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A contrarian take on the “UK housing crisis” that says there isn’t a crisis at all

We need to continue to build more houses.  And it is likely that, with accelerating population growth, the rate of new house-building in the future in the UK will need to be more rapid than it was in the recent past.  But we do not have a housing shortage in England as a whole or in any region of England.  High house prices are not because we have run out of houses.  It’s perfectly understandable, given the data at the time, that people believed that in 2000.  It’s simply refusing to look at the data if people continue to believe that now.

Andrew Lilico.

He is going to annoy a lot of people with this article because it cuts so much against the narrative. And he’s going to make people go nuts because of the battery of data he provides to prove his point. There isn’t enough of this sort of analysis today: methodical, comprehensive, non-hysterical. I was recently watching one of those Sunday lunchtime TV programmes about politics, pitting some leftist lady complaining about a lack of “affordable housing” and all those evil rich foreigners buying the good stuff, and a Conservative London senior councillor – who was actually pretty good compared with many of them – pointing out that foreigners only own about 7 per cent of all London’s housing stock and that they were hardly to blame for any problem. (He is correct). But the overall thrust of the programme was depressing: a total failure to even consider that the planning system in the UK restricts supply, and hence lifts prices, and that a decade or more of central bank money creation has encouraged people to think of their homes as investments rather than the most important consumption item they are ever likely to spend money on. And it is also a sign of how tawdry this election is that we see anti-foreigner sentiment on both ends of the spectrum, with socialists resorting to bashing wealthy foreigners who “dodge taxes” and the Ukippers making our flesh creep about hordes of Romanians.

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51 comments to A contrarian take on the “UK housing crisis” that says there isn’t a crisis at all

  • John Galt III

    Yup, those xenophobic Brits who can’t say boo about foreigners. Yup, they are all racist.

    2 million Muslims or 25 million Muslims. Please welcome them all. They are cultural enriching people who live off the taxpayers. Taxpayers have no rights and should welcome them. I mean why else work? I mean you are not working for you and your loved ones are you? You are working for the state that knows far better how to spend your money than you do. Deal with it Johnathan.

    So, vote Labour or Conservative but don’t ever for vote for those ‘Ukippers’ as you call them. They are racist, white people who hate the cultural enrichers. When Obama is done with screwing up the US, please take him and put him in your new Cabinet as the Housing Minister or whatever you call the position. Should work out well, Johnathan.

  • I think it was Tim Worstall who said that the cost of a housing chitty in the South East of England was about £100,000 a piece as that is on average the difference between a typical plot of land with a housing permit and one without.

    This is all government bureaucracy, almost of the local government variety. From planning regulations, to greenfield regulations to holding developers to ransom over affordable housing and local social buildings (village halls and schools), all of this adds a cost and it is that cost which we see in the difference between land with and without development permission.

    There is another aspect of this, in that people no longer see a house as a building you live in, but rather as the only safe investment (certainly the ups and downs of the stock market don’t inspire confidence). When coupled with banks giving cheap money to anyone with a heartbeat desirous of a mortgage, this inevitably causes house price inflation.

    I would argue that government interference causes most of these problems, both at the local level and at the national level.

    Then again, if there was an unrestricted supply of new housing coming onto the market each year without regulations making them the size of rabbit-hutches, then that would reduce the value of the existing houses wouldn’t it.

    Christ, the Daily Mail would go into meltdown.

    Reminds me of an old Russian babushka just after Yeltsin lifted food price controls and Easter was coming.

    Given the Russian habit of decorating eggs (chicken ones, not chocolate ones) for the holiday demand rose at this time of year and our babushka was complaining that they had made prices rise just when everyone wanted eggs.

    Courtesy of Tim Worstall at Forbes

  • Johnathan Pearce

    John Galtiii you feeling better now? You kind of proved my point for me.

  • I would argue that government interference causes most of these problems, both at the local level and at the national level.

