Sunday, March 02, 2008

Browningrad?

The swing to the left under Gordon Brown has been modest, but every week or so something new comes along to remind me that the UK is governed by the LABOUR party. A party that thrives on envy, and is willing to slip back into the bad old ways if it is about being popular.

Today two examples of this:

First, according to the Sunday Times, Gordon Brown preparing to put "drastic curbs" on second home ownership, largely to stop people buying weekend pads in rather nice rural villages. This appeals directly to the anti tall poppy "eh uup" constituency that wouldn't think it is "fair" that someone is successful enough to buy a second home. You know, the people who Labour would have trapped in council houses, on the bottom tax rate and forever being reminded that if it weren't for Labour, they would be starving, without health care and the like - the ones Labour LIKES having dependent on the state.

Brown is apparently going to recommend that local authorities - the bastion of petty fascism - prevent "outsiders" (in German it would be "auslanders"!) from buying houses that they wouldn't make their permanent residence. I mean, the audacity of such people, and those selling them to such people! Councils could refuse permission to buy! Interfering directly in a voluntary exchange between buyer and seller.

Liberal Democrat MP Matthew Taylor, showing how illiberal and fascist he really is said “In some communities, 30%, 40% or 50% of the village is dark most of the year. It raises huge issues for the sustainability of the community.” Does it Matthew? Huge issues for who? I guess those who sold the houses don't count, or the people who bought them. Maybe you'd like to buy them instead with your money?

All of this ignores the economics. Doing this will reduce property prices and returns for those CURRENTLY owning properties, it wont encourage more construction and will hardly ensure "communities are sustainable" whatever that means.

Secondly, the Sunday Times reports on the inevitable envy ridden backlash against energy companies, which have been ordered to hand over part of their profits or face a windfall tax by Gordon Brown. Apparently those who invest in energy companies, wisely at a time of increasing demand, don't deserve the proceeds more than the grim, slow moving, inefficient, wasteful behemoth of a state. They should, of course, tell the government to go away, nicely. They are being asked to subsidise the gas and electricity of the poorest. They might ask the government a few points:
- Why does the government continue to levy VAT at over 17.5% on many goods and services for everyone, why can't it cut taxes to help those it cares about?
- If energy companies don't make large returns at times of high demand and short supply, how will they afford to invest in sourcing new energy supplies?
- How does subsidising the price of energy encourage people to use it more efficiently?
- Why doesn't the government reduce regulatory restrictions and compliance costs on competition between energy companies and figure out how, if there are windfall profits, why companies don't compete so much on price?

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