Tag Archives: London

Delusional taxation

The Guardian gave us a piece that is just too unequal for words (at https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2018/jul/07/its-time-for-britains-millionaire-pensioners-to-pay-up). Not only is the stage wrongfully set by Phillip Inman, he hides behind the emotional drive and gives no consideration of the historical facts. So even as he ‘treated’ some people to ‘The Financial Crisis: How Did We Get Here‘, we need to see the right setting on how the inactivity of some got us to this place. He starts right of the bat with ‘The retired are having a great time at the expense of young families thanks to generous pensions and property wealth‘. You see, the property boom is fictive, artificial and pushed because some council’s needed to look good for investment, the prices are driven upwards. The fact that three governments have been totally ignorant of the housing situation and that is shown with an utter lack of social housing is one piece of this evidence. In addition, some of these places have been taxed again and again, in some cases up to four generations. Phillip does not notify the reader on that part. The bigger and even more deafening blow of injustice is given with: “A two-year investigation by the Intergenerational Commission, a group sponsored by the Resolution Foundation think-tank, has found that what it calls the “contract between the generations” is at breaking point. It warns that society risks dumping a disproportionate amount of the costs of an ageing population on their shoulders. It’s been going on for some time and now the situation is acute“, you see I was largely aware of that part in the 90’s, when I was not in the UK. Several people notified their governments of this danger (Netherlands, Germany, UK and Austria), yet those governments were all about sailing in good weather, it was not on their plate, so they ignored it. Several players in these places warned of the dangers and in the end too little was done, until it was too late and now everyone is crying on the hardship that comes. The largest portions of those people now getting a pension worked, they worked every day and more hours than ever compensated for. All the elected politicians who remained asleep, optionally on Viagra or at parties ignoring the long term effects as they would no longer be in office (which is a speculation on how they used their time). Now those in office are set in a stage where they cannot unset the rights that these people acquired. Now it is all about “54-year-olds and above – are making increasing demands on an economic and social system that, after the 2008 financial crash, can barely cope with existing commitments“, yet those are demands that they were entitled to. They were taxed, often taxed too high and whilst some politicians made really poor decisions on how to invest these surpluses, they never considered that the losses would remain to bite everyone and now there is almost quite literally hell to pay for these people, and in this case these people are not the retirees, they are the former elected politicians, the economic advisors and the consultants that were hired at a much too high overpriced setting.

When we see “subsidised deposits: that just sent house prices spiralling upwards“, we should take the home owners that live in their home, all paid off out of the equation, should we not? In that same setting “It’s because they have a generous occupational pension and property wealth beyond anything they might have considered when they bought their first home“, you see, as long as they live in that house, it is their home, not wealth, not something they eat. Those caught in the bubble should not get taxed because they merely want a roof over their heads. Yet, in the eyes of those economists that does not count. Yes, those economists who have been setting the stage in their own advantage for decades, they are all ignored in this, are they not?

I do however like the setting that Phillip gives with: “Baby boomers had no idea that the overly generous pensions, failure to deal with the overspill from dirty industries and nimbyism would build up costs for the young“, yet in all this, he does not mention that since 1996 certain changes were needed, because the greying population issue was already well within the scope of everyone (everyone with any level of intelligence that is).

So when we see: “The commission and IF say working pensioners should at the very least pay national insurance. We should go beyond this policy and force the retired to pay income tax under a separate regime. This would set the 40p rate at £20,000 (compared with £43,000 for workers) and the 45p rate at £40,000 (against £150,000 for workers). A new regime for property tax is also needed that taxes more wealth at a lower rate, spreading the load and making it less avoidable, capturing the rich and middle-income earners alike

We need to change the setting. We need to make it very clear that this is not just wrong; we should demand that these people come out in front of it all. Not hide behind the word ‘commission’, but we are entitled to know the people and they need to be held accountable for their actions in this.


