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Topic: A British Solution to the Housing Crisis
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 20, 2011 08:56AM)
Anybody here remember "Doctor Zhivago?" You know it had a great cast, with the immortal Klaus Kinski in a tiny bit role . . . but so beautifully and meaningfully played.

Do you remember the part when Omar Sharif comes home, and finds Alec Guiness organizing things at Geraldine Chaplin's family's home? With all of the proletarians who were moved in?

Well it seems that there are still some Julie Christie fans in Great Britain. [url=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2050800/Over-60-bedroom-blockers-taxed-homes.html#ixzz1bKWQkhl1]They remembered:[/url]

[quote]Older people should be taxed out of their family homes to free up space for younger generations, says a report backed by Labour.

It argues that 'empty nesters' in their 60s are taking up too much room and should be 'encouraged' by a new 'land tax' to downsize to smaller homes.

The call comes from the Intergenerational Foundation, a left-leaning think-tank that aims to 'promote fairness between generations'.

* * * *

The Intergenerational Foundation says there are 25million unused bedrooms in the country and eight million ‘under-occupied’ homes.

More than half of people aged over 65 live in homes with two or more spare bedrooms that could be used by young families, it adds.

The report, Hoarding of Housing, says: ‘While younger families are increasingly being squeezed into small flats and under-sized houses, older people are often rattling around in big houses with many bedrooms standing empty, often for years.’

Report co-author Matthew Griffiths said: ‘It is perfectly understandable that retired people cling to their home long after it has outlived its usefulness as a place to bring a family up in.

‘But there are profound social consequences of their actions which are now causing real problems in a country where new house building is almost non-existent.’ [/quote]

Although the English used to say, "a man's home is his castle," it seems that your English home is now part of the "common good" to be disposed of by the State.

O tempora! O mores!

By the way, "Doctor Zhivago" is a wonderful book. It gives a rather too-rosy picture of life in the Soviet Union, but what a story!
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Oct 20, 2011 01:29PM)
Wow...I can't decide whether that's more horrifying or nauseating.
Message: Posted by: Big Jeff (Oct 20, 2011 01:55PM)
What about younger people who live alone? They should be forced to share housing.

NOBODY should be allowed to live alone and take up space and resources that should be shared.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 20, 2011 02:30PM)
How about a positive financial incentive? Would it be more palatable if tax breaks and/or credits were offered to seniors if they moved to higher density housing?

John
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 20, 2011 02:44PM)
How about offering to purchase houses and property at market prices? What a novel idea that would be! Of course I don't think that a legitimate governmental function, but at least it would be non-coercive. But as Hayek and others have pointed out on purely economic grounds, when you eliminate the free market, economic decision-making inevitably comes down to coercion.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 20, 2011 02:47PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 15:44, Woland wrote:
How about offering to purchase houses and property at market prices? What a novel idea that would be! [/quote]

I suspect that wouldn't help, because if they wanted market price, they'd already be selling.



John
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Oct 20, 2011 02:51PM)
How about putting a really high per-tax child on young people whose choices to have children are burdening a limited housing market? We could try it out as a pilot program, starting with members of the Intergenerational Foundation.
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 20, 2011 02:56PM)
In a free market, if people are unwilling to sell at the "market price" it isn't the real price; you have to offer more until they agree to sell - that's what establishes the real price.

One -just one- of the flaws in the socialist system(s) (but it is sufficient to doom them) is the absence of realtime accurate price information. When the prices of things are determined by bureaucrats, nobody knows what the costs really are. (Hayek again.)

Of course, as Lobowolf's example shows, once you decide that you have the right to coerce people into doing whatever it is that you think at the moment is socially useful, there is literally no end to what you can come up with.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 20, 2011 03:03PM)
What does "the socialist system(s)" have to do with this?

Governments always used financial incentives/disincentives to change behaviour. Tolls, consumption taxes, pollution taxes, tax deductions for charitable contributions, airport levies, capital gains deductions, etc. etc. etc.

Please don't read this as support for the report or its recommendations, BTW.

John
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 20, 2011 03:05PM)
What does the socialist system have to do with this? 1) This is a proposal put forth by Labour. 2) The proposal is in its language and ideology self-evidently socialist. 3) The basis of socialism is the substitution of economic decisions by ukase for economic decisions by the market.

