Homeownership: The Dark Side?

A thought-provoking post in one of the permaculture groups I belong to:

Widespread home ownership has been promoted in the United States since World War II as a way to get people invested in capitalism instead of pursuing more cooperative livelihoods. William Levitt, one of the original architects of suburbia, famously said “No man who owns his own house and lot can be a communist. He has too much to do.”

I’ve always thought that permaculture’s focus on the private domains of homeowners undermines the collectivism needed to make the permaculture principles transformative on a social scale. Is focusing on homeowners an attempt to turn a problem into a solution, and if so, how is that supposed to work? (Post by Dave Meester in the Facebook group Permaculture Money, Livelihoods, and Society via Transformative Adventures).

My response:

Great points here!!! My two cents:

It is a dilemma. Renters are dependent on landlords – can be very unstable arrangement especially nowadays more and more.

Mortgaged homeowners pay hefty premiums to banks and insurance companies. And pay property tax to govt. (Renters too pay that tax, just indirectly.)

Homeowners who own their home free-and-clear have lower overhead at least in terms of mortgage interest. Still have to pay property tax which is almost like “rent” to the govt.

Living alone or with only one other person in a house is exhausting and also can foster selfishness, insularity; diverts too much of the occupants’ energy away from community, civic, humanitarian concerns IMO.

On my blog I have often talked about what I see as best option: house owned free and clear in a part of the country where you can tolerate the weather and the ambient social climate. Ideally go in with family, or friends, or people whose sense of mission at least somewhat overlaps with yours.

Lower overhead gives occupants more freedom to pursue right livelihood; become contributing members of the surrounding community; help with the collective re-skilling and social-fabric-rebuilding that may offer our best hope of making a positive turnaround.

Further Reading:

Radical Vitalism blog (Dave Meester): Herbalism. Deep Ecology. Reconnection Medicine. Really good stuff – Recent posts include “Why This Is No Time for Cynicism”; “You Are Nature: Working with the Elements for Change”; and “Two Visions for the Future of Life on Earth.”