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cjc

Housing Need Vs Greed ?

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Imagine a scenario where 50 ‘primitive’ people living in a small jungle area - ten couples with twenty children (2 each) 4 elderly couples and two single old women who had outlived their husbands. Thus there are 16 dwellings needed to house the various family units. They get together and decide they will all live in a confined area (only 10% of the total land area) and no building is allowed outside of it – this is so the other land can be used for agriculture and to keep the vast majority of the remaining land ‘unspoilt’. In the ‘build-able area’ there are 10 dwellings already with space for 4 more (all of equal size). They decided to build the other 4 and then subdivide each of them into three small units. Then they decide to allocate them so that the families with children each get one of the units that are a third the size of the others, three old couples get a big unit each and the other one gets three big dwellings, one old lady gets 1 big and one small and the other old lady gets the remainder – three big and one small.

Looking at this situation as an outsider it would seem incredibly bizarre and hard to understand, although this is pretty much ‘better’ than what happens under our system. Through our planning system, government intervention and the invisible hand of market forces the UK’s scarce housing resources are inefficiently and inequitably distributed, with millions of people in cramped accommodation while many of our largest properties house just one old person often unable to heat, maintain, and clean them. Not to mention the homeless, families in HMOs and B and Bs, the thousands of mainly empty (second, third, fourth) homes etc.

It really is a system that produces strange results... The current tax system even rewards (encourages) under occupation of our scarce housing resources - council tax single person and second home discounts... And housing is scarce - I think there is forecast to be 3 million addition dwellings needed

going forward.

I am not (so far) suggesting a communist / socialist solution - more highlighting questions...

The way I see it is there are three ways forward, firstly create more housing: The build area of UK is currently only around 10% including gardens and if you upped this to just 10.5% housing would be cheap and plentiful for all and there would be little need for any further gov interventions. (Higher densities would yield way more than 5% increase in dwellings for the 0.5% extra built on surface area)

Secondly share out what we have in a better way (here's the commie bit)

Thirdly do nothing and let the rich live well and let the poor get on with it - this may sound fine to all the richies’ but through out history the poor have got a little uppity from time to time and ruined the richies’ party.

Or I guess there is a fourth option - to do a bit of all three (very little of one - too much NIMBYism and vested interest) with the emphasis on the third and put pull back a bit if it looks like the poor are getting a bit too 'uppity'

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This is just one of the issues with capitalism. The insane levels of govt intervention through the planning system doesnt help either.

I dunno about a solution. Anarchy maybe. Abolish govt, the legal system, property rights and the monetary system. Things might get pretty wild though.

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I posted this thread as I am thinking about it as the basis for a dissertation. I am studying an Estate management degree. I thought it might be interesting to get stats on how many square feet the average person gets to live in, in the UK compared to other countries and then how it breaks down for different age groups etc... Any thoughts / feedback would be welcome.

It has not got many replies so I guess it is not so interesting as a topic...

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(apart from this time as they have pushed it too far for too long, now they cant recover it and have ended up like fanatical waffen SS in the dying days of 1944)

hee hee.

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You are seeing the edges of a very big and fundamental problem with our present system

Because land cannot be created and all production must take place on land, the owners of locations are positioned to receive nearly all productive surpluses in payment for access to what they hold, without themselves actually making a contribution to production. This ability then translates into a high competition to hold this privilege (the land) and high costs for producers

A very good way to understand the problem is by reading Henry George's Progress and Poverty

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A very good way to understand the problem is by reading Henry George's Progress and Poverty

I have studied quite a lot of economics over the years and Henry George is very little taught... about quarter of a page in a folder on intro economics. He and Georgism sounds very interesting and I will try to read his book Progress and Poverty, it is a shame he is not taught more, especially as a quarter of the first two years of the course were economics and the second year was property economics...

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I posted this thread as I am thinking about it as the basis for a dissertation. I am studying an Estate management degree. I thought it might be interesting to get stats on how many square feet the average person gets to live in, in the UK compared to other countries and then how it breaks down for different age groups etc... Any thoughts / feedback would be welcome.

It has not got many replies so I guess it is not so interesting as a topic...

Better take account of social patterns then. People living in extended families (more than two generations in a unit) can have a big house with lots of space for everyone on the same "square footage" as a bunch of singles in sardine-tin studio flats. That's a big difference between us and, for example, Italy.

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I think it would be a great topic for a dissertation! I'd be very interested in reading your findings... Does that make me a HPC geek? Probably...

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Thanks to all those that commented - this topic is still a front runner for my dissertation but time will tell. If I do go for it and unearth anything of particular interest, I will share it on this forum... Many thanks.

PS House builder shares are all up today - I think it is a good time to short them! IMHO these prices will look expensive once the spring is over, especially if as I expect, mortgage interest rates tick up and approval numbers head south....

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