  1. David Willetts, Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation (chair)
  2. Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI
  3. Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI
  4. Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC
  5. Geoffrey Filkin, Chairman of the Centre for Ageing Better
  6. John Hills, Professor of Social Policy at the LSE
  7. Kate Barker, economist and former MPC member
  8. Nigel Wilson, Group Chief Executive of Legal & General
  9. Paul Johnson, Director of the IFS
  10. Sarah O’Connor, Employment Correspondent at the Financial Times
  11. Torsten Bell, Director of the Resolution Foundation
  12. Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change

All commissioners of the Intergenerational Commission (at https://www.intergencommission.org/), in addition to this, all the economic advisors where bad advice can be identified, those economists, need to get taxed for the losses that their advice caused out of their own pocket. You cannot tax one population twice over, whilst these people get richly rewarded for not doing their job correctly in the first place. The UK was far behind, when the BBC gave us in 2007: ‘The UK is going through the biggest pension shake-up in 50 years’, they were already a decade too late, this is not news, this issue has been slowly growing for over a decade and now we get highly priced think tanks giving out reports on how to solve stupidity and inaction. So when we see “In an attempt to improve the state pension prospects of women – who often take time out of work to look after children – the number of years of National Insurance Contributions (NICS) it takes to earn a full state pension will be cut from 44 to 30. This will mean millions more people, mainly women, will be entitled to a full state pension. The government has also tried to tackle the issue of vanishing workplace pension provision, as firms move to cut staff pensions” (at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6937301.stm), we see a level of inactions from a failing setting. Instead of giving a clear change of more payments into the pension system, we see a feigned ‘the number of years of National Insurance Contributions (NICS) it takes to earn a full state pension will be cut from 44 to 30‘, so not only is there an issue of shortage, the setting that a full pension could be earned was set to 68%, so 30% is close to gone, because all the late starters now suddenly get a full pension. When you realise those levels of close to insane stupidity, will the hearings show that economic advisors told them that it would work? So who were these consultants? We want full disclosure of these people. Should we not be allowed those facts? And when we confront these people will their reply be: ‘it was slightly more complex than I comprehended‘. So can we foreclose on these highly paid consultants and auction off their belongings to make up for the losses?

If that sounds unfair, consider the unfairness of taxing a group after a lifetime of service (or at least 68% of the time) again? Most these people had to bend over backwards to keep their place, keep their job and when it is finally retirement time, we hit them again. I think that this is beyond acceptable.

So when we see the end “The millionaire no longer just lives in the squire’s house. Times have changed. The retired teachers of Beverly in Yorkshire, and former BT engineers in Tunbridge Wells, are having a great time at the expense of young families” then my response is: ‘It is a fucking lie!‘ They are living of funds that they were taxed for their entire lives, the fact that they live in places that they made liveable is because they worked on it most of their live and suddenly that value is because no one was willing to contain the housing bubbles as it call in the foreign investors. That is the truth of the matter and whilst we all consider that truth, also consider the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/04/anger-over-glut-of-posh-ghost-towers-london), where we see “London councils have granted property developers planning permission to build more than 26,000 luxury flats priced at more than £1m each, despite fears that there are already too many half-empty “posh ghost towers” in the capital“, the Battersea Powerhouse, where social housing was cut after agreements were ‘adjusted’, and as we see in addition: “Politicians and housing campaigners said the figures show councils are prioritising the needs of the super-rich over those of hardworking young Londoners“, we start to see how the entire setting from Phillip Inman is just a load of bollocks, the flawed London setting is showing that the infrastructure will collapse sooner rather than later, it is a simple setting because empty places do not fuel the needs of groceries, butchers and supermarkets. They are merely empty plots that have only value for the investor and only for as long as profit can be made. Not only is the pension setting a travesty, when seen against the backdrop that David Lammy,  the Labour MP for Tottenham gives “Just 6,423 affordable homes were built in London during the 2016-2017 financial year (the latest figures available), a 5% decline on the previous year and a big drop from the 19,622 built in 2014-15“, labour is not innocent here either, the previous labour governments were no help in any way and whilst we see how 26,000 luxury flats are added to the London region driving prices even further up, the setting of: ‘to generous pensions and property wealth‘, is merely a facade on inflated egos and the need to find taxation for those houses to be vacated so that they get upgraded too. Some people should be ashamed of themselves and until those names are out in front in the open and those who failed get prosecuted, until that day is fact, there is not acceptable setting where the pensioners are to be taxed in any way.

It just ain’t cricket!

Oh and whilst we are at it, can someone please sack the entire Wandsworth council? When we need to set to the forefront “Only 9% of the homes will be affordable, far below London mayor Sadiq Khan’s 35% affordability target for all new large developments” again (I already did that last year), we need to make sure that those who allowed that drop will never be allowed to work anywhere in government ever again, let’s face it, they could still become barber or Uber driver.

