2015 February 21 Saturday
Future For Lower Class: Microapartments

In New York City these will still be a couple thousand dollars a month. But imagine areas where land is cheaper. Millions of our growing lower classes could live in microapartments.

Some of you might be opposed to having growing lower classes. But the billionaires are not interested in what you think. Big money wants the Republican leaders to ignore their base and cave on Obama's immigration amnesty.

If GOP leaders launch an emotional public PR campaign against the Democrats’ amnesty, for example, by arguing that it is unfair to Americans, they’ll get a lot of closed-door pushback from critical donors.

This pretty much leads us to the necessity of microapartments. Tyler Cowen expects declining wages for the poor.

"It will bring more wealthy people than ever before, but also more poor people, including people who do not always have access to basic public services. Rather than balancing our budget with higher taxes or lower benefits, we will allow the real wages of many workers to fall and thus we will allow the creation of a new underclass."

A huge gap in employment rates by educational level has already opened up. It will grow. Obama's amnesty will make it grow faster and the resulting diversity will simultaneously reduce civic involvement and social capital. Below some minimum threshold of social capital a future like Brazil beckons.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2015 February 21 09:42 AM 

Wolf-Dog said at February 21, 2015 1:55 PM:

Here is a very good Stratfor article by about the effect of demographics on the economy, by George Friedman:


In this article it is argued that a declining population in the developed western world can actually be a good thing for the economy because it would make housing more affordable, just like many things that used to be much more affordable many decades ago, actually making the GDP per capita higher.

On the other hand, some branches of capitalism insist that the population growth is a good thing, since a rising population would make many industries more profitable, housing being one of these sectors. This is why they want more immigration.

But on the other hand, thanks to high technology, these micro apartments can be made very comfortable and even luxurious. A retired wealthy friend actually chose to live in a studio apartment where everything is incredibly organized and within reach, but above all, cleaning/maintenance is not time consuming. In fact, imagine a bed that folds and gets stored in the ceiling, to be replaced by an additional nice desk that descends from the ceiling and unfolds. And in the future all books will be electronic, and so a lot more people will be able to work from tiny studio apartments. The next step in the evolution might be nano apartments that have the size of a small car (with virtual reality they will feel very spacious, with wonderful moving images of mountains and rivers.)

Wolf-Dog said at February 21, 2015 2:27 PM:

Another new development will be high quality air filtering, artificial light and wall-size screens that will make windows totally unnecessary. And once the current need for windows in every apartment is no longer a constraint, it will then be possible to stack the micro apartments also in the interior of big buildings (previously wide and fat buildings could not be designed for micro apartments due to the need for windows.) It will even be possible to stack the micro apartments underground, thousands of feet below ground, because as long as the ground level is sealed with high-tech materials (or properly ventillated) against radon gas, there will be no contraints for underground apartments. This will dramatically lower the cost of real estate when robots build all the microapartments and buildings in a few decades. In fact, when a microapartment needs to be repaired, renovated or even rebuilt, it will just be temporarily removed like a modular lego component even if there are other apartments that surround it, only to be put back later. Buildings will also have modular components.

Daniel H said at February 21, 2015 3:31 PM:

Wolf-Dog you are confirming all my prejudices about aspie, libertarian, nerds.

Bob said at February 21, 2015 6:10 PM:

Wouldn't a large underclass be fodder for enterprising politicians and revolutionaries?

It seems like the wealthy would ultimately be in trouble either by being outvoted at the polls or the targets of French Revolution or Khmer Rouge style uprisings.

Daniel H said at February 21, 2015 6:48 PM:

>> Tyler Cowen expects declining wages for the poor.

That could be re-written: Tyler Cowen applauds declining wages for the poor.

Wolf-Dog said at February 21, 2015 8:10 PM:

Bob: " It seems like the wealthy would ultimately be in trouble either by being outvoted at the polls or the targets of French Revolution or Khmer Rouge style uprisings. "


Indeed, this is a very accurate observation. In fact, although the long term Kodradiev Economic Cycle is (at least it used to be) well known to economists, what is less known is the associated Kondrativ War Cycle that accompanies the economic cycles. In this theory (which seems to be backed by 400 years of data shown here : http://www.amazon.com/Kondratiev-Cycle-generational-interpretation/dp/0595217117/ ), every two or three generaions, the inequality increases during economic expansions and this results in instabilities that first cause economic declines and these economic problems are followed by major wars. However, more recently, due to government intervention that distorts capitalism, the timing of the cycles seem to be a little blurred, and even 3 generations after the Great Depression, we still have not (yet) experienced a depression. However, it is worth noting that in 1929 the top 1 % in the United States owned more than 44 % of the wealth, but rignt now the top 1 % richest families own more than 48 % because all the government deficit spending that was given to the poor by Obama to feed the poor indirectly went to the upper class when the lower classes were forced to spend that money to buy from the rich. Moreover, currently the top 10 % own close to 87 % of the wealth, meaning that the lowest 50 % own almost nothing and they live from paycheck to paycheck.

Every few generations, various economic depressions, wars, revolutions, etc, seem to "reset" the inequality to levels that are compatible with new economic growth, effectivly restarting the cycle, but having said this, I believe that it doesn't have to be this way: If the rich become more benevolent and invest some of their wealth for subsidizing the development of new technologies that lead to innovation, the world will not need wars and revolutions, and there will be no need to build guillotines. ONLY a quarter of all that money that we lost in the wars in Afgnanistan and Iraq (we lost at least $2 trillion if we include the cost of medical care for the traumatized or crippled veterans), would be enough to establish total energy independence by means of alternative energy and new materials, and with just a little less greed it is possible to stop the export of millions of middle class jobs to foreign countries for labor arbitrage, if just a little higher wages are paid here.

But thanks to robotics, it is possible for the rich to keep the poor alive because the cost of providing goods and services will decline, without giving up more than a small fraction of their wealth. The bread crumbs are becoming so big that it is possible to take care of the poor without offending the rich.

Wolf-Dog said at February 21, 2015 8:16 PM:

Sorry for the typographical errors. The correct spelling is Kondratiev (and also Kondratieff).

WJ said at March 3, 2015 10:24 AM:

The problem with micro-apartments: they might provide a place for you to eat, sleep, and shower, but they won't provide much space for hanging out. They will be claustrophobic. That means that their occupants will spend a whole lot of time hanging out in public spaces. They will not be the kind of people you'd enjoy overrunning public spaces. Cheap, tiny apartments are not the answer. Halfway affordable living space for the lower class is what is needed.

In fact we already have micro-apartments, in a sense: immigrants who shack up three and four families to a house, or apartments with a dozen immigrant men living in them. Their impact on the surrounding neighborhoods is enormous.

In addition, they probably won't be much of a draw to young workaholics, as they'd be living cheek-by-jowl with the lower class. They won't generate much in the way of property taxes for jurisdictions which rely on property taxes to fund their operations (and as sales tax revenues decline thanks to the internet). I expect that most cities will find a way to ban them, by establishing minimum sizes for living spaces, if such requirements don't exist already.

WJ said at March 3, 2015 10:32 AM:

"On the other hand, some branches of capitalism insist that the population growth is a good thing, since a rising population would make many industries more profitable, housing being one of these sectors. This is why they want more immigration."

I think that virtually all capitalists want a rapidly growing population - cheaper labor + larger number of customers. It's especially important in industries like construction. With a stagnant population most of their demand is just replacement of old housing stock, office space, roads, etc. But a growing population means far more demand. Both for their labor and for their customer base the construction industry is especially reliant on massive immigration. If we had zero immigration our construction sector probably wouldn't be even half as large as it is.

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