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Patrick Schumacher on solving the housing crisis

Incoming, from a libertarian friend whose views I always pay attention to:

Have you seen article about Patrick Schumacher of Zaha Hadid on Dezeen? Uncompromising libertarian attitude to solving housing crisis. Worth linking to …

Yes I have seen it, but have not yet read it (or watched it). I was definitely already going to attend to this, and now I definitely will. But, no need for me to do that before mentioning it here. Read and watch here.

Earlier Samizdata Patrick Schumacher posting here.

Schumacher will also be speaking, at this Adam Smith Institute event in early December, about “Governing private cities”. I already have my ticket.

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34 comments to Patrick Schumacher on solving the housing crisis

  • Paul Marks

    Property prices are high because of the Bank of England Credit Bubble.

    However, rents are also pushed up by “Housing Benefit” (now tens of billions of Pounds of it) – the process by which government subsidies push up prices was understood centuries ago (even by David Ricardo, who got so much else wrong, understood it) – but now people just scream “you want to fling the poor on the street” if one tries to explain the process by which Housing Benefit pushes up rents.

    Sadly most people just talk about “planning law” (as a way of avoiding the Bank of England and Housing Benefit) – I served on a “Planning Committee” for years, they have no real power to reject big housing estates (if they do it simply goes to appeal – and the government inspectors always find for the developer), indeed housing estates are SUBSIDISED by government – the long term drainage, and long term roads and so on (especially after everything is “adopted”).

    Still no such problems in Private Cities.

    The money would be gold (physical gold) or silver (physical silver) or some other commodity – so no Credit Bubble property prices.

    And no government benefits or “infrastructure spending”.

    Who knows, perhaps some young people reading this will live to see private cities.

  • Chester Draws

    Physical money means no credit bubbles? So people never lent money before fiat currency? That’s news to me.

    I’m pretty sure early economic bubbles occurred — South Seas, tulips etc.

    Bubbles don’t occur because of credit. They occur when people get enthusiastic and pay more than things are worth once the enthusiasm fades.

  • Alisa

    Paul, your comment has little to do with the subject discussed in the video.

  • Alisa:

    Paul doesn’t care; he just wants to make his talking points in his usual abstruse prolixity.

  • Read and watch here.

    I only see the opportunity to watch it.

    I for one dislike the increasing tendency away from writing and putting all of one’s commentary in online videos. I find it a heck of a lot quicker to read, and less bandwidth-wasting. (Not everybody has unlimited bandwidth.)

    And don’t get me on gifs substituting for video, especially the ones that are captioned with the words the person is mouthing.

  • Alisa

    Ted, I’d rather let Paul speak for himself, unless he’s paying you to be his speaker (something I find extremely unlikely).

    As it happens, I also prefer reading to listening, but some people prefer the opposite, so it is probably a good idea to have a mixture of both.

  • Alisa

    Anyway, having watched a good part of the video in question, it is well worth it, if you can get past the heavy German accent 🙂

  • Ran Haim

    I have watched the whole thing.
    He has pointed out every single point of failure in housing, and also other parts of the economy.
    The “beautiful” thing is that left arguments and all the goverment failures he talks about are relevant to so many other states too.

  • RRS

    As a long -term beneficiary of the PMO commentary, I am surprised that the extensions offered to the subject remarks (if you go back over them with care and not predisposition) are not seen and understood.

    On the matter of “private Cities,” one can refer to the studies of those in India by Alex Tabarrok (at Marginal Revolution c/ Tyler Cowen).

    “Abstruse” can be a matter of the capacity of the auditor.

  • Dougas2

    Ted: I kept looking way down the page, and the link:

    https://www.dezeen.com/2016/11/18/patrik-schumacher-social-housing-public-space-scrapped-london-world-architecture-festival-2016/

    seems to fit the description “Uncompromising libertarian attitude to solving housing crisis.”

  • Indeed, Schumacher is the real deal, a pukka practical free marketeer.

  • Alisa

    There are lots of comments in that link Dougas2 posted that are bordering on the abusive IMO. Schumacher does an admirable job at addressing them in a rational and polite manner.

  • Paul Marks

    Chester Draws – read my comment again.

    I said commodity – not a “standard” allowing (indeed pushing) credit expansion.

