CAN THE GLOBAL HOUSING PROBLEM BE SOLVED?
Where’s the Profit and What Does Corning Have to Offer?
I earlier emphasized that the amount of external input in solving the housing problem needed to be small. However, it canít be nothing. Some outside input is required. In our demonstration project, the total outside input was $300/house. If someone had a $5 piece of that budget, a product that was deemed sufficiently useful and productive to be selected, even people living on $1/day might be able to afford it, and that would represent a $10 billion market. I donít mean that as a serious calculation, but I do mean to point out that looking for ways to address this need has a potential for profit even though the participants in the market are very poor. If nothing else governments with housing programs for their poor would be customers.
The question then is do we have anything to offer.
Where can Corning innovate?
There are at least 3 basic areas in which we can look for innovation and solutions:
● Function with local resources: local labor, local materials, local energy, with little of no imported component,
● Adapted to local markets, local needs and conditions.
● Small scale: small investment, adaptable to many small regions,
● Produce for Self-consumption and local consumption.
● Mixed Hi-Lo tech. Simple solutions applicable under third world conditions made possible from tremendously expanded knowledge obtained with our high tech science.
A fundamental issue in seeking local solutions is the terms of international trade. If we could produce a product locally, sell it and buy imported products for less labor/cost than what it would cost to produce them locally, we would do that. That is what the U.S. does. We buy imported products because they are cheaper than what we can produce. We get more for our labor and materials than the people we are buying from. At the other end, the situation is opposite. The poor countries and communities are selling their labor and products low and buying high. In general they are better off to produce things themselves. Because the handicap is so large, this is true even when the local product is produced much less efficiently, is of lower quality and when it must be replaced by another product altogether.