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Posts posted by fluffy666

  1. So I spent the rest of the afternoon speaking to an independent mortgage broker who told me that all kinds of ridiculous reasons are coming out for refusals of loans and mortgages his favourite question of which from one provider was "how much steak do you eat".

    To which the correct reply is 'none, I get my meat from the corpses of people who ask me silly questions or tell me 'No''.

  2. The bit that baffles me is that she may well be right not to worry about the H2B repayment. Depressingly, I could see these loans being wiped out in certain circumstances (negative equity or other personal issues). Is any government going to take possession of a pensioners house, or potentially thousands of peoples homes and leave hard working people homeless. Just can't see it. The H2B repayment could easily be added as a charge on the property, payable on sale or death. I would like to be wrong.

    I suspect you are correct.

    £50k could have built a house with cash to spare.

  3. I have a financially astute colleague, unfortunately got chatting to her yesterday.

    She sold a 3 bed semi to buy a new build 1 bed flat in 2012. She has now sold the flat to buy a new build 3 bed semi (£250k). She was telling me she used HTB to knock 20% of the house price, and that she only had a 5% deposiit. She said it is much cheaper than renting.

    So that breaks down as:

    £50k gubberming loan

    £12.5k deposit

    £187.5k mortgage (on a £25k salary, trust me there's no hope of that increasing!)

    I asked how she planned to pay off the £50k HTB loan... she had no idea. Just said she'd worry about that in 5 years when the interest kicks in.... believes she'll meet someone (she is 47, single) or win the lottery, or inherit some money).

    I asked what happens when the mortgage is paid off (it ends when she hits 65) and the gubbermint asks for it's £50k back. She wasn't sure but said "it'll still be better than renting". That bit baffled me - being forced to sell the house will be better than renting? Um, ok!

    Anyway, there you go.... something to cheer you up on a sunny morning.

    How on earth can she meet the payments? That's about £850 a month, assuming interest free.

  4. It looks like the first cohort to start the downward tumble were born in about 1975. They would have been 18 in 1993, 21 in 1996, and 25 in 2000. Basically the start of the collapse in home ownership coincides perfectly with houses suddenly being very expensive at the time this cohort were old enough to buy. No need to blame iPods or the fecklessness of today's youth.

    As a child of 1973, I can see this.. bought literally months before houses took off in my area.

  5. Just to add the jobs done by my grandparents for 40 years where they coul buy a house and save are now done by robots who never sleep. Technology isnt helping either, unless you get a job programming the robots.

    Technology should have helped.

    What seems to have happened is that the 'leisure time revolution' that was predicted did arrive. BUT instead of manifesting as shorter working weeks and earlier retirement for all, it has manifested as mass unemployment and vast numbers of service sector low-value jobs - which only exist because this unemployment has driven down the cost of employing people. And at the same time we've celebrated mad house price bubbles even when mass production and automation combined with low land prices should have dropped the price of a good house under £50k.

  6. For once I agree with you.

    Back in the 80's the unemployment figure became a number which had a lot of media attention. Result : politicians fiddle the number until it barely has any relevance any more.

    The other was/is the basic income tax rate. Back in the good old days you could tell pretty much whether you were being taxed more or less via the way the government increased or decreased this rate. Now tax has been obsucrified into a hge number of different taxes and thresholds so no one actually knows how much they are being taxed any more.

    Indeed, it's one of these 'Westminster village' things that the Basic Rate of income tax is sacrosanct and can never rise.

    Scary thing is that in the 1970s, an unemployment rate around 4-6%, or over a million people was seen as a national crisis. But nowadays, even with a downgraded measure there would be celebrations at the number getting that low.. and people wonder why pay rises don't exist, retail sales keep 'disappointing' and the deficit remains so high.

  7. "Nationwide have started requesting 12 months bank statements"

    Which is exactly what they used to do when I got a mortgage through them in the 90s. :huh:


    Got something similar in 2000. By 2006 when we moved house it was more 'Can you fog a mirror? You get 3 attempts..'

  8. Around me I see people collecting final salary pensions that would be greater than the wages of new entrants if there was money to employ them.

    Yet these people on their pensions do not retire. They collect both the pension and now also a wage. They can't 'afford' to retire, apparently. In the NHS I'd call them bed-blockers.

    All the while youngsters work for free in their organisations in the hope of a salaried job one day.

    I am surrounded by a lot of talented and enthusiastic youngsters who are wasting, often doing 'non-jobs' for free, often taking the slack of people who are paid to work.

    I also see a lot of youngsters who are bone idle. But they just don't have a role model, or have given up, perhaps ?

    I appreciate all the above are huge generalisations, but I don't remember it always being like this - or was it ?

