Saturday, 5 March 2011

Let Bradford shrink back to a village

One of the great pretences of the Welfare State is that there is still a viable economy in places with 75% unemployment. It's only State jobs that provide any work at all, only Housing Benefit that makes an artificial market in rented property when if left alone, the rental cost of a terraced house would be minus £20 a week - the price the owner would pay to have someone living there to stop it being stripped for scrap copper and old fireplaces. So our taxes preserve these dead towns, preserve a wholly artificial economy. And IDS' Five Year Tractor Plan will do nothing to change this. 

Detroit was known worldwide as the centre of the motor manufacturing industry. As the industry died, so workers moved out, the city's tax base fell, and whole areas of downtown Detroit have just been abandoned, the property not worth a spit, and not enough taxes to police it or keep it from burning down. The buildings are empty of people, and there's no traffic at all on streets once jammed with vehicles. And this is absolutely right. Why should Federal taxes pay Welfare relief, pay to keep a city that's had it's day alive? Let it rot and collapse and let trees grow in the rubble and let nature reclaim it. 

Deserted downtown Detroit

A city or a town isn't a masonry structure, it's an economy. If there's not even a sufficient local tax-base to pave the streets, pay subsistence Welfare, educate the kids and provide a basic level of public health, there's no reason why it should survive. Using taxes from richer areas will just damage the national economy - money that should be invested in business and trade is being wasted maintaining an artificial property market. So let Bradford return to a village, let Blackburn go back to some huts in a swamp, with the natives poking about in the dirt with sticks. Let the people move out - to the Fens to pick vegetables, to London to drive buses, to anywhere where there's work and a new life. And let's let the crumbling housing estates return to the earth. 


Bill Sticker said...

Raedwald, as you so rightly point out; a city is not so much a place, more a process. Without movement of goods and services it dies as much of Detroit has done.

The Welfare State can only delay the inevitable.

Votefor said...

That's better , pure Dalrymple.

Blue Eyes said...

The city which reminds me most of the "facts of life" is Chicago. I always think of it as a factory of commerce.

Anonymous said...

I wonder. If the rents fell without artificial inflation and people could work and invest without having to pay for three state workers for every private job (in some areas) would the collapse even happen at all.

I remember hearing somewhere that even with all the problems in Detroit there is still so much government bureaucracy it can take months to get all the permissions necessary to start a business.

Maybe if the the government butted out a new city could grow on the ruins of the old.

Anonymous said...

Taken to it's logical conclusion or end game, everyone would have to live in the South East. 60M of us all crowded round the "jobs market" The rest of the country would be laid waste.

And then what for localism? There would be no such thing.

There is a lot wrong with this country and one of the principle wrongs is the fact that we are so London centric. Having a "London" in your country is like having a feckin big oak tree in your garden. Nothing else grows as all the water and light is taken by the tree - so it is with London and the South East, they suck up all the resources and the rest of the country can go to hell in a hand cart.

I have no idea how to even begin to fix this problem, so you can bet your bottom dollar that all the politicians in all the parties together don't have a feckin clue either. Mind you, they're all in London.

Coney Island

Lee said...

Are you really advocating that millions more people should move to the already overcrowded south east?

Raedwald said...

Perhaps as anon suggests if we withdraw from distorting the markets - property, land, labour - in these places, they will find a renaissance and a renewal. But pouring billions as we do now into dead and bankrupt towns just to keep the populations from moving to Essex surely isn't the right answer.

Anonymous said...

You are right R and in some way, I was wrong. I was wrong to say that I didn't have the answer when I think that I met the answer in a retired bloke called Bob Hughes OBE. Bob's well desereved claim to fame was in his work in North Wales during the 70's 80's and 90's. He worked tirelessly for Wales, inviting, promoting, cajoling and pursuading foreign companies to come to North Wales and set up their businesses there so that the catastrophic collapse of Courthaulds and King Coal could in some way be back-filled.

Directly attributable to Bob Hughes, was the inward investment of £3Bn and 22,500 new jobs for North Wales in clean new-age, well paid industries. Bob bloody well earned his OBE.

The trouble is, we now don't have enough blokes like Bob and what we are stuck with is paltry hand outs which do little good; given by London centric people who neither know nor care what is going on in other parts of their country. Its a bit like the shock and horror that the upper classes of Britain felt during the evacuations of WWII. They just couldn't believe that parts of their own country (i.e. the North) had people living in such squalid conditions. Hence the rise of the Labour movement shortly after the war ended.

Northerners are resilient folks - we have to be. We don't want or need paltry handouts or platitudes. What we do need however, is for ministers in government, and business leaders to recognise that we are part of the overall team and that they, the ministers and leaders, should be batting for all of us. Unfortunately, this is deemed as a big ask. But it is far from too late. We just need half a dozen Bob Hughes characters, and the rest we'll do ourselves. As we always do.

Coney Island

Dembones said...

"Northerners are resilient folks......" When mines closed prior to WWII the workers moved to find work but they were screwed first by cheap labour from the Asian sub-continent and now by Eastern European labour.
Northerners generally cannot move to the expensive South East, there is no capital to make the move; and many have been so poorly schooled that they would be unable to compete for any lucrative job. It is a vicious cycle.

Anonymous said...

Apt quote from Milton Friedman

"When unions get higher wages for their members by restricting entry into an occupation, those higher wages are at the expense of other workers who find their opportunities reduced. When government pays its employees higher wages, those higher wages are at the expense of the taxpayer. But when workers get higher wages and better working conditions through the free market, when they get raises by firm competing with one another for the best workers, by workers competing with one another for the best jobs, those higher wages are at nobody's expense. They can only come from higher productivity, greater capital investment, more widely diffused skills. The whole pie is bigger - there's more for the worker, but there's also more for the employer, the investor, the consumer, and even the tax collector.

That's the way the free market system distributes the fruits of economic progress among all people. That's the secret of the enormous improvements in the conditions of the working person over the past two centuries."

— Milton Friedman (Free to Choose: A Personal Statement)