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 Prescotts 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 womans 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 councils 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 daughters friend Big Al. Well we are all off to look at Big Als 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.
Well bring you more news as soon as Als Yurts are on the market.