    I also try very hard to change it. But it's bl00dy hard work. The boomer generation has a self-serving, strangle hold.

    (I class myself as a boomer, but according to Wikipedia I am just outside)

    I hate to use the whole boiling-frog thing, (because it's wrong).

    But it seems that..

    Once upon a time you left school on Friday and started work on Monday. It may have been hard, it may not have been brilliantly paid, but the jobs were there.

    Then it got a bit harder - you had to apply for more jobs, there were temping agencies, you actually had unemployment. Of course, if you were a graduate it was still pretty easy.

    Then it got even harder, you started to need to do unpaid or badly paid apprenticeships, more jobs needed graduates, pay increases were rarer.

    Then they added half of Poland to the entry level jobs market.

    Then we started to talk about zero-hours contracts, NEETS, tuition fees meaning an increasing cost for even mid level jobs.

    The jobs market of 2014 would have looked catastrophic from the viewpoint of the supposedly dark days of 1979..

  9. I'm a firm believer that if you believe in yourself you can achieve anything - provided you are not barking up the wrong tree.

    Unfortunately, too many of the experts/mentors that you might look to as role models are shallow spivs, charlatans and frauds with nothing to offer other that to feed from you. So you also need skill to avoid those. It was probably ever thus, except the former are now greater in number. See my post on Mres.

    It's not so much 'achieve anything' as 'achieve something'.

  10. Look not at what was, but what could be.

    The US introduced the kind of time limited benefits you suggest. It has worse social mobility, poverty and small business formation rates than we do.

    The real problem with trying to allocate stuff on the basis of need is that you train people to have needs. Now, you can try to allocate stuff on an even-needier basis - in which case people will have to be even needier, or you can use something like a CI where you don't have to demonstrate a need at all.

    Regardiing a right to food and housing, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights says (Article 25.)


    • (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
    • (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

    No wonder human rights have such a bad rap amongst the right-wingers of the world..

  11. Welfare is charitable giving, enforced by the State.

    As we know, no matter what the name of the tax is, and what it is purported to be for, it just goes into a great bit pot of cash for governments to buy votes with from their chosen social groups.

    This undermines democracy.

    You can't really have a democracy without some semblance of a meritocracy.

    You can't have a meritocracy where people can choose whether to work or not and still be supported.

    Nor does it work when low earners are priced out of buying their own home in part because next door get the house for next to nothing with the taxpayer's cash flowing to landlords - actually, those who are most opposed to welfare tend to be the traditional working classes who have to live next door to idle layabouts.

    The programme I saw, had the mother seeing clearly that the State, sorry, I mean, the enforced generosity of others, which had helped her stay in her home, was now the barrier to her daughter's success because she couldn't grasp why she would pursue a career.

    Another couple got pregnant first, knowing the safety net, sorry, I mean, enforced charity of others would help pay for it, with the guy "hoping to get a job before she was born". Idiocracy indeed.

    The idea of "personal responsibility" has been so abstracted now as to be almost completely airbrushed out of existence.

    "But people like us couldn't start a business", said the small-time weed dealer supplementing their benefits.

    I don't think my stance is somehow "puritanical". Much nonsense is talked about "fairness" when it comes to the Welfare State. Whereas, actually, the fairest way is to abolish it completely. This collapses a house of cards.

    It is true that most welfare spending is recycled back into the economy (wonderpup's point, I think). On that basis, you could turn a blind eye to whether it is fair or not, the "the end justifies the means" argument. I think this is morally bankrupt.

    Since that couldn't be done overnight, a move to what you suggest would solve several issues. It would mean that you need to pay in first before you can take out and would also mean that new immigrants who in the same manner as the oft-quoted 16 year old pregnant girl who now "need" a house could take nothing either.

    The key point is that the Welfare State is an affront to democracy and a meritocracy.

    A Citizens income rather suggests that every citizen has the right to assets and money of others since the money to pay for it doesn't come out of thin air, but from the fruits of others' labour.

    Nobody has the right to that, and therefore, the notion that everyone has a right to be housed and fed is false.

    Key question: Was society before the existence of the welfare state more or less meritocratic?

  12. They are offensive weapons, and vulnerable to attack. This is the same as it was in WW2, carriers that were in action got used up fast, and they were highly vulnerable. Consider Midway, the Japanese lost 4 out of 4 fleet carriers in a few minutes. A CV on CV encounter is going to be bloody. I'm not seeing what has changed, they have always been vulnerable.

    The thing is, there's no real alternative. If the Royal Navy didn't have carriers during the Falklands War, for example, it would have been suicide to go. You can't fight without air cover. In the middle of nowhere you have to bring the air cover with you. Carriers are flexible, they can mass air power at any coastline on Earth, and a supercarrier is a big beast alright, a couple of those at a specific point will seriously tip the air superiority stakes.

