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Neel Krishnaswami
02:21 PM ET (US)
Can you describe how housing regulation works in the UK? I hear phrases like "council housing" and I have no idea what that means. I'm very curious. To make it an honest trade, I'll describe how it works over on this side of the Atlantic:

Every state is divided into counties, and usually each county has a zoning authority, which determines what kinds of building are legal to put up in each district -- an area might be zoned for residential housing, or for commercial properties, or mixed-use and so on. The actual properties within an area can be bought and sold freely; zoning regulations just control what can be built on top of the property. Zoning regulations are not usually very onerous; the big exception is when you live in a major city. Then, the development of any property becomes a major political project. For example, in Boston, where I live, the median home price is ~$360,000, three times the national average. This is mostly because it's just not possible to get the legal approval to convert a house into an apartment building. Whenever someone tries, the neighbors complain: high-density residential block views and increase traffic, so people have a NIMBY attitude towards them. There are also environmental restrictions on building near coasts and wetlands, and this is usually handled at the state level.

When you want to buy a house, you go to a bank, and take out a loan on the property. Typically you put somewhere between 10-20% of the home price down, and borrow the balance. Mortgages last anywhere from 15 to 30 years, usually. Renting a house or apartment is also very common; anyone can do it, and a lot of individuals and corporations rent out property (the firms are called REITs, for Real Estate Investment Trust).

The state and federal governments only rarely directly run housing projects, and when they do they conditions are frequently quite terrible. Far more common (and effective) are subsidies to homebuyers (for instance, mortage interest is deducted from income taxes), and local authorities sometimes impose legal requirements on builders to make make a percentage of their construction low-income housing.

(Any Canadians, Dutchmen or others present? I'm curious about you, too.)
Duncan Lawie
09:44 AM ET (US)
Is this genuinely about immigration? There is a recent article in The Times suggesting that the housing issue has more to do with the decreasing cost of a mortage in relation to household income:

The British do not “need” to live in houses with gardens rather than flats. They just prefer it. For this preference they must pay, and in spades.

Edited 07-05-2002 09:46 AM
Neel Krishnaswami
12:28 PM ET (US)
Hi Charlie, I honestly don't think you have a whole lot to worry about. In the US, the foreign-born fraction of the population rose from 4.7% in 1970 to 10.4% in 2000. The primary effect of this has been to completely marginalize the nativist right. Bush #2 is known to be sympathetic to the idea of open borders with Mexico, and he's about as right-wing as mainstream American politicians come.

One really weird dynamic you need to watch out for is the mating of the anti-immigration with environmentalist rhetoric. A lot of the anti-immigration rhetoric in the US is now coded green. You'll get ignored as a crank and a racist if you talk about teeming hordes crowding out natives, but recode it with talk about how population increase threatens the environment and increases urban sprawl, and suddenly it sounds mainstream. It's very icky.
Deleted by author 06-01-2002 03:58 AM
Martin WissePerson was signed in when posted
05:53 AM ET (US)
Voting for LPF wouldn't make you a racist, just a bit stupid. With Fortuyn gone, the party is just a loose connection of nitwits, morons, b-rate celebrities and
somewhat shady characters

Fortuyn himself may not have been racist (though he was bigoted against Islam, imo) but his followers are another matter...

There's the small matter of monsieurs Eberhard (made his money with porn sites) and Wiersma (a horse breeder) who both have to leave the LPF for writing some ...interesting statements on the internet.

Eberhard wrote:

"In 2015 is Amsterdam een negroide moslemstad, dan is de laatste oorspronkelijke bewoner neergestoken op de Zeedijk door iemand met een getinte huidskleur''.

("In 2015 Amsterdam will be a negroid Muslimcity, with the last original inhabitant stabbed on the Zeedijk by somebody with a tinted skincolour.")


"Het biologisch fenomeen doet zich nu voor dat de meest succesvolle ondersoort bij de mensen; het europese ras in aantal met rasse schreden achteruit gaat."

("The biological phenomenon now occurs that the most succesful human subspecies; the european race declines rapidly in number.")

Not to mention the just-elected-already-leaving chairman
Peter Langendam stating that Fortuyn's murder was organised by leftwing politicians...
Edited 05-15-2002 05:54 AM
Charlie StrossPerson was signed in when posted
06:42 PM ET (US)
Patrick: I must be suffering from amnesia or something! Where have I been declared to be a libertarian?

(I confess to severely envying Ken's Prometheus awards, but I'm quite happy to try to win my own by honest
deception :)
Charlie StrossPerson was signed in when posted
06:40 PM ET (US)
Heh. Note that "I'd seriously consider voting for him" is not the same as "hey, this guy is great! I will vote for him".

There are some ... interesting ... smells arising from other parts of the manifesto. (You did read it, didn't you?) In fact, it smells rather strongly of Thatcherism to me, and I sure didn't vote for her.

But I stand foresquare behind my key point: calling this guy's party "fascist" is a slanderous lie. "Radical" and "controversial" are adjectives that might be justifiable against the background of Dutch politics, but if these folks are fascists then so was Margaret Thatcher (whose clampdown on immigration into the UK in the 1980's was at least as tough as anything the Pim Fortuyn list is calling for), and I suppose you could tar George W. Bush with the same brush. Which is complete rubbish. (I'd call Dubya and Maggie various rude things, but "fascist" isn't one of them, at least when I'm trying to be intellectually honest.)
Anna FDD
05:09 PM ET (US)
Martin Wisse is dubious about the stuff you quote on Fortuyn - but hasn't yet written copiously on the matter.

To me - from the perspective of the xenophobic and racist country I live in- it seems like reasonableness can lure one to a very slippery slope.

However, Martin's blog is at http://www.cloggie.org/wissewords/blosxom.cgi
Dave Bell
05:03 PM ET (US)
It's astonishing how easy it can be to be a fascist, isn't it. And not so astonishing how easy it is to use the label as political abuse.

And that stuff you quoted -- it makes sense. It can't just be dismissed. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some flaws in the arguments, and nasty hidden assumptions, but that's a part of politics of any sort.

Some people don't like rational argument. It hurts their brains and gets in the way of the football and tinnies.
Patrick Nielsen HaydenPerson was signed in when posted
01:56 PM ET (US)
Wow, Charlie gets to be a fascist _and_ a libertarian, all in one day!

And won't the other guys down at the Workers' Vanguard be jealous, too.

Someone last month called Iain a capitalist roader. And when he won those two awards, several people called Ken an American stooge. But it wasn't as much fun as he expected--he had to pay them first.

But Charlie gets all the breaks.
Anton SherwoodPerson was signed in when posted
05:35 AM ET (US)
Wow, I never met a non-lib cryo type before.
01:48 AM ET (US)
yer fulla crap on immigration. It's breaking our safety net over here in the USA. YOu simply regurgitate the tenets of your religion, Libertarianism.

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