In addition, in a flair of social justice when we see “The Coutts figures, compiled by housing data service LonRes, show that developers are pushing ahead with the vast number of expensive new flats despite failing to sell more than half of the 1,900 luxury homes they built in London last year“, these developers should not be allowed to continue, unless the unsold apartments are leased for social rentals to the council at £1 per year, whilst 80% of the rent goes to the pension funds fuelling it and 20% is for the developer (for their cooperative trouble). So, I solved the entire issue for the next 5 years without having to tax the pensioners and getting almost 1,000 additional social homes. There was not need to get 12 commissioners involved, we merely need Mayor Sadiq Khan to set the London legislation to that solution. I do believe that the lord mayor owes me a large cappuccino with two sugars and a warm blueberry muffin. That’s not too outrageous a fee, is it?



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Way of the Dodo

Tariffs are nothing new, these things have existed for the longest time. I grew up where that was a given, so in my youth, only the rich bought a Harley, a Chrysler or a Chevy. I still remember walking to the shop in Rotterdam and look at all those awesome vehicles through the windows (I was too young to drive in those days), many grew their passion that way. It seems odd that living next to the country that made Volkswagen and Mercedes, we wanted a Blazer, a Harley or another American car. Nowadays, the petrol guzzlers they used to be wouldn’t make it today in Europe. So when we see: ‘EU tariffs force Harley-Davidson to move some production out of US‘, I merely see a stage setting to the old ways. The Guardian gives us loads of information as the market slides, as the shift of production and the changing of the US stock market. That is the direct visible impact of the Trade wars. Australia had this setting a few years earlier as the car industry packed up and left Australia for more exploitative settings in Asia. In the booming market that is stated to exist, we see ‘Harley: EU tariffs will cost $100m/year in short term‘ (source: the Guardian). this is a war the US president started and he forgot that companies, especially US ones, have one focus, short term ROI and a trade war changes the hats of many corporations overnight. This is seen to some degree as Bloomberg treated us to ‘Bigger Booby Trap for U.S. Economy‘. We get introduced to “Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on June 20 that officials are beginning to hear that companies are postponing investment and hiring due to uncertainty about what comes next” (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-24/trump-s-trade-war-sets-bigger-booby-trap-for-strong-u-s-economy). It is what is sometimes referred to as the corporate mindset, the consideration that tomorrow is not going to be any better for now. In all this the US hides behind “tax cuts power both consumer and company spending. That would be the strongest in almost four years and twice as fast as the first quarter’s annualized advance of 2.2 percent“, yet the US seems to forget that tax cuts also means that infrastructures are falling apart, the US has a debt it cannot seem to pay and the debt keeps on rising. This in a nation where the national debt has surpassed $21 trillion (103% of GDP), whilst in addition the statistics show that the US faces a setting where the debt per taxpayers is $175K opposing a revenue per taxpayer is merely $27K, a $148K per taxpayer shortfall, that is not the moment when tax cuts have any clear momentum, because the moment the infrastructures start failing, at that point their momentum seizes. Even as Nariman Behravesh the IHS Markit’s Macroeconomic Adviser give us “If they keep down this path, all the positive effects of the tax cut will be gone“, it is worse than that. This gives the indirect implication that unemployment rates will go up giving additional ‘attack’ against the US infrastructure. All this seems to become a direct result of the tug of war between tariffs and protectionism. The BBC gives the best light (at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-43512098), when we consider ‘Five reasons why trade wars aren’t easy to win‘. In this we see (not all five added):

  1. Tariffs may not actually boost steel and aluminium jobs much. The question becomes, how much of a boost would be possible, and is this proven or still merely speculation?
  2. Tariffs are likely to raise costs in the US, so the cost of the product will be increased as these CEO’s do not want to take it out of their margins, so it will be bookkept in another place, the consumer has to pay for all these charges in the end.
  3. Tariffs could hurt allies and prompt retaliation, which is already the case and when you consider that the two largest deliverers of steel are Canada and the EU, the move does not make that much sense. So we see a tariff war that will be about exemptions. In that regard, the tariff war is a bust where the companies hit will be facing a rock and a hard stand on tariffs, this is shown by a few clever people to move part of their operation to Europe, and Harley Davidson is merely the first of several to make that move.
  4. China has options, this is the big one. The US blames China for flooding the market with cheap steel and aluminium and has already stepped up protective measures against Chinese steel products. In opposition, US businesses, including those in the car, tech and agriculture industries, are eager to get into the Chinese market, giving leaders there some leverage. So in the end, the tariff war is not strangling US businesses to fan out to the Chinese market, as exemptions are gained here, the tariff war becomes close to pointless and it merely drove down the economy. This last part is not a given and cannot be proven until 2019, which could null and void any chance of President Trump getting a second term, in addition, if this is not going to be a slam dunk win for the Democrats, the Republicans better have a strong case, because 2020 is the one election where the chances for winning by Jeb Bush (Florida) and Ann Coulter (Florida) seems to be a better option than re-electing the current president. Who would have thought that in 2016? It becomes hilarious when you consider that 2020 is the year that Marco Rubio declined to run, only to give the presidency to Ann Coulter. My sense of humour needs to point that out, whether it becomes reality or not.

