Friday, December 10, 2010

Hovel, Sweet Hovel

The morons at Propagandastaffel still refuse to admit that markets don’t work when they smother them with onerous demands. Real estate in Paris is expensive, but not by the standards of cities of similar size in similar economies. It is, nonetheless, expensive, and is the result of the fact that it isn’t profitable to build in a city that dense that maintains height limitations, has political parties that seem willing to impose price xontrols at the drop of a hat, and there is a “constitutional right” to be housed at the cost of a property owner.

Housing is one of the great scandals of the French. As the country continues to grow, the working and middle classes are forced to devote an ever increasing share of their income to this basic needs, and prices become prohibitive as a result of property speculation.
Never mind the single greatest cost people are forced to exceed at the cost of their well being: taxes.
Large cities, primarily Paris, are the scene of a silent exclusion mechanism, a deadly hunt that imposes itself more on the less fortunate citizens who are doomed to spend hours in transport, adding to it the consequence of emitting polluting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The blissfully laissez-faire expect that rising prices will lead to a greater supply that will ease the market. But the argument that the inner-city construction market is inherently limited by regulation is a chimera designed primarily to protect the interests of owners and real estate professionals. Without strong intervention of public power, urban apartheid will continue to grow. Taxation of empty homes, causing some rents (for small areas, for example), affirmative action programs for construction, release of certain allowances, acceleration of Greater Paris, you can discuss all the details. But with a market failure or too unfair, the failure of the community is tantamount to abandonment. Or desertion.
Why not call it ultra apartheid? Why not bring the image of Nazism into the fact that demand is forced to recognize the existence of a supply one may not really add to?

A minor matter? A silly, throw away subject just to throw fuel on their revolutionary lynchmob fantasies? Hell no. France 24 has been giving it “the embarrassing American story” treatment for the past 24 hours: which is to say repeating it incessantly if it gives a warm, wet handjob to the minds of the editors.

Having worked on the building of buildings for 20 years, I can think of a dozen things that would salve their complaints far quicker than their typical demand for a heavy hand of government to simply “declare” what rents should be.

Solution: bureaucrottes non-élus

Given that there is enough demand to drive up rents and real estate prices, the next fix in their (literal) authoritarian Marxist-Leninist solution to the problem will be the assignment of housing to people based on a standard of need or personal social standing.