Accumulation through Dispossession

The London property market is out of control. My son is a carpenter and it will take him about 300 years to buy one of the flats he is currently fitting out. The flats are called luxury, but they are smaller in room size and overall size than similar flats from the 1930’s. The ethos at their workplace is speed – put stuff up as quickly as possible. Few construction workers expect to be able to do their building job beyond 40 years old – the toll on their health will be too great. The places they put up are unlikely to last as long as buildings erected one hundred years before, but the profit the company owner makes from each unit is 1000%.

Something is wrong when police, ambulance and fire workers, nurses, teachers and skilled traders are unable to purchase a home of their own in the town they serve. Something is wrong when post-graduate students are finding it cheaper to live on the continent in Brussels, Barcelona or Madrid and fly in every other week for their tutorial in London.

The market which is highly regulated in terms of what we all spend on keeping the peace, has been de-regulated to allow those with assets to bully, steal, and hoard more and more, until only the biggest players are able to afford the game. Former crimes like greed, gluttony and the shame of stealing from the poor through small print and unfair practice are no longer recognised, in the march of accumulation for the exclusively wealthy. They are grabbing more and more through the dispossession of everyone else, in despite that all our forbearers built up this earth and its wealth.

Something is wrong when investors buy up much needed properties, pushing the prices of a de-regulated property market higher and they never intend to live in them – land banking empties to accumulate wealth for people who may never set foot in town.

Something is wrong when the majority of people who have a place, still feel insecure in case the market implodes, or they fear moving because prices have gone up more than they can afford, or the new properties on offer look good when new, but if you look closely you can see the mastic doesn’t quite cover the gap, and the staples are already coming out from the skirting.

Something is wrong when the rather enlightening philosophy School of Life, calls for the gaoling of developers in their film the Ruin of London  , for desecrating and stealing the skyline with their “horror storeys”.

Something is wrong when we talk about “social housing” and “affordable housing” with an assumption this will be poorer in quality and cheaper than private.

This is the problem when you leave things to a market run by people whose ambition is to make money. They have no interest in quality or longevity or the greater good. Government should be investing in public buildings of the highest quality that are rented at cost price (because it’s our money) with local people in mind. The aim should be for public buildings to last at least five hundred years which sets the future free – meaning we do not have to repeat back breaking work – like wage slavery. Do we really want to be building shoddy money boxes which will have to be pulled down and rebuilt properly in the future? Is our responsibility to build attractive public homes with beautiful public spaces, or should we let the market trash our culture so a tiny minority of lazy avaricious gluttons can hide themselves in gated mansions in between sunbathing on an undeserved yacht?