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Creating a Low-Cost Life

Creating a Low-Cost Life

    Candidates for President of the United States talk about taxes and budgets and social services. But no one ever talks about lowering the cost of living. And that could be a big omission because American society has no way to take care of all the under-employed, unemployed, and retired people of tomorrow. There are simply too many of them and we can’t tax our way to a solution. The math just doesn’t work.

    The Constitution of the United States says nothing about lowering the cost of living for citizens. That isn’t the job of government. And private industry is focused on keeping profit margins high, so don’t expect any solutions from that group. The rising cost of living, along with the rising number of non-working adults, is a time bomb that no one seems to be focusing on. It isn’t anyone’s job.

    So I’ll take this one. You can help if you like.

    It seems to me that the only way to lower the cost of future living is by some sort of massive open-source engineering and design project. Imagine the project managed by volunteers and segmented into areas of specialty. You would have subgroups working on the best solutions for sewage, water, power, construction, safety, interior design, and even psychology. It would take about a hundred different specialties to design a new type of city from the ground up.

    Ideally, this project needs some sort of 3D modeling platform so people can compare ideas. And it would need smart collaboration and voting features to guarantee that the best ideas bubble up to the top. That all seems hard but doable.

    I also imagine a new type of construction material that is essentially Leggo blocks made from light, nearly indestructible ceramic materials that are filled with dirt from the job site. The dirt could come from the underground tunneling and digging that would support any new city. That includes underground sewers, transportation, parking, cellars, and more. Robots would fill the empty building blocks with dirt and snap them into place on the construction site.

    Imagine that each block has a barcode indicator that the robot can read. Send in a swarm of builder-robots that work all day and night, using super-simplified building methods, and cheap materials, and you have cheap housing. I can imagine getting the materials cost for a new home down to about $10,000. And robots could build an entire home in one day. I think you could get labor and materials cost under $25,000 for a 2-bedroom apartment/condo. That assumes economies of scale over time.

    Now let’s say these new cities are built in deserts or someplace where land is cheap, and renewable energy (solar, wind, water) is available. And assume these homes are so energy-efficient with their dirt-insulated walls and proper design that the cost of energy is trivial. 

    I think you could also achieve dramatic cost reductions in healthcare, insurance, child care, education, transportation and more if you designed those systems from the ground up for this new type of city. Get rid of private automobiles and plan for self-driving cabs from the start. Use Internet doctors for most diagnoses. Create online classes to replace schools. Create indoor gardens for local vegetables. And so on.

    I think you could get the cost of living an amazing life down to about $2,000 per month per person. 

    We know robots will be taking jobs from the lower and middle class. The only way society can survive is by dropping the cost of living for those same people.

    Am I wrong?

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