After all, if there really was a market for more housing in Britain, private developers would clamor to satisfy it. Whay can't they? What is holding them back? Government policy and regulation, no doubt.

[url=http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez/2011/10/19/meet-the-enemy-grandma/#more-17934]Richard Fernandez[/url] has some useful comments to make on this subject, as usual:

[quote]Buried beneath the language of ‘reform’, ‘fairness’, ‘clinging’, and the ‘profound social consequences’ of the lack of housing is one salient idea: where can we find money. Its proponents are looking for a new source of taxes to provide for things the real economy can no longer produce. And since the IF is based “in a country where new house-building is almost non-existent” the best place to find resources is under grandma’s bed, or quite literally, in grandma’s house. If only government could take it or make it available then society’s problems are solved.

Anyhow, grandma had it coming. The Intergenerational Foundation argues that grandma’s prosperity was based on theft because she was given stuff she did not ultimately deserve So it is only right for society to take some of it back. “The younger generation have reason to be angry: for decades to come they will be burdened by the spending spree of previous generations – national debt, unfunded government pensions liabilities, debts from student fees, paying for the windfall profits in housing.”

In calling for a government solution to rectify “intergenerational injustice”, the IF is oblivious to the fact that government solutions created the problem in the first place, largely through Ponzi-like schemes called welfare. Moreover they seem surprisingly undisturbed by the idea that a society can no longer produce new affordable housing for its young and are oblivious to the fact that by imposing their policies they would discourage the younger generation from investing in the kind of large houses they now covet for their use.

Perhaps it is closer to the truth to argue that the cry for “intergenerational justice” is just the scream of a dying welfare state. It is the sound of chairs being rearranged on the deck of the Titanic. As they themselves note, there is a specter haunting Europe:

[quote]indeed all over Europe young people have taken to the streets to protest at their lot in one way or another. The recent demonstrations in Israel – the largest protests in the nation’s history, mainly directed at the housing crisis – are only the latest in a growing list.[/quote]

They should have gone on to say that it is the specter of communism, or rather the lack of money caused by those 163-year old ideas. And yet those notions are evergreen, ever “new”, ever “progressive”. Though IF is not a very important organization, its proposals mimic the underlying assumptions of a very important class of people. The “Occupy” protesters, who are in Wall Street, are a stalking horse for those who want know whether something created in large part by government favoritism can now safely be made the target for a program of wealth redistribution. After all, the god-state giveth; therefore the god-state can taketh away.[/quote]

An economy that can no longer produce affordable housing for productive young people is dying. A society that confiscates what its elders have labored all their lives to achieve is dying. Its ruling class of bien-pensants have run out of good ideas, and so turn back to the tried and true remedies of tyrants everywhere.
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Oct 20, 2011 03:18PM)
There are people who believe that if anyone has something that they don't, it's a sign of "unfairness," wholly irrespective of the circumstances of the other's acquisition of it, or their own inability to acquire it.
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 20, 2011 03:21PM)
And of course it is "fairness" for those people to use violence and the threat of violence to seize whatever it is that they think they deserve to enjoy.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 20, 2011 03:31PM)
Who is advocating seizing what? Reading past the inflammatory rhetoric in the Daily Mail article, the report suggests taxing seniors over 60 who own large homes. There is no voilence or threat of violence here.

Maybe it's a good idea, and maybe it's outrageous. But it's a propsed taxation increase, not a pogrom.

John
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 20, 2011 03:34PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 16:31, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
Who is advocating seizing what? Reading past the inflammatory rhetoric in the Daily Mail article, the report suggests taxing seniors over 60 who own large homes. There is no voilence or threat of violence here.

Maybe it's a good idea, and maybe it's outrageous. But it's a propsed taxation increase, not a pogrom.

