Saturday 26 February 2022

They own land, charge them money

A little history, from Wikipedia

"The 1947 Act (the Town and Country Planning Act), in effect, nationalised the right to develop land. It required all proposals, with a few exceptions, to secure planning permission from the local authority, with provision to appeal against refusal. It introduced a development charge to capture the planning gain which arises when permission to develop land is granted. This was abolished by the 1954 Town and Country Planning Act passed under subsequent Conservative government.

That such development charge should be abolished by a Tory government surprises me not in the least. However it remains a fact that it was an essential part of the architecture of the original act by which the concept of planning permission was introduced and the concepts of building land as distinct from agricultural land were invented.

I think it is time this charge was reintroduced: there is no moral, philosophical or logical reason why the windfall gain caused by a decision of the state should accrue to anyone other than the state. There is an argument that the gain in land values should accrue to the original owner from whom it was taken in 1947, but that would be wholly impractical to implement.

As the system stands, it is an incitement to corruption. The person supplying the necessary permission does not benefit from that supply, neither does their employer, whereas the person to whom the permission is supplied benefits greatly and so has a great incentive to make it worth the while of the person giving the permission.

Nor would there be any negative effects of reintroducing this charge. The landbankers, sorry, developers, would lose a large share of their profits, but otherwise things would go on as normal. The huge boom in housing in the 1930s which gave us the benchmark house for house prices, the three-bed semi, which took place before the Act was passed, shows that development would not be slowed down. If anything, it would be made easier, as councils would be keen to allow development in order to boost their coffers with the charge.

Friday 25 February 2022

Home-Owner-Ism is the British national religion.

Headline from The Daily Telegraph:

Why British house prices will suffer side effects from Russia's invasion of Ukraine

The British property market is already grappling with rapidly rising inflation, successive interest rate rises and the cost of living crisis. There could also be further pressure on British house prices thanks to the conflict in Ukraine and the resulting economic fallout.

Do these people have no sense of perspective? Even if house prices were to fall by 20%, that's only wiped out the last two or three years' worth of gains. Meanwhile, a few thousand miles away, people are being bombed and killed in a pointless invasion by a mad dictatorship.

Tuesday 22 February 2022

Newsthump might be on to something...

From Newsthump (30/12/21):

After being found guilty on five of six counts of child trafficking and procurement, Ghislaine Maxwell faces six months in prison – or life, whichever comes first. Prosecutors said they’d asked for a whole-life tariff, and in pursuit of that result, they’d asked for the security cameras to be turned off.

“The sentence is a good result for both the innocent and other implicated parties,” we were told by a court spokesman, ”Maxwell and Epstein’s victims know that she will receive the full force of the law, and the people in that little black book can be confident she won’t.”

This doesn't seem that unlikely:

From Wikipedia:

On August 10 2019, guards found the American financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein unresponsive in his Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York jail cell, where he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges...

After initially expressing suspicion, Attorney General William Barr described Epstein's death as "a perfect storm of screw-ups". Both the FBI and the Department of Justice's Inspector General are conducting investigations into the circumstances of his death. The guards on duty were later charged with multiple counts of record falsification.

From iNews (19/2/2022):

Jean-Luc Brunel, who allegedly procured women and girls for the convicted sex offender, was in detention awaiting a trial on charges of rape of a minor and sexual harassment.

Prosecutors in Paris confirmed Brunel, 74, was found hanging in his cell in La Santé, in the south of the capital city, in the early hours of Saturday morning. Video cameras in his cell were not running at the time.

See also, The Mirror: (20/2/22)

Jeffrey Epstein's pal, Jean-Luc Brunel was found hanged in his prison cell in near-identical circumstances to the convicted paedophile - now the family of Ghislaine Maxwell say they are shocked this could happen.

Sunday 20 February 2022

Collecting land rent without LVT

There are of course three main ways a government can collect land rent.

1. Just own land and buildings and rent them out. That way there is no need to differentiate between rental value of buildings and of the location. We have that with Crown Estates and Housing Associations (which are QUANGOs and ultimately part of the government) who rent out at or close to market value and council housing, which is supposed to be there for lower income people who can't afford lower market rents.

2. Replace other taxes with Land Value Tax.

3. Lend money to people wanting to buy land and buildings and collect the interest, which is mathematically similar to Land Value Tax. It is largely the private banks that do this, of course, but there is nothing to stop the government doing it.

