, the divorce was “no contest.” So we didn’t have to spend $5k each for lawyers. Since we filed the paperwork ourselves, it only cost a few hundred dollars in government fees and having to stand in front of a judge who didn’t know us to beg him to let us get on with our lives.

We had already moved away from Austin halfway through our marriage and rented out both duplex units through a property manager who sent us “repair” bills for $300-$1000 almost monthly. We finally terminated our contract after he charged us $90 to replace a smoke detector battery and another $90 to look in the chimney and tell us there weren’t any birds in it. Wanting to avoid confrontation, my wife told them we were moving to Samoa and had to sell the house.

The next property management company we hired never sent us any absurd charges in the two years we used them. Since they rarely did anything to the house, effectively, we paid them $240 per month to deposit our rent checks.

Our contract also stipulated that if we sold the house, they would act as our real estate agent and take a higher-than-normal percentage of the sale. I didn’t care at the time because I wasn’t planning on getting divorced and selling the house.

When we decided to sell in 2013, Austin was experiencing a housing bubble, which means houses are overpriced. So sellers make can make a lot of money, but buyers get screwed paying inflated prices that could drop by the time they get divorced and have to sell their house.

There was so much demand for duplexes, our property manager/realtor was able to sell the house in two days for $60k more than the original listing price, which sounds great, except we’d spent at least that much on the mortgage, upgrades, fraudulent repairs and property management dues.

In the end, my wife and I received $15k each, and my realtor took $30k for doing less than ten hours of work. Just to be clear, I didn’t make $15k profit. I got a $15k return on a $60k investment. In the grand scheme of things, I lost $45k.

After signing all the paperwork, the realtor handed me my check and said, “See? It wasn’t that painful, was it?”

I wanted to tell him, “The only painful part was when you pocketed $30k I spent seven years working my ass off for in exchange for ten hours of your labor. But that’s okay because it’s normal, right? Enjoy your normal life, sending your kids to college and buying them sports cars. I’ll enjoy my normal routine of not having a retirement.”

Cartoon of a giant, fat rich man in a business suit sitting at a table eating a huge pile of money. Next to him is a tiny, skinny poor person sitting in front of an empty plate

Pictured above: My real estate agent and me at the closing table

At least I had $15k to start my new life with when I moved to Houston, TX to live with my identical twin brother. I didn’t make it out of my marriage with a vehicle but was able to pay cash for a used truck, which I bought from a small car dealership, owned and operated by a sweet, old Southern country farmer type who prided himself in his old-fashioned honesty. He won my trust and sold me a 1997 truck with 50k miles on it for $7k. It had been owned by an old lady who only drove it to church on Sundays. So even though the truck was almost twenty years old, it was practically new.

Now that I had a vehicle to drive to work, I turned my attention to job hunting. Most of my adult life, I’d worked in IT, but halfway through my marriage, after my wife and I left Austin, I couldn’t find work in the IT sector. So I worked a series of odd jobs until my IT experience became obsolete and unusable. I’ve never complained about or regretted letting that door close because I absolutely hated IT work. What good is making money if you spend your entire life doing things that make you miserable to earn it? That’s wasting the present, not investing in the future.

Theoretically, that’s true, but in America’s economy, chasing your dream is shooting yourself in the foot. Without a college degree, training certificate or relevant experience, my job options were staggeringly limited. I didn’t sit around crying about this. I drove straight to a staffing agency I knew could hook me up with “an exciting job opportunity.”

For the next few summer months, I spent 9 hours per day in a warehouse digging through vats of marble-sized ceramic balls, picking out any that were tarnished, broken or disfigured. The only break I got was an hour for lunch, and my bosses monitored me closely via the security cameras. At first, I was happy because I felt lucky to be getting paid slightly higher than minimum wage, but it didn’t take long to realize my assessment of life was wrong. In reality, my life was actually quite shit.

I had 9 hours per day to think. So I used the opportunity to weigh my options and decide how to save my life. About the time I got laid off, I convinced my twin to move to Colorado with me, where he could work, and I could attend a year-long trade school for free using the M.G.I.Bill, which would also pay me a $1,200 per month living stipend.

