Friday, February 27, 2009

Another Stimulus Package

The only thing missing amidst all the bickering about an economic stimulus package is creative thinking and common sense. So I will give you the ‘creative thinking’ and leave the ‘common sense’ to someone else.

Now first of all the carry on makes me wonder if Canada and America have never known hard times in the past. But I know better. There were the dirty thirties (which I missed out on) but times were tough when I was a kid as well. And one could hardly call the two large cartons of tinned meat of questionable origin that the government handed out a stimulus package. Still it was much appreciated and as we ate sandwiches we had time to ponder how to salvage the house my Dad built after the fire, from foreclosure.

We attacked the problem by ‘clustering or bunching up’. That, of course, was before privacy became a big deal and cocooning came into vogue. And before lawmaking erupted from government hill like an overactive volcano, melting and crushing the natural God-given empowerment of mankind’s own initiative and instinct to survive.

So long ago, before government legislation forgave us any responsibility for our own difficulties, homeowners falling behind on mortgages, cleared out the small space under their stairwell, where they installed a cot and advertised for a boarder. Others cleaned out basements or attics and rented them out.

This was the initiative of so many for a solution during depressed times. But you see, this was a time when more thought was given to practical needs that the thought of privacy. This was not a time of luxuries. Luxuries were not in season. And privacy was a luxury.

Returning to my father’s situation, he decided he would find a renter. And that is exactly what he did. He cleared out a corner upstairs in the boys’ attic-room and an old fellow who needed a place to live, moved in. Later, when the old guy died or moved out (can’t remember now), and the elder boys went to work, my father partitioned a corner of the living room for the youngest boy’s bedroom and made an upstairs suite that my eldest sister and her family occupied. Our living space was reduced and some of these quarters were quite cramped but the bit of rent was enough of an added ‘stimulus’ to keep afloat.

Others of our country-neighbors created small additions to house elderly parents, not so much to prevent the pains of separation, but because the small pensions their elders received served in like manner to stimulate their household economy.

Even before Hub and I owned a home and lived in rental quarters we often ended up with boarders of our own bunking on the couch. The sub-letting gave us a few more dollars that were sorely needed. And yes, there were annoyances and grievances that occasionally stemmed from this kind of clustering, but if nothing else, it was a great lesson in patience and tolerance.

So now I shake my head in dismay at stimulus packages being handed out so two people can retain a house with enough space and enough rooms to easily accommodate 30 people. In my math books, 30 (no. of people) x $1000 (conservative rent) = a monthly stimulus/mortgage assist of $30,000.

Unfortunately, although this looks so good on paper, we can’t go back there. Most practical reason we can’t is because legislation prevents home-owners from inspecting renter’s space without permission. And legislation prevents them from evicting the slovenly, dysfunctional, or irresponsible. And legislation defines a thousand other considerations to do with fire escapes, privates entrances, window dimensions, etc. that impedes such considerations.

The despair of it all is that there are virtually no responsibilities left up to the discretion of individuals. No affirmation by government that people are born with a drop of sense. And without that affirmation, is it any wonder individuals and business owners find themselves in Economic Sinkholes?

And so the ‘community cooperation’ that once saved us from ourselves, that kept us in the know as to what others were doing, has been burned on the altar of ‘our right to privacy’. The new order is, ‘I don’t care what others are doing that is cruel, vicious, or evil, as long as what they do does not impact on me and my right to privacy'.

And so suspended in our private space, not only are homes repossessed, but without omnipresent landlords, dysfunctional behavior can easily hide and we are not aware until too late that sickos are putting bodies in freezers and children are missing.

And so, for reasons of privacy protection (with a strong foothold that only continues to strengthen), we can never return to clustering. How can we when we know nothing of the character of people that walk down the front walk every day for years on end?

In conclusion, I am reminded of a thought expressed by someone, somewhere, that the greenest of green is being able to live with what one has rather than what one wants. That’s how people turned red to green (monetarily, and even environmentally) the last time hard times hit.


Pauline said...

You're right - all the rules and "for your own protection" laws we've created tie our hands now. My family took in a border when times were hard. I've no room for one here in my tiny cottage but I'm looking around for things to sell if my own times get any tougher. Living without never hurt me when I was a child, or my own children when they were growing up in a single parent household. My grandmother used to say, "Make do or do without." She was a Great Depression survivor and could make do with very little!

Nora said...

You missed out on the thirties (because you're so young) but I didn't, and remember "clustering." My mother, sadly, had died when my three brothers and I were quite young. In 1932, so my father moved us all into our maternal grandmother's house that already held her two sons and their families and an unwed daughter. so this made, let me see, about eleven people. It was wild but fun for all the little cousins. We ate things like mock chicken legs and apple pie made from crackers.

Roberta S said...

Hi Pauline, in retrospect when I now calculate the floor space we lived in I am amazed. But I am equally amazed at the size of some of the master bedrooms in the newer homes. I swear a person could hold a town-hall meeting in them without too much difficulty.

Thanks for visiting. I always so much enjoy your chats.

Roberta S said...

Hi nora. I certainly smiled when I read that comment. Reminded me of how clustering spawned more conversation, more games, more practical jokes, and more laughter and fun.

And despite the coarser things that we ate to fill our stomachs, it was all very tasty -- in fact I dare say more so than some of the fare in today's modern supermarkets. Crackers would make a much better pie than those skuzzy apples I got last week.