    Alisa – my response was to the post “solving the housing crises”. To “solve” a problem it is normally useful to know what caused it, that is what I tried to explain.

  • APL

    BM: “Uncompromising libertarian attitude to solving housing crisis.”

    There is no ‘housing crisis’, there is an immigration crisis. Without the inrush of immigrants and with birth control and abortion. our population – that is British peoples population would be trending back toward it’s level in the ’50s – and, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with that.

  • There is no ‘housing crisis’, there is an immigration crisis

    Nope. There is not enough housing because planning regulations make it hard to build new houses. Without the state getting in the way, Kent would have been paved over all the way from Croydon to Dover decades ago and the cost of new middle to low income housing in the South-West would be far lower than it is today.

  • APL

    PdH: “There is not enough housing because planning regulations make it hard to build new houses.”

    Nope. Liverpool for example, had a scheme not too long ago, where you could buy an empty, admittedly run down house for £1. There is plenty of housing stock, just not where many new people want to live. Given that a significant proportion of immigrants move straight onto the welfare roll it hardly matters where the government accommodates them, does it?

    If there is a distortion in the housing market, it’s introduced by the government housing subsidy which entices immigrants to London.

    Meanwhile the population of the UK has risen from 51m to 65m in sixty years. And is projected to reach 75m by 2050.

    Now, you can stick your fingers in your ears and pretend that an increasing population has no impact on the amount of housing available, that’s up to you.

  • Bod

    In a fair and just world, Croydon would have been leveled and the land sown with salt years ago.
    Covered with asphalt.
    And then sown with salt again, just in case.

    But more seriously, planning regulations have the effect of ‘nudging’ developers to develop certain types of buildings in *certain locations*, and just because demand for housing in Toxteth is so low that it has to be given away, doesn’t invalidate the observation.

    Naturally, we *could* advocate forcibly relocating all the people in need of more affordable housing into economic wastelands, but we tried that in the 60’s and it didn’t work out so well, even if you assume it’s morally defensible to do so. I don’t see much benefit in repeating a failed, socially disastrous plan that siloed lower-income workers in specially built ghettoes.

  • Bod

    Whoops. Missed the edit deadline.

    Coda.

    Sure, of course immigration is having an effect on housing supply, but unless you really do expect all immigrants to live wherever the hell they are TOLD to live, you have to expect that they too might like to exercise some choice in where they live, in which case, it would be prudent to ensure a reasonable supply of housing in ALL the locations that they might want to live, without some bureaucratic apparatchik deciding where the next five-year-plan’s housing will be.

    I’d like to note that even if immigration to the UK was stopped *tomorrow*, there’s a reasonable chance that the population of Britain would continue to grow for at least a few more generations (mostly due to family size and – erm – fecundity – of the recent immigrants to the UK). This is likely to cause many social problems that will prove to be difficult to solve, but increasing housing to accommodate said population growth does not need to be one of them.

  • Liverpool for example, had a scheme not too long ago, where you could buy an empty, admittedly run down house for £1. There is plenty of housing stock, just not where many new people want to live. Given that a significant proportion of immigrants move straight onto the welfare roll it hardly matters where the government accommodates them, does it?

    You may have noticed that I gave London’s hinterland as my example, not Liverpool, because there is more of a market for housing around London, than Liverpool. You know what markets are, yes? And the reason that market has not been satisfied is state interference. So who fucking cares if they cannot give away housing in Liverpool? There are more jobs in London, so people want to live in or near London. Kent would be perfect for that but for some reason (take a guess) that was not allowed to happen. Britain does not have a problem with population density (just compare the Netherlands for example).

    Given that a significant proportion of immigrants move straight onto the welfare roll it hardly matters where the government accommodates them, does it?

    Firstly it very much depends where they are from, and secondly the problem there is welfare by your own admission. I oppose welfare for everyone. Try to look past your obsessions as you undermine your own ‘argument’.

  • APL

    PdH: “And the reason that market has not been satisfied is state interference.”

    That’s simply not true. The free market has jumped into the breach and made provision for hundreds of thousands of immigrants living in London, they live in clandestine extensions, out-houses, Gazibo’s, Garden Sheds their landlords back garden or attic space. There are huge swathes of suburban London that accommodates any number of immigrants. To that extent, yes the free market is doing it’s thing.