    There’s a cultural element here, too. As you say, Middle England would go into meltdown if house prices dropped, and the government is pretty much doing their bidding by ensuring this will never happen. But having lived abroad a long time (as have you, of course), I find the British approach to housing to border on absurd. For example, it’s not unusual to have the following conversation with a Brit:

    Him: “I want to live in this area of London, but the prices are ridiculous! I looked at a place the other day, but it needed loads of work doing it, the garden was tiny, and they wanted £600k for it!”
    Me: “A house with a garden? Why not buy a flat?”
    Him: “Oh no, I don’t want to live in a flat I want a house, and I want a garden because it’s nice in the summer. Oh yes, I need a garden.”

    So here you have somebody who cannot afford a house with a garden in London refusing to live in a flat because it’s not a house with a garden. Well hey, guess what? I would like to live in a mansion with a terraced garden overlooking Lake Annecy but I couldn’t afford that, so I settled for an apartment with a balcony overlooking the basilique instead. Or I could have bought a mansion with a garden overlooking a copse in the absolute middle of nowhere. Which, of course, is what most Europeans do if they want to live in or near a city: they live in a flat with a balcony, preferably near a park or communal garden. If they want their own garden, they move out into the countryside.

    But no, in Britain people spend eight times their annual pre-tax salary on a substandard house in a London suburb because it comes with a 10ft by 10ft piece of concrete out the back which they call a garden in which they can sit for the 6 days a year when it’s not pissing down. Which is why when you take the train out of London you see property after property with a footprint of which over half – which could be better used for bricks and mortar – is taken up by a scrappy “garden” with a rusting washing line in it. In one of the most densely populated areas in Europe.

    I’m fine with Brits demanding a “garden” – that’s their choice – but this demand, and a refusal to live in an apartment, coupled with wanting to live close to a major city is doing as much as any government policy to ensure they pay through the nose for somewhere to live.

  • 2 million Muslims or 25 million Muslims. Please welcome them all.

    Stop reading Steyn, mate, it rots your brain. He went off the deep end quite some time ago.

  • This is all government bureaucracy, almost of the local government variety. From planning regulations, to greenfield regulations to holding developers to ransom over affordable housing and local social buildings (village halls and schools), all of this adds a cost and it is that cost which we see in the difference between land with and without development permission.

    Quite so. Without planning preventing it, Kent would have been paved over from Croydon to Dover ten years ago and house prices would be half what they are now. This is *entirely* a state manufactured problem.

  • Paul Marks

    There is an property bubble in the United Kingdom, especially in the London area, but it is caused by government (Bank of England) monetary policy.

    As for claims about the “Planning System”.

    The “Planning” laws can indeed make the life of some person trying to (for example) turn a barn into a home a nightmare (a total nightmare) but they do NOT stop housing estates.

    Quite the contrary – government policy is pushing housing estates.

    Both by the artificially low interest rates of the Bank of England – and by direct government subsidies for roads, drainage and so on.

    The idea that masses of new houses would be built if it were not for government intervention is not only wrong (as the government is actually backing the housing estates – not holding them up) it also implies this is a “good thing” (TM).

    It is not a good thing for Northamptonshire and other counties to be destroyed – to be turned into endless housing estates.

    I am reminded of Dr Stephen Davis and his Stalinist “libertarian” demand that X hundred thousand “housing units” should be constructed each year – thus turning Britain (especially England) into an urban nightmare.

    Allow the FREE MARKET to operate – no more artificially low interest rates from the Bank of England, and no more government subsidies for roads and drainage (and so on), and no “adoption” of housing estates by local councils (it is always discovered after such “adoption” that the pavements and everything else is defective – the house building company has built an estate that last just long enough to be “adopted” before it starts to fall apart).

    How many of these new housing estates would be built without all the government interventionism?

    Very few.

    The South East of England is an overcrowded place not really suitable for mass immigration.

    Mass immigration would not be viable here without massive government subsidy (for housing, healthcare, education and so on).

  • JohnK

    As you say Paul.

  • The “Planning” laws can indeed make the life of some person trying to (for example) turn a barn into a home a nightmare (a total nightmare) but they do NOT stop housing estates

    Turning Kent into a vast London suburb has really only been prevented by planning laws preventing paving over all that damn rapeseed all the way to Dover down all the rail corridors 😉

  • John Galt you feeling better now? You kind of proved my point for me.

    Nope – that was classic Tim Worstall stuff. Very interesting bloke.

    By the way John Galt III and myself are different people albeit with a similar nom de guerre.

