Just got an email from congressman Michael Turner regarding the impending automatic budget cuts known as sequestration cuts. He’s a republican representing the Dayton, OH area. He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Dayton is home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which has more than 27,000 military and civilian employees. Outside the gate, Wright-Patterson has estimated the base indirectly supports about 35,800 jobs. So here it is folks, the military industrial complex right here in southern Ohio. So is it any wonder we’ve been pretty much continuously at war since WWII? President Eisenhower warned us about the military industrial complex. There are just too many people making money from war.
If we could reduce the cost of just plain living then it wouldn’t be so hard to unwind from this financial propensity toward conflict. I have been maintaining that the single most important thing that is keeping the cost of living high is exclusionary zoning. Just look at the cost of housing. I went from paying $3,720/yr in lot rent to a mobile home park to paying $662/yr in property taxes once I was allowed to place my singlewide mobile home on a residential lot outside of the mobile home park. Just look around the typical residential area and I’ll bet you won’t see any singlewide mobile homes. All the homes are on foundations that are anchored down into the ground. These homes are built to remain in one spot. They are typically over 1,200 square feet and expensive. I mean you can’t just go out and pay cash for one. Typically you take out a 30-yr mortgage. So buying a home is a big deal. So it is a great inconvenience to relocate to a new job. So all the people in the Dayton area who work at or depend on Wright-Patterson are worried about automatic budget cuts to the defense budget.
That is a shame. We should not regard defense jobs as long term multi-generational jobs because that places an economic incentive toward war. If we did not have exclusionary zoning, which outlaws singlewide mobile homes and keeps home sizes and prices high, then it wouldn’t be so economically tragic for a region to lose jobs. We are competing with the world now so we have to be flexible and nimble. When I lost my job at 59 in Oct 2008 I had a plan B. It cost me just under $10K to move my singlewide 300 miles south and place it on a quarter acre residential lot. The lot cost $12.5K. My singlewide cost $22.5K brand new in Aug 1991. I’ve had to do a few improvements to it but I still have less than $30K into it. I had it paid off in less than 2 yrs so I did not flush a lot of money down the 30-yr mortgage toilet. The bottom line here is that if the housing market was free then you could buy a home as easily and cheaply as you buy a car. The only insurance that I have on my car is what is required by law. I have no insurance on my singlewide. Yes, it would be a loss if a tornado destroyed it but I have enough in savings to simply replace it. And I probably would just look for a used mobile home instead of buying a brand new one. That is unless someone starts building a small formaldehyde free model. A 30 footer would be about 360 sq ft. My 52 footer has about 662 sq ft and I honestly don’t need that much space. A smaller model would be cheaper to heat.
My main point is that ending exclusionary zoning makes it easier to move to that next job or to a better climate in retirement. It would therefore make reducing our defense budget that much easier. That has positive implications toward world peace. The way it is now there is just too much of our economy geared toward war. People like to call it defense. But when you consider in hindsight that Viet Nam was such a total waste, well can you actually say you’re proud of our country for the extreme hardship we rained down on these poor subsistence rice farmers? Look at how long they dragged out the Korean conflict. Look at how long we stayed in Iraq. We knew there were no weapons of mass destruction within six months. After President Bush landed on the aircraft carrier and declared ‘mission accomplished’ we could’ve left. The mission could’ve been simply to verify there were no weapons of mass destruction. After that just let the Iraqi people resume their lives without Saddam. If it wasn’t for Bradley Manning we might still be there. His disclosures showed how terrible war is. That’s what finally got us out of Iraq. The medicine was worse than the disease. The same thing is going on in Afghanistan. If the Afghan people don’t like the Taliban then arm anyone who wants them gone and is willing to fight to remove them. I’ll bet that lady who got her nose and ears cut off by the Taliban would be willing to take some action. That’s what we did in Libya and that’s what is happening in Syria. I don’t mind helping people to be free as long as they will do their own fighting to gain their freedom.
But my contention is that these conflicts just drag on and on because of the terrible economic incentive that exists in this country for war. And all the aid we give goes to contractors who build things the people there don’t even want. Please just leave is what they keep saying to us. But then the contractors wouldn’t be getting their contracts would they? It’s all about the money. There are just too many people making too much money from war. Simply ending exclusionary zoning would really bring down the cost of living and take away a lot of that economic pressure. If I had borrowed just $100K at 5% and paid it back over 30 years then I would’ve had to pay back $193K. My lifetime income was only $699K. My last job only lasted 22 yrs and I wasn’t able to save for retirement prior to this last job. So basically I was able to retire after working 22 yrs. I had worked prior to that but I spent it all just paying rent and other living expenses. That was very discouraging. So my heart really goes out to all the people who lost their homes to foreclosure. They got tired of paying rent and just got sucked into the 30-yr mortgage black hole. There really isn’t any room for kids to play inside a mobile home park. So if you’re married with a child then there is pressure to want to get out. But if you could place a singlewide on a large residential lot then I’m sure many people would’ve taken that option and not lost their property to foreclosure. So not only does freedom lead to prosperity but I maintain it fosters peace with less war internationally and less crime domestically.