Part 2 in the Series
You have a Right to a Flourishing Life. At present, the degree to which people live a flourishing life varies depending upon which Nation you live in. In some, a great swath of the population does not have access to the basic needs of survival much less what is necessary to flourish; in others, more have access to what they need for both.
In the United States, based on recent reports, 40 percent of Americans are lacking at least one of the basic needs for survival. An additional 40 percent are a paycheck away from being in the same boat. What that adds up to is 80 percent of the population living under stress that derives from lack of security. Anyone living under daily stress is not flourishing. To flourish, you need what is necessary to survive, a reasonable level of comfort beyond simple survival, and resilience reserves sufficient to enable you to bounce back from adversity and change.
While there are social programs currently in effect that can be tapped in times of adversity to assist an individual meet their basic survival needs, they are not only insufficient but are at risk of further diminishment and discontinuance by a governing institution, that by design, places the interests of its members and those of large corporations before the best interests of its citizens. To correct this requires a different governing structure – we’ll look into this at length in part 5 of this series.
What is needed for basic survival? – food, drinking water, and shelter. How do we ensure every citizen has adequate access to all of these things every day of their lives? Citizens procure these things for themselves through the use of natural resources (this requires access to land) or by trading with those that have produced these things through the use of natural resources. Presently, access to sufficient fertile clean land for the purpose of self-subsistence is not available to most, so the procurement of survival items is accomplished by trading an individual’s labor (the exchange value received generally being in the form of money).
As mentioned earlier, the amount of money that an individual is able to exchange their labor for is at present barely enough or not enough for the vast majority of citizens to meet their living needs. Why is this? – an insufficiently constrained Capitalist economy is one of the main driving forces behind this reality. The economy will be covered in part 3 of this series.
How do we correct this? What follows are some potential means by which we can ensure all citizens have enough to live a flourishing life.
Because most people procure their necessities with money, we’ll look at how much money is needed for this purpose under current market price conditions. For several years, a Self-Sufficiency Standard has been researched and published each year by County for most States. This Standard “defines the amount of income necessary to meet basic needs (including taxes) without public subsidies (e.g., public housing, food stamps, Medicaid or child care) and without private/informal assistance (e.g., free babysitting by a relative or friend, food provided by churches or local food banks, or shared housing). The family types for which a Standard is calculated range from one adult with no children, to one adult with one infant, one adult with one preschooler, and so forth, up to three-adult families with six teenagers.” You can research the Standard for your own County by visiting the site through the link above. Because all States have not participated on a regular basis, we have calculated out an approximation of what the Standard would be in lowest and highest cost towns/cities for all 50 states based on a family composed of One Adult and One Preschooler Dependent which you can view here – 2017 50 State SSS.
In this illustration, the lowest annualized SSS is in Harrogate, Tennessee at $20,322 and the highest is in San Francisco, California at $65,054. If we take the average of those two figures – $37,881 and multiply it by the 2016 population over the age of 18 which was estimated at 249,454,440, we get a whopping $9,449,491,343,497. If this dollar amount representing the cost of living was provided to all citizens over the age of 18 through a social program funded by the government – let’s call it the Guaranteed Basic Income, that amount would equate to 43% of our $22 Trillion Gross Domestic Product each year. Many of you may think this would be an unrealistic and excessive social program. Let’s say it is and look at how we can get to the same place but by using methods that make more sense and are more palatable.
We’ll begin with self-subsistence which requires access to land in order to produce food, access water, and provide housing at the minimum. At present, approximately 139 million or 6% of the 2.3 billion acres of land within the United States borders is used for urban (developed) and rural residential purposes. There are 648 million acres being used as range and pasture land (excludes forest land) and an additional 349 million acres being used as cropland which together amounts to 997 million acres. There is a consensus among some homesteaders that it is possible to raise all of the food one person needs on ¼ of an acre of fertile land (includes space allocation for a dwelling and minimum supporting structures). Using our household model of One Adult and One Dependent, each household would need ½ acre of land to feed itself. In 2020, it is estimated that the United States population will be 360,000,000 with 77% of that figure over the age of 18. That would mean there would be 277,200,000 households needing ½ acre each for a total of 138,600,000 acres or 6% of total U.S. land; if you add the 66 million acres of current urban land, the total people habitat land comes to about 9%. If we re-zone 65,600,000 of the land currently zoned for crops, range, and pasture, and added the current rural residential land of 73 million acres, there would be sufficient land for all households to produce their own food needs and space to build a primary residence and one guest dwelling.
