Ref; The Housing Crisis is Even Worse Than You Think | Aaron Bastani meets Vicky Spratt | Downstream


At present I’m working on a paper that will be finished by the 26th of April, once completed I will write a timeline for the Video filling in the areas that some may want more information on. As well as the Buy-To-Let Quetion that was left unanswered.

Post 26th I’ll have more info as the area I’m working on is the periods of; 1930-42, 1945-70, followed by 1979 to the present concerning universalist approach to housing/welfare until 1979 then the selectivist approach to housing/welfare.

Keynes; The role of Government is to create a society where all can have the opportunity to have a ‘good life’ and not just the few.

Rent Control Paradox No 1


Undoubtedly the first of many seemingly paradoxical issues concerning the difficulty (ie the monied establishment of whom Rent Control would affect the most in a negative sense) to even implementing Rent Control (RC) and thus a refusal at the first hurdle.

This post is a reply to the question that I had no time to answer at the end of a presentation on the basic background of the present housing model and why unregulated private purchases and rents are now completely market-led under the finalisation of the mortgage debt market and the now commodified living space, we call home.

The question is an obvious first hurdle to even thinking about an introduction of private RC,

Slightly paraphrased question from my classmate Mark;

“How are you going to get an acceptance from small private landlords let alone institutions” ?

My answer has come from several ideas that I have been working on for a few years that I recorded as an end goal based on a fantasy Beveridge 2.0 report, including the ‘five giants’ ( think the 5 elephants in the room) as of a consequence of a 21st century established neoliberal society, namely the UK.
Very broad, but the main point is how you convince that the stick of RC will benefit the nervous middle (50-90 percentile) and suspicious asset wealthy (top 10%).

According to the behavioural economist Kahneman, we all suffer a greater bias towards loss (known as ‘loss aversion’) than gain, namely, ie it plays on our minds. At first, this seems a good thing, as being over cautious must be good, as common sense would say that being attuned on a financial decision is wise, but alas this can in some circumstances lead to poor judgment, as shown in the gambler chasing the initial debt, whilst being blind to the option of just accepting a loss and walking away (Kahneman 2011). An AI algorithm would of course weigh up the odds and take the initial loss if the odds stated were the best course of action for its overall long-term gain.
Humans struggle with this due to the emotion of the initial loss, we all do it as a fast-thinking reaction.

So with this in mind to counter the loss we need a greater gain, thus in this report, I figured four carrots to the one stick, this is so important to creating societal jewels (ie NHS) that can be justified to the majority over the small minority of our natural self seeking to a short term initial loss ( and we will see in the paper all benefit long term, again the NHS).

Though it should be stated that any welfare fiscal spending cannot show a direct profit by its very nature it’s once, twice, thrice removed and the measurement of GDP growth is only seen as a generation is cared for and educated from birth to grave, kept healthy, has food, shelter, warmth and no fear of retirement so as to concentrate on producing the measurable wealth.

Not all can be commodified for direct profit, but what can should be able to produce unhindered by welfare concerns. Thus, “No Apron Strings

Yes, it’s a bit utopian, but so was male and female emancipation, free university, health and safety in the workplace, the 5-day week, paid holidays within PAYE etc.

Piketty; Stirring up the Hornets Nest

Looking at the conjuncture of his research and why it caused such a reaction

Even French economists have an air of the “Nouvelle Vague”

This piece is in response to questions concerning Thomas Pikettys book ‘Capital of the 21st Century’. I’ve read and studied this and his equally thorough book ‘Capital and Ideology’. I don’t pretend to be the last word on Piketty’s writings, and the man can more than defend himself, but what follows are some crucial points to his overall argument. 

Note; when I say conjuncture, it’s in the context of Stuart Hall’s “conjunctural analysis.” Briefly, the subtext of an issue, so for example, ‘benefit scroungers’ as political discourse, as a conjuncture, means we need an excuse for reducing payments for the unemployed so we (the government of the day ) can reduce deficits and grant tax reductions for the demographic of future voters of whom this would appeal. (Hall 2021) (Jefferson 2021)

Anonymous comments concerning Piketty’s Books from the political and economic academic Marianna Mazzucato’s video on her book; The Value of Everything

1- He does not consider the most critical facts, and it lacks historical evidence and contradicts reality.  Its claims appeal to ignorant people with little idea of economic history and financial concepts.  I am not surprised that the presenter relies on such a reference because most of what she says she can’t justify with evidence

2- He claims wealth is passed down from ancestors. He ignores the historical fact that most wealthy people have not gotten wealthy through inheritance. He claims growing inequality is a function of capitalism but ignores all other systems.

