The local stores and gas stations have closed their restrooms to the public. Makes sense; public bathrooms are disgusting petri dishes.
But what if I’m out and about and I gotta go? I have an aviation friend who removed a seat from his Cessna 310 to retrofit a portapotty and sink for passengers. Maybe I can install the same in the back of my Ford Escape.
What makes a house? Four walls and a roof? Electricity and plumbing? A place to sleep, a place to eat, a place to poop? Then I realized they already make cars you can live in. They’re called RVs, and they’re parked all over the Bay Area because that’s the only way service workers can afford to live. Turns out Silicon Valley has been disrupting housing all along.
But that’s not what housing is about. Housing is, first and foremost, a form of wealth. For most Americans, it’s the majority of net worth, a line of credit, and a retirement plan. A house can’t create wealth by itself; you have to build a pyramid scheme around it. Impose scarcity through zoning regulations, then incentivize jobs to create increasing demand for the few homes that exist. Hence the “Twitter tax break” for tech companies in SF.
If Silicon Valley wants to disrupt the housing market, the solution isn’t to build more homes. It’s to create a new source of liquidity.
Here’s a NYTimes column promoting the idea that women should be paid for the work they do as wives and mothers. That got me thinking. Right now, the only path to compensation is to sue for child support and alimony in the event of a divorce. Until then, spousal transactions are untraced, untaxed, and contribute nothing to the GDP. Why are we leaving so much potential wealth locked up in illiquid marriages?
When lockdown ends, divorce rates will skyrocket. We already saw this happen in China. After sheltering in place for three months, children will sue for emancipation. Those who keep their families intact should be able to borrow against that asset. Loans create wealth!
Maybe this is the economic stimulus we need. You might think that familial relationships are too subjective to securitize, but remember — a house used to be a nonconvertible asset too. The Federal Housing Administration was created in 1934 to encourage people to take out mortgages and boost the Depression-era economy. It was only after homes were appraised and collateralized that they became a path to wealth creation.
RVs may be a terrible place to house a family, but as a bachelor or bachelorette pad, they’re downright adequate. If building homes is good for the economy, wrecking homes must be even better. Okay, I’m a Keynesian now.