Balls talks bollocks on housing

Ed Balls, a contender for the Labour leadership,proposes to spend £6 billion to build 100,000 affordable homes (via Liberal Conspiracy):

By using half of that £12 billion, a £6 billion investment this year and next, we could build 100,000 extra affordable homes

This puts the cost at £60,000 per home. But, as I have pointed out, if you use modern technology, it only costs £20,000 to build a home. So for £6 bn you could build 3 times as many, i.e. 300,000 of them. Or you could just build the 100,000 and have £4 bn left over. So Balls is clearly proposing a highly sub-optimal solution.

Why is this? I think the root reason is that Balls, in common with most politicians — and certainly most from the main parties — doesn’t really understand modern technology and how it will make the 21st century different from the 20th. If Balls did get modern technology, he’d realise that manufacturing has made goods very cheap to produce, and on learning that houses cost around £60k to produce, it would occur to an educated intelligent person to wonder “hmm, if houses were mass-produced instead of being individually hand-crafted, maybe they’d be cheaper”, and then they’d look it up on the internet (not sure if Balls knows how to do Google searches, but one of the candidates in the 2008 US election didn’t). So the right level of intelligence and background knowledge would have led Balls to realise that houses can be built fro £20k instead of £60k.

This lack of knowledge — or even interest — in modern technology is particularly obvious when you consider the Digital Economy Act, an utterly ill-conceived law. The level of ignorance was such that Stephen Timms, who at the time was Minister for Digital Britain, thought that “IP address” stood for “intellectual property address“. (In fact, it stands for “internet protocol address”, the internet protocol being the standard that all computers on the internet use to talk to each other). This is a level of ignorance roughly equivalent to the minister for transport not knowing what a road or a steering wheel is.

So while the same old crowd are in power — and I lump Labour, the Tories, the Lib Dems and the SNP together in this — we aren’t going to be able to build a modern Britain fit for the 21st century.

And that’s why we need a Pirate government. If you live in South Edinburgh, you can make a start by voting for me, Philip Hunt, the Pirate Party candidate, in Liberton/Gilmerton on the 9th of September.

(And yes, I have waited for ages to use that headline.)

This entry was posted in Britain, economics, housing, Pirate Party, politics, technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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