 3- Picketty examined the circumstances of wealth in the 19th and 20th centuries and concluded that the 1% owned more wealth than previously. He confuses statistics with individuals, like many people who don’t understand statistics.

Video in question.

Exploring the Multiverse of Decisions: A Review of ‘Everything, Everywhere All at Once”

A surreal journey through a multiverse of decisions made by one character, reflecting on the concept of co-existing multiverses in different places and times.

The Movie

The movie “Everything, Everything All at Once” is definitely surreal in its format, jumping all over the place to communicate the idea of the multiverse of decisions made throughout one’s life. This movie focuses on one character’s journey; each individual since the beginning of time itself has a unique multiverse of decisions and consequences, according to quantum theory of co-existing multiverses in different places and times, but are only fixed when observed (ie the thought experiment of Erwin Schrödinger’s cat)  .

Thus in the end it was entirely about the universe she wanted to reside in, which was not repeating the mistakes (as she saw them) of her parents, that due to her own hurt and stubbornness she was in fact repeating,

Thus the nub of the movie, the chance to see and experience the results of infinite ‘what if’s’.

The mundane start, with everyday pressures of balancing time, money and family of just one person in the billions alive in the present, (let alone the past and future), further enlarges (to our limited imagination) the infinite size of the multiverse she was about to cross. 

What if – We Were Rocks?

All the actors in her world remained, as it was her world, thus ours would have different influencers and actors to play out our story. She was in fact and would always be the hero of her own journey (ie messianic). The idea of enlightenment was explored by the husband she always wanted, but later realised why she married the man she did, namely to balance her initial fast thinking primary reaction (ref; Kahneman ‘Thinking fast and slow’) to fight like a dragon mother that Chinese women in their 40’s are often stereotyped as being. But this has nothing to do with the other characters, it’s purely her story with everything circulating around her, within her universe, everyone else is an actor responding to her decisions, reminds me of the hard to follow, but brilliant movie “Synecdoche, New York,” directed by Charlie Kaufman, an incredibly surreal journey into the life, times and draining disappointments of a playwright, who has the opportunity to write, direct, produce and star in his own play entirely about himself, gradually realising the futility of it all and life’s simple but often consequently devastating decisions, acted out before him.

‘Neoliberalism’ and ‘Capitalism’ – What’s the difference?

A short but thorough explanation by the great cultural and political theorist Professor Jeremy Gilbert who describes Capitalism as an economic practice and Neoliberalism as a philosophy about how societies in which that practice prevails should be managed.

My personal experience of living in a neoliberal world for over four decades has led me to believe that it views and uses the functions of capitalism in a narrow and deterministic way, assuming predictable human reactions to the needs, wants, and desires of everyday life. The microeconomic theory of modeling, as promoted by neoliberal economist Milton Friedman, would be rendered obsolete if we were to incorporate the infinite variables of empathy, love, and charity. By judging humans solely as seekers of utility, status, and wealth, neoliberalism appears more aligned with the mercantile class of the 17th and 18th centuries, which used their ill-gotten wealth to manipulate markets and determine value solely by the final price point, ignoring the actual production costs.

This view of human behavior contrasts with the classical economists, such as Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, and Mill, who recognized the corruption of markets by the mercantile class and developed theories in opposition to this. However, I do not promote classical economic theory but rather recognize that it arose from lived experiences and observations of market corruption.

In addition to market manipulation, neoliberal philosophy often involves lobbying governments, exploiting weaker nations and individuals, and holding the belief that “all is fair in the love and war” of trade. Such practices are prevalent in the current “evil corps” that dominate our lives and harm the planet. Defining neoliberalism solely within the context of classical economic theories is insufficient, as it fails to account for the present reality of corporate-lobbied corridors of government, tax avoidance mechanisms, and exploitation of less capable countries and individuals for the sole purpose of wealth accumulation beyond what is necessary.

I currently lean towards Keynesian economics, which embraces the idea of uncertainty and a focus on achieving the “good life.” Nonetheless, I acknowledge the relevance of Marx’s critique of capitalism, particularly concerning the exploitation of surplus value.

“Please read below to see the difference between an angry amateur and a nuanced professional”.


I wrote this in response to a discussion  of this theme on the NEON list. Thinking it was both too long for an email list and might be a useful resource for some people, I posted it here…
What’s the difference between ‘neoliberalism’ and ‘capitalism’ 
I think that neoliberalism and capitalism are simply different types of thing.

