This morning, you may have read the article in the New York Times, “The Next Little Thing,” about a movement where people build tiny houses — generally defined as less than 1000 square feet and, in some cases, less than 100. Most of these people maintain their big houses elsewhere and, on the weekends or when they want to “get away from it all,” will live in their small shacks and lavish their “unencumbered lifestyle.” Doesn’t this make you feel warm and fuzzy all over? Damn, I wish I had thought of that. I think I’ll just find some wood from craigslist and go up to some field in Westchester and build me a little house.
On its face, I have nothing against the small house movement. Go ahead. If everyone moves into small houses, then we can reduce our energy costs and perhaps have a mental health day every day of the week because our lives will be simpler. Can’t we all just make our lives simpler?
Frankly, though, I think the small house movement is a prime example of what happens when rich elites with the luxury and resources get together and try to do something so that other people will pat them on the back, so that they can be like “regular people.” Apparently, the New York Times, in all its great wisdom, fell into the trap of reserving several pages in their paper on this movement. What the New York Times doesn’t tell you is that these people don’t represent the majority of Americans — not because of their adventurous spirit, but because they are in a different tax bracket than the majority of us.
Sure, while its notable that some people have made the “choice” to simplify their lives and move into a 100 square foot house, the majority of Americans frankly don’t have this choice. No, it’s not because “these people” have limited vision. Rather, a large percentage of Americans who are just trying to make ends meet lack the money and resources to do what the people in the tiny house movement — most of whom are receiving the majority of the tax cuts that Sir Bush has given — are able to do: go out into a field and build an 80 square foot house to live in.
What about the large segment of our population that live in a tiny house or a tiny apartment, not because it’s “cool” or “environmentally sound dude,” but because they cannot afford anything bigger? What about the large segment of our population that work like dogs for eight to ten hours a day and still don’t have enough to buy a place of their own, much less save a little each month? I’m sure we’d all love to have a ‘second house,’ even if it was 100 square feet — but if I did that, I’d have to go on public assistance. I need to work to pay the bills, and I live pretty simply. I would love to live on granola and farm on land, but unforunately my job isn’t around a farm and I don’t have any land to farm and granola is really expensive.
I guess for rich people, choosing to live in a “tiny house” is cool and hip. I think if they want to be cool and environmentally hip, maybe instead of building new tiny houses, they should move into houses that millions of Americans are living in now — you know, those cramped, overcrowded residences. I’m sure we could find you a closet or something that’s even smaller than 80 square feet. In return, the Americans living in these houses (clearly, according to the tiny house movement, who are short sighted and a slave to the rat race) could move into your big houses. You know, like house swapping. That would be more environmentally sound. And that would be a hobby I would love to see happen.