  • David Crawford

    I will probably get slammed for what I write here but in a way I understand what UKIP supporters are on about when they talk about immigration and what they feel about being “invaded”.

    I live in a city that has been changed as a result of decisions made above city level. One whole part of our city has been turned into a barrio. And in that barrio the never ending war between the Nortenos and Surenos has been stacking up bodies like we’ve never seen. Crips versus Bloods, Vietnamese versus Cambodians, none of those gang wars had a body count like the Mexicans are piling up. I hate that this is happening in the city I grew up in, that I live in, and that I love.

    Yeah bitch, I’m a xenophobe, so sue me.

  • Tomsmith

    Stop reading Steyn, mate, it rots your brain. He went off the deep end quite some time ago.

    Free movement of people only works with very limited government and robust property rights. Otherwise it just becomes a population replacement experiment by the state, exactly what we have in the UK at the present time. Free movement is not ok when the existing population is forced to subsidize the new people, and the state spends extravagant amounts of money on welfare and other things. When the state is not acting in the interests of the already existing people then what is the point of it?

  • Snorri Godhi

    Not sure Lilico’s data prove his point. The most interesting piece of data in it, i believe, is that rents have gone up slower than inflation, while house prices have gone up faster than inflation. In other words the p/e ratio for real estate has gone up: a worrying sign, independently of whether there is a housing shortage or not.

    What i think is wrong with the approach, is that it deals with aggregates, in the old fashioned Soviet style: “housing unit” can mean a mansion or a 1-bedroom flata, and “household” can mean a single highly paid professional or a large working-class family; all this is lost in the analysis. (Not Lilico’s own fault.)

    What struck me as retrograde about British housing, is the fact that young, unmarried professionals find it normal to rent a room in a house (or else buy a house and sublet rooms) as opposed to renting or buying a flat. (The movie Shallow Grave convinced me that this was not just my experience, limited to London and the South East.)

  • Tomsmith

    2 million Muslims or 25 million Muslims. Please welcome them all. They are cultural enriching people who live off the taxpayers. Taxpayers have no rights and should welcome them. I mean why else work? I mean you are not working for you and your loved ones are you? You are working for the state that knows far better how to spend your money than you do.

    The demographic reality of massive population increase in the Middle East and Africa is already hitting Europe and will get much much worse for Europeans very soon. The population, and the politicians they elect to represent them, are incredibly unprepared for this.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    John Galt, I directed that remark at John GaltIII. (It is very annoying that a person uses a Rand character’s name to write such fearmongering drivel about 25 million Muslims, but that’s another issue).

    David Crawford: personally, from what I hear and read, Asians from countries such as Vietnam have integrated well into the US and other places, ditto Cambodians and so on. As for the other stuff about killings and so on, these are law enforcement issues and none of what I said in my original swipe at UKIP and leftwing bashers of rich immigrants detracts from that. More generally, the point here is that if Lilico’s maths is correct, the argument that immigrants are helping to cause a crisis in housing is, on the face of it, rubbish.

  • Free movement of people only works with very limited government and robust property rights. Otherwise it just becomes a population replacement experiment by the state

    So start arguing for limited government and robust property rights, rather than fighting the (unwinnable) battles they want you to fight. It is like people who argue for reforming the NHS or the BBC, which is a fight the other side are delighted to have as it keeps the debate framed exactly where they want it. Anything less than getting rid of them is a waste of fucking time.

  • Lee Moore

    “foreigners only own about 7 per cent of all London’s housing stock and that they were hardly to blame for any problem”

    What proportion of London’s housing stock do foreigners occupy ?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Lee, the numbers if foreign-born occupants (tenants as well as owners) may be higher, but that may be irrelevant to the wider story. After all, a lot of affluent Brits have left the UK, either permanently or on expat deals and rent their UK properties out or sell.

  • Lee Moore

    Yup, JP, the numbers may be higher. It’s possible that some foreign born London council tenants own investment properties, but I suspect few council tenants of any kind do. So pretty much all council tenants are excluded from the calculation. Ditto, for ditto reasons, will be pretty much everyone on housing benefit. So the “only 7% of London’s housing stock is owned by foreigners” stat is somewhere in the spectrum from “non-responsive” to “irrelevant bilge.” Pretty much what you’d expect from a Conservative spokesman (or Labour etc.)