View original post 1,369 more words

The Place Remains The Same

But we don’t.
A reference to previous work from a MA in Landscape Architecture 2012, relevant to a morning lecture on Psychogeography (describes the effect of a geographical location on the emotions and behaviour of individuals).

The Background

The Forest

This was an option module from the MA called ‘Art and Context’. The the outcome for the module was to teach, challenge and explore our preconceived ideas as to ‘What is Landscape?’ Via a field trip in the deep South West of England of 5 days in a mixed forest (deciduous native and evergreen softwood grown and sold as a product of the forest) owned by the renamed Forestry England (formerly the Forestry Commision). The site was partially funded by on site log cabins for holiday retreats within the forest, perfect for a group of aspiring Landscape Architects wanting to get out of the classroom and experience the human Biophilic response to nature.

The idea was to make an intervention in the forest. It could be anything from a physical structure to music, poetry, art or a later piece to be shown as part of the final symposium. We were all asked to present, with the question; ‘what is landscape?’ Again open to whatever style or form, but the proviso was to really look in depth to the experience, the intervention and what you learnt that could be shared, but also challenging some of the norms we associate with the Landscape as humans onlookers and/or being part of the said landscape.

I love this stuff, once the ideas start to flow, but hate it when that blank sheet of paper just laughs and mocks you for your lack of imagination”.

The artists running the course were from the more abstract land interventionist style, and I mean ‘Abstract’ with the capital ‘A’. We were all challenged very quickly as to our assumptions and thus the struggles ensued to even start to form any ideas.

But they were also very encouraging once some ideas of value started to germinate.

What actually is the point of the Private Rental Sector (PRS)?

The Housing Act of 1988 deregulated new lettings to encourage the PRS to return, 44 years later the potential for 1910 rent strikes of pre The Rent Control Act of 1914 look like they may return.

Sitting in the library, grinding my way through various papers and journals on Rent Control (RC), I started to read a report from the much admired Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) published in 1992 with various academic, housing pressure groups, practitioners and financiers together with advisors to politicians from different parties all contributing to the discussion. So far so good, but…..

The book in question amongst my usual chaos

Two issues of cognitive bias became increasingly apparent, both of which we all suffer from as emotional beings, so I’m not specifically criticising the authors of the report, but taking the more cautious route of an anthropologists like, the sadly departed David Graeber and also the political economist Thomas Piketty. Graeber in his book (and the secret is in the title) Debt; The First 5000 years and Piketty to a lesser extent focussed on the past 200 years in his highly acclaimed and fascinating book Capital of the 21st Century.

Recency bias is a cognitive bias that favors recent events over historic ones

The first bias was the effect of just looking to the lived and experienced recent past (recency bias) and making a judgment that a correlation of rent controls of the recent past have meant that the PRS has reduced due to not enough yield being available from old RC properties, that is a fair judgment, but does that mean that to get more rented properties available for the small sector (at the time of the report) of transient renters, namely young people on their way to purchase and temporary work force ( in fact a red herring) moving around the country, you just simply reverse the model?

So with that logic, if rent control causes PRS shortages then abandon rent control and supplement the PRS and a ‘fair’ rental market will return with the benefit of landlords now also getting a ‘fair return’.

What could possibly go wrong’?

The issue with this decision is that now in 2022 we are seeing the true consequences of this reversal, rather than market rates settling to a ‘fair rent’ level they are driving people into cohabitation and single room conversions with shared bathrooms as incomes have stagnated (not so much trickle down, but rather, trickle up), but rents increase as scarcity within the ‘free market’ predicts.

Whereas if they had taken the time and effort to look back to pre 1914 Rent Act they would’ve seen the issues of free market rents gradually consuming and therefore monopolising a sector that even Winston Churchill in 1909 fumed and rallied against to the greed and slothfulness of the rentier class.

Churchill in his mid thirties around 1909

Money for Nothing

3 examples of products that arose out of a deregulated lending sector that was allowed to self regulate, with the post 1979 political ideological support of a ‘free market neoliberal doctrine’ allowing a light touch regulation regime within the sector.

Spoiler alert, it didn’t turn out well

Three examples that I personally and many millions of citizens had to navigate (1988-2009), through mazes of poor legislation, based on neoliberal ideologies of individualism and therefore individual responsibility.

“Which is a handy smokescreen for those businesses who want to shift risk from one party (the lender) to another (the borrower) whilst isolating the borrower as an independent individual versus the banking system”.

