Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Government housing plans have dodged the real issue - Green Belt!

Compared to most other countries the UK has lots of green and pleasant bits you could build houses on and lots of other bits that are neither green nor pleasant but similarly lacking houses.  A great deal of this land without houses on is called "green belt".
In Swindon, for example a big chunk of greenbelt is bog land you can't even walk a dog over.  it certainly isn't suitable for growing crops or any kind of farming.  However, any plans to build on it are met with massive protests.  This position is mirrored country wide. 
The Adam Smith institute estimated 1,400,000 families could be housed if the UK lost 1.5% of the greenbelt. 
Yesterday's white paper was disappointing because the greenbelt issue was dodged.  The one chance for the government to insist that serious amounts of land were made available for new build wasn't taken.
Until we tackle the green belt issue we are never going to have enough houses.

Friday, 3 February 2017

can numbers tell you if someone is racist?

I was looking at some numbers last night (l am always looking at numbers I find them easier than people).  As you might guess I don't like the emotion in politics and like to stick to the numbers - even with all this fake news l trust my skill in making sense from the numbers more.
I came up with some figures on US foreign policy, that I can't make a lot of sense of.
According to the Guardian, (and it isn't very often that l quote the Guardian - I generally stick to the Financial Times), a total of 26,731 bombs were dropped by America on a certain 7 countries in 2016.  This was an increase of 3,000 on the 24,000 bombs dropped by Obama the year before.   (In fact former president Obama is the only Nobel peace prize winner to drop more than 100,000 bombs in a career.)  Taken as a whole president Obama 'achieved' an eye watering level of bombing in 8 years - equivalent to dropping one bomb every 20 minutes every hour of the day for the whole of his presidency.
In the context of what is being said about Trump at the moment l find it odd that President Obama dropped so many bombs killing so many people in Muslim countries and yet no one is calling him a racist when this charge is being levelled at Trump. 
A certain other president just imposes a 60 day TEMPORARY travel restriction on seven counties  Obama bombed extensively, while he reviews US security arrangements and there are people rioting in the streets about Trump's racist behavior and he faces world wide condemnation.  
How exactly does this work? drop bombs on people (Obama), no comment!  Delay their holidays for two months (Trump) - absolutely outrageous attack on human rights and rioting on US streets!  (Personally, to tell the truth l would prefer to have travel restrictions placed on me to being bombed).
I find the security argument for the directive made by Trump plausible because places like Somalia and Yemen refuse to provide information about their citizens to enable proper US security checks.  I note that Pakistan does provide this information.  Hence, Pakistan does not face travel restrictions from the US.  So next time someone says the US travel restrictions are racially driven against Muslims and not to do with security ask them why there is no ban on people coming to the US from Pakistan?
To me anyway, all the rhetoric at the moment sounds like playing to the crowd that does not seem too well thought out.  Perhaps it is the Democrat controlled media in the US trying to undemocratically dethrone a president?
The proof of the pudding as they say is in the eating.  Trump has said he would have never got involved in Syria, Iran or Iraq had he been in charge.  We will have to see how many bombs Trump drops over the next four years and how many people get killed compared to Obama's track record.  The cruel hard numbers will cut through all the emotion.  Then we can decide which of the two has a better track record of reducing global strife.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

lies damm lies and methodological problems

There always used to be two inflation measures RPI and CPI.  Basically RPI is calculated differently, represents more of what inflation really feels like to ordinary people and generally comes out higher. 
It was always the quoted number on TV news and in the papers.  Public sector pensions were based on it and it was generally accepted as reality. 
CPI was a bit more obscure calculated differently and underestimated real inflation.  (I could bore you with the statistical theory because l studied this at University but I'd rather not.  It has to do with the CPI being based on geometric rather than arithmetical means and the difference between Paasche and Lasperes price indices).
At the moment CPI is 1.6% but RPI is 2.5%.  You generally expect around a 1% difference so a world without RPI is one with unions negotiating 1% smaller inflation proofing pay rises and the government paying out 1% less on pension increases.
Although drawing paralells with George Orwell's 1984 is going a bit far I now find that the RPI is no longer an official quoted statistic.  In statistical terms this is a bit like it has been 'rubbed out' in a mafia style hit.  It has been 'withdrawn' due to 'methodological problems'.
If you believed in conspiracies you would say the hatchet job on the RPI is now complete, the real rate of inflation is an inconvenient truth that has been eliminated.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Housing in the UK has been turned on its head - its official!

