Tuesday
Jun142005

« Letter to the Local Realtor »

Mr. Luis Galdamez:

Hello. I am a resident of Clairemont who wants to return some flags I found in my neighborhood with this note to make a few points. I find the flagging of most of the houses around here to be tasteless on a number of levels, and particularly at the time in which we find ourselves, with regards to the world scene. Usually, I am very intolerant of short sightedness and small mindedness, but I will spare you the vitriol.

First off, some of these flags are made in China. I find it decidedly ridiculous that the Chinese now make our flags. I would gamble a guess that some American workers are put out of work making such things out of far more durable materials than plastic and bamboo. What happened to American pride in their workmanship? I highly doubt that there are American factories making Chinese flags and “We Will Never Forget Tiannenman” stickers. Why insult Americans with the centerpiece of American identity with cheap knockoffs that will only get thrown away in a few days or weeks?

Next, let me remind you these flags are made out of plastic, which is made from nonrenewable petroleum resources. The last thing we need to do is to use petroleum in frivolous ways. I don’t expect everyone to know this because the media and ‘leadership’ have done a dismal job of helping the public to become aware of the biggest mess that humanity has known in eons. The world petroleum extraction rates are nearing their all time peak, and this resource will soon be on an irreversible slide, taking a huge swath of human history with it, as everything we now use that either runs on petro fuels, or is made from manipulating petrochemicals will be in jeopardy. The suburban market you now enjoy as your financial playground stands to lose most of its value in an age when people can’t afford to drive places, and transcontinental and international shipping can’t supply food and consumer goods (like Chinese made flags).

I think you might have just had your best year yet, so enjoy the party while it lasts. But if you cozy up with a good Google search on “peak oil” you will find a mountain of info on the matter and how it will undermine everything in America, and the suburban lifestyle will take quite a beating. In fact, you might want to watch and contemplate a DVD called “The End of Suburbia” which will detail out a range of topics surrounding the inevitable peak in oil extraction and its effects for everyday people who think that everyday life should go on as it has for the last 60 years. I don’t think there is an upside to it, my friend. You should turn your millions into Euros and/or gold and go enjoy life where people won’t have a “shitfit” when they realize that their daily systems fall into dysfunction on account of oil prices. I think they will rage at their government to do something about it, only to find the best the government can do is… launch war to get more oil, which in turn invites more Arab anger and terrorism, which in turn invites more invasion into privacy and robbing of personal liberties, which of course means that the America you wish to celebrate with your flags is really just nostalgia. That flag doesn’t mean what it used to mean, and the combined folly of using a plastic flag made 10,000 miles away to celebrate American might and apple pie is just a joke. The fact is, calling the Fourth of July “Independence Day” is a joke too. This nation is a slave to oil addiction. Waving a Chinese made petro-derived flag does not amount in any way to independence.

Sir, I’ve been getting your ads on my door for seven years now. I never really liked them because I have no love for the real estate industry. I happen to think that real estate prices have killed America, if my story is a microcosm of the American experience. Let me tell you a story.

My father has decided to pull a nuclear option of his own. The house I live in was his parents’, and I have lived here for seven years now. We have had an utterly disastrous family collapse because of the perception that property in San Diego is actually worth something. The thing is, my life is no more special now that my house is supposedly at about $550,000 over when the house was supposedly worth $400,000. If I had to say when my best times were had in this house and my family seemed to work best, I would say it was when the house was valued at less than $100,000—maybe in the early 1980s or so. But now that my father wishes to cash in quite greedily now that both my grandparents are dead and I have offended him by calling the city to protest his illegal and utterly crappy additions and modifications to the house (while he justified his work as “raising the value of the house”), my quality of life here is mostly miserable. I certainly don’t reap $550,000 worth of quality of life out of this place. And now I am about to lose it, so I can move with my wife to some other overpriced box of stucco, wood, and carpet in another place that is as faceless and dysfunctional as Clairemont. My father will be proud of his accomplishment. He has outlasted his parents, and has swiped his son’s residence, and will have pocketed a handsome sum of money too. What could be more American than profitting off someone else’s loss? American corporate capitalism does it every day! And what’s good for business is good for America, right?

Luis, when you talk about the value of a house, do you ever say, “this land is quite fertile and you can grow a garden here, and there is enough of it to feed some sheep, and a nice place here to keep chickens” (?) Do you realize that a piece of land that can’t sustain life is nearly useless? When people are starving, they won’t care about the pool, and they won’t care about canyon scenery or being close to freeways and malls. If you can’t sell houses that permit people to live without the use of cars, industry, corporate goods and services, and everything else that makes up the way of life you and I “enjoy,” you might find yourself out of a job, my friend. Who will want to buy what you have to sell? I bet you too are living the suburban “dream” of sitting in traffic, cursing at parking lots, paying insurance, and worrying about gangs taking over your kid’s school. Luis, I don’t think your business has a leg to stand on, I am sorry to say. I believe the dollars you move from one place to another are really just imaginary. True wealth is in stability, and the suburban buildout has relied on a resource that is inherently unstable. Ergo, suburbia must crash before long. Biology shows this repeatedly. Oil is the food source for suburbia, and it is getting harder and harder to find and extract. No reliable food source means that whatever relied on that food source will crash. We now fight wars to arrange for this stuff to let us drive our Hummers, Tahoes, Expeditions, Excursions, Yukons, and other ridiculous vehicles around from one house to the mall and back. A war to secure a food source is a desperate act.

So might I suggest you spare us the cheap plastic flags made in China that mock the once-great United States of America? I’m sure people are touched by it somewhat, but really… they probably don’t know the shitstorm that will hit them as the global game turns deadly serious in a big way when every industrialized nation wants to dogpile on the last of the oil reserves in the middle east. But for those of us who keep a little more abreast of the situation, things like this are needless and crassly commercial. If you really want to pass out flags, take some of your real estate earnings and reinvest them in the community. Open up a small shop where some out of work San Diegans can make flags of real cotton, and made with the genuine pride that should accompany such effort. There is no reason to send our money to China to show our “patriotism.” We have people who need to work here. I think if you want to sell houses that are valuable, you should sell the ones with good arable land, clean water from underground, and places where it legal to keep some animals, because life isn’t going to be a trip to Vons and Wal Mart forever.

Hope this adds perspective to your day.

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