This is an old topic, but it will not go away. Today we read this headline in “The Daily Telegraph”:
Average prices in London will soar by more than 43pc to £650,000, research by the National Housing Federation and Oxford Economics warns.
There are four fundamental elements which any civilised society must organize for its people:
- shelter & clothing
Of course, none of these can be easily provided without education, so that could be a fifth, and transportation & infrastructure to facilitate all the others a sixth.
Britain does OK on food and clothing in general, but defence, health and education are decidedly wobbly and housing is a total disaster, a disgrace, a shameful blot – so appalling that we can hardly call ourselves “developed”.
As a benchmark, we could consider so-called “primitive” societies, such as:
- “Red” Indians from North America
- Other “Indians” and natives from all corners of the Earth: Borneo, Brazil etc
- Arabic nomadsand of course
To my knowledge, ALL the above races/peoples manage(d) to provide shelter for their people, and moreover shelter which BELONGS or BELONGED TO THE DWELLERS. Have you ever seen a homeless Red Indian dossing outside a tipi?
Yet in Britain, we not only have the TRULY homeless who sleep rough, but a rapidly-increasing non-propertied class that does not own and thus control its own dwelling. The housing market in our nation has reached shameful and appalling heights of “unfairness”. Some people do not like the word “fair”, but it is in fact the essence of “socialism” in the truest sense. And by this I do not mean the absurd and nonsensical anti wealth-destroying and class-hatred poverty served up by the so-called “Labour” Party, but the kind seen in Scandinavia to a large extent where the encouragement of wealth-creation goes hand in hand with commonsense fairness allied to rigour in preventing abuse.
The number of families in Britain owning their own dwelling is declining as property prices hit the roof, this being due to government lunacy. Housing should be almost number 1 priority. Of course, one has to eat and avoid dying of cold, but there is not a lot of point in fantastic health and education provision if you have to sleep under a bridge OR indeed pay a large proportion of your income to a landlord.
Instead of which, what do we have?
A) VAST immigration and
B) APPALLING insufficiency of house-building
C) The encouragement given to LANDLORDS, who have an unearned income at someone else’s expense – just as in feudal times, the word “landlord” being wonderfully appropriate
D) Government GLEE at rising house prices and the corresponding “feel-good factor” for themselves and the propertied. (The “feel-bad factor” for the non-propertied is irrelevant it seems.)
“Landlords”? And there was me hoping they might have died out in the early Middle-Ages, with the abolition of feudalism. No such luck: we even still have Lords – Mandelscum for a start. In essence, landlords are no better than their feudal counterparts. Merely because they own a property THEY DO NOT NEED FOR THEMSELVES they can exploit the housing needs of someone else. And of course, landlords will screw the MAXIMUM out of people that they can, this being part of the “free market” and grateful acceptance of “the market price”.
Anyone suggesting we apply the same principles to HEALTH would be scorned as a 19th century capitalist, yet we seem happy to allow “the market” to take away many people’s dreams of ever owning their own dwelling. And the latter gives a completely different perspective on society than for those who rent. As a tenant, your life is forever precarious. You feel temporary – living in someone else’s property. And what happens when you get old? You pay rent for years and have nothing to show for it at the end. FINE – if it is a choice, but as the article makes clear, there practically IS NO LONGER A CHOICE for millions.
The free market: Personally, I believe the free market is essential for the creation of wealth. everywhere the free market in goods has been abolished in favour of some lunatic form of Marxism it has resulted in poverty and usually oppression. The latter is of course because a controlled economy is nonsense and impoverishes people, who in the end revolt and have to be controlled in their turn.
However – as one of the fundamentals – housing cannot be subject to the same kind of free market as is involved in flogging tins of beans, since – as we are now seeing – this simply means that many people will be priced out of a home or end up paying a ludicrous proportion of their income in rent to someone who DOES NOT HAVE TO WORK to get this money.
“Ah, but being a landlord DOES involve work.” Pls do not insult my intelligence. This is not “work” as we know it. Many landlords have multiple properties with huge incomes which are essentially unearned.
This is of course immoral, unfair, selfish and will lead to revolution. In recent years, the rich-poor gap has been increasing at an insane rate and the hyper-rich group moving stratospherically away from the rest, ESPECIALLY those who do not own a property. It is now getting to the point where an ordinary citizen with no property to inherit can NEVER aspire to own his or her dwelling unless they move to somewhere north of Leeds where there is no work. No society with immense gaps in wealth has survived as a democratic entity; it always degenerates into revolution and subsequent dictatorship of either “left” or “right” depending on who prevails, but in either case it is essentially the same thing.
