Category Archives: Uncategorized

The racket in housing

A note for LBC radio’s James O’Brien

Council house building stopped by Thatcher

On LBC radio this morning, James O’Brien discussed the housing crisis. He had a “penny drop” moment:

In 1971, Maggie Thatcher banned councils from borrowing to build houses. This has meant that private landlords have taken over much of the rental market and are making a killing through rents, many of which are paid through housing benefit. Private landlords are being paid increasing amounts from government expenditure

Subsequent governments haven’t changed the restrictions on councils – even the Labour governments of Blair and Brown.

Rents rise as house prices rise

Continue reading The racket in housing

Cancelling the New York Times, because truth is now more important than ever

Open Mind

To the executive editor

The New York Times

27 April 2017, via email

Dear editor,

I am a climate researcher, professor for physics of the oceans and have worked for eight years as advisor to the German government on global change issues. I regret to have to tell you that hereby I cancel my subscription to the New York Times in the wake of you hiring columnist Bret Stephens. Let me explain my reasons.

When Stephens was hired I wrote to you in protest about his spreading of untruths about climate change, saying “I enjoy reading different opinions from my own, but this is not a matter of different opinions.” I did not cancel then but decided to wait and see. However, the subsequent public defense by the New York Times of the hiring of Stephens has convinced me that the problem at the Times goes much deeper than a…

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Let’s think of a plan for Labour to split

It’s time to work out organisation and electoral algorithms to make an electoral pact work if the Labour Party splits.

I’ve been a Labour Party member since 1964. Never liked “the Party” much but have liked many fellow members. I still pay my dues because the alternatives are worse.

What abut a split?

Then both sides won’t be so dogged by the sins of the past. Like …

  • Blair’s academy schools

  • Browns PFI’s

  • Milliband’s failure to oppose Universal Credit that is impoverishing section of the poor. (Labour Party Lord: ” They knew. As useful as chocolate teapots”)

  • Limp action on climate change. (Blair sacked Michael Meacher remember.)

Apart from ‘that war’ the Labour Party’s record is still the best and that leads many party members to want the Corbynites to hand over to the old Blairites – without Blair of course – in order to regain power and relieve so some of the pressure on the poor and the environment. Continue reading Let’s think of a plan for Labour to split

The Baby Boomers housing bonanza

The Baby Boomers housing bonanza

Baby boomers cash in
Baby boomers cash in

House price inflation has loaded enormous costs on the poor and the young and has been a bonanza for the affluent and the old. This realisation has had increasing coverage in the posh media. The coverage has greater emphasis on intergenerational effects rather than the effects on rich and poor because even the affluent classes are worried about housing for their children, who don’t want their children to rely on their parents.

In order to get some idea of the different effects of the housing market on the affluent and the poor, I downloaded, house price data from the Land Registry for the years 2000 and 2010. I then looked at the changes in house prices for the most affluent areas compared to the least affluent areas. (I used the P2 People and Places Demographic Classification for this exercise).

Adjusting for inflation between 2000 and 2010, I found that property of the most affluent areas increased by just over eight times the average income in 2010. Property prices in the least affluent are rose by a factor of two. However, according to the 2011 census, only 20% of households in the least affluent areas own their homes. In the most affluent areas this rises to 90%.

Summary: House price inflation has given most households in the most affluent areas large increases in their net wealth, at the same time most households in the least affluent areas will have paid increased rents.

from Brussels Blog: Will the government restart plotlands?

Labour’s Industrial Strategy. A wrong place to start.

To the Labour Party’s Policy Commission on Economy, Business and Trade who asks “How do we create the high-skill, high-wage, secure jobs of the future?”.

My submission : “Don’t try. That’s the wrong place to start. Before a living strategy we should have a strategy about how we should live.”

There are three limits to higher wages

1. The AI Revolution and machine learning
2. Competition from workers on the other side of the world
3. Climate change and limits to growth

We must create a vision of a society able which can show the world how to live in a way that does not ruin our world and share wealth fairly. The evidence points to a way of living that does not use much steel, glass, concrete, planes or cars, with lower waged, less-productive jobs, supplemented by a basic income.

The macroeconomic lever to achieve this could be a very high carbon tax (e.g £1,000 per tonne CO2e) using the proceeds for a universal income. Industrial strategy should consider how to shut down the redundant industries in an orderly fashion.

Lifestyle planning strategy should be to design ways of living on the local neighbourhood scale which are truly sustainable. (In the UK we have nothing close.)

See

http://www.brusselsblog.co.uk/jobs-and-climate-change/
http://www.brusselsblog.co.uk/three-failed-eco-towns/

From The TED Talk, “The wonderful and terrifying implications of computers that can learn”, by Jeremy Howard. Note: “What doesn’t work – better education, more incentives”

whatworks

Which Satellite Data?

“among the satellite data sets, there’s one which shows far less warming: UAH TMT. [The deniers] make a habit of showing the one satellite data set which shows the least warming and correlates least with balloon data.”

Open Mind

There are five data sets of global average temperature in the troposphere (the part of the atmosphere where our weather occurs) based on satellite data, from the two main providers, RSS (Remote Sensing Systems) and UAH (University of Alabama at Huntsville). UAH provides two of them: TLT (temperature in the lower troposphere) and TMT (temperature in the mid-troposphere); while RSS provides three: TLT, TMT, and TTT (temperature in the total troposphere). They’re all different, and each has gone through a number of revisions since the satellites began collecting data in 1979.

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