The previous part is important to consider, not for the matter of who becomes president, but the setting that the economy is in such a state where we all see the proclamation ““Anyone who thinks the economy is being wrecked doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a June 21 Bloomberg Television interview“. We accept the fact that he states that, yet everyone seems to overlook that the debt also gives an annual interest that is close to $100 per taxpayer, now consider that 80% of the population is in the 15% or 10% bracket. So from their taxation we see a maximum of $755 where 13% goes straight to the paying of the interest, when you are in the higher bracket 3% is lost. So before anything else is done up to 16% is lost and that accounts for 80% of the population, merely because no budgets were properly kept, the US infrastructure lost up to 16% straight from the start, that is the undermining of an infrastructure that also fuels the economy which it can no longer do. You see behind this is the IP, or as the US calls it the IP theft by China. I am uncertain if we can agree. I am not stating that it does not happen, I merely look at the Dutch examples from Buma/Stemra in the 90’s and their numbers were flawed, perhaps even cooked. They never made sense and after that we have seen ‘political weighting‘ of numbers that were debatable from the start.

So when we look back to 2017, we see the NY Times giving us: “Intellectual-property theft covers a wide spectrum: counterfeiting American fashion designs, pirating movies and video games, patent infringement and stealing proprietary technology and software“, yet I have seen these accusations in Europe and the numbers never added up. So when we see: “Central to Chinese cybersecurity law is the “secure and controllable” standard, which, in the name of protecting software and data, forces companies operating in China to disclose critical intellectual property to the government and requires that they store data locally. Even before this Chinese legislation, some three-quarters of Chinese imported software was pirated. Now, despite the law, American companies may be even more vulnerable“. It will happen, yet to what degree does it happen? What evidence is there? Consider the setting when we think of students. Students tend to have one of the harshest budgets to live on. Let’s take 100 students and they all decided to duplicate (read: borrow) the latest album from Taylor Swift ‘Reputation’ (it is easier to imagine it when the victim is a beautiful blonde who only recently stopped being a teenager). Now, basically she lost $2390 in revenue, yet is that true? How many would have actually bought the album? Let’s say 10% of all students are real fans and they would have bought the album (when not confronted with the choice of food versus entertainment), so the actual loss is $239. Now, this is still a loss and she is entitled to take action here. Yet the people making a living in the facilitation industry will demand the loss be set to $2390 that is where the numbers do not add up! There is the setting of eagerness to hear an album versus the need to have the album. We are all driven with the need to hear the album and some will buy it. This opposes several views and whilst the implied copied work allegedly is done so in the hundreds of thousands, the evidence is not there to support it. That is where weighted forecasts are the setting and it is an inaccurate one. So in all this, from the IP point of view, do we have 23,675,129 C# programmers, or merely 24 million people who wanted to take a look at C# only to install it and never use it because they could not figure out what they were looking at?

Now we get to 2018, where we see (at http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/23/technology/china-us-trump-tariffs-ip-theft/index.html) the projected issues with “The United States Trade Representative, which led the seven-month investigation into China’s intellectual property theft and made recommendations to the Trump administration, found that “Chinese theft of American IP currently costs between $225 billion and $600 billion annually“, I wonder what numbers they are set on. Now we can agree that the likelihood of “”China has sought to acquire US technology by any means, licit or illicit,” James Andrew Lewis, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, wrote in a blog post Thursday” being true in regard to defence projects would be high. Yet in all this, where is the data supporting these views? Without proper data we are faced with US companies setting expected revenue that is many millions too high and that part remains unanswered on many fronts. Now in defence, we get it! That is the game, so as we consider the news last year from breaking defense with the news that: “compassion for the Army, which is trying to standardize its computer systems across more than 400 units in the next 28 months. The objective is a “single software baseline,” where every unit has the same set of information technologies. Such standardization should simplify everything from training, maintenance, operations and future upgrades“, this is fun to read as I had to set up something like that for a company much smaller. There we learned that Dell was kind enough to have within two shipments the same model computer yet both had different patches because one chip had been changed. Now consider that this ‘unsettling dream of standardisation‘ was for a company with hardware usage merely a rough 0.13% of what the US Army has. So, that is something that will bite them soon enough. This doesn’t make the setting smaller, but a lot larger, the wrong patches tend to open up networks for all kinds of flaws not correctly set. So the cyber intrusion setting would be an optional 300% larger, giving a much larger success rate, all people willing to sell data to the Chinese (or the Chinese merely enticing the American people to embrace marketing capitalism for their own gains).