Unearned income: At the same time, those who DO own a property see their wealth accumulate through NO EFFORT OF THEIR OWN. The mortgage-free element of the propertied classes can use their ENTIRE income on whatever they like, while even those who OWN a house but have a large mortgage spend much of their lives paying a very large proportion of their income to finance it. The non-propertied of course pay an even larger part of their income on rent and have NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT AFTER DECADES of payment. Meanwhile the landlord not only has had the rent but has seen the value of his property rocket out of sight.
This is all totally immoral. Apart from the financial aspect, living in a place you can call your OWN is a totally different feeling from living in someone ELSE’S dwelling. This ALSO is not “fair”.
The last Labour government did not have a clue what to do about this of course, despite calling itself (can this still be true?) the party of “the working class” (how Blair fits in here is a mystery, having just bought one of his sons a three million quid flat). The last Labour government actually FAVOURED “Buy-to-let”, the most selfish and odious policy I can remember in my entire life.
The main point is that it USED to be possible for a couple to work hard and save up for a few years to scrape enough cash together for a deposit on a house,. This is now becoming impossible for “ordinary” people.
OK, so there is a big problem and it is getting worse. It is always easy to define a problem, but less so to propose an effective solution. One of the MAIN problems here is that those who MAKE our policies are almost ALL in the propertied class. Do you know any MPs who do not own their own dwelling? Every time house prices rise they are laughing – not in public of course – there are lots of crocodile tears – but in private they must be rubbing their hands in glee as their net worth rockets WITHOUT THEIR HAVING TO LIFT A FINGER. Blair’s flat must be worth near to a MILLION QUID more than he paid for it a short time ago. It is all like the casino of the stock market.
This the problem we face; politicians will pay lip-service to the need for “more housing”, but NOTHING RADICAL IS EVER DONE and the problem gets WORSE AND WORSE whoever is in power. They really ARE “all in this together”, but THIS IS NO WAY TO RUN A HOUSING POLICY.
What to do? The solutions I propose will hurt some people. However, just like a serious cancer, you can’t cure it with a sticking-plaster.
A Moral Housing Policy
A) All housing shall ultimately belong to the state. However, citizens may buy and sell dwellings according to the principles below.
B) NOBODY shall own MORE than one dwelling until ALL those over 25 own ONE (if they want their own dwelling of course – they may prefer to live with someone else, in which case they do not HAVE a dwelling of their own and certainly not one to rent out. All single people 25 or older may own a dwelling (provided they LIVE in it), but if they marry, one of the parties must sell it. If they separate, they must buy their own dwelling once again (if they prefer), the payment going to the state.
C) NOBODY shall live in a dwelling with more than 10 times the average floorspace per inhabitant of that dwelling than the average for the country as a whole. It is completely immoral for a rich oligarch to live in a vast palace while thousands of native Britons are homeless or live in rabbit-hutches. Large mansions must be divided up into flats of different sizes, luxuries and values as indicated below. The Royal Family shall be an exception to this law except that they may only have ONE “super-dwelling”, either Windsor, Buckingham Palace, Sandringham or Balmoral: the other palaces must be divided up into multiple separate dwellings. Obviously they may have their OWN dwellings like all other citizens as described in these articles – always within the floorspace regulations.
D) The price of dwellings will depend not on “the free market” but fixed by the state. The actual price of a dwelling shall depend on a combination of 1) its size (see B above) 2) its location (decided much as now) and 3) as a proportion of the average earnings of the population. The value of housing shall rise in strict accordance with the average rise in earnings.
This will retain elements of the “free market” (which of course is not free at all to those excluded from it) but avoid the excesses, bubbles and for millions hopelessness of the present anarchy.
E) Dwellings may be passed on to offspring, but IF SO, the new occupier must pay a mortgage to the state (unless they have already paid one for another house). In other words, NOBODY may live in a dwelling which they have not paid for. Wealth accumulated elsewhere (or given by a friend or relative) may not be used to purchase a dwelling. In this way, all citizens will be on the same foot; they will all pay the going-rate for their dwelling. However, IF a citizen has PAID for ONE dwelling but then has to move, he or she will not have to pay for their NEW one.
F) Owners may decorate and/or modify their dwellings as they like, but plans for major works shall be submitted for approval as is the current practice.
No doubt this system will need some fine-tuning, as I do not have an army of geniuses working out the detail. HOWEVER, NOTHING like it will EVER be put into place because as I made clear earlier,. it is NOT IN THE LONG OR SHORT-TERM INTERESTS OF THE CURRENTLY-PROPERTIED, and this latter group includes almost ALL the political, financial and business establishment elite which controls everything.
But, IF it is not implemented then the rich-poor gap will increase FOR EVER, especially because of the pernicious effect of inheritance. The latter is like crisps, burgers and of course alcohol; you know that too much will be bad for you in the long run but you go on consuming them ANYWAY.