Oh, and [url=http://www.if.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/IF_Housing_Defin_Report_19oct.pdf]here[/url] is the actual report (of which, I confess, I have only read the executive summary).
John
[/quote]
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 20, 2011 03:34PM)
Taxation is just the first step in coercion, Magnus. The taxes can be raised until the elderly homeowners can't pay them. Then their proerty can be seized by armed agents of the State. The decisions of the State always imply violence as a sanction. If the homeowners resist, they will be imprisoned or killed. That's the way it works in socialist systems.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 20, 2011 03:35PM)
Oh, I thought you were serious for a second, Woland. Thanks for bringing Onion humour to the Café.
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Oct 20, 2011 03:38PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 16:35, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
Oh, I thought you were serious for a second, Woland. Thanks for bringing Onion humour to the Café.
[/quote]

Do you see a fundamental difference between the actual proposal and the proposal for "positive financial incentives" that you propose, or is it all just different economic incentive options?
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 20, 2011 03:39PM)
Thanks for posting the report.

First of all, let's look at the title: "Hoarding of Housing." This is an obvious linguistic attempt to turn owning your own home into an anti-social crime. The practitioners of Newspeak couldn't have done it any better than that.

Then there is the concept that all of the homes in the country should be aggregated as a public resource.

Finally come a variety of measures, beginning with taxes, to solve the problem as defined by the IF by forcing other people to do what they want them to do.
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 20, 2011 03:41PM)
When they come to take your house, Magnus, don't tell me that you were not warned.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 20, 2011 03:47PM)
Again, don't confuse me for someone who agrees with the report. Or for someone who understands the housing situation in Great Britain for that matter. I don't have a problem with the general policy of using taxation (or credits) as (dis)incentives, that's all. The devil, as always, is in the details.

John
Message: Posted by: tommy (Oct 20, 2011 05:05PM)
What else would you expect from a leader who's fathers last request was to be buried under gaze of Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery in London?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zgGfBJ2UEI
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 20, 2011 05:47PM)
Thanks, tommy.

Magnus, I don't confuse you with any of the miscreants responsible for this reprehensible report.

A couple of points:

1) If a man - or a woman - buys a house, and pays for it, it is no business of anybody else's how many rooms it has or how it is used. "A man's home is his castle." This is the essence and the heart of private property, and without respect for private property you will have only poverty and oppression.

2) I find it interesting that many liberals - and this is NOT directed at you, Magnus - think that all sorts of behavior can and should be controlled through taxation. You want to discourage drinking soda pop? Tax it. You want to discourage people from smoking cigarettes? Tax them. But somehow raising the tax rates on small businesses will not discourage investment . . . .

3) The proper purpose of taxation is not behavior modification, but raising money for the legitimate functions of government.

Thanks for letting me share.
Message: Posted by: thorndyke (Oct 20, 2011 06:15PM)
Who has the right to decide if some old farts have too much and should be forced out of what they not only own, but spent a generation earning be effort. Oh this group just pushed my button and I hope they rot in very tiny shipping containers surrounded by open tins of cat food that are starting to stink as bad as their idea to screw people out of what is rightfully theirs.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 20, 2011 08:27PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 18:47, Woland wrote:


3) The proper purpose of taxation is not behavior modification, but raising money for the legitimate functions of government.

Thanks for letting me share.
[/quote]

So you oppose capital gains exemptions? Deductions for charitable donations?

Just wondering. Because those are definitely two ways that taxes are used to promote certain behaviors and neither raises money for the legitimate functions of government.

John
Message: Posted by: rockwall (Oct 20, 2011 08:29PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 16:03, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
What does "the socialist system(s)" have to do with this?

Governments always used financial incentives/disincentives to change behaviour. Tolls, consumption taxes, pollution taxes, tax deductions for charitable contributions, airport levies, capital gains deductions, etc. etc. etc.

Please don't read this as support for the report or its recommendations, BTW.

John
[/quote]

John, you don't say that you think Governments 'should' use taxation to control behavior but your post appears to give tacit approval of the practice. If I've misread your intent, I would be happy to be corrected.
Message: Posted by: rockwall (Oct 20, 2011 08:30PM)
I think we posted at the same time. nm
Message: Posted by: landmark (Oct 20, 2011 09:07PM)
I find this discussion hilarious, as if this very thing were not happening in the US every single day. People are doubling up in relatives' and friends' homes, apartments, and couches as they lose their houses, lose their jobs, get cuts in wages and eye the coming cuts in Social Security and Medicare. If you haven't noticed, capitalism is in the worst crisis it's been in for eighty years. You don't need to refer to Dr. Zhivago--open your eyes to what's happening with your neighbors who have to live with your austerity budgets, banker bailouts, worker layoffs and redistribution schemes to the wealthy.