To explain the previous part in its proper light we need to realise. It is not merely about IP theft and rights; it is also about common cyber sense. In both the military and corporate setting there is a need for levels of standardisation, whilst IP that tends to rely on standardisation to be more successful, the IP theft setting is actually opposite to that. The Conversation (at http://theconversation.com/three-reasons-why-pacemakers-are-vulnerable-to-hacking-83362) gives us when they look at the medical dangers. As they give us Power versus security as well as Convenience versus security we see the first dangers. So consider the following. First there is “according to Carnegie Mellon researchers, can increase the energy consumption of some mobile phones by up to 30% because of the loss of proxies“, then we get “Most embedded medical devices don’t currently have the memory, processing power or battery life to support proper cryptographic security, encryption or access control“, giving us that hacking into someone’s pacemaker is actually not as hard as one might think. Now consider that encryption, or a lack thereof can be found on a large variety of IoT devices, and any army has their own devices that need to be more accessible at all times. In the second consideration we get “The prospect of having to keep usernames, passwords and encryption keys handy and safe is contrary to how they plan to use them“, as well as “When your pacemaker fails and the ambulance arrives, however, will you really have the time (or ability) to find the device serial number and authentication details to give to the paramedics“, it is the age old setting of convenience for the safety of all. So as we realise this, how much IP theft was already available before anyone realised its need? It is almost like the gun laws in the US, everyone wants gun laws whilst there are millions available for unmonitored purchasing defeating the purpose altogether. In that same setting we ignore common Cyber Sense too often allowing for IP theft on a much larger scale. The issue is that it does not mean that this is actually happening, or that others have interest to steal that particular IP. So we can optionally agree that the Chinese government that they definitely want all the IP on that front, even as some sources state that there is still a problem. So when we consider to an example, we need to look at that part of the information came from a research report by LtCol B. L. Ream, USAF, which gives us “There are two types of guidance systems available, the AGM-65A/B is optical guided and the AGM-65D model Is Infrared guided“, as well as “Once launched, the missile maintains a lock on to the target and guides autonomously, providing a standoff launch and leave capability. The aircraft can then egress the target area or set up to fire again in a target rich environment“, yet the other undisclosed source gives us that a programming issue on the locking when it is set through a buddy system. The: “data link control of the weapon can be provided from two different sources. Either the launch aircraft can guide the weapon or a buddy aircraft can control the weapon after launch. In either case, data link line of sight must be maintained between the data link aircraft and the weapon. Thus, on a standoff control scenario, the further away from the target the control aircraft is the higher altitude it must maintain. Even though this may not appear to be tactically sound, the standoff range is impressive“, so the undisclosed source that gives that the Data Link has a match issue and there is a chance that the speculated offset of 35 metres is ‘accidently implemented on targeting‘, will there be an issue of IP theft? When materials are openly available on the internet, as I was able to read the report on the Defense Technical Information Center site. When is there a case of IP theft? In this I love the reference that WIPO uses. Here we see: “Copyright protection extends only to expressions, and not to ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such“, considering that ballistic software is 90% math (read: the application of mathematical concepts), copyright as an option goes straight out of the window, in addition, the data link adjustment makes it in theory a new product that was not covered in the first place. So standardisation makes it easier to get to the lollies, and by adjusting the wrapper it ends up not being IP theft, as long as no trademarks reside on the wrapper (a ‘it is more alike than not‘ issue in IP law).

