Thursday, May 31, 2012

    Last week while I was riding the bus to work in the morning, the driver, Nikki, told me a story of a man whose pants fell down while he was paying his fare!  If you've read my blog, you'll know that the same thing has happened on my bus.  It wasn't the same guy, either.  I didn't know it was that common an occurrence.  Her guy was mentally ill, and talking to himself in the back of the bus the whole way.  My guy was just drunk, and his pants fall down quite often.
    It occurs to me that we are supporting both of these people.  Neither works.  Neither CAN work.  We carry people all day long who can't work for various reasons.  And many people who COULD work, but can't find a job.  Or they can't find a job that will pay them enough to make it worth giving up whatever kind of aid they are on.  Some of them stay with relatives or friends.  Many sleep outdoors.  Then we pay more people to clean up after them, to shoo them away from the touristy areas, to haul them away when they cause a disturbance, to stitch them up when they hurt themselves.
     A Google search tells me that there are nearly 315 million people in the U.S.  Another Google search tells me the unemployment rate in the U.S. is 8.1%.  Is that 8.1% of the population, or just of those who are supposed to be able to work?  I know it only includes those actually ON unemployment insurance, which definitely isn't all of the unemployed.  You also have those who receive some other aid instead, like State Disability, Social Security Disability, General Relief, SSI.  It doesn't include undocumented aliens, who often ARE working, but sometimes aren't.  It doesn't include people who live on proceeds from their drug dealing or burglaries.  I'm starting to see that any figure you might come up with is going to be inaccurate.
     So I'm going to take a new tack.  How many adults are in this country?  Approximately 315 million minus the approximately 76 million children under 18.  239 million.  What would happen if we guaranteed all of them a livable wage?..Well, for one thing, it would cost a fortune.  What is a livable wage?  That's hard to say, since it depends on how and where you live.  So I'm just going to pick a number and use it.  It might not be the right number, but it gives us a place to start.  I'm going to use $24,000 per year, or $2000 a month. That comes out to $5 trillion, 736 billion a year.  I looked up our GNP, and the best number I can find is about $10-$11 trillion a year.  So, for a rough estimate, it would take about half of our GNP to support every adult in this country .  At poverty level.
     What would happen if we did this?  Let's just call it Social Security, since that what it is.  Some say no one would work.  This is a fallacy.  It is based on the idea that if you work, they take the free money away.  If I had the choice to stay home and get $24,000 a year, or work, get $36,000 a year, but pay $12,000 of it in child care and transportation costs, I'm not going to want to work.  But if I get that $24,000 no matter what, then I am much more likely to work on the side to supplement it, even if taxes are high.  Sure, some people wouldn't work.  Not everyone CAN work, and we don't NEED everyone to work.  Let's face it.  There aren't enough jobs.  More and more jobs are being eliminated.  Machines do them.  Computers do them.  Asian women and children in sweatshops do them.  Everyone in this country cannot work, but everyone in this country does deserve to live.  So do those in other countries, but I'm not tackling THAT problem right now.
     Corporate America should LOVE this!  For one, people would have guaranteed income to buy their products.  Secondly, no one would mind that they send the jobs overseas.  Minimum wage would not really be necessary, so they could pay whatever people would work for.  There would still have to restrictions to protect the environment, but many restrictions to protect workers could be done away with because they would have to compete to attract workers, rather than workers competing for too few jobs.
     Many government programs would fall by the wayside.  Unemployment office?  Gone!  Welfare Office?  Gone!  Disability Payments?  Gone!  Food Stamps?  Unnecessary! Child Care Programs?  A thing of the past.  Granted, it would put a lot of people out of work.  Government workers, primarily, but they'd still have an income.
     Think of the advantages of this.  Think of all the households where both parents work long hours just to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.  One could work, while the other was a homemaker.  What a concept!  Or each of them could work part time.  Or they could pay some other neighborhood family to take care of the children while they both worked.  They could send the kids to a pre-school if they wanted to, but it would be a private enterprise, and the loads of paperwork proving eligibility for government assistance would be eliminated.  Parents would have a choice to take care of their own kids, or pay someone to do it for them.
     One thing I would not do is pay people to have children.  This would provide people with a financial incentive to have more of them.  Sure, we need people to have children in order to keep the human race going, but we haven't had any shortages in that area in a long time.  People should be free to have as many children as they want, but they should NOT be given any more money for doing so.  Knowing they have to support the children they have would help curb population growth.  As it is now, young women know there are benefits to be had from the government for having a baby, benefits that aren't available to them otherwise. Undocumented workers know they can get welfare for their child born in the US.  These kinds of incentives would be stopped.  Would children starve, then?  I doubt it.  There is still a guaranteed income, and there is still charity, too.  We shouldn't, and won't turn a blind eye to those who have children and don't take care of them.  This is a criminal act.  In a society where there is enough for everyone, children WILL be cared for.  But they will not be cash cows for their parents.