Where in the world do you live?
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 20, 2011 09:11PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 21:29, rockwall wrote:
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 16:03, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
What does "the socialist system(s)" have to do with this?

Governments always used financial incentives/disincentives to change behaviour. Tolls, consumption taxes, pollution taxes, tax deductions for charitable contributions, airport levies, capital gains deductions, etc. etc. etc.

Please don't read this as support for the report or its recommendations, BTW.

John
[/quote]

John, you don't say that you think Governments 'should' use taxation to control behavior but your post appears to give tacit approval of the practice. If I've misread your intent, I would be happy to be corrected.
[/quote]

I don't see anything wrong with the practice. That being said, there are always questions of legitimacy. Should the government encourage investment? If so, capital gains exemptions are one way to do it. Should the government discourage reckless driving? If so, fines are one way to do that. Should the government try to curb the pollutants put into our water?

But I would never say that economic (dis)incentives are ALWAYS ethically justified, and I am certainly not qualified to weigh their efficacy relative to other measures.

John
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Oct 20, 2011 09:37PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 22:07, landmark wrote:
I find this discussion hilarious, as if this very thing were not happening in the US every single day. People are doubling up in relatives' and friends' homes, apartments, and couches as they lose their houses, lose their jobs, get cuts in wages and eye the coming cuts in Social Security and Medicare. If you haven't noticed, capitalism is in the worst crisis it's been in for eighty years. You don't need to refer to Dr. Zhivago--open your eyes to what's happening with your neighbors who have to live with your austerity budgets, banker bailouts, worker layoffs and redistribution schemes to the wealthy.

Where in the world do you live?
[/quote]

People losing their houses and/or "doubling up" is a far cry from the government deliberately targeting a specific demographic.
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 20, 2011 09:42PM)
. . . . and expropriating their homes for "the common good" . . . .
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 20, 2011 10:38PM)
Ahem. Read the real report. There is no talk of expropriation. It's a taxation scheme.
Message: Posted by: rockwall (Oct 20, 2011 10:48PM)
John, isn't it a taxation scheme who's stated goal is to expropriate their homes?
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Oct 20, 2011 10:53PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 23:38, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
Ahem. Read the real report. There is no talk of expropriation. It's a taxation scheme.
[/quote]

Do you think it's appropriate to tax people at different rates based on their age? How about on race or gender?
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 21, 2011 04:35AM)
Magnus, the threat of expropriation is real. The basic idea is to force people to do what the left wants them to do. That is coercion. Taxation is just the first step. If that doesn't work, the left will progressively ratchet up the coercive measures until the elderly homeowners do what they want them to do. The experience of the XXth century shows again and again and again where leftist coercion leads. Far better to stop it before millions of people are sent to work camps, death camps, starved to death, or taken into the forest and shot.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 21, 2011 08:09AM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 23:53, LobowolfXXX wrote:
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 23:38, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
Ahem. Read the real report. There is no talk of expropriation. It's a taxation scheme.
[/quote]

Do you think it's appropriate to tax people at different rates based on their age? How about on race or gender?
[/quote]

No.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 21, 2011 08:12AM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-21 09:09, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 23:53, LobowolfXXX wrote:
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 23:38, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
Ahem. Read the real report. There is no talk of expropriation. It's a taxation scheme.
[/quote]

Do you think it's appropriate to tax people at different rates based on their age? How about on race or gender?
[/quote]

No.
[/quote]

On second thought, we give senior citizens a very large tax exemption based on their age, and I've never thought that that was a bad thing. Children amount to large write-offs for their parents. My province used to give free bus passes to seniors (and I think it's a shame that they don't). Hmm. I'll have to think this over.

I can't think of any tax schemes based on race or gender that I would support. But if anybody has one, I'd like to hear about it.

Dang it, the world is failing to fall into neat categorical order for me again. Geez.

John
Message: Posted by: stoneunhinged (Oct 21, 2011 08:40AM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-21 09:12, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:

On second thought, we give senior citizens a very large tax exemption based on their age, and I've never thought that that was a bad thing.