And now for the main meal

This is seen in the CNN article I raised earlier. The headline ‘President Donald Trump has slapped tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, taking aim at China’s theft of US intellectual property‘. It was and has always been about IP protectionism. Business Insider gives us “Two former senior Defence Department officials said Chinese intellectual property theft cost the US as much as $US600 billion a year, calling it possibly the “greatest transfer of wealth in history.”“, the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/995063be-1e0a-11e8-956a-43db76e69936) gives us: “as Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, suggests: “It is entirely inappropriate to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat to the United States.” Yet once this loophole is used so irresponsibly by the US, of all countries, where might it stop?” The Financial Times takes it a lot further giving raise to the question how did it in the end serve IP? Where we saw more than once the terms ‘as much as $US600 billion a year‘, yet no evidence is presented. There is no setting that ‘Two former senior Defence Department officials‘ can present a list adding the numbers up and with $600 billion in the balance (as opposed to the commercial industry) we see that if proper evidence was presented a better case could have been made. Where we see in opposition to China: a lucrative market in designer knockoff goods in places like Amsterdam and London. London getting its share of 17 million tourists, all happy to get the latest Gucci bag for a special discount price of £19.95 as well as in Amsterdam where the 14 million visitors can get them for a mere €25. So did Gucci report a €812 million in IP theft losses? What about the other brands? I was the proud owner of an Australian Polo for $12, I merely needed a polo shirt (many years ago) as some drunk blonde thought it was perfectly normal to dance in high heels in the middle of the road holding a glass of red wine, so as she jumped to get away from a car (who had an actual reason to be on the road), I ended up with her wine on my shirt. So I got to the first place that sold a polo shirt and got a new one so I would not arrive at a diner red stained before it even began. Did I initiate IP theft? I had no idea what ‘Australian’ was in those days. There is the setting, what we know, what was real damage and how it is presented by those needing inflated IP theft numbers?

It is in this setting that we need to see the stage for reported IP theft. We agree that the smallest fraction is indeed set to the covert acquisition of military IP, yet the bulk (well over 95%) is all about a misrepresenting economy, the brands want their losses to seem as large as possible, the US is setting that stage to prospective economic health, yet that evidence cannot be validated and the tariff war is likely to become a much more detrimental factor in the US economy that is currently presented as a revenue bubble that will impact sooner rather than later. The independent gave us last December (at https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/economy-signs-interest-rates-donald-trump-market-bubble-burst-next-year-a8102356.html) that ‘Five economic signs that can tell us if the bubble will burst next year‘. Here we see “The good news is that the world is at last experiencing a coordinated expansion, with all major regions growing reasonably swiftly“, as well as “the policies that have led to this expansion, especially ultra-easy money conditions, have created a boom in asset prices that at some stage will come to an end“. There are a few views in all direction, yet the one that no one seems to focus on is the quality of life. Earlier this year USA Today reported that “California has the worst quality of life in America“, the sunny state is where people can no longer afford to live to any decent degree. That part is forgotten, the QoL in New York is in 25th position, not a great place to be. The Quality of Life in the US has decreased to the degree where it is the lowest in the developed world. That and the fact that the US is at minus 21 trillion does not help. It is shown in the US Social Progress Index where none of the five largest state economies (California, New York, Illinois, Florida and Texas) are in the top ten states on social progress. This is important and reflects back to the student example I gave earlier. So as these people will all ‘borrow’ the latest Taylor Swift album and none of those will buy it, because they cannot afford to do so. That part becomes even more visible when you consider the Wired setting on pre-owned games in 2016. At some point Microsoft made the terminal choice as given by Wired through “You may remember that Microsoft attempted to do away with “used games” with the launch of the Xbox One. (Yeah, they made some hand-wavy claims of players being able to trade games at “participating retailers,” but the DRM scheme meant you couldn’t borrow, lend, sell them on eBay“, that setting is merely exploding in an economy that is not moving forward. That with 80% of the people on merely a 15% tax bracket or lower and the cost of living there is still going up. Even as Microsoft is pushing to “buy at the Microsoft store“, a digital copy cannot be handed out to friends, so there is little push for that move when you can only afford 4 games a year. However, Microsoft is in equal measure pushing for the Game Pass which balances one for the other. EA is making a similar move and it is actually an intelligent move to make. The few that would buy the latest NHL version no matter what gives is nothing compared to the overwhelming group that will happily buy the previous year version when it is part of a package deal at $40 a year. So I might wield the latest NHL version, at $40 a year getting the previous season of FIFA, NBA and NFL is just smart thinking. Yet these people are equally part of the claimants of IP theft. The question becomes (even as we accept that it will happen), how large is the actual IP theft? So when the US adds a 10% tariff on video games, does that merely make the download 10% more expensive? I do not think that from $40 to $44 for EA games is an increase we lose sleep about, yet the ‘cost’ of downloading remains as well, and in the flawed Microsoft design, how does the tariff apply over time, on DLC and other elements in gaming? All these changes and increases, where the consumer sees no upside, all based on projected and presented numbers without its proper representation and scrutiny.