    I don’t dispute for a moment that planning law is the main reason for the high cost of housing in the south east. But in the real world, any politician who said “I’m going to solve this problem by halving the value of the main asset of 70% of the voters who actually have assets” is unlikely to get elected. Sorry.

    Meanwhile. There are lots and lots and lots of foreigners living in houses and flats all over London. They may, on balance, be a good thing, or a bad thing. (My own view is that some of them are a good thing and some of then are a bad thing, but that’s a bit nuanced for political discourse.) But pretending that these foreigners aren’t there, or are numerically insignificant, is just silly. Pretty much what you’d expect from a Conservative spokesman (or Labour etc.)

  • Roue le Jour

    Tim Newman

    I find it quite bizarre that within a stones throw from the center of one of the world’s largest cities there are row after row of crappy terraced houses. We should have pulled them down and built apartment buildings long ago but planning forbids it.

    Also I should say that English people are not accustomed to apartment living. Their only experience of it is council flats, which are awful.

  • Roue le Jour,

    Exactly. I live in a suburb of Paris, and whilst you see individual houses with yards here and there, almost all the housing stock is apartment blocks. These range from crappy Soviet to luxurious, with everything in between. My own block is really nice, a more civilised development you couldn’t ask for. But as you say, Brits assume all apartments are Soviet-style council flats and outright refuse to consider anything than a house, or rather, what passes for a house in the UK. For a young couple sans enfants, an apartment makes far more sense and is cheaper on every measure. Even with kids, most French seem to manage okay in an apartment. I don’t know what the difference is between terraced housing and modern apartment blocks in terms of habitats per acre, but I’m sure city space is better utilised by the latter.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Roue and Tim: i suspect that there is a chicken+egg problem at play: British people don’t want to live in apartments because they associate apartments with Soviet style housing, but most apartment blocks are Soviet style because nicer developments don’t get permission, and they don’t get permission because the government sees little demand for them.
    Once again, though, the government also has a vested interest in preventing house prices falling.

    In the UK and US, there are of course additional factors pushing people to live in “house areas” rather than “apartment areas”: crime, schools, and (in the UK) the NHS.

  • Snorri,

    i suspect that there is a chicken+egg problem at play

    I am sure you are right.

  • bloke in spain

    It’s fairly obvious the UK doesn’t have a housing crisis. Even in London. Where are the people living on the streets? Where’s the shanty towns arising on Hampstead Heath & Primrose Hill? What you have is a shortage of properties for those who aspire to buy properties at a price they would aspire to pay for them. An absence of investment opportunities. Because, you can be certain, the same people wouldn’t be wanting to buy property if they foresaw the values falling.

    @TimN on French housing:

    “Brits assume all apartments are Soviet-style council flats and outright refuse to consider anything than a house, or rather, what passes for a house in the UK. For a young couple sans enfants, an apartment makes far more sense and is cheaper on every measure”

    En Espagne, aussi. I go & visit people in Spain. These aren’t the wealthy, middle classes. These are the working class Miguels & Marias living in reasonable suburbs of Spanish cities. Often a short walk from the center. They live in apartments only the very wealthiest of Londoners can dream of. Proper sized rooms. Often two bathrooms. A balcony or stretch of terrace is the rule, rather than a rare privilege. Anything over 3 stories has a lift. Often multiple lifts. Proper lifts. Not a cupboard on a rope. Most blocks have car parking under. Sometimes two levels of it.
    Sorry, but Brits are barking.

  • Jason

    Sorry Perry, I can’t let that go unremarked. Croydon may be an utter shithole, but it is my utter shithole and it is in Surrey, not Kent.

    That is all.