John
[/quote]

Shouldn't income be more relevant than age alone? How old is Warren Buffett these days?
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 21, 2011 09:58AM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-21 09:40, stoneunhinged wrote:
[quote]
On 2011-10-21 09:12, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:

On second thought, we give senior citizens a very large tax exemption based on their age, and I've never thought that that was a bad thing.

John
[/quote]

Shouldn't income be more relevant than age alone? How old is Warren Buffett these days?
[/quote]

There are lots of relevant criteria for taxation levels (unless you are an ardent flat-taxer). I was just correcting myself because I apparently don't think that age is necessarily tax-irrelevant.

I still have very little to say about the actual proposal, mostly because I have no clue how acute the housing stituation is in Great Britain, and I don't know how big a deal unused space is, and I don't know if the mechanism proposed will achieve what it aims to do.

But I am pretty certain that the Daily Mail misrepresented the report (quelle surprise!) and that some of that misreprestation spilled over into our discussion.

John
Message: Posted by: rockwall (Oct 21, 2011 11:42AM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-21 10:58, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:

...
But I am pretty certain that the Daily Mail misrepresented the report (quelle surprise!) and that some of that misreprestation spilled over into our discussion.

John
[/quote]

I misrepresent that!!!
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 21, 2011 11:48AM)
Does it matter how "severe" the housing shortage is? Why would a more "severe" shortage make it acceptable to force some people out of their homes so that you can assign them to other people?
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 21, 2011 11:55AM)
Woland I (and the report) have never advocated forcing people from their homes, nor have I (or the report) advocated assigning them to other people.

I have discussed the general principle of economic incentives, and do not find them generally objectionable, but neither have I advocated applying them indiscriminantly. Finally, I have reserved judgment on this particular report because I lack data and expertise.

John
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 21, 2011 12:01PM)
Magnus, none of my comments are directed against you, and I do not confuse your beliefs with the underlying intentions of the people who produced this report and the people who introduced it to the Commons. The characteristic and repeated behaviors of leftists in power, however, are too well documented in history to be ignored. The IF have already made the most significant moral leap - they have leaped over the chasm already; they regard the home that an elderly couple have bought and paid for, in which they may have lived for decades, not as that couple's private property, but as a fragment of a national, public "housing resource." That leap is the crucial step. Once you agree to that, then it is not very much of a further leap to go from tax incentives, to forcing people out of their homes with legal foreclosures, and to murdering kulaks, wreckers, and parasites who stand in your way. Leftists have done it time and time and time again.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Oct 21, 2011 12:02PM)
Anyhow I have always been a fan Omar Sharif. I did not know him but I saw him once or twice at the races in the 60s when I was a kid. He and one of my uncles were friends, they played bridge etc together. He was quite a heavy gambler. We were always being told stories about him. He never seemed to have a home then and lived in hotels from what we were told. Yet or maybe because of him having no home, in the film Doctor Zhivago he played the scenes about his home really well. Also I found it a strange that he having made that great film about that revolution that he should also be in his home of Eygypt when the revolution was unfolding there. I wondered, when I saw on the news here, if it didn't all seem like an epic film to him:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12332197

Getting back to the matter at hand, I think its terrible that they take or try to take peoples homes. I mean a home is not just a house is it?
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 21, 2011 12:17PM)
Thanks, tommy, agreed on all points. Omar Sharif was magnificent in Zhivago. And I was surprised as well when Mr. Sharif retired from actining in order to pursue professional bridge full time. I hope he is not disappointed with developments in Egypt.
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Oct 21, 2011 12:31PM)
All the sort of sterile talk about tax incentives and tax disincentives makes it sound as if making houses affordable for some people wanting to buy is substantively the same thing is making houses unaffordable for some people [i]not[/i] wanting to sell. And IMO, it's not. Not even close.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 21, 2011 12:37PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-21 13:31, LobowolfXXX wrote:
All the sort of sterile talk about tax incentives and tax disincentives makes it sound as if making houses affordable for some people wanting to buy is substantively the same thing is making houses unaffordable for some people [i]not[/i] wanting to sell. And IMO, it's not. Not even close.
[/quote]

I agree that there is a distinction. But I'm not sure it's as decisive as you make out.

