The Receding Prospect of Happiness (unless you live in a Yurt)

What do human beings need to live comfortably? Shelter, adequate food and clean water, warmth from clothing and fire and companionship (we are herd animals)
Add to that meaningful occupation to hold boredom at bay and everything is covered really.
What do human beings crave most? Not any of the essentials but happiness. Well the importance of essentsils only becomes apparent when we are deprived of them.
So what do we need to be happy? The essentials, freedom and security maybe?
Things we do not need to be happy are wide screen TVs, cars, MP3 players, designer labels and most of all unaffordable mortgages taken out to buy very modest houses that offer accommodation far too cramped for comfort.
So why did we ever fall for the great housing con?
We ask this question as news reports talk of a big rise in house repossessions as people fall behind with mortgage repayments, the financial markets brace themselves for further increases in interest rates and many homeowners try to rebuild their lives after devastating floods, caused in part by unrestricted building on flood plains and wetlands.
Little Nicky Machiavelli predicted two years ago that the seemingly irreversible rise in property prices would all end in tears. In Japan, where people tend to be even crazier and more sheeplike than in the west, the hundred year mortgage is already a reality. Are we really mad enough to let things go that far?

To find the roots of the obsession with owning a home we need to go back to the early part of the Industrial Revolution. As the poor were driven of the land by the social evil of enclosures, they found themselves entirely in the hands of the property owning bourgeoisie. People who did not own a property of sufficient value did not have the vote.

Laws change more quickly than attitudes of course and the feeling that someone who owned a house (or to be precise, owned a debt) were somehow morally superior to those who rented a home either from the municipal authority or a private landlord.

The social revolution of the sixties did a lot to change that. Suddenly people who had been brought up in modest, rented homes were becoming politicians, authors, members of professions. The old order was being challenged, home owners were often revealed as small minded, grasping and reactionary.

The answer was a spate of conservative terrorism. Starting in the mid nineteen – seventies, first municipal housing was stigmatised and later most of it was sold off. It became almost impossible for a couple who could not rely on parental help to find an affordable home offering good quality accommodation. Young people were forced to buy tiny, poorly built houses often thrown up on unsuitable land. This led them to attempt to trade up as soon as they could stretch their double income to an even bigger mortgage.

The Terrorists of Conservatism saw their policies were succeeding and cranked up the machine, making money easier to borrow, they promised everybody would get rich by buying and selling houses, they preached of family values but practised and promoted the values of personal greed thus putting families under pressure and causing may partnership break-ups and unhappy childhood experiences.

And they have almost succeeded in their aim, having created a new urban poor who, deprived of employment protection laws are vulnerable to abuse by unscrupulous employers.

You may remember John Prescott’s promise of the £60,000 home. It turns out these homes will actually cost £225,000 to buy. The promised price excluded land. How can young people, just out of university with a big debt hung round their necks afford that. So my g-g-g-generaation who were told to be thrifty and save for a comfortable retirement find ourselves having to dig into those retirement funds to give our children a start.

Someone recently told me I cannot blame all of societies ills on Margaret Thatcher. It may seem that I am determined to prove that person wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth, Little Nicky Machiavelli is on a mission to save the Conservative Party. Not that I support or even like them of course, but lack of a credible opposition is a very bad thing for democracy. So as I see the Tory old brigade starting to turn on Cameron and undermine his leadership I must send out the message to them, “Forget Thatcher, that bloody woman’s crackpot idealism has done nothing but harm to the country.”

Before anyone comes steaming in to tell me what a wonderful job she did for us all, remember it might be someone close to you who is next to have their job exported to a low labour cost nation by a “Private Equity” buyout (possible thanks to Thatcher) lose their home because social security does not cover second mortgages, be rehoused in a B&B because all the council’s housing stock has been sold off, suffer a break-up of their relationship and following the stress of a bitter divorce battle descend into depression, drug dependency or alcoholism.

Alternatively you could advise people to stay off the mortgage ladder by buying a weatherproof, warm and spacious Yurt from our daughter’s friend Big Al. Well we are all off to look at Big Al’s show yurt now, as he gears up to launch his new business venture. Join us in wishing him luck, he could have found a way to solve the housing crisis.

We’ll bring you more news as soon as Al’s Yurts are on the market.

14 thoughts on “The Receding Prospect of Happiness (unless you live in a Yurt)

  1. Those yurts are lovely and portable. I came to this conclusion ages ago about what would make ME happy. Strip away all the things that are considered to be essential (TV internet car) and there is NOTHING I need apart from that little list at the top of your blog plus library.
    You can’t take it when you are dead anyway.

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  2. Yeah, toys are fun but they’re not the be all and end all. I think you would like what George Melly said when asked why he had refused treatment for cancer;
    “It’s not how long your life lasts that matters, but what you do with it.”

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  3. These “toys” that you’re worried about are not the central feature, but the byproduct of a larger, far more noble millenia-long effort to extend the human lifespan and reduce backbreaking work for as many people as possible.

    Ignore the byproduct, and the absurd fetishes of people “dreaming green” from their urbane shelters and think back to a time when man did live off of the land. There were far fewer of us then, and in a desire to survive we denuded it to a far greater degree than we know today, and we still couldn’t diminish hardships that greatly. More people were exposed to war, backbreaking labor, injustice, and class separation than today.

    And yet people have some sort of illusion that the correction to those injustices and inequities are somehow “what’s wrong” with civilization, and that it must devolve into popularly held delusions of medieval life. It’s genuinely pathetic and frankly evil because in the end all it would do is have a greater impact on those who have the least both in the developed world and outside of it.

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    1. Well done Joe, for missing the point completely.

      Life was indeed a struggle in the medieval era but nobody is suggesting we go back to the way people lived then. Regular readers of Little Nicky Machievelli will know the main thrust of the blog is that a global economy built on constant economic expansion is unsustainable. Many posts in the past have called for genuine progress in technology rather that chaining our human creativity to the demands of “market forces.” For example we have argued for public investment to tackle the pending energy crisis and to create clean, cheap transport systems, and in the current post for the destigmatisation of social housing.

      We are opposing the “every man for himself” morality of the Roman Empire.

      And the point you mised? The entire post was really a tongue in cheek plug for Big Al’s Yurts.

      BTW The Yurt, which the evidence suggests dates from prehistoric times is such a masterpiece of engineering, modern structural engineers, while able to copy it, cannot yet understand how it achives its strength and stability.

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  4. I’ve got some bad news for you then my friend. It is estimated that the UK will be europe’s most populous country in the next few years with 77 million inhabitants. Thing’s don’t bode well for housing there I’m afraid.

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  5. I’ve got some bad news for you then my friend. It is estimated that the UK will be europe’s most populous country in the next few years with 77 million inhabitants. Thing’s don’t bode well for housing there I’m afraid.

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  6. Hi, a nice revealing what the real happiness is but the it is believed that the human being is such an animal whose wants are never accomplished. so is the situation else many of them has not to face such critical situation.

    Rata Mutuo

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  7. Hy hope u all fine and enjoying ur life..I I found this site very informative…… Through this site i wanna tell u about my site which is about games..
    plz check it out u ll have fun…
    Thanks u.

    Like

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