Bad policy ideas? Look no further

It really upsets me to read that a person who needs and qualifies for rent allowance is told they can’t have it. The person in question fell ill after donating a kidney to a nephew. This is another example of how the machine breaks down from time to time and does so at a human cost when the merit of disallowing a person the allowance is political rather than being based on any desire for better outcomes. 

But then the debate is followed up with a list of suggestions by a group who are the housing equivalent to Peter Pan, thinking that there is a magic way to stay young forever (or in this case functional at a high level without massive societal cost). Most of which is reliant upon an inductive fallacy that you can determine a certain housing outcome is desirable then just policy your way into making it a reality. Something which falls into another well known fallacy of ‘wishful thinking’.

The extract from the paper is below, we’ll consider why some of these statements reveal more about ideology rather than any concern for the people they are made on the pretence of. 

Housing groups from across Dublin have come together to demand a legally enforceable right to housing and a “radical change in housing policy”.

What place in democracy does one group alone having the right to demand changes have? What if that group was developers? One might say ‘developers did get their way’ but that it happened is a different matter than saying it was correct and should be a policy of itself.

We also fall into the trap of allowing the insertion of ‘a right’ into any argument, and then having that argument above question. When any right comes with a corresponding cost then it should remain with the people who have to shoulder that cost to have a say in the matter. The ‘state’ is not a source of endless wealth, it is a source of taking money from one group and giving it to another (in the case of social housing). Making any right legally enforceable may seem intuitive, but what if it then becomes the ‘right’ to whatever the person wants?

The well known case of a woman living in a car with her three kids is a case in point, it turned out she had a house to live in down in Athy, it had damage done to it, but would it be easier to get that fixed or live in a car? A large part of the issue seemed to be she didn’t like the area, how do you treat a situation like that? Does the right to housing come with a geographic option?

Rent control is among the demands listed, along with an end to landlords’ right to refuse rent supplement, a moratorium on all evictions by banks, mortgage write-downs, large-scale State investment in social housing construction, the re-generation of existing housing stock to the highest standards and that local authorities must be compelled to deliver Traveller specific accommodation.

The recklessness of rent control has already been demonstrated on this blog, and the logic needs only be tested by asking ‘if you can control rents, then why not just control house prices and then everybody could afford to be a buyer instead?’. Calling for moratoriums on repossessions hurts mortgage credit, again, this is a cost that is passed off to other people who are not involved but it’s victimless in the minds of people who say these sorts of things.

Calling for housing to be ‘of the highest standard’ is also going beyond SI534 , it implies marble counters and MTV cribs, because ‘highest standards’ means just that, it doesn’t mean ‘a compliant standard’, it means these new ‘rights’ which should be ‘legally enforceable’ give you the right to the kind of home people who work all their lives may not be able to afford.

John Bisset, a community worker from Rialto, chaired the meeting, saying successive Governments’ housing policy relied on the market model “which doesn’t cater for the needs of people”.

The state housing model is the failed one, they blew their money, they jacked up rents 80% over the last 10 years while private rents are back at 2003 levels, why is this not mentioned? Because it makes the lobbying aspect of the equation very weak, and the last thing a person wants is to disrupt their ideology with inconvenient facts.

The European coalition has member housing rights groups in Italy, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Hungary and Portugal. Some have held mass open assemblies on housing rights, while others have blocked sheriffs’ attempts to evict people from their homes and also occupied vacant buildings demanding they be given over to housing.

At its root, this is a group who want to make democratic calls for various rights, but its a single sided set of rights for whatever they choose to believe, obviously the rights of creditors, the rule of law and importance of contract don’t mean that much to them, but with such disjointed thinking already so evident why would it?




One Comment

  1. A brazil

    I have always thought that for the state to ‘give’ someone a house or apartment is a huge thing. These homes should not be assumed to be theirs for life. The need should be reviewed, repairs should be carried out by the tenant and new appliances should also be funded by the tenant. In other words the homes come with responsibilities.
    Social housing is a massive gift from society.

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