Somebody asked me about 3. recently, and I did some workings for them. In a perfect world...

a) The goverment, which runs HM Land Registry would simply no longer register private mortgage charges. The same as I can't borrow money secured on my right to vote. That's not for sale. If banks want to make huge unsecured loans to people and just rank along with all other creditors in case of non-payment, there's nothing to stop them, but I doubt they would (see tweaks).

b) The government sets up its own mortgage bank as monopoly mortgage lender, which has easy to access to a bottomless pit of funds i.e. government bond issues.

c) The bank knows what monthly payments people can afford (local rents, mortgage payments for FTBs, there's no right or wrong answer, if it's too high, people won't pay it), and can work backwards from that to choose a suitable combination of income multiples, mortgage term, target house prices and interest rate.

Worked example, at today's prices with private banks: Our average borrowers buy a house for about 7.7 times their income, or £280,000. Knock off ten percent deposit, and prevailing interest of 2%, the monthly repayments would be £938 for 30 years.

The government chooses the following combination:
- Max loan-to-income four or twice joint income,
- Deposit minimum 10%, max 20% (see tweaks),
- Mortgage term 35 years (or however long borrowers have before state retirement age, also up to government to decide),
- Average house prices to level off at about £145,000 (four times income plus 10% deposit),
- The required interest rate, to get monthly repayments of £936 (same as now), would be 8%.

d) The government bank can borrow for about 1%, being backed by the UK government and mortgages which are secured on assets that can only go up in value (in line with wages). So in future, the government bank's profit (monthly repayments IN minus net selling price and interest paid (directly or indirectly) to the vendor OUT) is about £6,000 per year per average home.

e) There's no need to worry about Poor Widows In Mansions, they will have paid off the mortgage and will be left in peace (having pre-paid the land rent before retirement).

f) Once the system is up and running and all houses have been bought and sold, the bank's net profit would be - in theory - £100 billion a year (tricky to calculate, assume two-thirds of homes are subject to mortgages and one-third owned by mortgage-free pensioners).

g) Even if it's only half that, it's a handsome chunk of money, enough to replace Council Tax, SDLT, planning fees and so on with plenty left over.

That is the general idea. It needs some tweaks. Clearly, movers would have to be allowed to 'port' an existing government mortgage and existing equity. Apart from that, there shouldn't be any cash buyers. If you want to buy a house, you just HAVE TO take out a government mortgage for 80% of the purchase price.

When a house is inherited, the government bank would give the executors a deposit with itself for 80% of its value and grant an 80% mortgage under the same terms and conditions as any other buyer. If the heirs want to continue living there, great, they can spend the deposit on subsidising their monthly repayments (effectively cut them by half). Which is Inheritance Tax in all but name, so we can scrap IHT as well.

Friday 18 February 2022

"Check your privilege chart"

From The Daily Mail.

The article is well worth a read, actually. Over the last decade or so, the Mail's journalism has improved (just ignore the Harry & Meghan stuff and the Home-Owner-Ist ranting) while the BBC's has worsened. At this rate, they should cross over soon.

Here's the highlight: They missed at least two very important categories:

a) Where you live. Just about everybody in the UK (democratic, developed) is better off than the downtrodden majority in dictatorships, theocracies or kleptocracies.

b) When you were born. Land speculation aside, things have improved immeasurably in most countries over the last fifty years. Fewer wars, fewer famines, economic development, overall slow drift to democracy, increasing life expectancy etc.

So, while societies are 'a bit racist', a non-white (or disabled, or gay, or whatever) person in the UK today faces much less discrimination than a non-white person here fifty years ago; a non-white person in the UK is probably much better off than most people in the non-white parts of the world, which by population is most of it.
I'm happy to report that I am in the top tier in all but one* of those categories (pure blind luck, as are most things in life, and I am eternally grateful for this), including the missing categories 'where you live' and 'when you were born' (*apart from socio-economic status, but I'm doing OK and nothing to complain about).

I can even tick the 'Protestant' box (albeit agnostic-atheist Protestant), but what the heck are Catholics doing in the same tier? Aren't they the next tier down? Can't we play this stupid game from the point of view of The Top Dogs, and we get to decide who is in the top tiers?

Monday 14 February 2022

They own land, give them money

Now the architects are urging the government to make houses worth more using public money tackle the climate crisis by giving grants to put external wall insulation on all interwar houses. I suspect they will be pushing at an open door.

Of course no-one is looking at what happened when the Welsh Government tried the same thing, leaving houses sodden with condensation and freezing cold, much colder than they were before.

Sunday 13 February 2022

Short list.

This week's list is "Things which are named after a school teacher who the founder [of the thing] hated, just to spite them."

I can think of two, there could be more. Click and highlight to reveal clues: 1970s Southern US rock band and English cut-price pub chain.

