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Austerity in ruins?

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Jenny
1239790.  Fri Jun 16, 2017 4:23 pm Reply with quote

Or so claims Polly Toynbee in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The Grenfell Tower residents' action group has been saying for three years now, and had this awfully ominous blog posting which turned out to be all too accurate, last November.

How do QIers feel about social housing in the wake of this event?

Rich landowners with empty flats should be made to house the needy? Or wheeled out and shot (landlords, not the needy, though your opinion may vary)? Or some more sane and sensible suggestion?

What do you think?

 
crissdee
1239797.  Fri Jun 16, 2017 5:14 pm Reply with quote

This is one of those occaisions where my socialist side clashes with my capitalist side and leaves me lost somwhere in the middle.

Do I believe that we (the state) should do whatever we can to house the unfortunate/disadvantaged? Yes.

Do I think that those who have made themselves a decent pile of money through the sweat (often purely theoretical) of their brow should be obliged to share it out with those who haven't earned it? Not reeaally.

Back in Victorian times, those who had made their fortune often felt a moral imperative to do "good works", which was great, and I wish that situation still transpired. But it doesn't, and I am less than comfortable with compelling people to use their own money in this way if they don't want to.

 
Jenny
1239906.  Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:07 am Reply with quote

Yes that's the conundrum isn't it? And as a landlord myself, I'm queasy at the thought of compulsory purchase (or even confiscation!) of private property.

However in many parts of London, and in particular in Kensington, there are a lot of empty flats that have been purchased as investments and left to stand empty in order to make profits for their owners at some later date, and in the face of homeless people that feels wrong to me. But how to square that circle?

 
PDR
1239910.  Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:23 am Reply with quote

Build more houses. This does two things: it removes the scarcity and (in doing so) destroys the business model in which property that is empty is making sufficient return in capital growth alone. Therefore rental property becomes available AND landlords have to actually have tenants to make a return.

But this is nothing to do with austerity. Austerity is one proposed approach to address the difference between tax revenues and public expenditure (aka "the deficit" - not to be confused with "the national debt"). It should be noted that we can't even *begin* to address the debt until the deficit becomes a surplus.

It has been suggested that the proposed "austerity" solution won't work. This may or may not be true - I'm not enough of an economist to judge that. But equally I have not seen any alternative solution which it is said definitely WILL work, so my current belief (and that's all it is - a belief) is that "austerity" is the least ineffective approach to addressing the problem.

PDR

 
crissdee
1239913.  Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:37 am Reply with quote

On the whole, I agree with the whole "build more houses" gig, but in London, the number required to have any significant impact on the grossly inflated property market may be more than we have space for. Thinking on this the other night, I found myself asking the question "Can we afford the luxury of a Green Belt any more?"


Any thoughts?

 
PDR
1239915.  Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:48 am Reply with quote

My only real thought would be "why do they have to be in London?

PDR

 
tetsabb
1239916.  Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:42 pm Reply with quote

South west Surrey? 😉

 
'yorz
1239918.  Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:14 pm Reply with quote

After Katrina, similar problems happened: thousands had to be evacuated, displaced to neighbouring states where they didn't know anybody, and were separated from their families/relatives/friends - their entire previous lives. Lots still want to return, but others settled and got on with their lives.

Of course those who lived in Grenfell Tower want to be rehoused within the same area, but I think that's not feasible - at least not in the short term. A roof over their head is a priority; the location is secundary.

 
Jenny
1239935.  Sun Jun 18, 2017 3:51 pm Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
My only real thought would be "why do they have to be in London?

PDR


So many low-paying but essential jobs in London. Transport costs money. How do you square that by moving people who don't earn much out of London?

 
barbados
1239937.  Sun Jun 18, 2017 4:38 pm Reply with quote

If you were to move all of the low paid workers from the area wages would then go up.

 
PDR
1239939.  Sun Jun 18, 2017 5:23 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
So many low-paying but essential jobs in London.


Which jobs?

PDR

[this isn't me just being obtuse - this is a "seven whys" analysis]

 
crissdee
1239945.  Sun Jun 18, 2017 6:17 pm Reply with quote

Vast amounts of retail assistants for one. Also catering staff, street cleaners, delivery drivers, ticket machine engineers..........

 
PDR
1239946.  Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:24 am Reply with quote

In how many cases do those people need to live in London simply because of the large number of people who live in London?

PDR

 
brunel
1239951.  Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:57 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
The Grenfell Tower residents' action group has been saying for three years now, and had this awfully ominous blog posting which turned out to be all too accurate, last November.

It wasn't the first time that they had complained about potential fire safety issues either - they had also written a series of posts in 2013 that made similar complaints, but the only response from the local council was to threaten to sue that action group for defamation.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-fire-blogger-threatened-legal-action-kensington-and-chelsea-council-health-safety-a7792346.html

 
ConorOberstIsGo
1239952.  Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:05 am Reply with quote

Over a hundred economists suggest that the Labour manifesto as an economic plan was supported. That's not to say that they wouldn't support the plan for continuing austerity (although it is gently implied) but this hasn't really been drawn up. The budget will come out in November I suppose but certainly austerity appears to be the name of the game.

Economics is an awfully counter-intuitive subject in lots of ways. Having a country run a nationalised industry at a loss for decades may be one of the few ways that countries can join the 'developed' world as it used to be called. A steel industry that is run at a loss can have side benefits for car manufacture or infrastructure which use cheap steel and this could more than make up for that loss. If a recession hits, having large public sector spending ring-fenced from the market might allow for public sector job security and income security which then results in spending which then brings the country out of recession. Keynesian growth (public spending is a good means growth) in the U.S. used to be a Republican idea, now it's a Democratic idea. Economics is confusing.

Under Osbourne, the UK debt went up but we can't say that austerity is not working as the deficit is forecast to continue to fall. Of course people may think that efforts to sell off forests, the land registry and things that have already been privatised like water (and, in the case of the railways, owned by overseas companies) could however be seen as short-sighted. To craft a clumsy analogy, we could be selling our car to pay off the credit card but then having to pay 10 a day on public transport.

I think that most people at the bottom are very upset with the visible changes to their quality of life and they might be able to suck it up if they didn't believe those at the top are having a jolly old time. Because the less wealthy tend to spend more of their income sooner, it actually makes a kind of sense to have a 10 minimum wage to get the country's growth up - more so than the restoration of corporation tax levels IMO.

 

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