Employee housing, a response to Martin A

Martin A wrote a response to my previous post, Employee Parking at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, which raises a number of points, so I thought I’d discuss it in a separate post.

Of course, a city with mixed zoning is a generally good idea, if you start building from scratch on a big open plain

The hospital was built from scratch on a greenfield site, so it’s exactly the sort of development for which mixed zoning is “a generally good idea”.

If it was in Edinburgh employees’ best interest to be living in the house next door to the hospital, then they would already be living there, having chosen to do so. But hey – wait – something’s wrong – they’re not living there – all the young nurses are in little pokey shared houses in the cheap part of town. What’s gone wrong?

Even if all the houses within 5 minutes walk of the hospital were bought by hospital staff, there would not be enough houses nearby to house them all.

Ah – it’s because they decide that in their own best interests, they would choose in a free(-ish) market, to spend less of their own money on housing. Maybe they like the other parts of town more anyway?

As I’m sure you well know, it’s because of planning laws that you can’t just build housing near hospitals and such like. If we actually had a free market in housing, there wouldn’t be a problem.

So to get them to live next to the hospital, you have to take someone’s money (my money, the Dear Reader’s money?) , under pain of violence, and distort the nurses decision-making by artificially subsidizing some housing.

No. The purpose of the subsidy would be to reward them for the “positive externalities they are providing to others, namely the reduction in traffic near the hospital”. Did you not actually read my post? These positive externalities mean that the subsidy wouldn’t cost other Edinburghers anything, because the cost of the subsidy would be made up by the average benefit they’d gain from them.

(By the way, why is it *my* money? Why not *your* money, Cabalamat? – why don’t you buy a plot of land and build them the houses yourself?

If you choose to live in Edinburgh, you have to live by Edinburgh’s rules, which include paying Council Tax charged by Edinburgh council. You’re free not to live in Edinburgh (to “choose in a free(-ish) market”, in your own words, to live elsewhere) — and in fact that’s the choice 99.99% of people have made.

As to why I don’t do it myself, as I’m sure you’re aware, if you build houses without planning permission, the council will simply force you to demolish them.

Is because you would rather keep what money you have, and spend it on other things? Well guess what – I’ve decided the same thing for mine)

Fine. Then don’t live in Edinburgh.

If you actually valued the lower paid hospital workers more, you might campaign for higher pay for them.

That would merely transfer money from one person to another. My goal is more ambitious: I want to make everyone better off. If, instead of constantly arguing about how to divide up the national cake, politicians put the same energy into thinking up ways of baking a bigger cake, then we could all get a bigger slice. Of course, part of the reason they don’t do that is most politicians don’t understand modern technology or the internet — they are the sort of idiots who think that “IP address” stands for “intellectual property address”.

(By the way, nurses aren’t that badly paid. An NHS worker with the job title “nurse” would be on pay Band 5 and earn £21,176-27,534. In comparison, median earnings in Edinburgh is about £23,000.)

The reason poor people are poor is because they haven’t got much money

That’s not a reason, it’s a tautology.

Oh and the “Efficiency” thing, and the “who loses: no-one” comment? Are you truly bonkers? So this period of grace thing after the employee’s job ends? Who pays for that? The poor nurse, who’s now got no money coming?

The nurse would be entitled to the same benefits as everyone else losing their job.

No Great Plan socialist ever thinks about the Lost Opportunity Cost of their Great Idea subsidies. You think that because the subsidy would be tiny, for each taxpayer, that its payment can effectively be ignored.

No. As I’ve explained elsewhere, the taxpayer would get an equivalent good from the subsidy, in the form of reduced congestion. By the way I’m not a “Great Plan socialist”. I don’t regard myself as a socialist at all — if anything I’m a left-libertarian (or “free market anti-capitalist” as I sometimes whimsically put it).

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