     Two things we ought also to provide as a society are health care and education.  It behooves us as a society to do this.  It isn't a handout, it's bettering the society we live in.  Everyone benefits.  This seems self evident to me.  Conservatives talk of 'government handouts' as though the government were the parent, and the recipients were it's children.  They talk of 'Big Government' being in your pocket, wanting to take things away from you that you have rightfully earned.  Rather than thinking of 'government', we need to think of 'society'.  We are society.  We decide to pay for things as a society that will benefit society as a whole.  It's not hard to figure out what these things are.  Having a healthy, educated populace is good for society as a whole. That way there's less disease and ignorance to be picked up.
     Having everyone's basic needs met is good, too.  It would certainly reduce homelessness, malnutrition, crime.  Some crime is committed because of greed.  That wouldn't change.  But much crime is committed out of sheer desperation.  When you have to steal to eat, most people will steal.  Because, while stealing is always wrong, it's MORE wrong to starve. Once you get used to stealing, it gets easier, and next thing you know, you're stealing as a way of life.  You've told yourself it's okay so many times you start to believe it, and then you get greedy.  You don't just steal to live anymore.  You steal to get things you WANT.  I'm not saying theft would be eliminated by Universal Social Security.  But it would be reduced, and there would be less excuse for it.
     For people who want to be filthy rich, this system doesn't eliminate that.  You can still make a bundle, and you still get your measly $24,000 a year from the government.  They may take 50% of your income in Social Security, and more for Medicare and Education, but when you are making billions, you're still making billions. The tax rate is completely flat.  Everyone pays the same percentage of their income, and everyone gets exactly the same benefits.  I can't think of anything more fair.  No tax loopholes at all.  No deductions or exemptions for children, medical expenses, charity, housing, being a church.  Nothing.  What you take in, minus what it costs to run your business, is what you pay taxes on.  If you pay wages, your employees pay taxes on their income.  If you pay 'under the table', you can't count it as a business expense, so YOU pay the taxes on their income.  It doesn't matter to the government either way. The IRS would be mostly a computer.  Most people could figure out their own taxes.
     There are a lot of things that still need to be worked out in this system.  How an alien becomes eligible for citizenship, for one.  How to keep the economy stable during the transition to it is another.  Some will call it 'impossible' and dismiss it completely.  But I think it deserves consideration.  Technology has brought us to the point where everyone isn't really needed anymore, and that is a problem that should be addressed.  If it's not, things will work themselves out somehow, as they always do.  The population might be reduced by some natural catastrophe, or by war and famine.  The rich think themselves above all this.  They think it will happen to 'other people'.  People who 'deserve it' because they weren't as smart or as goal-oriented or as they are.  But revolutions have happened before, and they will happen again and again unless we figure out a way to meet everyone's needs.  Ultimately, this kind of system should include the whole world, and not just one country.  But we're a long way from THAT.  It's just a step in the right direction.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wow, it sure has been a long time since I blogged! Facebook seems to be my outlet now. I play Scrabble, post my political opinions, respond to my friends' posts. It's an ever ready source of amusement. But I was reading over my blog, and it got me wanting to update it. I'm still interested in tiny houses, and I still want to build one. But the time is still not right. There is still no money, and the downsizing is a very slow process, too. Lately I've been pretty lazy about the housework, and things pile up. April is going away to college soon, and that will require some rearranging. With all the switching around of rooms, I think I will probably be able to get rid of some stuff. I had intended to move to the back house when she went away, but a couple of things are preventing that right now. One is that I have a good tenant, and I wouldn't want to kick her out. Secondly, Ramona is still living with me. She has had health problems for the last couple of years, and isn't ready to live on her own. At least we understand what is causing her problems now, and she is being treated. I still have bus stories to tell, although I probably won't tell any today. I've been a bus driver for 25 years now. My seniority number is 36. That't pretty good out of about 500. It means I can bid in overtime now, and work a straight run that gets off early. I've been riding my bike and the bus to work every day for the last 8 and a half months. I finally got my electric bike, which helps me out going up hills. It does have a few mechanical glitches, but for the most part, I love it. I've been driving the Superloop, which services UCSD and the surrounding area. But for the next shakeup , starting in June, I will be back on the route 11. Back to life...back to reality! Switching from picking up mostly UCSD students to picking up a huge cross-section of life in some of the poorest areas in the city will be an adjustment. Also, I'll be switching from a very short route, which you do 12 times a day, to a very long one, which you only do twice a day. Change is good, though. I am looking forward to it. April will be leaving us this summer to go to the University of San Francisco! Isn't that exciting? I'm excited for her! She turned 18 this past April, and I became a mom with NO MINOR CHILDREN! That seems incredible to me. I have been legally responsible for someone else for the last 26 and a half years, and now I no longer am! It doesn't really change much, though, since legal responsibility isn't really what motivates me to be there for them. But still... Well, now that I have caught up on my blog, I may put in a story now and then. I really like to write. I know no one usually reads this, so it's like a diary, really. Someone COULD read it, though, so I can't unload in it like a private diary. We'll just have to see what makes it in. Now it's time to take my bath and get ready for yoga class. Talk to you all later. ;-}