  • I know where Croydon is Jason, but in an unregulated free market version of England, my point is it would essentially be a ski ramp for the extension of London down a (largely Kentish) Croydon-Dartford-Margate-Folkstone shaped slab of concrete, completely covered in houses, that probably would not stop until about thirty kilometres past Calais once the momentum got going 😀

  • bloke in spain

    “Turning Kent into a vast London suburb has really only been prevented by planning laws preventing paving over all that damn rapeseed all the way to Dover down all the rail corridors”

    Perry. Not saying I’m particularly in favour of the Brit penchant for sprawl. low density, development. See comment above. But have you actually driven around Kent? You could build an entire brand new London in Kent & still have plenty of room left over. Most UK counties, even near to London SEUK counties, are majority farmland. You tend to see a lot of development when you’re on major roads because, amazingly, developers like to build with access to major roads & rail connections. Because that’s what house buyers ask for. I was over in Kent, few weeks ago. Trying for the direct route to Folkestone from Gatwick. The area I got lost in could have had lost tribes for all the signs of civilisation.
    Are you restricting development simply to provide pretty views from A roads?

  • Snorri Godhi

    I beg to disagree with Perry: in a free-housing-market version of England, there would be dense housing in London: no need for millions to commute from outside city limits every day; though no doubt hundreds of thousands would still choose to do so.

    Bloke: since we are comparing notes, the second-worst housing in my personal experience is to be found in Denmark, surprisingly. It is less common than in England to find young professionals sharing a house, but it happens. Also, it is not uncommon to find flats or shared big houses where you have to go all the way down to the basement to take a shower. Once i stayed with a friend in a 5th floor flat, and had to go to the basement to take a shower. I was lucky: there were more floors above the 5th.
    The problem, i was told, is (or was) a limited form of rent control. You can rent through the classified ads, if you can read Danish quickly, otherwise they are gone by the time you finish reading; or you can rent if you know someone who knows someone. Failing those 2 options, you cannot rent via a real estate agent, unless it’s a new development: you have to join a waiting list and wait for more than a decade to get a place to live.

    Italy and the Netherlands are probably similar to France and Spain. In the Netherlands there seems to be more choice than in Italy, though: flats of all sizes, but also row houses, and detached houses if you don’t mind the commute. I know a Dutch professor who used to cycle to work and back a couple of hours a day.
    Also, Italians seem to have a visceral distrust of estate agents, so it’s better to know someone who knows someone, if you want to rent or buy in Italy.

    Soviet housing is not as bad as it looks, once it’s renovated. There are no elevators, no storage rooms on the ground floor (unlike in the Netherlands), and cockroaches might be a problem at the lower levels; but at least you don’t need to go to the basement to take a shower, and usually you can even take a bath in your own flat.
    If you live in pre-Soviet or post-Soviet housing here in Estonia, you might even have a sauna in your own flat, as i do.

  • Mr Ed

    I beg to disagree with Perry: in a free-housing-market version of England, there would be dense housing in London

    Most likely, but take away the government jobs in London, the Bank of England’s fiat money spigot bloating the financial sector and its offshoots, the lobbying and fake charities and the quangos and the host of lawyers feeding off State regulation, even if working round it, the embassies and missions all there for government, and London might look very different to how it does today.

  • But have you actually driven around Kent?

    Oh yes I used to live there! I think the corridor to Dover would be perfect for paving over, basically either side down the rail line. It would also be ideal for the ever increasing number of Frogs too who have jumped the Channel, who might want to work in London but with easy access to nip back across La Manche for a quick fix of home, before scuttling back to where they are a bit less taxed. But yes, it would all go down the A roads and then spread out like a Lyautey style colonial “tache d’huile” over the years, which might even be nice.

  • Rational Plan

    There have been many interesting articles in the Economist on this (don’t all boo at once).

    Politicians are merely respondonding to the wishes of their voters. There is a strong corelation between the percentage of home ownership in an area and the amount of housing built. In others words people who buy in pretty areas want to protect their investment and prevent anyone else moving there as well.

    One of the few sucessful parts of the post war planning regime was the ring of planned new towns that surrounded London. Instead of uncontrolled sprawl the people moving out of the polluted cities and slums were to accomodated in healthful small self contained towns with everyone having their own house and Garden. Reality did not quite work out that way as more people ended up commuting back to London and the effects of decongesting London was widespread inner city decay of the 70’s.

    But the New Towns were vital in making the green belts around British cities not too restrictive. It allowed suburban expansion to occur and let the elite keep their favourite posh commuter towns relatively free of suburban sprawl, especially of the lower class kind.

    But the new towns fell out of favour as the origianl ones began to be filled up. New Towns had required powerful new town boards that ran roughshod over local reidents desires to prevent development. By the 1970’s the political landscape had changed and no one was to fight to plan the next round of New or Expanded towns.

