Straw and Camels

Everyone and I do mean everyone is running around pointing fingers at whomsoever they hold responsible for putting the last straw on the camel’s back of the global property boom.

The truth is that the error was in deciding to go for anything near that much of a load in the first place. Everyone is complicit in that error.

Everyone is also guilty of some degree of hypocrisy at this stage. No one refused a payrise, bought a smaller car or accepted a lower houseprice in the days of excess. Now, no one wants to take their share of the losses. But, equally, there was no reward for standing aside from the madness.

There was a fever of speculation abroad. It is also true that as the bubble started to inflate it was dangerous to stop and point out the dangers. It meant that one was in danger of being left behind and not being able to catch up.

The job of politicians and taxcollectors and regulators is to structure markets so that they fairly deliver what they can from our resources. It never made any sense that a country with one of the lowest population densities in Europe should have some of the highest land prices.

Our planning scheme meant that it was in the politicians interest to drip feed planning approvals which maximised the builders profits which maximised the contributions, legal and illegal, from the builders. This was tolerable while it was not distorting our overall economic performance. But in the era of the Euro and it’s low interest rates the boom in building distorted the amount of money we paid ourselves and has blown up the entire economy.

Much of this is rooted in our common semi-evolved psychology. It was acceptable to be a “mè fèin-er” on the way up but folks are looking to be choosy about who they let on to the lifeboat.

Both are hypocritical and both are aspects of herd behaviour. Having stampeded one way we seem to be stampeding the other way now. Where is our political leadership now. ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’ says Shakespeare. Where is the man because the hour is nigh?

And still some folks deny the facts of evolution. We have a long, long way to go.

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