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Trailers and stuff...

I talked to a trailer expert yesterday. He didn't seem very sympathetic to my cause. :-( When I asked him what he would NOT do, he said he would not go higher than 8 feet with only one axle. I think he meant 8 feet from the trailer bed, not the ground. But still, my tiniest designs need SOME storage, whether underneath or overhead. I wonder if I could design something that small? Probably. But would it be able to meet my traveling needs? I don't know. As it stands now, the smallest trailer I can probably go with is 6 x 12. That is still pretty small. With two axles it would be plenty sturdy and strong. I guess I could go back to the idea of a sleeping loft if I wanted to. My SD trailer had a sleeping loft, a gravity shower, a place for a guest to sleep. Maybe I could incorporate some of my ideas from the 5 x 8. Good thing I'm still in the planning stages. Sometimes I think it'll never happen. Well, I hope it will, but having just watched the end of the movie, 'click' I am reminded not to 'fast-forward' through the other parts of my life, either.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Longing to start building...

I feel like I'll never get to build my tiny house! I'll never have any money! Waa! Okay, I'm done whining now. My current design is on a 12' trailer. It's just like my SD House, except the trailer is 2' longer, so I put an extra 6" in the bathroom, and extra 6" on the front porch, and an extra foot in the great room/kitchen area. Some of the details:
Gravity fed water system. I plan to have a very small water heater (5 gallon) in the loft above the shower. This would be filled by hand, and then you would wait for the water to heat up before taking your shower. My first idea was to just use a bucket and have to lug hot water up there, but that seemed like it could be a little dangerous. And I do like hot water! I could also heat a pan of water on the stove and use it at floor level to wash with. But it would be nice to have a final rinse with a shower, since there wouldn't be room for a bathtub. I've given up the idea of trying to use a koi tub, and least in the traveling model, because I don't want to have to hook up to water, and I can't really carry that much. I really want to be entirely self-contained.

