Friday, May 29, 2015

Martin Wolf on housing

My favourite writers for the Financial Times are John Kay, Tim Harford, Martin Wolf and Gillian Tett. Here is Martin Wolf writing on housing market in today's edition of the paper:

"In contemporary politics, buying votes retail is, quite properly, illegal. But buying votes wholesale is not. Offering public money to specified groups is not wrong, provided the criteria used are persuasive. One can readily justify support for the poor, the sick, the elderly or the very young. But how can one justify handing over huge amounts of public money to people who happen to win the housing equivalent of musical chairs? One cannot. Yet this is one of the British government’s flagship policies. Its offer to tenants of housing associations of a “right to buy” is worse than a crime; it is a blunder."
I've bleated on about this before. The name 'Right to Buy' says it all. What about the 'Right to Buy' food, books, fine cheeses. Where's the government love for these. It's all about houses. Houses buy votes.  As Wolf says:
"But far more important, Conservatives — of all the parties — should understand that it is not the job of the government to fulfil all the aspirations people possess, unless doing so responds to a fundamental social need. Providing selective transfers of resources to a favoured few cannot meet that fundamental criterion. This then is a corruption of policy making.

The government should think again. It will not. But it should."

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