    It is a pity because most of the places that are pro growth in South East England are the former new or expanded towns, they are also still some of the cheapest places to live as they still hav higher rates of house building than traditional towns.

    Now we find ourselves in the situation that land around London or Oxford or Cambridge can increase in value by 200 times when it gains planning permission. back in the 1930’s the value of new suburban housing was often only a little higher than the cost of building the house.

    The problem we have today is everyone says they want new homes for their children but they are all forming action committees to prevent 50 houses being built on the edge of town.

    Everyone says they should not build anything because the roads and trains don’t have enough capacity or that the schools are full. But the reality those things are nearly always built at the same time or after the housing has been built.

    There has been some easing of planning restrictions, but not enough the Green belt needs to halved in size.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Mr Ed: no doubt you are right, and btw you forgot to mention the BBC and the rest of the media; and the museums, and the subsidized orchestras and opera houses and theaters.
    I always felt that it is better to have capital cities like Washington, Bonn, Ottawa, and Brasilia, separate from the main financial, cultural, and population hubs; though that’s just a feeling.
    Of course, London would remain a financial, cultural, and population hub, even if Parliament, the Inns of Court, and the Queen took up residence elsewhere. It would also remain a very exciting place to be.

  • There has been some easing of planning restrictions, but not enough the Green belt needs to halved in size.

    Exactly right.

  • Of course, London would remain a financial, cultural, and population hub, even if Parliament, the Inns of Court, and the Queen took up residence elsewhere. It would also remain a very exciting place to be.

    Agreed, I would love to see London more commercial and less government based.

  • Tomsmith

    So start arguing for limited government and robust property rights, rather than fighting the (unwinnable) battles they want you to fight.

    We are where we are. I think it is obvious that limited government is much less likely starting from here than a UKIP style party winning a large enough proportion of votes that the existing population of this geographical area actually has some of its interests served. Most pressing of which being the replacement of those people with other people from other places who tend to hate them.

  • Tomsmith

    In a way it is like apartheid in South Africa: completely shit looked at from first principles but actually better than the god awful alternative of government tolerated extermination of white people and inevitable economic ruin.

    Yes libertarians tend not to like collective solutions, but if we fail to defend our interests in a collective way, which is the only way available, by refusing to engage, then we will simply cease to exist and the whole question of limited or unlimited states will be moot. The world will simply revert back to the bleak tyranny that always has been, save for the apparently all to brief flame of European civilisation.

  • William O. B'Livion

    I find it quite bizarre that within a stones throw from the center of one of the world’s largest cities there are row after row of crappy terraced houses. We should have pulled them down and built apartment buildings long ago but planning forbids it.

    Bugger that for a game of soldiers.

    Living in an apartment is ok for students and old people on fixed incomes, but there’s barely any room for a reasonably sized gun safe.

    And there’s no garage for the motorcycle and bicycles, and even if you do have an underground garage you can barely get a reasonably sized truck in there (My land cruiser can’t get into any of the downtown garages even here in the US).

    Oh, and if you happen to *gorsh* have more than 2 kids?

    I’d consider an apartment (well, condo) if I had a nice house out up in the mountains, but other than that, no thank you.

  • Mr Ed

    you forgot to mention the BBC and the rest of the media; and the museums, and the subsidized orchestras and opera houses and theaters.

    Snorri, my plan for the BBC, subsidised museums, orchestras etc. is an airshow of sorts.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=R-Mm-zFW_nA#

  • Roue le Jour

    Bugger that for a game of soldiers.

    I feel your pain William, but I think you underestimate how small some of these “houses” are. Take your gun safe requirements, for example. Assuming a fairly normal domestic setup, a couple of M16s, one fully set pod and laser, for household defense and another stripped for general use, a HK416 for close work, a short Mossberg for crowd dispersal and a Desert Eagle .50 for prisoner dispatch, add a few sporting guns and your wife’s Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380, (incidentally, one of these makes a great “surprise!” sock gun) and you might just as well forget the gun safe and fit a steel door to what we limeys call the “box” room. The bikes will have to go in the “front” room, which means you will be watching TV in the kitchen, but there’s nothing that can be done with the land cruiser. It’s longer that the house is wide so kerb parking is out, and anyway it will completely block the narrow alleys we call streets. And we don’t have any mountains so you’ll have to make do with a cottage in Dorset, where there’s very little hunting, unless you count grockles.