He agreed immediately because Houston sucks. So we settled our affairs in the local area, loaded everything we owned into our two trucks and drove to the cheapest hotel in Denver. The first night we celebrated our new beginning with overpriced legal weed and a box of Franzia. It seemed appropriate since the hotel was so low class, the Denver Police Department had a permanently reserved parking spot directly in front of the lobby.

Before leaving Texas we’d searched for apartments in Denver and made a list of places that have vacancies within our price range. There were enough options that I wasn’t worried about finding a place. My only fear was settling on the second or third best option because it’s closer to my school. After spending thousands of hours in Austin traffic, not commuting had become a priority of mine.

My brother and I spent the next week touring Denver’s ghetto-est apartments and getting turned away by every slum lord. Come to find out, Denver has a local law, which says in order to qualify to rent a property, you must either have three months of paychecks from a local business or a co-signer who makes three times the amount of rent, neither of which we had.

The apartment managers were unswayable. No matter how much we begged, nobody would bend the rules for us. At our last apartment viewing, I put $7k cash on the table and offered to pay an entire six-month lease up front. The apartment manager scowled at me like I was a hillbilly offering to pay with a bag of dead possums. He looked me in straight in the eye and said with dead seriousness, “That’s not good enough.”

Since when is having enough money to buy something, not good enough to buy it? When did the American Dream turn into The Twilight Zone? My money was good. The problem is Colorado lawmakers want to prevent poor people from immigrating to their state. So they invented a disingenuous rule that all the local apartment owners agreed to go along with. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn it was written by wealthy apartment moguls who made campaign contributions to the politicians, who signed it into law.

Unable to legally rent an apartment, we looked on Craigslist for people offering to rent out spare rooms in their private homes, which is actually illegal under Colorado’s anti-boardinghouse laws. Luckily, this rule isn’t enforced, because Denver police have better things to do thank kick poor people out of their houses. And by “better things,” I mean, “legally robbing motorists to meet their ticket quotas.”

My brother and I spent the next two weeks viewing rooms and begging people to let us pay $900 per month to live in the cupboard under their stairs. It wouldn’t have taken so long, but most landlords required a $50 non-refundable, non-binding fee just to fill out an application, in addition to paying another $30-$50 to run a criminal background and credit history check on you, which requires you to give out your social security number, date of birth and bank account number.

We refused to apply for any of those rooms, which drastically limited our choices, but it was worth not risking paying $50 to have our identities stolen. After a long, discouraging search, we finally moved into a large, trashy two-story house containing five other tenants.

Our landlady was a semi-obese, bedridden hoarder whose husband had recently died of cirrhosis of the liver, and she was dying of cancer. Since she couldn’t work, the only way she could afford rent and groceries by sub-leasing her extra rooms. Her situation wouldn’t have been so dire, except she lived with two of her children, who were both in their early twenties, didn’t pay any bills and refused to get jobs.

All three were drug addicts who took whatever narcotics they could get their hands on. The son would steal his mother’s morphine, forcing her to send the daughter to buy more off the black market when the pain of dying became unbearable. When the mother confronted him about it, he bitched her out in front of the whole house for playing the cancer card too much. She died four months after we moved out.

One of her tenants was a 20-something-year-old black, gentle giant who moved to Denver to escape the apocalyptic ghetto in Chicago where he grew up. The other housemate was a white 20-something-year-old Texan who moved to Colorado for the weed. He’d been in Denver for several years and had moved into our “boarding house” after getting kicked out of his last apartment for overdosing on a psychedelic designer drug and diving out the second-story window naked and then fighting three police officers in the parking lot until they tazed him unconscious.

Gif of a man jumping out of a window

My brother and I shared a room and a bed for three months until we talked our landlady into letting us convert the basement into bedrooms. She only charged us $800 per month for two rooms, which is made it the cheapest price we’d ever find Denver.

We had some good times in that house, but most of them were bad. We moved out the day the landlord’s son blasted his stereo at 7am for the hundredth time and then threatened to “fuck me up” with a golf club if I tried to turn his music down. At that point, my brother returned to Texas, and I rented a camping spot outside of town and lived there until I found another room on Craigslist.