The next logical question would be – How does everyone afford their ½ acre of land? Henry George, a late 1800’s philosopher, had some ideas about that. His great dream was to free people from the oppression of monopoly power in any form; his publication of Progress and Poverty was partly aimed at discrediting Social Darwinism (the idea that “survival of the fittest” should serve as a social philosophy). We’ll focus on his philosophy on private ownership. George believed that things created by people could be owned by people but claiming ownership of anything otherwise created was essentially confiscation or theft. As people did not and cannot create the land, its water, or its air, these things could not be owned by people. People, as inhabitants of the planet, could use these natural resources for their own survival and health just as all other inhabitants of the planet do, but they could not claim ownership of them. The planet’s land, water, and air belong to all inhabitants of the planet. It follows that if we cannot claim private ownership of something, then we cannot place a market value upon it. Hence, all land and the bodies of water within a Nation’s borders may not be privately owned. The land may be allocated for various uses by people but it may not be assigned a market value and therefore may not be bought or sold.
If none of the land within the United States is owned by anyone, it is removed from speculative practices. Instead of buying the land you need to support your household, you are allocated it.
In order to ensure fair and equitable allocation, a lottery process is recommended.
- As land that has been zoned homestead use becomes available, it will be allocated in 2/10th hectare (1/2 acre) plots via lottery.
- Postings of all available plots will be listed on a master database on the Government Homestead Listing website. Postings will include at least 5 photos of the specific plot, disclosure of any known pollutants on land, list any structures and their respective market price that will remain on the land, plot map, and specific plot location address.
- Individuals interested in specific plots may submit their Citizen Identification Number for as many plots as they wish. Drawings for plots will be held 90 days following the plot posting.
- Citizens allocated a plot through a drawing, will not be eligible for any further Homestead plot drawings.
- Land plots are allocated to Citizens for the entirety of their life. A Citizen may swap their allocated plots with another Citizen by mutual agreement and the filing of land swap documents. Any net difference in the price of existing structures on the lands being swapped must be payed to the relevant Citizen prior to filing the land swap documents. Allocated plots are re-listed on the Government Homestead Listing website within one year following the death of the Citizen.
To transition from a society of land ownership to one of land allocation, the following is suggested:
- Re-Zoning Division, Basis, and Prioritization –
Total Land Division to be:
- 50% Wildlife Conservation Land
- 25% Large Tracts with 25% Connecting Corridors woven through People Use Land Tracts
- 50% People Use Land
- 20% Homestead Use (dwelling plus cottage industry inclusive of farming, retail or office, lite non-polluting manufacturing)
- 15% Commercial Use (Private For-Profit and Non-Profit Commerce such as manufacturing, community farming, urban multi-family dwellings, distribution, mining, Dependent daycare, churches, recreational parks, etc.)
- 10% Community Commons Use (Government Funded Institutions such as healthcare, education, utilities, infrastructure (roads, bridges, airports, seaports), peacekeeping, courts, banking, etc.)
- 5% Government Use (military and government offices)
Zoning Basis and Prioritization:
- Least Ecosystem Impact
- Best Functional Use
- Effective Flow within and between each type of Land Use
- If current land use is other than zoned, relocation of current land steward is not required but will be taxed at the standard Commercial land use rate for the first year and then increase by a factor of 2 the second year, a factor of 3 the 3rd year, and so on each year until the current occupant chooses to relocate.
- All structures, equipment, and sundries on re-zoned land remain private property. Any private property remaining on the land after relocation will be forfeit and sold to offset the costs to re-purpose the land in accordance with its new use zone and new land steward.
- If homestead zoned land used by one adult individual exceeds 2/10th hectares (1/2 acre), all land over 2/10th hectares will be taxed at the standard Commercial land use rate for the first year and then increase by a factor of 2 the second year, a factor of 3 the 3rd year, and so on each year until the current occupant chooses to make excess land available to other individuals for homestead use.