  • In a way it is like apartheid in South Africa: completely shit looked at from first principles but actually better than the god awful alternative of government tolerated extermination of white people and inevitable economic ruin.

    Not actually better unless you happen to be white. But please feel free to make the argument why black people in South Africa should have supported the perpetuation of apartheid. This should be fun.

  • And we don’t have any mountains so you’ll have to make do with a cottage in Dorset, where there’s very little hunting, unless you count grockles.

    Oi! Watch it, you! Grockle hunting is a fine and noble sport!

  • Mr Ed

    But please feel free to make the argument why black people in South Africa should have supported the perpetuation of apartheid. This should be fun.

    Indeed, Apartheid did not make life better for blacks, (or ‘Cape coloureds’, shamelessly removed from the Electoral Rolls by the National Party). The fact that Mozambicans might risk the lions of the Kruger National Park to get a chance to work in South Africa is a reflection of how dire Communist Mozambique was, not of how great South Africa was. All Apartheid ‘taught’ anyone was that private property and contracts would not be respected by the State if the ruling types did not like the consequences of private property ownership. I recall hearing an interview with an Indian businessman who said that the only time he felt free was in his car, when he could drive around like anyone else. At least the (state) roads weren’t segregated. (Perhaps even the dullest NP supporter would have seen the idiocy of such a policy).

  • Snorri Godhi

    Roue le Jour:

    I think you underestimate how small some of these “houses” are.

    He also underestimates how big some of those “apartments” can be. I know a surgeon who lives in an apartment in one of the wealthiest parts of Rome. He has 3 children, with a bedroom each (and of course a bedroom for him and his wife). The flat has 3 bathrooms, one of them with a stereo system, for when he has time to lounge in the bath (i don’t think that happens often). The kitchen would be big enough for an American movie. There is a dining/living room, an office which he seems to use mostly for the internet and book storage, a quite comfortable laundry room, and a sort of showroom (salotto) where he keeps his art collection. In addition, there is a balcony all around the flat, where he could let the children loose, when they were younger.
    Parking space? My friend parks his car in a garage a block away from his flat. There is enough space in there for a fleet of buses. He also has parking space on the ground floor, where he keeps his scooter.
    Before you plan to move to Italy, however, keep in mind that my friend inherited the flat, and the art collection.

    Gun safes? aren’t they standard in Switzerland? Besides, flats are less vulnerable to home invasion. Unless they are on the lowest floor, apparently, because i have seen some flats with metal gates at the door+windows (again in Italy). That protects people not only from home invasion, but also from no-knock raids.

  • Lee Moore

    Tomsmith : In a way it is like apartheid in South Africa: completely shit looked at from first principles but actually better than the god awful alternative of government tolerated extermination of white people and inevitable economic ruin.

    Perry : Not actually better unless you happen to be white.

    South Africa is a bit of an outlier, because Nelson Mandela. It’s collapsing into the usual black majority rule hellhole that pretty much everywhere else in Africa collapsed into, immediately on getting independence, but Mandela provided some inertia. Good on him. But turn your eyes north to Zimbabwe. Excluding Mugabe and his top cronies, in what way was Mugabe’s rule better for Zimbabwean black folk than Smith’s ? Which brings us to Perry’s question :

    But please feel free to make the argument why black people in South Africa should have supported the perpetuation of apartheid. This should be fun.

    and its fairly straightforward answer :

    “for fear of something worse.”

    Liberty and democracy are not the same thing. Tsarist Russia was rightly condemned as not at all liberal, and not at all democratic. But it turned out that you could go several orders of magnitude less liberal than the Tsar.

  • Tomsmith

    Not actually better unless you happen to be white. But please feel free to make the argument why black people in South Africa should have supported the perpetuation of apartheid. This should be fun.

