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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Is ownership outdated?

12 January 2022

We have all heard of "the pride of ownership".

Indeed, most people use their posessions as a metric of their success in the world.

Many like to demonstrate their wealth by driving expensive super-cars, wearing pricey jewelery or sporting designer-label fashion garments.

We like to own our homes and chattels because of the security it provides us.

However, some are asking whether the "ownership" paradigm is going to be sustainable as we move into a world increasingly constrained by environmental issues and a lack of resources.

Do you really need 24/7 "ownership" of a car when the reality is that you only actually use it for a few minutes a day? Isn't that an extreme waste of precious resources and your valuable capital?

It's hard to argue against the claims that we'd all be a lot better off if the concept of personal ownership was left behind and, instead, we simply used things as they were needed before relinquishing them back into some kind of pool where others could use them.

Such a move would dramatically reduce the amount of money we spend (especially in depreciation) on sometimes quite valuable but relatively unused posessions.

The number of vehicles in private ownership could likely be halved if, instead of being owned by individuals, they were the property of a pool of resources that we simply dipped into as and when required.

The same concept could apply right across the spectrum of ownership.

Do you *really* need to own a lawn-mower when, except for a few minutes on a Sunday morning, it sits idle in the garage, slowly depreciating and quietly rusting away?

Do you really need to own *anything*?

Imagine having the choice of almost anything you wanted... for a simple monthly payment to the entity that manages the pool of items you might need to use on occasion. Virtually all the benefits of ownership but without the immense costs involved.

Proponents of such a scheme claim that this would not only help save the planet but also significantly improve the standard and quality of life for most people.

Indeed, the entire future of the human race may rely on us giving up "ownership" in exchange for "access".

At the rate our population is growing we simply can't afford all the duplication and waste associated with everybody having personal ownership of things that cost energy and resources to make but which are seldom used.

Perhaps, in as little as half a century's time, the concept of ownership will be relegated to the history books and seen as an arrogant contempt for the health of the species and the planet on which it lives.

Of course it'll be damned hard to wean the average Kiwi out of their quarter-acre pavalova paradise with their boat and the holiday batch mentality -- but then again, if you bought someone from the 1960s to 2022 they'd likely be gobsmacked at how much we've given up in terms of rights and freedoms, allegedly "for the greater good".

Remember when you'd spend a chunk of your hard-earned wages or pocket money on the latest single or LP from a favourite recording artist? Those records were treasured posessions back in the day. Today's kids simply pay a monthy subscription to a streaming service and get "all you can eat" in return.

If it can be done with music and movies, surely it can be done with cars, boats, bikes and just about anything else we currently covet as one of our posessions.

Think about it... and share your thoughts in the comments.

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