Thursday 10 February 2022

Exciting Black Hole news!

Most "Two Black Holes to merge" stories go like this, from

The two black holes dance around each other at the center of the galaxy NGC 7727, located some 89 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Aquarius. Scientists say they have never seen such a pair so close to our planet, but also so close to each other.

The black hole couple, which will merge into one giant black hole 250 million years from now...

That's not exactly a testable prediction, is it?

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across this article on Inverse:

ASTRONOMERS ARE WATCHING THE SKIES, waiting for two cosmic giants to collide. In a galaxy located 1.2 billion light years from Earth, a pair of black holes could potentially be engaged in a gravitational tango, pulling closer to one another until they merge as one supermassive black hole.

This could occur as soon as 100 days, or up to three years from now*

The chaps at LIGO/Virgo have got a lot riding on this. So far they have been marking their own homework, although their output has the ring of truth to me. Equally, they could be pulling a massive scam like all the scientists wasting billions on Dark Matter detectors.

So, let's hope that Huang Nang and Ning Jiyang (who arrived at their conclusion independently of LIGO/Virgo "using data from a survey telescope in California called the Zwicky Transient Facility) are in the right ball park and that the merger can be detected by LIGO/Virgo. That's both parties vindicated and we'll learn something new, or have some existing theory corroborated. Or possibly red faces all round, but we've still learned something.

* Of course, either this event happened - or didn't happen - 1.2 billion years ago, but from our point of view, it hasn't happened yet.

Monday 7 February 2022

"Many people still in the dark over gas boilers, say MPs"

The accompanying picture highlights people's lack of understanding of the concept of what a gas boiler is:

Sunday 6 February 2022

More Climate Change fun

Fairbourne was supposed to be the village that was going to be wiped out by Climate Change in the form of rising sea levels, but now it's bouncing back, as sceptics cash in on property prices depressed by Alarmism.

In 2014 when residents discovered they were to become Britain’s first “climate refugees”, the local property market crashed. House sales fell through, mortgage offers were hurriedly withdrawn and prices slumped 40%. Of those who could afford to take the hit, many left. Those forced to remain, felt “trapped”, said one resident. There were concerns Fairbourne would become a “ghost village”, its homes and amenities left to deteriorate in the absence of habitation and investment.

Added to which, the local authority siezed the opportunity to rid itself of a settlement of incomers from England:

In the years leading up to 2054, homes are to be levelled in the seaside village. Gas pipes and electricity pylons will be dismantled and, to add insult to injury, residents may be asked to contribute thousands of pounds for the privilege of razing their homes. Compensation is not an incentive as this is not being offered to the 420 homeowners forced to abandon Fairbourne when the village is 'decommissioned' in the run-up to 2054.

Unsurprisingly, all the people who were moaning about prices crashing in 2014 are now moaning about prices rising in 2022. When it comes to land prices, you can't please all of the people any of the time.

Saturday 5 February 2022

More on our favourite religion...

The problem with websites like the Daily Sceptic is that they too are trying to get you to share their beliefs, instead of just reporting the facts. It's like arguing with an atheist as opposed to an agnostic. The agnostic isn't trying to get you to believe anything, but the atheist is trying to get you to believe that there is no God.

Yes, it's interesting that Google has gone all Spanish Inquisition on Dr Roy Spencer for publishing this graph:
and the graph itself is interesting, showing evidence that there has been no warming for the last seven years, but the facts should be allowed to speak for themselves, without the tone of the rest of the article which is the same "bad men are out to rip you off" of the Alarmists, just with different bad men.

In any case, the Alarmists know that warming has stopped, that's why Anthropogenic Global Warming has been rebranded as Climate Change and we are no longer talking about extreme temperatures and are now talking about extreme weather events.

Thursday 3 February 2022

A small number x a big number x a random positive number = a very big number.

From The Guardian:

Extreme weather has cost Europe about €500bn over 40 years

European pop. is about 500 million, so that's €25 per person per year i.e. bugger all.

European Environment Agency data shows worst-hit countries to be Germany, France and Italy

No surprises there. France and Germany are two of the largest countries by land area, Italy is also pretty big.

Towards the end of the article:

[The UK's] losses were calculated at about €57bn over the period, equivalent to close to €1,000 per person, with 3,500 deaths.

That would have been a better headline. £25 per person per year and 175 deaths per year.

That's only a tenth as many as UK road deaths. UK road deaths are very low by European standards and less than half a percent of total UK deaths. The article says that most European 'extreme weather' deaths are from heat stroke, so not unexpectedly the UK has few of those.