Friday, 6 October 2017
Shrink to fit
We have a housing crisis, by all accounts. And that’s not meant as a dismissive phrase; there are too many people here and too few dwellings to accommodate them. We will build more houses, cry politicians of all colours; then quietly forget they ever promised any such thing. Pledges to ease the squeeze all end up forgotten when the knee-jerk response later turns into an ‘ambition’, or an ‘aspiration’. Nothing changes, except the scale of the problem. And yet it is all so simple, at heart.
Too much demand, too little supply. If we can’t build more houses where people want to live, that they can afford to live in – and the evidence of decades seems to be that we can’t – then we need to turn this problem on its head. If we had fewer people we would need fewer houses; it really is that simple. The trouble comes in persuading people that our Ponzi economy is all wrong. We don’t need millions of grunts working at sub-minimum wage, propped up by the few truly productive. We need real jobs with real purpose and none of the bollocks. (You know who I’m looking, you there, in the offence-taking industries.)
Brexit may very well be a start. Maybe we do need to become a bit more prickly towards foreigners; dissuade the low-skilled from coming here, insist on payment for services consumed and repatriate immediately on conviction or unemployment. Britons-first really would have an effect and we should apply it to all areas: jobs, access to benefits, positions of authority, education, etc, etc. We should genuinely consider shrinking the population and actually become a littler Britain; our survival may depend on it.
Ponzi, you say? Yes. Ever increasing expansion of GDP comes at a high price – see today’s productivity figures - because you need ever upwards expansion and ever more public spending, so let’s do the reverse. Let’s actually put our own interests as occupants of an island of finite size at the very forefront of politics. Not individual happiness and fulfilment – that’s your problem to solve – but what works. Small state, a highly educated population, quality work, skilled, trained, productive and competitive. And we should aim to live within our means, as self-sufficiently as possible.
And if that means we have a little less variety, that we have to pay what it actually costs to produce food, that we need to take more individual responsibility for our welfare, well, you can take a commitment to diversity and variety and ‘equality’ too far. And I believe we have. If Britain becomes a much harder place to sponge off we will quickly become less attractive to those who would do so. If foreign investment pulls out then, fair enough; how bad would it be if we really did stand on our own two feet?
Too few houses? Or too many people?
If this means a smidgeon of xenophobia and a tendency to dissuade reproduction by the uneducated, so be it. If this means we regain a reputation as an aloof, unemotional, pragmatic nation of tacit, cold-blooded queue formers, fair enough. If we demand a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, a fair go for the little fella, help only for the genuinely needy and the meagrest of dole for the idle, what is so wrong with that? When you think about it, all we need to do to solve so many of our issues is to become more British about it.