Your Home: Is It a Commodity?

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Rammed-Earth House

Globally today like no other time in history, homes are commonly treated as a commodity; rather than as a sanctuary of family and guests, good food, community. Your home is viewed as a “solid” financial investment. A source of monetary wealth building where profit overrides quality of life; trends and toys push aside simple practicality and modern materials and methods more often than not are counter to health, happiness and a sustainable more natural lifestyle.

The first hurdle for most seeking to build a home is the mortgage or other type of loan. Going into debt usually locks an individual or a family into a job or profession that often becomes a kind of day to day drudgery in order to service the debt that has been incurred. It can hamstring our collective familial potential, our interests, and our inquisitive nature that can love, not just one livelihood, but many. It affects negatively our ability to love what we do and to expand our knowledge and pursuits, and pigeonholes us into some type of work we grow to – if not hate, then tolerate as a means to an end. Retirement usually. We decide that is when we will really pursue our happiness with the time that it would seem only money can buy.

When not just homes, but our communities, become first a commodity [primarily as tax revenue generators] and everything else comes second; the focus of home building then is on maximizing one’s investment strictly in terms of resale value. You would think this would necessitate quality; however, it seems that that is rarely the case, as builders and owners seeking the most gain almost universally opt for the toxic or cheap choice in design or material. It is ironic that designers, builders, and flippers call the unnatural products they use “elite”, “luxury” or “high quality” when the opposite is usually true. And most buyers fall for this nonsense because they either did not do their due diligence or, more likely, are completely uninformed about the products as a result of manufacturer, regulator, and retailer “marketing” claims which absolutely permeate the current marketplace.

It can be argued that in much of the world today that a home is not viewed as a place to raise a family and be handed on to the next generation. Rather, it is viewed as a tradable commodity. It is valued and treated as a financial investment rather than a sacred space where love lives, children are born, marriages occur, and life is lived. It is used to enrich a diverse assortment of patent and process holders, armies of specialized businesses, municipalities, and nations. In short, any connection to your home beyond a financial connection has to be severed to support large businesses and associations, migration, and natural resource exploitation.

In the world of industrialization where large amounts of capital are required regularly to upgrade and maintain market share, it becomes advantageous for such companies to ensure market checks and balances are in place to protect existing capital. Trade associations, codes, trade treaties, targeted taxation, special certifications, and licensing are the most common. The primary goal at work here is for existing concerns to reduce competition and innovation to a manageable and perceived safe level to protect the capital that is at risk to increased competition. The rich absolutely revile a free market where they would have to innovate, upgrade, and rethink their businesses to stay in the free market they claim to love. And who would invest their personal wealth in a highly volatile marketplace where your investment could disappear overnight? You would be much more discerning if that were the case (Nope! I’ll pass on 50,000 shares of McMystery Meat, thank you very much!). That is why crushing regulatory assurance of a return on your investment negates the existence of a “fair” or “free market”. Opening a business these days in is a red tape nightmare.

Government control is as present in the built environments sector as any other. It exists to varying degrees and in many cases, has become necessary because “we the people” have gotten lazy and value ease and leisure over our freedoms. Through systems of codes, permits, patents, practices, and certifications you are told what is acceptable and what is not. Truly intelligent change to a restorative paradigm is systematically blocked by well-intentioned bureaucrats who obey the laws. A system of law by where acute liability is usually disregarded and large corporate concerns lobby to prevent competition or just plain old freedom to act. Chronic liability is difficult to enforce and can be watered down to insignificance. Where degrees and checklists trump intelligence, history, experience, and innovation while unending growth is the holy grail.

This is the playing field where new ideas, systems, products, and processes of sustainability are forced to compete. They are up against usually inferior and costly mainstream options that are heavily protected in the marketplace. Take for example cooling systems for homes. It is decidedly not in the interest of air conditioning system manufactures, sellers, and installers to advance the knowledge of natural cooling systems like solar chimneys, badgirs, or even trees. In fact, to protect their market share they invariably find themselves in a war. They will use lobbying of government and misinformation, lest their business disappear overnight like the buggy whip manufacturers of yore. But hey, they are happy to give you that minimum wage job and wear the laurels of “job creators”. I think I’ll pass.

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