2011 industrial revolution with free houses
basalt, new technology, new materials, high-temperature processes, advanced industrial automation, new energy resources, low cost construction, free houses 

2011 - Enabling the Inevitable

Free Houses 

Can we afford it?

Not social housing, but universal free housing by the millions!

Can we continue without?

 

High quality housing is a corner stone of civilization. 
It is critical for developing the human potential. 
It is a key investment by society into itself.

Scientific and cultural development of the human being is not possible in an environment of homelessness, slum living, rent slavery, and so on. For civilization to develop, society needs to invest into its self-development. Society is its own greatest asset. To develop this asset to its utmost potential is the foundation for civilization. Without it, civilization cannot stand, and mankind has no future.

Slum living, not to mention homelessness, destroys a society. It disables the human potential. A farmer will have a poor harvest if he puts no seeds into his fields, or just a few seeds of poor quality. Civilization is society's harvest of the 'seeds' it plants. The quality of housing is a chief factor in the dimension of civilization. A lack of housing, or unlivable conditions, or unaffordable housing, destroys civilization. This lack is therefore one of the greatest barrier a society can impose on its self-development and the wealth of its civilization.

But how can we upgrade the current state of housing, which is in a state of crisis? The cost of housing has risen astronomically to the point that society has become enslaved, just to meet the housing cost, and even then, evermore people can't afford any housing at all. 

On this universally enslaving basis there is no economic recovery possible whereby society is increasingly doomed to decay. Desperation becomes the outcome, and crime, hopelessness, depression, and disease set in. By society tolerating poor quality housing (or none at all) it is wasting the most precious asset is has, which is itself and its human development potential. This should have been recognized a long time ago, and been addressed as a strategic defense of the nation, and it can still be done. 

Of course I' not talking about cutting down trees and sawing them into planks to be nailed together laboriously. Nor are there enough trees left in the world to meet the global need, much less to facilitate the relocation of entire nations when the 'nearby' Ice Age glaciation stets in. I am talking about high energy-intensive automated production. I am talking about highly modularized houses, constructed in completely automated assembly processes. Wood construction is archaic. I'm thinking of new materials, the kind that no one owns, a global resource that number of countries have in infinite abundance. I am talking about building houses of basalt and glass. Basalt has a ten times higher tensile strength than steel. I'm talking about the new houses made cast and extruded modules of glass-fiber reinforced basalt. The modules would be fully insulated, with basalt micro fibers. Basalt fibers are a three-times-better thermal insulator than asbestos is, which is too dangerous to use.

Sure basalt is just stone, a volcanic stone.  But it's more than just stone. It's an extremely fine-grained stone and is very dense, and hard. Its stronger and less brittle than glass, and its melting point is 500 degrees below the melting point of high quality glass so that it can be reinforced with glass fibers when needed, for extreme strength. It's also nicely fluid when melted. It can be extruded into fibers, even micro fibers, or any other shape you can imagine, such as wall panels, roof modules. Basalt is the perfect stuff for automated fabrication, and it's better in quality than anything on the market is today. What makes basalt an even more ideal building material is the fact that there is plenty of basalt right in the backyard of the USA. The Columbia River Basin contains more than 150,000 cubic-kilometers of this top grade building material. That's enough to cover the entire USA twelve meters deep. Nor would one need to dig into the ground to get to it. It's sitting on the surface. All one needs to do is pick it up, melt it, and reshape it into whatever one wants to make of it. And the material is 100% useable. No waste products results, or pollution during the processing. The only input that one needs is basalt and process heat. Basalt melts at 1,200 degrees Celsius. High quality glass melts as 1,700 degrees. One can easily get this kind of process heat from nuclear power. Also, ceramic materials have been developed that remain structural strong way past the 2,000 degree range to facilitate the processes.

The leading edge Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, which has been tested successfully for five years in the 1950s, would be ideal for that. It provides 500-degree process heat with a high energy-flux density. The heat can be pumped up through heat-pump concentrators to get the kind of heat that melts basalt, and also steel, glass, and a lot of other things as well. On this basis automated mass production is achievable for the new housing units that are urgently required as a first step to jump-start the world. The new housing units would be produced with the same efficiency with which egg cartons are produced today.

Of course, one wouldn't build just those tens of millions of units needed to eradicate homeless and slum living. I am thinking abut the need to create many new cities in the wide open areas that are presently empty desert lands that are ideally suited for the large-scale industrial development that new materials and energy resources facilitate. For this also millions of new houses are needed of about 1,500 to 2,000 square feet in floor area for efficient family living.

The point here is that we don't just face a crisis in terms of homeless living, but also in slum-type living, and in areas far too distant to commute for efficient living. Many of the slum places that people are forced to live in for the lack of anything else, aren't fit for human habitation, much less for human development. In this respect the housing scene is fast becoming a crime scene of horrendous crimes against humanity. We probably need to build several million new free houses to start with, just to end this crime and dig the nation out of its slum hole. With large-scale automated production, powered with nuclear power, that's easily accomplished. It is even possible to make the needed furniture's in a similar fashion, including beds, possible also clothing, and even shoes. I can see basalt micro-fibers becoming the textile of the future.

Am I dreaming yet? No, I don't. 

It is also politically necessary to enrich our world from one end to the other, with rent-free houses and entire new cities, just for the economic uplift and vitality the new places would bring, with rich human living. Soon entire free-city would then become incorporated into the old cities to keep the old cultural diversity alive. I can also see older cities not just offering free housing, but also offering advanced environments in competition with each other to attract people. Once it is becoming recognized that the people of society, beyond anything else, are a society's most precious resource, then the cities will be in a general competition with each other to attract more people with long-term promises and long-term potentials, and free housing as a standard feature. The resulting universal development process would most certainly transform America and the world. And this is precisely what we need as political driver. The breakout from the imperial monetarist mode will not likely happen on the negative focus of aiming to avoid a new dark age that the imperial monetarist mode makes inevitable. The driver for a breakout needs to be a positive impetus that offers a powerful new future, that make the political effort to break away from poverty intensely exciting and worthwhile, and thereby possible.

The General Welfare Principle would then no longer be dead in America. Real healthcare and real education would resume.  Everything that a person needs to exist, especially the basic necessities, such as housing, transportation, health care and education, would by then be taken back out the hands of the profit engines, like education for profit, health care for profit, etc., that soon thereafter most people wouldn't remember anymore. And this would happen worldwide. And if this became the reality, the return of the Ice Age, which is already on the horizon, wouldn't represent a challenge then that couldn't be met then and mastered, but would produce a still richer world by the developed power for overcoming that still larger challenge.


 

  


 

 Rolf Witzsche, author of books and novels on Christian Science, politics, science, and, love, and economics

Rolf Witzsche

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