What about putting a toll on a bridge? You are making access to the other side less desirable than it would be without the toll. I recognize that the difference between this and the report is that the report deals with the cost of owning something and tolls deal with the cost of free movement.

I don't think the issues are that obvious.

BTW how do property taxes in Manhattan compare to those in Laramie?

John
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Oct 21, 2011 12:55PM)
I think there are a number of differences between a toll bridge and the incentives/disincentives we're talking about. A toll on a bridge is a user tax; it's an attempt to allocate the costs of building and maintaining the bridge to the people who will use the bridge. Moreover, it doesn't distinguish between the demographic characteristics of the people crossing the bridge, to try to set a price point where certain types of people would able to cross and others would not.

I've never lived in Laramie or Manhattan; my suspicion is that they're higher in Manhattan. More relevantly, IMO, is that the people who live in Laramie or Manhattan knew that when they chose where to buy their houses.
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 21, 2011 01:05PM)
Moreover, the purpose of property taxes in Laramie and Manhattan, and I daresay in Ottawa, is not to coerce any particular behavior from the taxpayers, but to pay for local government services. Taxes are not used in Laramie, Manhattan, or Ottawa as a tool with which to force people out of their HOMES.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 21, 2011 01:50PM)
I have no doubt that many people had to leave Manhattan during the 20th century because they were taxed out of their homes.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 21, 2011 01:56PM)
To keep our eye on the prize, let's look at the report in question.

[quote]Policy Options to Reduce the Hoarding of Housing
Changes to the taxation of property should be central to efforts to improve housing use and encourage downsizing. But this does not have to be simply a matter of raising taxes – the current property taxes perform their tasks badly, encouraging over-consumption and penalising mobility. Tax reform could set out positive incentives as well as penalising the hoarding of unused bedrooms.

Specihic measures could include:
Abolishing stamp duty for those downsizing
Stamp duty is a hindrance to further mobility, and has proven ineffective at dampening the housing market cycle of boom and bust. A more sensible measure to achieve both objectives might be a form of annual capital gains tax on the primary residency – which would reduce incentives to over-¬‐consume, reduce the drag on mobility from stamp duty, and put a more meaningful check on speculative investment flows.

‘Nudge’ policies such as withdrawal of some ‘universal’ benehits for those living in houses worth over £500,000
This would give a signal of the value of housing to society and encourage downsizing, whilst limiting expenditure on high net-‐wealth individuals in a simple and understandable way.
Changes to the planning regime to increase the supply of suitable housing for people downsizing
Often people do wish to downsize but suitable properties are not available.

The introduction of a land value tax
So that there is an incentive to downsize and an understood cost of absorbing socially important re-¬‐sources.
Abolition of council tax concessions for single occupation
This would eliminate a perverse incentive which currently encourages single occupants to remain in large houses.[/quote]

There is no mention of targeting the elderly. The premise is that there is a lot of unused housing, and it is *in fact* partly a consequence of British elderly not downsizing as they do in America. The Daily Mail suggested otherwise.

John
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 21, 2011 02:06PM)
Again, Magnus, the problem here is the fundamental re-definition of what a man's "home" is - is a man's home his "castle," as it has been viewed under English common law since at least the Norman Conquest, or is a man's home the property of the State, to be used as the elite leaders of the State decide?
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Oct 21, 2011 02:23PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-21 14:56, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
There is no mention of targeting the elderly. The premise is that there is a lot of unused housing, and it is *in fact* partly a consequence of British elderly not downsizing as they do in America. The Daily Mail suggested otherwise.

John
[/quote]

I think that's an overly-friendly characterization of what's going on. There are many other excerpts directly from the report that would give a far different impression. The very name of the organization "Intergenerational Fairness" and the clear premise is that what's "unfair" is that older people own something that younger people want both suggest that, but there are numerous statements and graphs in the report that strongly suggest it.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 21, 2011 02:43PM)
I agree that the people behind the report think that the older generation has an advantage over the younger cohort. amd that this advantage has been aided and abetted by current governmental policies, including property taxation. I have no idea if any of this is true.

Most of the objections I'm reading here boil down to "the status quo is just fine"--why is that the default position?


