Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Tories Propose Confiscation of Private Property

A spectre is haunting the General Election.  How times have changed. It used to be that it was communists who were accused of proposing the confiscation of private property – today, in the Conservative Manifesto, it is the Tories who are openly proposing it. The Tories are proposing to confiscate the private property of Housing Associations, by giving the tenants of that property a legal right to buy it, from the owner, at the same kind of huge discounts that previously were provided to Council tenants. Of course, if the private owners of these houses are to be forced to sell their property, to tenants, at these huge discounts, natural law demands that all private landlords must be forced to sell to their tenants, at similar discounts. That means all of the thousands of people who have been encouraged to become Buy To Let Landlords, some of them owning thousands of properties, will find themselves having to sell their properties, to their tenants, and lose up to 60% of the value of the property in the process. The good thing is that would be an effective means of bursting the ridiculous property bubble that has been blown up.

When Maggie Thatcher introduced the “Right to Buy” legislation, in the 1980's, it was iniquitous. If we are to believe the ideological propaganda about the nature of the state, the property it nationalises belongs to all of us. It is this nonsense that leads to talk about the NHS being “our NHS”, when its quite clearly nothing of the kind. We have no more control over it, than we did over the nationalised coal industry that acted with the capitalist state to batter down the miners, or over the nationalised steel industry, BL and so on, that also acted to attack workers.

All of those things were bought with taxpayers money, i.e. essentially the taxes paid by workers. The same thing applied to those things owned by the local state, i.e. local councils. But, illustrating the point that none of this property is “ours”, when Thatcher proposed this huge give away, we the people, the supposed owners of this property, were not asked whether we wanted to sell it! All of the money that we collectively had put into building these houses, repairing them, managing the estate, and so on counted for nothing, as Maggie handed them over to those who thought they could buy them on the cheap. In fact, all the buyers had done was to swap paying rent to the Council for paying a mortgage to a money lender, and when interest rates then rose to around 15%, tens of thousands found they could not pay that mortgage, and so found themselves homeless anyway, whilst the money lenders, were then the ones who actually picked up vast swathes of property on the cheap!

But, at least, there was some justification in Thatcher's policy of selling off the family silver. As far as she was concerned, the property belonged to the state, and like Louis XIV, Thatcher's logic was “L'etat, c'est Moi” (the state, that is me). But, now Cameron, who sees himself as the latter day Thatcher, just as Louis Napoleon saw himself as the latter day Napoleon Bonaparte, wants to force the owners of private property to also sell their property, and to confiscate a portion of that property, by forcing its owners to sell it at up to 60% discounts!

What is the world coming to, as the Tories, in recent days, out of total panic and desperation have first turned themselves into spendthrift left social democrats, putting forward proposals for massive, unfunded increases in spending on the NHS, and now into Bolsheviks, proposing the confiscation of private property!!!

This is a bit like, if they were to come along and force other such private property owners to just hand over their property, at a fraction of its value. What is next, will they force BUPA to hand over some of its hospitals to the NHS, at a knock down price, for example? BUPA, after all, is a similar kind of mutual organisation, as are the housing associations. Or perhaps, they might want to force private golf clubs, that own prime land, to have to sell off the club to some of its members, who could then make the land available for housing development?

At the very least, if the private property of housing associations is to be confiscated, and transferred to tenants, then other private landlords will have to be put in exactly the same position. No wonder we have seen some of the biggest private landlords sell off their property portfolios in recent months, because not only have they seen property prices falling, but it now becomes clear that a Tory government is likely to ensure that such property is confiscated, and sold off on the cheap.

The good thing about that, of course, would be that if we see such large chunks of privately owned real estate, across the country, put up for sale at only 40% of its current market price, that would also force other house prices down, across the country. That would be of massive benefit to all those who are currently frozen out of the housing market, because of astronomical house prices, and sky high rents. Any landlord, who wanted to keep their tenants, would have to lower their rent, or they would face their tenants simply demanding to be able to buy the property with the 60% discount. Anyone who wanted to sell their house would have to reduce their asking price by at least 60%, or else they would have no chance of competing with these discounted, former rental properties.

That would have other beneficial consequences. If all private landlords had to sell their properties at a 60% discount, not only would it immediately force down rents, and crash house prices, but it would also cause land prices to crater. All of the builders, sitting on huge land banks, would be desperate either to build on them quick, so as to not see the value of that land fall further, and so as to recoup the money they had tied up in it, or else to get the houses built on it quick.

That increase in house building at these lower costs, as land prices crashed, would further push down house prices. However, I doubt that it is this consequence of their proposals that the Tories intended, as they scramble from one badly thought out idea to another, in a desperate attempt to gather votes. It seems to be a repetition of 2012's omnishambles all over again.

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