If I see Sarah McLaughlin’s sad puppy-dog eyes begging me to spend only $19 a month for one more abused puppy, I think I’m going to scream. And dogloos drive me absolutely mad.
(A dogloo is an expensive igloo-shaped doghouse made from insulated plastic.) Don’t get me wrong–they’re practical for outdoor dogs. It’s just that we have developed better housing for animals than for urban children of the poor.
I heard a true story once: A doctor was dining at an outdoor café in a third-world country. A preteen child walked up to her table and, staring vacantly into space, reached out to her full plate and that of her lunch partner and helped himself to their food with his hands, sniffing and feeling for it, as if blind. When they pushed his hands away, he simply reached back, unthinkingly, still staring at nothing. Her companion explained why:
After a few years of the standard slum diet, children did not speak or play or do anything except urinate and defecate and sleep and move around seeking food. They had no other brain functions left.
A whole population of children lived unparented, eating whatever they could find on the city’s huge garbage heap. The garbage included highly toxic substances. Later on her trip, the doctor was present at an autopsy of one of these children: “The brain was actually missing a large portion—it was almost melted away” was how she put it.
So, I have been thinking about dogloos, and slums, and people living in cardboard cartons, and slum housing, and tin roofs, and problems with water, and insect- and rain-proof grain storage, and overpopulation and birth control, and a whole lot of stuff. I am even thinking of mudslides, and ease of rebuilding afterward.
What if an architect or engineer smarter than I designed a “peoploo”? A peoploo system? The bottom of the post goes into some of my ideas about this, but smarter minds than mine could come up with better ones.
So, how does one get a peoploo? Simple. You ask for one. You are given one. All you have to do is to agree to permanent birth control for every male member of your household over the age of (let the nation decide, but at least 18, and perhaps as young as 16) who will live in it, and no more than four members (or whatever the clever designers work out) to a peoploo.
Bigger family? Get more peoploos. What constitutes a family? Whoever you say is in your family. Perhaps when you get your peoploo, your family photo can be sandwiched in plexi and mounted next to the front door.
Oh, how awful! you say. Sterilization, you say. Nazi, you say. Well, I say back: It’s entirely voluntary. You can instead choose to continue to live in a cardboard box, or under a piece of tin, or wherever it is you are more comfortable. No one is forcing you.
If a nation prefers, let one earn a peoploo with the one-child rule that China has. Or phase in the number of kids—what do I know? If the average number is six, make the earning number three, then lower it to two, and work down to one.
Why sterilize the males? Because they make babies with way more women than the ones they live with. Because they are the toughest audience to sway toward birth control. And, most importantly, because long-term birth control choices for women are more expensive and risky, while for men, a ten-minute outpatient procedure does the trick.
Oh, hang on a minute—how do single moms and widows earn a peoploo? Well, I guess that is an issue…hmmm…Norplant, I guess, despite the nasty harm from long-term use of those hormones (e.g. much higher chance of chronic depression).
Will families sneak extra folk into their peoploos—folk who haven’t yet had their faucets shut off, so to speak? Perhaps. Let’s get people out of cardboard and worry about it then. Maybe we’ll need paid family planning spies, like in China (Nazi!!!).
Now, clever designers, don’t go overboard. Surely, if we follow the K.I.S.S. rule, we can crank these simple things out in six months…a year, tops. And third world countries, surely you can do the math, and see that your slums could be wiped out entirely in two or three generations. Perhaps, with clean homes, and pride of ownership, and fewer damaged and unwanted children, the slums will turn around—who knows?
Then we can work on saving the dogs.
MY OWN PEOPLOO IDEAS
I am thinking of a square dogloo with gently rounded corners, one-story, but with a top deck and molded lip tall enough to corral a toddler. Perhaps the top could be used for shallow planting of grass if the climate supports this, which could provide cooling/heating (does the plastic hold up to that weight and the roots? I don’t know).
Perhaps the top could be used to store water. Perhaps in Asia and Africa, included bins could allow the top to be used as for rice storage or as a granary: insect- and rodent-resistant. Doors and windows would include interior snap-in screen frames so that anti-malarial screening cloth could be replaced easily when needed.
It would be lovely if the front could have a clever awning. Everyone likes to have a shady place to sit, or somewhere cool to sit and watch the rain while preparing dinner.
The outside corners of my peoploo have four buttresses. These serve to mark the yard. You see, when you receive a peoploo, not only do you get a home; you also get your own property. This ensures that light and air reach into the slum, and foot traffic can flow freely. It also ensures that law enforcement has access, and a view from above. Again, here, smarter designers than I would need to figure out how to do this so that these property markers don’t impede foot traffic or form a hazard.
The buttresses wouldn’t have to reach the ground, but only lock with the adjacent peoploo buttress, to force a distance—makes a nice place to hang laundry from, too. I see them slipping together like puzzle pieces, but who knows what our presumed engineer(s) will come up with?
Well, it’s three years since I wrote this, and we now know that we should be suspicious of ALL plastics as having the potential for causing long-term harm, so I guess my style of peopleoos are out. But I still think the concept is perfectly valid. Make ’em out of something else. As long as they’re stackable, weatherproof, and inexpensive–c’mon architects and donors–let’s get crackin’
TO SEE A WOMAN WHO MAKES A REAL DIFFERENCE IN MUDSLIDE AREAS: http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/americas/02/10/cnnheroes.hallum.guatemala.mudslides/index.html
What should be done with abused animals? Immediately eliminate their pain. Offer them for adoption if they are not too damaged. Euthanize them humanely if they are not adopted promptly or are not adoptable. Their souls will then be pain- and body-free. Feed those empty bodies to the poor. You can bet that overseas poor will be grateful, even if our own poor may not be.
Or, as put more succinctly by a redditor:
(BTW, this suggestion was first presented, jokingly, in June ’11 on reddit–I copied my Peopleloo article to Blogger two months before that, in April ’11. ‘Course, everything reddit says, it says better. The power of the hive mind.)