Twenty-first Century Homes: Interindependence (Geocities Rescue)
If the planet were not more crowded, a workable farm would be provided to all workers. Given population pressure, the desire by some to explore space and the ever-present threat of environmental disaster due to pollution, bio-terror or war, outdoor farms are just not feasible for everyone. This essay provides a blueprint for a workable alternative, which I call Inter-Independence. Inter-independence combines cooperation with self-sufficiency. In theory, each employee applies his or her unique talents and training so that everyone is able to become self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency comes in the form of a dwelling with its own food production facilities.
Individual food production is necessary because people have wildly varying tastes and preferences for food. This system is offered as an alternative to Socialism, which often leads to rationing. Rationing is not an acceptable solution, as only the median customer is satisfied. This is unacceptable, as people are not ants. Having workers grow their own food makes them responsible for their own diet. It also overcomes the free rider problem, since slacking off only makes one’s own family hungry and no one else’s. Long-term dependence on society through a public pension or broad based stock ownership is also a lesser alternative. Public pensions are never high enough to provide the range of choices people desire, while the experience of recent years has shown that stock ownership without total ownership by the workers provides no real security.
Inter-independence also provides the worker with something to do in retirement. Growing one’s own food, albeit in a highly automated setting, provides retirees with enough to do to keep them interested in life. It is also more spiritually rewarding than the idleness often associated with retirement.
Workers who chose this type of home are given a shorter work day in order to have time to grow their own food, as well as a lower salary to account for the fact that they no longer have to purchase a share of their food. Of course, many firms also provide cafeteria service at breakfast and lunch, so commercial agriculture is still required. Additionally, not all workers want to grow their own food and instead work a standard eight-hour day. These employees devote the money saved on their mortgages to investment to comfortably purchase food in retirement.
Individual food production is a key part of the American ideal, which we have grown away from in the last century. J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur first wrote about this ideal in his Letters from an American Farmer in the late eighteenth century. In colonial America, owning land was key. Crèvecoeur asked What should we American farmers be without the distinct possession of that soil? It feeds, it clothes us, from it we draw our great exuberancy, our best meat, richest drink... (20). It was the essence of the American ideal to land on its shores, become skilled, build up a small amount of capital and raise a farm, often giving and receiving labor from one’s neighbors in doing so. Inter-independence restores this ideal, replacing food production techniques developed for space colonization for free land.
Food Production Facilities and Environmental Efficiency
Homes with food production facilities will be available everywhere, from the Midwest to a space colony on Mars. The home duplicates the entire food production cycle found in nature. Waste products are reintroduced into the food chain through the hydroponic production of grass, which is then either burnt or broken down in a bioreactor to produce either soil or a nutrient solution for hydroponic vegetable production. The Great Plains were created over a long process of topsoil growth and burning, over a time span of thousands of years. Technology is able to duplicate this process in a shorter span of time.
Mankind evolved as a carnivore. Therefore, to man, eating meat is natural. However, unless everyone has a bit of outdoor pastureland set aside, or wishes to take on the raising and butchering of animals in their basement, simulated meat production equipment is needed, either through the growing and processing of yeast or soy to look like muscle fiber. As the aim of this economic system is independence, appliances to process vegetable matter into simulated meat must be small enough, and easy enough to maintain, to be placed in the home. Cows, sheep, pigs and chickens synthesize protein all the time. Science is now, or will soon, be able to duplicate this process in the laboratory, then in the factory, then in the home. Small animals are also kept, especially if they provide a dual purpose. Chickens are useful for both eggs and meat, while sheep are raised for both wool and meat. Those who do not wish to learn butchery pay for the slaughter and processing of these animals.
Cotton is grown at home and spun using automated machinery. The computer revolution makes possible in the home much of what was previously found only in factories. Robotics, expert systems and artificial intelligence are used to assist basement or roof gardening.
Grain is grown to produce both food and alcohol for consumption and energy production. Renewable sources, such as solar, wind, garbage and methane are also utilized. Employee-owned firms also hold local energy or telecommunication stocks, distributing them to their retirees so that the dividends from holding the stock are adequate to purchase power, transportation and telecommunication services.
These dwellings are environmentally efficient, meaning that they are both self-sufficient and at peace with the outside environment. Habitats are self-contained and toxin free as possible. Factory farming and environmental degradation become relics of the past. With food grown in the home, reforestation and restoration of grasslands commences, giving the earth a rest. Inter-independence takes the urgency away from population control, as self-contained habitats allow an expanding human ecology without the attendant ecological ruin. Self-contained cities are built under the earth, under the sea and in space, giving mankind room to grow.
Providing for Growing Families
Habitat size is a function of family size. When a child is added the family trades up. When this occurs the loan value of the home changes, with adjustments for the state of repairs of the house given up and the house acquired. Another option is to subsidize the difference between the house sizes and let the family put the habitat up on the open market - a solution which allows the market to determine the value of the house rather than a bureaucracy, while still assuring the needs of the cooperative and the family.
Families apply a portion of their dependent tax credit to offset the increase in mortgage costs. In Inter-Independence, children are viewed as both a public and a corporate resource. The more resources produced, the better the prospect for the society, both in terms of a strong marketplace and in terms of human resources. The absolute number of geniuses grows with the size of the population, with geniuses achieving more in a larger, more diverse, society. The society eventually makes its money back through more and better output. Firms need workers and customers, so it is in their interest to treat families well, even without tax advantages.