    The current trajectory of SA is indeed worse for everyone, black and white, than the apartheid regime. This is because racially based socialism delivers fundamentally worse economic consequences than capitalism with restricted access based on race. Capitalism is a more successful economic system than socialism and generates more wealth. While whites obviously benefited more from this wealth due to the exclusion of blacks from opportunities, blacks still did benefit. Racially based socialism degenerates quickly into the tyranny of a small black elite who exploit the entire country to their own benefit while actively blaming and encouraging the extermination of whites, and providing little or no economic opportunity for blacks.

    Apartheid was also a defensive system, designed to preserve the political power of a white minority but not aimed at the extermination of the black majority. The white minority in South Africa was in a way very similar to the Jews in Israel in terms of its precarious and hated position among an ethnically different majority. Apartheid was a response to this. Not a very clever one in retrospect, but rational in its own way. The racial socialism of the ANC is directly aimed at blaming white people for the ills of the nation and removing them from representation, property ownership and, in the end, exterminating them. This is simply a worse basis for running a country than Apartheid was because it results in poverty and death to a larger extent.

  • Tomsmith, Jews are a majority in Israel – maybe you should try a different example.

  • Lee Moore

    Tomsmith, Jews are a majority in Israel

    But not in Palestine. Depends how you carve up the turf. In fact the white South Africans had a go at turf gerrymandering too – with the Bantustans. There’s no precise parallel for South Africa, because the once dominant whites formed a large but not tiny minority. In most colonial areas, either the Western immigrants overwhelmed the natives with numbers (The Americas, Australia, NZ etc), or were just a scratch on the demographic surface (India, Indochina, Indonesia, pretty much all of Africa.) In the first case, there was virtually nobody left for the colonials to argue with, in the second they just packed up and left. Fiji is an interesting outlier – the immigrants now marginally outnumber the natives, and the natives stage coups from time to time to correct the result of elections. Ah the joys of unrestricted immigration.

    If there’s a parallel between Israel and South Africa it’s that the dominant folk don’t / didn’t feel that they could just get up and leave. Though in fact that’s what a lot of SA whites are doing, and in a while they may all have disappeared.

    Interestingly, despite appearances, South Africa is in fact an example of case one – colonial immigrants dominating the natives by numbers. But unusually there were two overlapping colonial invasions. The natives were San people, and the immigrants were the Bantu from the north and the Boers from the south. The two sets of immigrants met at the Fish River. Before long the more technologically advanced whites began to dominate the more numerous northern immigrants.

  • I don’t carve up the turf, Lee – Tomsmith did, by specifically mentioning Israel. Jews are not a majority in Syria or Jordan either, so I don’t really see your or his point, and don’t see any similarities either. Which is not at all to say that I see all Israeli policies as blameless (ha), but that it is a situation totally different from that of SA. People screaming ‘apartheid’ at Israel don’t seem to know much about either.

  • Lee Moore

    I’m sure a Palestinian activist (of which I am not one) would be mentioning the right of return at this point. Israel was carved out of the Palestine mandate, which had an Arab majority. The carving – partly by the British and partly by war – together with Jewish immigration and Arab emigration, left Israel with a Jewish majority. And Israeli policy is directed very firmly at keeping it that way, for obvious and entirely understandable reasons. The Afrikaaners were groping towards the idea of a white majority homeland towards the end, when time caught up with them.

    There are no exact parallels for SA or Israel. But there is a parallel in the sense that the white S Africans believed that if they let the blacks have equal votes, they, the whites, would find things changing rapidly to their disadvantage. And the Jews believe that if they permit the “right of return” they would be a minority in Israel within a generation, and things would change rapidly to their disadvantage. It’s hard to disagree with either assessment, though it has to be said that things have deteriorated for South African whites far more slowly than I would expect them to deteriorate for the Jews of israel, if and when they become a minority.

  • Tomsmith

    Tomsmith, Jews are a majority in Israel – maybe you should try a different example.

    Were Jews a majority in what is now Israel at the founding date of the Israeli state? Does Israel control immigration so that Jews remain a majority? If so, why?

    And Lee is correct. The black people currently in SA are not the original inhabitants, they are merely different invaders. The natives are all but gone.

    Frankly it is bizarre to argue that average African totalitarianism, which is where SA is headed, is better than apartheid. Is Mugabe’s regime better than Smith’s? No.

    Libertarians tend to have a blind spot here.