    The problem is that they haven't been tested in a full-on conflict. The current generation of US carriers do seem vulnerable to anti-ship missiles of various forms. On the other hand, those missiles still have to be launched and get through.

    The new generation of US carriers are designed to have much better directed-energy weapons capabilities (Lasers, Railguns, that sort of stuff). It may prove impossible to design a missile that can get through and also deliver enough damage. Unless you build a 100-megaton nuclear warhead, in which case you don't need to get very close.

  13. The R&D on something like this would be astronomical, 10:1 may still be exorbitant. I work with code monkeys, they're very slow and methodical, it could take generations! :D

    From what I've heard of military/avionics software development, this is a valid point.. for some reason they seem to think that a plane that stays in the air 97% of the time isn't good enough..

    Interestingly, this is the sort of thing that might suddenly speed up in wartime, simply because the extreme reliability requirements would be dropped.

  14. Actually I would say no.

    Game AIs can beat humans in some simple games but not all of them.

    I am into racing games and the AI there cannot beat people. You'd think it would be able to but it can't. Not unless you give the AI a car that performs better than a person.

    There is of course the issue that racing game companies have much less to spend on AI than military applications.

    You can look on the web for common complaints against AI drivers if you are interested.

    Is Chess simple?

    Actually, I was going off of xkcd's list, which included Counterstrike..

    My instincts as a programmer say that a Racing Driver AI might actually be harder to do well than a Fighter Pilot AI.

  15. I agree there's an incentive, but the amount of code required to run a system like that would take decades to develop IMO.

    Apart from automated takeoff/landing/autopilot - already exists. Combat software - Game AIs already exist and routinely beat the best humans. Automated IFF, targeting - already exist.

    And this isn't a game, so the Computer AI can ignore limits on acceleration and turning that would be imposed in a game. Because no one will buy a game where the computer wins every time.

    (This isn't to denigrate fighter pilots.. but Usain Bolt wouldn't win a 100m race with an F1 car)


  16. Whilst for the reason stated above, it obviously seems like a good idea, the problem with dog fighting a drone is situational awareness.

    .. because human pilots can easily communicate with a few dozen other pilots whilst performing 10g turns and prioritizing/engaging a large number of targets? And, of course, the drone systems would already have been trained on several million operations and learnt from every real world combat by every other drone..

  17. Replacing front line fighter aircraft with drones is probably 30-40 years away IMO.

    Thought experiment:

    Replace the pilot with a computer. This means that you can also get rid of the cockpit, life support, windows, ejector seat, etc. And you can now maneuver to the limits of the air frame without worrying about the lump of wetware inside, and stay in the air indefinitely, subject to refuel. And your war effort does not hinge on a tiny cadre of very well trained pilots (cf. Battle of Britain, Japanese Navy in WWII, Israelis in 1973).

    There's a huge incentive, it's technically possible - indeed, Google have managed the harder problem of a self-drive car - and the US has a serious budget. I'd be interested to know if it's already done, never mind 30 years off.

  18. Wonder how drones react to electronic warfare.

    It's one thing to use Predators to blow away mud huts, it'd be something else entirely to use drones in a conventional war against a hi tech opponent, I would assume.


    The interesting thing is, it's much easier to use autonomous drones in a full-on conflict. You launch your drone cloud - possibly hundreds of autonomous drones, it's told to deny a given airspace to anything with the wrong IFF, or destroy anything that moves on the ground or fires at them (or tries to jam their communications). You can't do that in Iraq or Afghanistan because of the tendency to take out innocent bystanders... and there is no enemy air force to worry about.

    Even before that, semi-disposable drones could suppress most air-defence systems - they only have so many missiles, and a missile battery would be taken out for every drone downed.

    This is the problem - there has been no stand-up war between even vaguely equal hi-tech opponents since Korea, or perhaps some of the Arab-Israeli wars. The last time there was such a big gap was from 1871 to 1914, and the 1914 war is noted for people finding out the hard way that machine guns trumped determined infantry, and torpedoes trumped big guns.


  19. Aerospace megaprojects often have their problems. Look at Dreamliner, Concorde, Eurofighter, A380, the list goes on. You won't have heard anything about the B2, because it was secret. So issues now with engines etc are irrelevant.

    As regards performance, you're going to find loads of positives and negatives on the internet based on various peoples agendas, and the people that probably do have the expertise to be able to say something with confidence are not allowed to.

    The only time Joe public will get to see real performance is anecdotes from red flag and in an actual war. There will be plenty of armchair generals speculating until then though.

    FWIW, this Armchair General is thinking that within as little as a decade or so, Drone technology will have made human-crewed weapons platforms as obsolete as the Battleship in WWII.

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