Sunday, 6 November 2016

To own or not to own

Historically, ordinary folk have never owned much until recent decades. I grew up on a council estate where few families owned anything but their clothes and some furniture. No house, car, fridge, freezer, central heating, TV or phone. Now we are overwhelmed with goodies but it is easy to forget how recent the change has been. The present situation is unprecedented as the manipulators say.

Yet there are changes in the air too. Ownership by ordinary folk seems to be under attack. People are more likely to rent their home, a major and obvious trend, but there are other attacks on our notions of ownership. The trend is particularly noticeable with consumer durables which aren’t durable and electronic gizmos which are out of date within months of purchase. Ownership is becoming ephemeral - migrating to the cloud.

Privately owned cars are gradually being squeezed out of cities and self-driving cars may not be privately owned at all. That’s the progressive vision – if you want a car you hire one from an approved pool. Or better still a rented bike. From bike-eu we have a story about a new lock for rented bikes because rented bikes are so cool, especially in winter.

By 2020 bike sharing systems in the world’s biggest cities are expected to offer over 2.3 million bicycles. Currently that figure stands at about one million bikes. And it doesn’t include all the rental bikes on offer at tourist spots all around the world. For this emerging market, bike security supplier Axa developed a smart e-lock.

It all feels like a trend, an ownership isn’t cool trend. All part of designing the global pleb I suppose.


Sam Vega said...

Your point about obsolescence and the contingency of ownership is extremely interesting.

My first response is that we have never really owned anything, in anything other than a very weak sense of temporary control. Our savings were always worth what the banks and governments said they were, and even those lumps of venerable wood or metal or bricks-and-mortar that were passed down the generations were vulnerable to being traded in when the going got rough. And if the government wanted it, they took it (albeit not as readily as the French government would...). I think we grew up in a world where we were kept happy with the idea of ownership as some kind of British absolute. Then came the age of "You can own this, but it's just cheap plastic shit that won't work very well". Now we are entering the age of digital ownership you refer to. "If you pay us every month, you can have a look at this shit on-line. But it's exclusively your shit!".

Extremely thought-provoking. Thank you.

You can keep this comment, by the way. It's yours. You own it now.

Sackerson said...

Like "global pleb." By degrees, we're skittering back towards the eighteenth century.

wiggiatlarge said...

It is interesting how home ownership has dipped in this country to 63% from a peak of 71%.
I can remember atime when the UK had I beleive the hughest home ownership in Europe, and when I visited Germany in the late fifties early sixties everyone I met rented, that has now reversed, and they now are bigger home owners than us.
The strange thing is that we always blame the ever increasing cost of private housing for this trend and indeed there is a cause effect in that, but it is not the only reason, in the big cities across Europe the costs of buying a home have also rocketed, Italy for example has had four years of declining prices yet pre that it has been on an upcurve for years despite the nations woes, it is a complicated area, and in this country the "want everything yesterday" mind set also has a part to play in that those people refuse to save for what they want.
As for material goods I could not agree more with the planned and built in obsolescense in so much today, no more evident in cheap clothes and electrical items, what is amazing is the acceptance of this, you only have to read the feedback on items on Amazon to see people who having purchased an item to tell how it failed in three weeks and they binned it but did not return the item and purchased another, quite extraordinary.

Demetrius said...

He who travels lightest travels fastest.

Michael said...

When I received the deeds on our house, they went back years to previous owners, and included copies of old wills etc, which were almost indecipherable. The terminology was so difficult to understand, I had to keep looking up terms and words, but eventually came to the conclusion that one particular chap on this site, a local worthy, spent ages to get out of a copyhold arrangement, and eventually own his house.

Looking around the local churchyard, many of the names mentioned in the documents are asleep there, and were clearly very wealthy, judging by the ornate gravestones.

Their wealth clearly came from land ownership. I know of at least one man here who seems to own half of Surrey too! Still!

wiggiatlarge said...

Strangely today there have been various press articles and tv programs which include people talking about the lack of house building prices etc and how the government should see more are built.
Two problems I see, in light of two estates going up near here, as usual these estates go up with council blessing as they get the council tax from the extra homes, yet with all that I have seen over the years very little infrastructure goes with them, in many cases promised infrastructure somehow "vanishes" when the project starts or protest groups miraculously appear complaining that the extra infrastructure is an eye sore or or not enough and then it all mysteriously goes away, more brown envelopes I presume.
Yet of course in these discussions the population explosion circa 300k a year si never the reason for the need for extra housing, god forbid that anyone should mention that or the strain it puts on the infrastructure that is never built to accommodate all these endless streams of people being welcomed in by SJWs and government spokespeople, homebuilding at the moment is another ponzi scheme.

A K Haart said...

Sam - of course Google really owns your excellent comment and will never, ever delete it.

Sackers - yes we are and we should probably make more comparisons with the eighteenth century.

Wiggia - I may as well admit that we binned a cheap alarm clock bought from Amazon because it didn't work - dead on arrival. At £6 including delivery we didn't think it was worth our time sending it back.

Demetrius - there is much to be said for it too, especially in the digital age.

Scrobs - it always seems to come down to land. Can't produce more of it.

Wiggia - yes, we can't build a new Nottingham every year.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"All part of designing the global pleb"


People who own nothing and therefore must have a constant cash stream just to survive, are much more easily manipulated and influenced. After all, if the ptb can make everything you need disappear in a moment, you're going to behave yourself on their terms, aren't you?


A K Haart said...

WY - much like the eighteenth century where the peasants worked to stay alive, not to accumulate. It is scary. Even the private home is being infiltrated by official standards and requirements. It won't end there.