This is how an economy goes the way of the Dodo, so when you think (source: Sydney Morning Herald) that the start of ‘US plans to curb Chinese tech investments, citing security‘ is a good idea and it is waxed with “the White House would use one of the most significant legal measures available to declare China’s investment in US companies involved in technologies such as new-energy vehicles, robotics and aerospace a threat to economic and national security, according to eight people familiar with the plans“, we need to see in equal setting the fact that 750 million Europeans might find the escalation of events important and threatening enough to take a 180 degree position on tech operators like Huawei when we are treated to “Huawei, China’s biggest maker of handsets and networking equipment, which has been flagged numerous times by US lawmakers as a possible security threat to Americans. Upon the New York Times’ publication of a piece (paywall) highlighting Facebook’s data sharing with Huawei, as well as with three other Chinese companies, the social network told the paper it would wind down (paywall) its partnership with the Shenzhen-based phone brand“. One side tries to stop and filter, whilst the other side turned open the tap and let the room flood. Even now, after a congressional hearing and the Cambridge Analytica events, we see alleged transgressions and the sharing of data on a stage where we see only growth. With “Due to the importance of highlighting the natural and heritage landmarks in the Kingdom, “Huawei Saudi” joined together with Qumra’s community of photographers to organize a workshop around “photography through smartphones” by using the latest “Huawei P20 Pro” phone” and the setting that offers the latest in mobile technology far below the prices that Google, Apple and Samsung have. It does not matter on how the tariff war is to become a disaster, it is the mere realisation that it fails because those implementing changes do not seem to comprehend that the economy consists of well over a billion consumers and they cannot afford the 10% more or the 28% more expensive mobile phone alternatives. In all this the people confronted with the dilemma merely went directly to the consumers, as such Harley Davidson is moving to Europe to circumvent a few barricades, a tariff war that was short sighted to a lot of people more intelligent than me and the country that considers naked short selling to not be illegal seems to be doing just that to its own economy, how is that the setting of morality of capitalism?

We consider the way of the Dodo and realise that in the end it merely tasted like chicken.

#HowSmartWereWe or is that #HowSmartHuawei

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The Commanding Conquest

The NY Times gave us a view, some are laughing, some are looking forward, some are grasping at the past, but you and me? What will we do? What are our thoughts?

That is the view I am having when I see ‘A Glimpse of a Crown Prince’s Dream? Saudi Arabia Invades Iran in CGI‘ (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/20/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-iran-invasion-video.html). The video shown is not new, the article revealed that the movie was uploaded last December and has had 1.2 million views. That’s around 400,000 a month. We see the application of CGI and Command & Conquer intro movie style towards the games that Iran has been playing. So as we see “In scene after scene, he orders a succession of superior weapons systems to pulverize the enemy“, we see a setting, one that is changing. It is what I would optionally call the sabre rattling by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who according some of the sources is stated to be behind this all. I cannot tell, I do not know. But it is clear that Iran is also realising that everyone is looking at them now and none of the voices are telling Saudi Arabia to stop. Those voices will come too late and at that point, with the EU not willing to give an inch towards Iran, Iran will stand alone. Even Russia who has been their trade buddy for the longest of times is backing off a little, as they would endanger the foothold that they are growing in the Middle East via Syria. In addition, if there is a side, than Israel will never choose it will be the side of Iran, that ship has sailed and was burned down the moment it left the harbour of Jaffa.

One view given was “a Princeton professor who recently published a column explaining the challenges Prince Mohammed faces in the kingdom, suggested in an email that the Iranians themselves might have made the cartoon “to make the Saudis look silly”“, it is certainly one view, but when we consider Command & Conquer, is it as simple as Saudi Arabia v Iran, or is there a third player in town? The view that former CIA employee Bruce Riedel has differs as well. He of course has just published a new book based on 3 decades of experience and his view is “This represents how he sees himself, or what he would like to be, It suggests that at least some part of Mohammed bin Salman lives in a fantasy world, and if he really believes these things then we are on a course that could be extremely destructive“. It is not a view that I could state was incorrect due to lack of data, but if the Crown Prince has set this all in motion, is it in the end anything else than a creative presentation? Lets not forget, if we plough through the presentations of historical CIA, most of their directors would have ended up in prison, as would some members of congress and at least two former Presidents of the United States. So the view given here is not one that seems to be the pressure here. I actually like a later view in the article in the NY Times where we see “Other scholars suggested that one of the prince’s courtiers might have commissioned the video to flatter him“, that is one part that appeals, it would even be better if it was made by the courtiers son who has the dream of becoming the coolest game designer in Saudi Arabia, which is not a bad dream to pursue to begin with.