    The question is, why do you want to build ‘the jungle’ in London? How does that improve the lot of you average indigenous citizen?

    Two answers, we don’t need to, and it doesn’t.

    Third question, one reason for planning permission, is to allow the government, local authority to make provision for services such as, clean running water, sewerage, electricity, roads, public transport,( the underground since you have such a fetish about London ), but with unfettered immigration, all these underlying services are either under very significant strain or simply inadequate.

    If you project your population to grow by five million in twenty years, you can put together some reasonably sane infrastructure; reservoirs, additional sewage processing plants etc, to cope with the extra demand, if however you population actually grows by ten million, that throws all your planning and projections into disarray.

    Fourthly: I ain’t gonna weep if an immigrant wants to live in London, but gets shunted off to Liverpool instead. Boo Hoo! He/she is damn lucky to be allowed into my country in the first place.

    Finally: “is welfare by your own admission.” Sure, so we don’t bring in any more until we’ve sorted out our existing issues. Personally, since we seem to be wedded to Welfare, I’d like to see immigrants have to show five, possibly ten years of net tax and NI contribution before either them or their dependents are eligible to claim welfare. [edit – including health care ].

  • That’s simply not true. The free market has jumped into the breach and made provision for hundreds of thousands of immigrants living in London, they live in clandestine extensions, out-houses, Gazibo’s, Garden Sheds their landlords back garden or attic space. There are huge swathes of suburban London that accommodates any number of immigrants. To that extent, yes the free market is doing it’s thing.

    What you are describing is the market trying to route around the state’s restrictions, which is a very long way from a “free market”.

    The question is, why do you want to build ‘the jungle’ in London? How does that improve the lot of you average indigenous citizen?

    See above. ‘The Jungle’ was not the product of any ‘free’ market. And speaking as someone who has had Polish builders doing most of my building works over the years, I have no problem seeing their presence as a Very Good Thing Indeed.

    Third question, one reason for planning permission, is to allow the government, local authority to make provision for services such as, clean running water, sewerage, electricity, roads, public transport…

    There are plenty of ways to do that, with some interesting examples of private sector development in Indian for example, but frankly if all the state did was build water supply, sewers and roads & get out of the housing business entirely, it would be a massive net benefit not just to the economy but society as well.

    Fourthly: I ain’t gonna weep if an immigrant wants to live in London, but gets shunted off to Liverpool instead. Boo Hoo! He/she is damn lucky to be allowed into my country in the first place.

    We do not live in a centrally planed state with internal passports fortunately, so the state should not be deciding where people live nor giving them a place to live.

  • APL

    PdH: “so the state should not be deciding where people live nor giving them a place to live.”

    But you would have had the whole of Kent paved from Croyden to Dover in order to find accommodation for your immigrant chums, who in actual fact we don’t need.

    All we need is for our indigenous education system to turn out people that are educated, capable of being employed and to the extent that the state system has clearly failed to do that, I’d have some sympathy with abolishing the whole shooting match tomorrow.

    And fine, if you want to employ Polish plumbers, but your plumbing bill should include a surcharge for all the facilities that the Polish plumber uses, Roads, street lighting, storm drains, electricity generation, shops, etc, all those sunk costs we have been paying for all our working lives but this guy just swans in and takes advantage of to undercut local tradesmen and cut your costs.

  • But you would have had the whole of Kent paved from Croyden to Dover in order to find accommodation for your immigrant chums, who in actual fact we don’t need.

    Who is “we”? And yes, paved over by the private sector.

    all those sunk costs we have been paying for all our working lives but this guy just swans in and takes advantage of to undercut local tradesmen and cut your costs.

    Preposterous. The alternative is not between me (or whoever) paying English workmen or Polish workmen for construction work, but rather paying for less or more construction work in total, because when you force up prices by restricting the labour market, you shrink the economy overall. I do not give a damn who does the work, I am only concerned what it costs relative to my budget. So I would not have paid anyone to do that work if I had been forced to use overpriced and uncompetitive all-British firms. Moreover, there is no reason for most utility monopolies and seeing as you mentioned ‘shops’, did you really pay for them? Having an Obama moment, are you?

