Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Solving the housing crisis

We have, so we are told, an enormous shortage of housing. This is pushing up prices causing young families difficulty in finding affordable homes near their work, putting pressure on our valuable green belt space, costing us a fortune in housing benefits for expensive housing, and is generally a very bad thing.

Yet over in Spain they have the opposite problem. During the boom they built enormous numbers of flats and even complete developments, many of which are in prime locations with great weather and facilities such as swimming pools, golf courses, shops and the like all ready to go but they are practically deserted and some unfinished because nobody has any money to buy them. They can be bought for next to nothing. There is even a complete brand new and unused international airport that nobody wants. This is a very bad thing for Spain.

So why cant the two problems be solved together? We have thousands of non-productive families clogging up our towns and cities and making no direct contribution to the economy and many draining our wealth in benefits, which of course are high because we have a high cost of living in the UK, high fuel needs and high housing costs while they have thousands of cheap properties.

Maybe our government could buy some of the developments and then offer the flats and villas free to any family who promised to make it their full time address for at least 10 years, after which time they would own the flat, but during which time they would have no rights to UK housing or any other benefits beyond perhaps a basic citizens pension paid to the head of the family unless they were already pensioners. Of course there would be some details to sort like English speaking schools and health cover but even once they were sorted the UK taxpayer would be quids in on the deal for every family who took the offer up.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Enriching the Rich

We are told by the Guardian that the richest 5% of people benefit most from Quantitative Easing 

Why am I not surprised? I have always believed that QE was a way of diluting the assets of the ordinary people and giving the fruits of that dilution to the banks and corporations. Just as every other stimulus they dream up like boosting house building or green energy or HS2 simply gives money to their friends in industry and commerce in the hope that a minute proportion will reach the man in the street by providing a few extra jobs.

If the Bank of England or the government really wanted to jolt the economy with a boost they would do it the other way round and feed the money into Englands small businesses, shops and tradespeople in such a way that it was spent, not hidden in banks. That could be done by a VAT holiday, or a fuel duty cut, or any number of tax concessions, but I have an alternative idea.

Every household, after payment of their council tax, should receive vouchers worth some hundreds of pounds. Lets say £500 worth, which adds up to considerably less than the quantitative easing that has been given to the banks. The vouchers could not be saved or paid directly into the bank, but must be used within 12 months to purchase goods or services from a  business in the county of issue, and only a registered business in that county would be able to pay the voucher into their business bank account. While some people would spend the vouchers and save other money and some of it would go on import goods basically every penny of the QE would feed into the real everyday economy at local level where it benefits local business.  

If I can think up something as simple as that why are they thinking of giving the banks more money to sit on?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Non-motorway Madness

Just returned from a weekend jaunt in the camper and one of the first blogs I read on my return was from the Filthy Engineer  complaining about Sunday drivers.

It really does make you wonder where some of these muppets come from. The upper reaches of the M6 on a Sunday afternoon and they wander along in the middle lane at a speed varying between 55 and 65 mph while the impatient queue of people behind them grapple with the dilemma of whether to try and push into the crowded outside lane or illegally undertake on the empty inner lane. I sometimes wonder whether there is a whole sub-category of middle aged women drivers whos concept of the mirror centres round nothing other than applying makeup, then when on the move their attention, vision and waving hands are completely occupied by the conversation they are having with their passenger. I also suspect there might be sections in the Polish constitution and also in the Koran that prohibit the use of mirrors as those races seem to make up a lot of the other mid-laners.  Or maybe its just an urban driver thing that causes a mental blank when they find themselves on a fast 3 lane road without turnoff direction arrows or traffic signs every 10 meters?

We must be one of the few countries in the world that has a complicated driving test, with written test and everything, yet one that expressly forbids any training or assessment on the fastest and most crowded roads in the country.

Anyhow, on Sunday I saw an even better manoeuvre just off the motorway. Crawling along in a queue on a fast busy single carriageway A road we assumed a tractor or something was up ahead, but as everything slowed further we could see no obvious cause. Then the lead carsignalled right, pulled to the central white line and stopped. Odd we thought as there was no junction. Then nothing happened for a few minutes and a couple of 4 wheel drives went around the obstruction using the grass verge and we could watch the scenario. The car driver, leaving his car running, door open and indicators flashing got out of the car. He carefully crossed the flow of oncoming traffic, fought with a padlock and opened a field gate, carefully crossed back to his car, conscientiously fitted his seat belt, and slowly turned right into the field.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

The sickening obscenity of green policies

We are told that because of the mid-west drought the US corn crop is set to be the worst for 6 years. Actually quite an achievement of farming efficiency considering the droughts are the worst since the 1930s, but even so this will create a world food shortage that will Impact upon everyone in the world. 

For those of us lucky enough to live in the west we will suffer significantly higher food prices. For those unlucky enough to live in poorer countries who cant afford to compete with western buying power it will mean starvation and malnutrition. 

The situation could easily be alleviated; all it requires is for the USA to remove the mandate to dilute ordinary petrol with 9% of crop based renewableethanol. This policy means that 40% of the American corn crop, all perfectly good food and desperately needed to feed people, will be used this year to fuel transport. And this in a world where there is a relative glut of ordinary petrol that works better in cars anyhow.

For once even the UN is on the side of common sense and is asking the Americans to remove the renewable fuel quota. But most reports suggest that they will not do so.

Personally (and even if I believed in the CO2 nonsense) I find it morally indefensible and grossly obscene for a government to prioritise a microscopic CO2 reduction over the prevention of hardship, starvation and malnutrition for potentially millions of people.  

This sort of grotesque mindlessness and criminal obliviousness to the consequences of their policies is what makes me really angry about the green religion.

Friday, 3 August 2012

As close to the Olympics as I want to be.

What a shame Frank Turner didn't play this at the opening ceremony.

Once an honest man could go from sunrise to its set
Without encountering agents of his state or government
But a sorry cloud of tyranny has fallen across the land
Brought on by the hollow men who did not understand

That for centuries our forefathers have fought and often died
To keep themselves unto themselves, to fight the rising tide
That if in the smallest battles we surrender to the state
We enter in a darkness whence we never shall escape

When they raise their hands up our lives to possess
To know our souls, to drag us down, we'll resist

Watt Tyler led the people in 1381
To meet the king at Smithfield to issue this demand
That Winchester's should be the only law across the land
The law of old King Alfred's time of free and honest men

 'Cause the people then they understood what we have since forgot
 That the government will only work for their own benefit
And I'd rather stand up naked against the elements alone
Than give the hollow men the right to enter in my home

When they raise their hands up our lives to possess
To know our souls, to drag us down, we'll resist

Stand up, sons of liberty, and fight for what you own
Stand up, sons of liberty, and fight, fight for your homes
Stand up, sons of liberty, and fight for what you own
Stand up, sons of liberty, and fight, fight for your homes

 Stand up sons of liberty, and fight for what you own 
Stand up sons of liberty, and fight, fight for your homes
Stand up sons of liberty, and fight for what you own
Stand up sons of liberty, and fight, fight for your homes

So if ever a man should ask you for your business or your name
Tell him to go and fuck himself, tell his friends to do the same
'Cause a man who'd trade his liberty for a safe and dreamless sleep
Doesn't deserve the both of them and neither shall he keep