“There is only one winner in this loaded game”.

I’m glad to say this eventually unravelled, but with huge losses to the borrowers and to the once trusted reputations of various banks and building societies, here are just three of many heavily marketed products from the 1988-2008 that were sold to the unsuspecting public. The Mutual Building Society mortgage model of pre Big Bang (1988) no longer existed and the public had yet to catch up with this fact, so the driven lenders (who needed to show ever increasing profits for their shareholders) had to find other and additional ways of extracting money from future borrowers, knowing that only a few people actually understood the true value of the products namely, the inventors

In the following three pages are just 3 of the most prominent and now all banned examples of these products

Joining the dots

On the 4th of November I had a lecture on Neoliberalism, a term that I have a rough grasp as to its meaning as we all live in a neoliberal world in most of the northern hemisphere, this is the present ‘normative common sense’ of our economy and social individualistic aspirations.

A really great and thorough lecture with angles that i had not seen before and thus consequences.

Knowing how well researched and read Anna Minton is it was rather depressing to hear her admit that to a point that the concepts of the ‘reclaiming the commons’ had fizzled out. Yet as Mark ( PhD student attending the class who is working on voluntary housing schemes) commented there are projects on the go in the country, but had to admit the enthusiasm of the recent past has declined.
Bumped into a paper this morning reinforcing this depressing reality (see further below for an abstract);

Blair’s ‘Third Way and Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ both tried (and failed) to tap into our former natural egalitarian sense of societal values (Henrich 2021) that are a disconnect from the baseline of Neoliberal thought, that as Hayek would say that at our core we are all ‘self seeking’ and therefore the only real value is monetary and thus we all should work and accept this value, and the invisible hand of the market will solve all our woes if we just give it time (recently completely dismantled by ‘trussanomiocs’).

The reason the Big Society almost instantly failed was that it’s such a contradiction to the common sense that we the public had been taught/indoctrinated for the past 40 years (1979-2010), namely; ‘there is no such thing as society’ every man woman and child for themselves, along with the suspicion we were being taken for fools, expected to work for nothing to support the bottom end of society whist the wealthy yet again ,’run off with the money’. A London East End term would be, to be ‘Mugged off’.

This is the classic ‘all actions have a reaction’ reality, you prime a population to become hyper individualistic, to follow ‘their ‘ dreams, add to the mix ‘positivity’ ie, you can do this! with a sprinkling of status aspiration and boosterism ( no negativity even with obvious failures, think Boris Johnson former PM who promoted Brexit for his own gain and could never understand the criticism as to why it failed, and it has ref -4% growth compared with those in the EU) and you have a citizen that relies on ‘feelings’ more than reality. Perfect politician and media fodder for manipulation and denial of uncomfortable facts ( ie Michael Gove; ‘we no longer need experts’).

The term from an academic perspective is ‘social capital theory’, where we take what we have to offer as individuals with others and collectively do something for the benefit of society/community and not necessarily for monetary profit, ie ‘the big society’.

Gone to the dogs?

(Note many thanks for the images from Mick Lemmerman’s blog; The Isle of dogs – past life, past lives)

Two examples of people movement on the Isle of Dogs;
Sideways and Vertical.

When putting together a presentation concerning a brief history of the Isle of Dogs in the Eastend of London, I stumbled on a 2nd less well known influx during the 1960’s, also promoted by a centralised organisation, but far more inclusive than the later corporate organisation foisted upon the community in 1981, namely The London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC).

The former was the London County Council (LCC) (later to become the GLC) which derived from the post war housing consensus and in particular the 1947 housing act.

So as with all things, looking a little more deeply into the policy of a pre LDDC government select committee, comments within the paper questioning the new law to be presented to parliament. As with many acts of parliament is has to go through various cross parliamentary committees to scrutinise a controversial bill. This bill was no exception born out a new ideology of Free Market Neoliberal Capitalism as promoted by the Thatcher Government of 1979, from the theories of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman (and the rest of what was known as the ‘Austrian School’).

This was the first real opportunity to enact the low regulation ring fenced policy centrally governed via unelected quangos on a large scale”.

To say this was a 180 degree shift from the previous economic and social ideology would be no exaggeration. This is born out in the two shifts in the islands population, the first in the 1960’s which I will call a horizontal shift of people, so not strictly Gentrification in the Ruth Glass terminology of the 1960’s and the present day, and a 2nd more seemingly effective solution in the context of monetary value to the area, but not necessarily for the original local population.

Both influxes have problems.

Early 1980’s