  • APL

    PdH: “because when you force up prices by restricting the labour market,”

    You’re not forcing up prices by restricting the labour market, you are forcing down prices by use of cheap labor which undercuts labor already here. If your Polish plumber was exposed to the true value of commuting to the UK carrying out his work and going home again, the cost of all the sunk cost the British builder is exposed to, then passed those hidden cost on to you his customer, you wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole.

    PdH: “as you mentioned ‘shops’, did you really pay for them?” The shop is here because sufficient of the population provide custom, giving the shop or the proprietor a sufficient profit margin to stay in business. So yes.

    PdH: “Having an Obama moment, are you?” I have no idea what you are talking about here.

  • How very communitarian of you.

    You’re not forcing up prices by restricting the labour market, you are forcing down prices by use of cheap labor which undercuts labor already here.

    I am in favour of markets rather than state edicts setting the price of labour. So of course you favour forcing up prices, by using the state to keep out people who want to work and provide goods and services at prices people actually want to pay. You want less economic activity, less building, fewer services, smaller markets, all because you are scared of Poles apparently.

    PdH: “Having an Obama moment, are you?” I have no idea what you are talking about here.

    You didn’t build that,” quoth Obama, referring to business owners in general. You apparently think you built the shops other people invested their labour and capital in via some magic collective sense of ownership. But at least you are consistently volkish, it must be said.

  • Laird

    Quite a remarkable display of economic ignorance by APL. Conflating black markets with free markets is priceless!

  • Mr Ed

    APL’a point seems to me that he is highlighting the fact that in a statist system with public goods, some (the locals) face costs and disadvantages that others from outside do not fully bear or endure.

  • APL

    PdH: “I am in favour of markets rather than state edicts setting the price of labour.”

    In an ideal world so too am I. But, what you refuse to acknowledge is that we are not living in an ideal world, and twattering among yourselves doesn’t appear to have moved the real world one micron closer to the ideal in the ten or so years I’ve been reading and occasionally commenting here.

    Mr Ed: “some (the locals) face costs and disadvantages that others from outside do not fully bear or endure.”

    That’ll do as a summary. Perry boasting about how he maintains a policy disadvantaging British workers, for work carried out in Britain, because the British worker suffers market obstacles for working in Britain, strikes me as being a twattish attitude. But that’s fine too.

    PdH: “quoth Obama, referring to business owners in general.”

    I’ll give that the consideration it merits, ah, No.

  • APL

    Laird: “Conflating black markets with free markets is priceless!”

    I’m discussing the real world. You appear to be discussing fantasy world.

    Just as an aside, what is a ‘black market’, one not approved by the state? Are you really making calls on State action to support your position?

  • Let me fix that for you:

    APL boasting about how he maintains a policy disadvantaging British consumers, for work carried out in Britain, because the British consumers suffers state imposed market obstacles for purchasing in Britain, strikes me as being a twattish attitude. But that’s fine too.

    You share the common twattish fascist & socialist world view that “workers” somehow outrank consumers (as if workers are not themselves consumers), and far from dealing with the “real world”, your views reflect a nativist fantasy rather than the economic reality that you want to make the nation you allegedly think so highly of even more tightly controlled by the state.

    I’ll give that the consideration it merits, ah, No.

    Really? Actually you are a text book example of the collectivist attitudes Obama displays, and by your own words, given the examples you quoted, make it clear you subscribe to the Blairite “stakeholder” notion as well. So other than your indecorous Brown Shirt sensibilities, you are very much a fellow traveller with such folk 😆

  • APL

    PdH: “You share the common twattish fascist & socialist world view that “workers” somehow outrank consumers”

    Uh, No!

    Just one other thing.

    PdH: “all because you are scared of Poles apparently.”

    Ah! the usual, just one half step away from the, ‘you’re a racist’, slur.

    But as it happens, I rather like Poles particularly their women, you can import a good few more of them if you like.

  • Alisa

    But as it happens, I rather like Poles particularly their women, you can import a good few more of them if you like.

    But..but…but if you let them in, they will use your street lighting and your shops – and next thing you know, they will breath your air! Don’t go there, it’s a slippery slope.

  • APL

    Alisa: “Don’t go there, ..”

    Too late.