John
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Oct 21, 2011 02:53PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-21 15:43, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
I agree that the people behind the report think that the older generation has an advantage over the younger cohort. amd that this advantage has been aided and abetted by current governmental policies, including property taxation. I have no idea if any of this is true.

Most of the objections I'm reading here boil down to "the status quo is just fine"--why is that the default position?


John
[/quote]

I think that in general, the status quo is typically the default. Maybe mostly out of reliability and confidence in the system. People have a right to expect that the rules won't change in the middle of the game. In law, for instance, the "moving party" has the burden of proof. If the evidence is such that it's a 50-50 case, then the status quo remains in place.

Having said that, preservation of the status quo certainly isn't [i]my[/i] objection. My objection is simply a respect for property ownership. If you buy something, and it goes up in value such that people who come along later want it and can't afford it at the market rate, that's their problem, not yours.
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 21, 2011 02:57PM)
No, Magnus, I have never stated in this discussion that the "status quo" is fine. I have stated that if there is a housing crisis in Britain, that it would be wrong for the State to expropriate the homes that people have made for themselves, saved for, scrimped for, paid for, lived in, and loved, in order to award them as part of a supposed national patrimony to other people whom the State finds more deserving.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Oct 21, 2011 03:02PM)
Woland I completely agree that it would be wrong to expropriate homes.

One alternative is to simply tax larger homes more than smaller homes. Or to tie taxation to assessed property value (which is probably the most common in Western countries). The idea of taxing unused area is interesting, and I don't find it ethically outrageous. I'm not convinced that it is the best approach, or even if it would have the desired effect, but it doesn't seem any worse than taxing property based on its market value.

John
Message: Posted by: Woland (Oct 21, 2011 03:13PM)
Yes, Magnus, you are correct. In the United States, property tax is directly related to the assessed value of the property, so that more valuable properties are assessed for more taxes than less valuable properties. There is thus already an incentive for people who are no longer enjoying a bigger house to downsize. It is also not unusual for parents who moved into higher tax communities that they perceive to have better local schools to relocate to lower tax communities when their children grow up.
Message: Posted by: landmark (Oct 21, 2011 06:55PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 22:37, LobowolfXXX wrote:
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 22:07, landmark wrote:
I find this discussion hilarious, as if this very thing were not happening in the US every single day. People are doubling up in relatives' and friends' homes, apartments, and couches as they lose their houses, lose their jobs, get cuts in wages and eye the coming cuts in Social Security and Medicare. If you haven't noticed, capitalism is in the worst crisis it's been in for eighty years. You don't need to refer to Dr. Zhivago--open your eyes to what's happening with your neighbors who have to live with your austerity budgets, banker bailouts, worker layoffs and redistribution schemes to the wealthy.

Where in the world do you live?
[/quote]

People losing their houses and/or "doubling up" is a far cry from the government deliberately targeting a specific demographic.
[/quote]
Austerity budgets, banker bailouts, worker layoffs and redistribution schemes to the wealthy target a specific demographic.
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Oct 21, 2011 07:02PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-21 19:55, landmark wrote:
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 22:37, LobowolfXXX wrote:
[quote]
On 2011-10-20 22:07, landmark wrote:
I find this discussion hilarious, as if this very thing were not happening in the US every single day. People are doubling up in relatives' and friends' homes, apartments, and couches as they lose their houses, lose their jobs, get cuts in wages and eye the coming cuts in Social Security and Medicare. If you haven't noticed, capitalism is in the worst crisis it's been in for eighty years. You don't need to refer to Dr. Zhivago--open your eyes to what's happening with your neighbors who have to live with your austerity budgets, banker bailouts, worker layoffs and redistribution schemes to the wealthy.

Where in the world do you live?
[/quote]

People losing their houses and/or "doubling up" is a far cry from the government deliberately targeting a specific demographic.
[/quote]
Austerity budgets, banker bailouts, worker layoffs and redistribution schemes to the wealthy target a specific demographic.
[/quote]

Rather than do the whole back & forth, I'll just say that if you think this is a pretty good analogy for the situation described in the OP, I agree to disagree, strongly.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Oct 21, 2011 07:16PM)
They are only targeting people that have something :)