The Sale and Rental pricing of structures attached to Homestead Land would be subject to price controls tied to a National Self-Sufficiency Standard. For example:
Maximum price is determined by the Minimum Dwelling Square Footage of a Single Family Unit at 1036 sq. ft.
Homestead Minimum Dimensions and Features:
Minimums are based on 1 Adult and 1 Dependent using the height of an average adult male of 5.75 feet (5’9”) or 1.75 meters for dimension calculations
- 2 bedrooms: (132 x 2 = 414 sq. ft.)
- Dimensions of each bedroom = (8’) or 140% x 5.75ft Ceiling Height by 5.75 x 2.5 = 14.382 = 207 square feet Floor Space
- 1 kitchen – same dimensions as one bedroom
- 1 bathroom – same height as bedroom (8’) by ½ bedroom square footage or 104 square feet
- 1 utility room – same dimensions as bathroom
- 1 living room – same dimensions as bedroom
Total minimum Floor Space (pre-appliances, furniture, etc.) for a Single Family Unit Dwelling is 414+207+104+104+207= 1036 sq. ft. (HVAC Space)
Monthly Rental Price may be no more than 25% of the Monthly National SSS per 1036 sq. ft. (including energy costs) – equation is Monthly SSS x 25% / 1036 = $ per sq. ft. maximum monthly rent.
- Example: Monthly SSS is $3,157 and Dwelling Square Footage (HVAC Space) is 1,500.
- $3,157 x 25% = $789 /1036 = $0.76 x 1,500 = $1,142 maximum monthly rental.
Sale Price may be no more than the Maximum Monthly Rental Price for a 10 year term. Rent x 12 months x 10 years = Maximum Sale Price.
- Example: Monthly rent is $1,142; $1,142 x 12 x 10 = $137,040 maximum sale price (excludes unattached appliances, fixtures, and sundries).
Other non-dwelling structures attached to Homestead land may be priced for rent or sale at a maximum of 75% of the maximum dwelling rental and sale prices.
Existing Mortgage Loans will be restructured to reflect prices for structures excluding land and the maximum interest rate (see Market Price Regulations ); existing mortgage loans that reflect less than the new maximums will remain the same.
Future Dwellings, in order to minimize the impact on land, ensure adequate fertile land for food production, and enable DIY construction for cost containment, the following criteria is recommended:
New Dwelling Construction Minimum Requirements:
- Portable Units affixed to portable or non-portable foundations.
- Constructed with Eco Friendly Materials
- Meets minimum Safety and Weather Protection Standards
- Portable Handicap Ramps for all Exterior Egress Portals
- Prefab Modular Units of 1036 sq. ft. each – see Homestead minimum dimensions and features
- Maximum of One Story
- 100 % Off Grid
- Solar and/or Wind Power
- Passive Heat + Energy Efficient Supplemental such as a Rocket Stove
- Passive Cooling + Energy Efficient Supplemental such as Ceiling Fans
- Rain Water Collection and Filtration System plus Water Well
- Gray Water Recycling System
- Composting Toilet
- Add-on Modular Room Options up to a maximum total dwelling exterior square footage thrice that of the Minimum Dwelling Square Footage (or a total of 3,108 sq. ft.)
- Options for Regional Weather Extremes
- Dome Shape Roof and Cylindrical Base for High Wind and Snow
- Fire Resistant exterior for Fire Prone Areas
- Flotation System for Flood Prone Areas
- Plans for Compliant DIY Construction Designs to be provided to the public via download from the Government Homestead website at a maximum cost per plan based on the Survival product price constraints – see Market Price Regulations .
All structures on Homestead land, whose primary use is other than food production (such as a dwelling, tool shed, art studio, garage, etc.), may have a maximum aggregate total of 5,445 sq. ft. (exterior dimension total). This ensures that no more than 1/8 acre (5,445 sq. ft.) is consumed by non-food producing structures which leaves 75% of the Homestead land allotment available for food production (allows for structures with a primary use of food production such as greenhouses and chicken coops).
Through land allocation and price regulation, people are enabled to self-produce much of their self-subsistence needs and pay non-speculation influenced prices for those items they find more prudent to purchase; this reduces the amount of labor people need to exchange on the external market for this purpose.
This concludes Section I. The next section will focus on Money for Living.