Last week some data came out that showed in certain parts of the country it was cheaper to pay off a repayment mortgage than rent a house!  This was proof, if any was needed that the housing market has gone completely on its head.
What this demonstrates is we have a broken rental model (too expensive) and a broken housing market (a buyers market for the few who can do so).
Bizarrely, there were moves last year with higher stamp duty on investment properties and tax changes that have made buy to let less attractive.  This might have helped make buying cheaper for non-investors, but at the same time it has stemmed the supply of new lettable properties. Hence higher rental prices.
However, although it might now be cheaper in absolute terms to buy, you have to be loaded to get the borrowing.  Lenders are saving the best rates for people with huge deposits and the lack of 100% mortgages and premium rates for small deposits makes borrowing unavailable to some and unaffordable to many.
The 2016 budget has contributed to and arguably caused this strange situation.
But where is the exit door from this problem?
That is very simple.  it is supply side.  there isn't enough.  Unless the UK addresses a supply side problem that has been around for 100 years we won't get out of this mess.  Irrespective of whether buying is cheaper than renting on the market one thing is irrefutable - whichever way it is housing is too expensive.  And until we have more homes built on a big scale that isn't going to change.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

So what is wrong with a wall across the Mexican border exactly?

I don't get why people, especially in the UK, have a problem with Trump building a wall to protect the US boarder with Mexico, and are making out hence he must be an idiot?  This seems a bit like hypocrisy in the UK  especially because we have only the one land border and it is one of the most fortified tunnels in the world!

The idea that people could breeze their way back and forth through the channel tunnel would be utterly outrageous to most Brits. So why expect the Americans to allow people to wander in and out of the States?  Bearing in mind some of the slurs against Donald I don't understand why wanting to protect your borders makes anyone a racist.  Ask yourself now who are in the wrong , Trump supporters for wanting to make their country secure or the people who call them names?

If you remember the Brits are more paranoid about free movement than the rest of Europe.  We never signed up to free movement of people without the need for passports like the rest of Europe did and now we are leaving the EC because 52% of voters didn't want uncontrolled immigration from the 27 European countries making up the EC. As a nation l think we are the last people with a right to laugh at Trump and be holier than thou because he wants to build a wall.

I have heard Trump talking calmly about the wall.  He says we're going to build a wall to keep America safe.  What is wrong with that?  An easy way for a terrorist to get into the US would be to hop a plane to South America and work their way to Mexico and over the boarder at the moment.

Having said the wall is to keep the US safe he goes onto say in the middle of the wall, metaphorically speaking , there will be a beautiful door,  through the door people will be able to come and go safely and legally if they have a legal right to enter the US.  Again, utterly sensible and by contrast the argument against doing this are utterly stupid.

People laughed at Trump saying the Mexicans will pay for the wall. We have already seen that imports from Mexico will have higher tarrifs as a means of moving jobs back to the US.  So the Mexicans will pay the the wall in as much as it will be paid for by tarrifs on imported goods from Mexico.  Again to me the fools look like the people who did not understand how the financing could work.  

I always maintained as a younger man I would have been happier on a building site than in an office. Who knows perhaps one day l will get a bricklaying job afterall - they certainly will need a lot of them!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Sad end to Obama

President Obsma ended his presidency calling on people to get out and protest, protest what exactly? Democracy?

This to me was an ugly end to an ugly one hundred undignified days.  100!days when the old president is expected to shut up.

It has been a hundred days of democrats protesting the democratic process, backed by a president not doing enough to distance himself from violence and lawlessness.  For someone intent on an undignified crash and. BUrn he really excelled himself.  A self satisfied speech telling everyone what a great job he did.  Isn't that for someone else to do?  If you were a US cop feeling disrespected and unloved by the president,or an unemployed machine worker in the mid west looking forward to the jobs that Trump is already bringing aback to America you may well have Disagreed with him.

when literally doesn't mean literally

The other day they were talking about Donald Trump making things up and they cited a statement he made that "President Obama literally founded ISIS" as being a misstatement.  I wholeheartedly disagree!

This is only a misstatement  if he meant literally , Literally , in a literal sense.  If he meant literally in a metaphorical sense, as just a word that means literally nothing really but is used to emphasize a point he wasn't lieing.  If used in this way then the statement is entirely true.  This is because this use of literally is becoming common usage.  This is appropriate because after all Donald, although an educated man, is communicating with ordinary people not linguistic scholars.

I therefore take the statement to mean that he thought that Obama in his actions caused ISIS to come into being.  Pretty much in the same way historians say that the internment policy may have acted a recruitment  drive for the IRA in the 1970s.  
If you miss this point you literally must be barking up the wrong tree.