Yeti cooler instead of a fridge. I've done some research on these coolers. The insulation is twice as thick as your average cooler, and they can keep ice for up to 9 days. Again, I want to avoid having to hook up, and refrigerators use a LOT of energy. Ice is easy to get. You can get it anywhere you get gas or propane, two other things I will have to buy as I go.

Battery lighting. There is so much in the way of LED and flourescent bulbs these days, it is amazing. The energy you have to use is getting to be less and less, while the batteries are getting better. I may use some AC lighting, since I will want to be able to charge my phone and computer, so I will need a deep cycle battery and inverter. I guess I have to do more research on just how much energy all these things use, and how long a charge can last on a deep cycle battery.

Solar. I'd like to have solar, but when traveling during the day, it's hard to know which side of the roof to mount it on to get the best sun. Seems like it would vary. If I were staying put, I could keep it unmoungted and just set it up toward the sun. But I like driving during the day. I had considered one on each side of the roof. That way one would always be getting pretty good sun. I'm going to need input from an expert on this.

Sleeping arrangements. One of the things I felt was important was to be able to have a guest sleep over who doesn't sleep with me. So I want to furnish my living room with a couple of those flip-fold futon chairs. They are a little big, but they're comfy, and they fold out to a mattress. I've had to move my front door off-center to accommodate them, but I think they are worth it. That way, one of my daughters, or a platonic traveling companion can have a place to sleep. Also, if I get a little creaky in the bones, I may abandon the loft and sleep on them myself!

Kitchen People, I don't really cook. I can, if necessary, but I'd rather not. I heat things. I make sandwiches. I eat cold cereal or oatmeal. None of this requires a full kitchen. I need a sink, a burner or two, a cooler, and some counter space. My needs are minimal in this area. I could easily live off ceareal, canned soup, and sandwiches. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Subway sandwiches. I am not a gourmand. So my kitchen will be part of the great room, like in Jay's Lusby. But my lower cupboards will have to start 18" off the floor, so my futons can spread out to sleep. And my counter will only be 18" wide. The sink will be one of the smallest I can find, and I may go with just one propane burner. My sink can drain directly into the shower area, so I only need one drain to the outside.

Bathroom. My toilet will be a portable composting toilet. They have one called the Luggable Loo that looks perfect. It can sit right in the shower area and be moved out of the way as necessary. Or it could just be used as a shower seat. I believe it snaps tightly shut, although I'll have to look at one to make sure. Accross from the toilet I have a set of shelves that double as a steep staircase to the loft. In those shelves is where I plan to keep a few towels and washcloths, my sawdust for the toilet, my few toiletries. Behind that is the closet, which opens to the great room. The closet only reaches up to 6', while my loft is 7'2". This is so I have a platform on top of the closet to set my water jugs on while I climb up to put water in the water heater. I thought long and hard about entering the loft through the bathroom. It seems kind of gross. But, I have decided, I'll just have to keep it really clean. My Loo can be curtained off in the corner when not in use, so the part you go through to get to the loft will not seem so much like a bathroom.

Gotta stop for now. More later!