I finished out the school year living in an elderly couple’s house, paying $700 per month. At first, I lived in a tiny room on the ground floor but was able to move downstairs into the much larger basement after the landlady found her other tenant’s crack pipe in the drier. They’d already been planning on asking him to leave anyway because he was literally insane and thought government agents were following him at all times. Other than being a moocher, he never bothered me, but I was glad to see him go because after he learned I’d worked for the NSA during my military service, he assumed I was a government agent sent to spy on him.

After graduating from school, I decided to move back to Houston as well to be with a girl I’d met after my divorce and stayed in touch with. I moved in with her at the beginning of 2016, flat broke again.

The whole trip had been an asteroid shower of unexpected expenses. I expected Colorado to be Candy Land, but it turned out to be more like Chutes and Ladders. Every time you think you’re getting somewhere, you slide back down to where you started.

The problem isn’t that Colorado is worse than the rest of America, it’s a metaphor for the rest of the country. One of my friends from the military recently moved to San Antonio and was unable to rent an apartment for the same reasons I couldn’t. In the end, he bought a house using the same VA home loan program I did, because it was easier for him to qualify to buy a house than to rent one. My friend and I didn’t do anything wrong to deserve the moving nightmare we experienced. This is just how everyone lives now.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

My Goals
My Life Stories (in chronological order)
The Life of the Poor

Suburbia Is A Sensory Deprivation Chamber

Rows and rows of identical suburban houses

 

Suburbia has a glass ceiling of happiness. Psychologists have pretty well documented the aesthetic effect of your surroundings on your mental state. McDondalds is painted bright colors to make you move faster. Prisons are painted dull colors to make you apathetic. Suburbia is drab. Its architecture is mediocre and repetitive. You don’t get the sense of wonder and awe as at the top of a mountain or in a cathedral. There’s a limit to the amount of joy you’re going to receive from the aesthetics of suburbia.

Spending too long in sensory deprivation makes you withdrawn and catatonic. In suburbia, where we sit in our climate controlled houses, drive the same route over and over to our climate controlled offices, where we sit in climate controlled cubicles… we’re basically living in a sensory deprivation chamber, and it has a noticeably dulling effect on our minds.

Unless you work really hard to break up your routine, every day of the week is likely to be indistinguishable from any other day of the week any year of your life. You can actually live on autopilot and never think and still get through your life. Spend enough time in suburbia, and stop noticing your drive to work. You’ll just show up to your job and realize, “I don’t remember driving here.” Suburbia numbs you that profoundly.

Life in suburbia offers luxuries and comforts unheard of to royalty in the Middle Ages, but when life becomes so rote, with so little variation, you’re eventually left with no frame of reference to judge the highs and lows. You lose your orientation of happiness and experience happiness vertigo. Then minor inconveniences in your life can seem like the end of the world, and small pleasures can seem euphoric. But the latter statement is no justification for happiness vertigo because that lifestyle is chaotic, unreliable, and ultimately stressful.

Being happy requires fulfilling your wants, because if you don’t, your mind gets stuck in a perpetual state of fight or flight as it yearns to fulfill its perceived needs. Suburbia kills your opportunity to fulfill your wants in two ways. First, the fact that your basic survival needs are fulfilled misleads you into thinking you have everything you should want. You feel guilty if you ask for more, which dissuades you from expecting more out of life. Even if you do have ambition, suburbia will stifle it. You’ll have to drive long distances to reach businesses. You’ll have to sit through stressful traffic to reach any place you might express yourself or grow. Given that you’re a slave to your job and family, you won’t have much time to do that anyway.

If you ever reach a place where you can express yourself or grow, you’ll have to pay for it, but utilities, rent, mortgages, insurance, car payments, credit card bills, cable, internet, cell phones, etc. will keep you perpetually buried in debt. Suburbia is designed to drain your wealth, which limits your options, and cancels out the sense of security that is suburbia’s greatest advantage.

Everything about suburbia is designed to normalize life as unbroken, numbing, lukewarm blandness. Sure, you’ll be insulated from the atrocities of the ghetto or third world countries, but it’ll be nearly impossible to experience self-actualization and fulfill any meaningful purpose.

 

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

Predatory Capitalism Creates Poverty
Socialism and Communism
The Life of the Rich
The Life of the Poor
Oppression in the Workplace
Success and Retirement
The Housing Market
Healthcare in America
The Stock Market
Banks
Taxes
Cryptocurrency
Fixing the Economy
My Tweets About Economics


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