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Thursday, 28 March 2013


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Apart from staying in power, political imperatives seem concerned with balancing influences that are contradictory. Nimbyism has a long history. Even as late as 1939 the CPRE was resisting the putting up of radar towers along the south coast. Churchill saw them off, other factors to balance!

Green Belts go back to the 1930s when population pressure and mass home ownership were not an issue. By the 1970s politicians enjoyed the pseudo economic booms brought about by home ownership and dared not disturb the game. Same today, how to allow housing development whilst staying elected and not destroying the home ownership ponzi scheme. Even Churchill would find that one tricky.

As for whether economics has predictive possiblities I am not sure, but some in the Square Mile (+ easterly extension) do seem to know which way the wind will blow, I wonder what techniques they use.

I'm not sure that greenbelts have contributed that much to rent rises (although I admit they don't help matters).

For me it's a combination of mass immigration, cultural changes (single women with children 'requiring' 'suitable' housing often at the expense of families, they being given 'priority as well as the, now seen as unacceptable practice, of 'young adults' remaining 'at home' until they can afford to be independent).

All of this is, of course (and I include unrealistic house prices), as a result of government meddling. In what way? In common with the cost of 'legal advice', by guaranteeing that the most incompetent, useless and barely educated 'solicitor' will not work for less than £105 per hour (as that is I believe the 'going rate' for legal aid), in paying a set, and often unrealistically high, amount for housing benefit landlords have zero incentive to charge realistic rents, since they will receive a government mandated minimum for their premises (market pressures have been effectively negated).

So we have multiple areas of 'knock on' effects. A reasonable correlation can be made between the property prices in an area and the amounts a landlord will be able to make (the terms of 'buy to let' mortgages are considerably more 'forgiving' than a 'residential' mortgage since it is effectively backed by housing benefit) - the minimum thus being this amount (with prices rising due to the pressure of numbers of people, employed and wages in the area). 'Buy to let' and Housing Benefit effectively concentrate th e housing stock in a smaller percentage of the population whilst driving prices, especially of those properties traditionally viewed as less desirable or in poor condition, out of the reach of first time buyers.

So, tending towards Austrian rather than a Keynesian economic bent, I feel that to resolve the matter all we need (as in so much else wrong in Britain/the World) is to get the government out of the area and let 'the market decide' (and before anyone says it doesn't work - how do you know, since it's never been allowed to try? Capitalism and free markets are usually criticised by people who know full well that neither has ever been allowed to operate without someone meddling).

Just Sayin'

As an aside I have a fund of similar assorted 'logical and visionary' (and quite possibly naive, baseless and schizophrenic at times) theories. One of my best, and most quoted (well at least by me) is my theory of relationships. You know, why does that ugly, hulking, obnoxious, illiterate, usually criminal, often violent and two-timing 'gigolo' always seem to get the stunningly gorgeous, sweet, clever, and did I mention gorgeous lady (who I just may have 'fancied') whilst the quiet, studious and academic, caring, sharing, tall but perfectly formed (stop laughing! I am quite good looking - if the light is dim, you squint a bit and being myopic helps, I'm told) gets ignored (or worse laughed at - oh my poor downtrodden ego!).

I will, reluctantly (no really!) of course, expound on this theory at length, if anyone is interested. I've managed to develop the theory to a point now (some mumble years later) of using it with amazing predictive results (about 50/50 with everyone else, but 100% with me - 'the lady won't be interested' - life is just so unfair!).

I am fully aware that DM is 'probably having conniptions' (either that or sighing depressingly/laughing hysterically/both) at both my Grammar and punctuation but I, never having understood or any interest in punctuation, follow the 'if in doubt put some in anywhere it looks like it may fit because you're bound to put at least some of it in the right places' school of punctuational(?) thought. As to my Grammar? She may drink (Glenmorangie by the bottle-full) and smoke (Players when she runs out of cigars) excessively, play way too much poker, drive (her Camaro) too fast and keep picking fights - but I won't hear a word said against her! So there!

(I'll just go back to my permanent lines whilst standing in the corner shall I?)

Able, in the absence of DM - where's he gone, by the way, I don't remember stamping his leave pass - I have a few comments on your contributions above.

1: I'm with you on the benefit of the Austrian school of economics and it makes me wonder if anything else good ever came out of Austria? I mean, I hate Viennese waltzes and the Austro-Hungarian empire was a joke in bad rococo taste!

2: I think I may have met your 'Grammar', circa 1960, in a pub at the wrong end of Aldershot - not that there's a right end.

3: We are stickler for pronunciation, here at D&N, particularly when it comes to pure-bred 'Arkie', not that there's a lot of pure breeding in that benighted state of the union, but it is "*Jest* sayin'" - and that'll be another 50 lines.

4: Here at D&N we just love new words and "conniptions" drove me to my trusty OED which tells me that it was originally a "made up word" which is entirely consistent with the spirit of this blog. Well done, young Able, you are hereby let off lines!

5: Finally an injunction - it is time you began your own blog, I would happily be your first reader.

Yes, Gentlemen, it is rarely that cause and effect are so neatly delineated as Ms. McCloskey indicates. She is, I think, indicating a general rule that legislation can have consequences of an unexpected nature. Not a surprise to us, here at D&N, I know, but politicians. lawyers and civil servants hardly ever take into account.

Conniptions "a made up word" David?

I dunno how'n tarnation I'm ever going get you speakun perper Hillbillianese ...

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