Friday, May 6, 2011

more tiny house musings

I cannot believe how many hours I actually spend musing about tiny houses. Drawing them. Redesigning them. My newest design is about as small as I can go. The trailer would be 6' 4" x 10'. And it would have a tiny porch in front, a little less than two feet deep. The square footage of the house, not counting the loft, is 50. Since the loft is only 3' 6" high on it's center, it doesn't really count as square footage. But you can sleep in it. I decided (for now) on this tiny design for two reasons. One, it is the cheapest to build. Two, I would never be able to afford to travel lugging around a 6000 lb. house with me! As nice as it would be, it just doesn't seem practical. So I'm going with something about half that size. I've decided to make it as simple as possible. Then, after I've had my fill of traveling, and want to settle down, I can build a bigger one with more amenities and park it somewhere. It would still be able to be moved, if I wanted to move, but it wouldn't really be for traveling.
I really enjoy toying with all these ideas. I still like my 'Smallerton' (that's a play on words, parodying Jay Shafer's Tarleton) design, which is intermediate in size, on a 14' trailer. Who knows, maybe I'll get so good at this I'll start designing them for a living! Seems like a nice retirement business. Especially if you don't really need any money. Let's hope I can get to that point one day! Just do it to keep busy, and if something sells, great! I have a few years to go to get to that point, though. I'll be 53 in 9 days.
I wasn't able to find a way to put a link in here for my designs. YOu can find them if you go to Google Sketchup Design Warehouse and type in SD house. That stands for 'smallest design', meaning the smallest design I could come up with that would meet my individual needs. It isn't the first thing that comes up. It's a few down. I'm not worried about anyone stealing my designs if I publish them, because...nobody reads this blog! LOL!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

More about tiny houses

Yesterday I hit on the bright idea of entering through the kitchen. I'm amazed at how much more closet space I can get by only having one door in the great room. Coming in through the kitchen eliminates the need for any kind of hallway through the closet area. So it can stretch all the way across the back wall. That's about 7 feet, and it's a pretty big closet. I split it up into closet and shelves, since I don't hang very many of my clothes. Now I MIGHT change it back, since I did like the idea of coming in to a place to hang my coat and put my shoes. We'll see. I still have a lot of time, and this thing may go through more than one total makeover. I can't make up my mind whether I want all the amenities, or if I want to go as small as I can to make it easier and cheaper to travel. That's a hard one. I think I want it to be small for traveling, but then, if I'm not traveling, there's a whole lot I can do with an 18' trailer. Or 20'. 20' seems like a mansion. It's amazing how your perspective changes when you start thinking small. The newest version is only a 14' trailer. It has a small front porch, but half of it folds up over the other half when on the road, and the steps fold up, too. I decided to make it in three parts, so they won't be too heavy. I tried to upload a picture here of my google sketch, but it isn't the right format. Duh! It's 3D! I'll see if I can include a link to it, although it may be a little hard to see, since things start getting in the way of each other in a 3D drawing. I tried to leave out the walls, but still show where the closets and shelves will be. I'm a novice at google sketch-up, but it's fun. I'll go see if I can up load a link to it now.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Habitat for Humanity

Tonight I went to the orientation to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. That was easy. Now I can sign up to volunteer at a construction site. I just have to be willing to spend the whole day in the hot sun working without pay, and bring my own water and lunch. No problem. It's a 'faith-based' organization, but they make it clear that you don't have to share their faith, or any faith. That's good, because I don't. I'm a firm believer that when you die, you die, and that's it. So what can I get from helping others, you may ask. A sense of accomplishment, and sense of pride in helping others and putting in a good days work. A nice farmer's tan. Maybe learn something about framing, roofing, plumbing, electrical, cabinetry. Maybe get a little experience working in those fields. Maybe meet some friends who might be willing to lend a hand on my tiny house project in the future. Maybe just burning some calories and building some muscle and guaranteeing myself a good night's sleep that night. Another benefit might be showing a good example to my children. Whatever benefit I expect to receive, I expect to receive it right here, during my own lifetime. If they want to start every day with a prayer, that's fine with me. I still thank god for my blessings every day, even though I doubt there is anyone listening. But that isn't the point. The point is having the attitude of gratitude. The point is knowing how lucky I am to have a home, a job, a family, enough to eat, etc. etc. etc.... The point is NOT to dwell on what I'm unhappy about in life, but to continually remind myself how wonderful life is, (and how short) and not waste a moment of it wishing it were different than it is. If it helps you to believe there's someone out there listening to you, then by all means, believe it! But in the end of my life, I want to be satisfied with the way I lived it, regardless of what anyone else thinks, regardless of whether or not there's actually anyone judging my performance. I'm judging my own performance, and I want to do a good job just because I can. Amen.