Obviously, I’m a bit distracted consumed by whats happening with The Economy. I was talking with The Missus the other day at our elementary school fundraiser, and she told me something I already knew, that everywhere you go, people are talking about high prices. I know I hold a minority opinion about gas prices…I think they need to keep pace with what the rest of the world is paying. The Age of Cheap Readily Available Gasoline is over. Period. Get used to that. But that isn’t what I want to talk about today.
But I have been kicking something around for months in my head, trying to shape it into a coherent possible solution for American working families. Actually, I started thinking about this almost three years ago, when The Missus’ husband, a man I admire greatly, casually remarked to me that it seemed ridiculous for each of us to own so much equipment. We both own zero-turn mowers, weed-eaters, saws, to name just a few. We live 10 minutes away from each other. I own a piece of property that used to be a working farm that supported multiple families. Tractors, tools, and food were shared out of necessity.
Now, I know that eventually, the multiple family working farm model of living will be embraced on a large scale. It may have to be. But, for now, it occurred to me that one way for working families to cope with runaway inflation is to share domiciles. Remember when 1200 sq foot was the average home? People had to wait to use the bathroom. Kids bunked in together. There was more room outside, so people actually, you know, went outside.
We have over-built in the suburbs. Before long, the cost of heating and cooling these 5000 sq ft faux rancheros will be prohibitive. Local services will be cut, and/or property taxes will rise to the point of forcing many people out of their homes.
What if those costs could be shared by two or more families? What might happen if we figured out a way to find compatible families and shacked them up? Split the mortgage or rent, share the upkeep, share the chores. I mean, it seems to me that the Amish and Mennonite families are well positioned to weather this economic crunch, as they are pretty much self-sustaining and embrace a communal style of living.
I know it won’t come easy. There will be logistical problems, legal problems, (after all, we are a Nation of lawyers) but none that I see as insurmountable. I think it could actually be beneficial to this country for a generation or two to learn a little about shared responsibility, and I would think we’d learn a little about patience, diplomacy, and courtesy.
I think it can be done. In fact, I’m betting that before long, we will see Craigslist ads and websites devoted to matching up families.
If you were to list yourself on such a website, what skills could you offer? Or, if you prefer, what would you look for in a compatible family? “Family’ doesn’t necessarily mean there are children, though i imagine those with children would benefit the most from this type of arrangement.
I’ll be looking for a family with a Wii.
Edited to add: Expect more of these stories, and thank your personal God for the internet.