No matter who or what it is regarded to be. When we consider it from the distance, it is merely a presentation, one that took effort. My view on the third player is shown (in my humble opinion) by “The video was released almost simultaneously in Arabic and English, with subtitles in Farsi, Hebrew, Mandarin, Russian, Turkish and other languages, so its animators probably also had the help of a team of linguists“, you see no matter how they feel about Israel, Saudi Arabia would have been unlikely to have taken the effort, even when relying on Google Translate and even as we know that Israel will never be a friend of Iran, it is my personal view that Saudi Arabia would not have taken the effort to get the ‘Hebrew’ edition out there, giving rise to the third party. I would need to see the full list of subtitle editions, to learn how precise my prediction is, but I think that the players adding the Hebrew edition shot themselves in the foot.

Yet it does also give light to “Prince Mohammed is a long-time fan of animation and video games. His personal foundation set up a venture, Manga Productions, to produce Japanese-style animation about Saudi Arabia and its culture“. Did you know this? Many have been curious about Saudi Culture; many wonder just how warped the press had made certain settings of Saudi Culture. Now I know that it is not the culture, with all the options that Western Europe had, but that is their history, learning more about it will only make things better for both sides. So when we see “Japanese animation productions major Toei Animation is teaming up with Saudi Arabia’s Manga Productions to produce animation titles and films to be released in both countries. The new tie-up was unveiled Nov. 16. Manga Productions, which is affiliated with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s MiSK Foundation, focuses on producing animations and developing video games with creative and positive content targeting different local and international social groups. Bukhari Isam, CEO of Manga Productions, said that his company will do pre-production or prepare designing content to be produced in Japan. The productions will be internationally targeted”. Most forms of information that is linked to Japanese excellence tend to be very well received on a global scale. So in all this we would need to realise that the media has been keeping information from us all. Now, there is no way that everyone will suddenly become a ‘Saudi’s best buddy’, but the setting that we see almost no exposure to this and that in the age of learning and comprehension that is one view that we are filtered from is equally dangerous. There is no other way to see it other than that the Muslim way of life has a global impact on nearly all, even if it is often not visible. Is it so bad to learn more on something that has no Christian foundation? Are we so afraid for the switching of atheists and agnostics to state: “This sounds like a much better way“, is the often hidden setting that Christians filter what must not be seen that has been a hindrance for decades! Should you oppose that (which is perfectly fine), than take a look at Spotlight, a 2015 movie on an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. This was based on the 2001 event where editor Marty Baron of The Boston Globe assigns a team of journalists to investigate allegations against John Geoghan, the fore mentioned unfrocked priest. The article became proof of the cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church. An issue that still impacts people today. Less than a day ago we see ‘Cardinal George Pell could face fresh charges after new witness statement emerges‘. This is merely one of many issues that had been pushed to the hidden shadows of society. These events are still being shown to be an issue 15 years after the initial article got out, so we can state that there has never ever been an events where filtering based on religion gave us wisdom, the media is only finding this out because it ups the circulation of their papers. There is a hard lesson to be learned there.

So, as we take a look at the Crown Prince, and the video game intro movie? Perhaps we will learn the truth of whoever was really behind it and what the purpose was. Perhaps it will be as simple as a member of the Saudi royal family telling Iran that they need to stop playing their games, because some mind games tend to become realities with fatalities and in this a video game is merely the presentation of artistic design. We all need to realise that only in a videogame foundation can a 1.68m tall model wearing nothing but cargo pants and a tank top take out dozens properly clothed mercenaries armed to the teeth with a bow, a knife and an ice axe, because that is where our minds in video games tend to end. So will the intro movie become a reason for war? I very much doubt it, whilst we are looking at these events, most are now forgetting that both Iran and Turkey are isolating themselves more and more, Iran for fuelling the events in Yemen and Turkey for the actions in pretty much all the Kurdish regions. In the end they can merely depend on one another, which would be a clear ending to whatever economy they thought they had. As Iran is dealing with 25% youth unemployment and Turkey with 24.1%, they both have other immediate needs. So in the end, even as the Command and Conquer, Saudi edition looked cool, a mere presentation of how opening trade and growing other economic options is a solution to youth unemployment, it seems that both Iran and Turkey are far far away from learning that lesson for now.

So as we end with two more parts from the NY Times. The first being: “The video appears to show an accurate reflection of the vast Saudi arsenal, with two exceptions. The tanks labelled in the video as Abrams M1s, the most advanced American model, look more like the outdated Patton M60s. And Saudi Arabia does not have the ships needed to transport them to Iran, said Douglas Barrie, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London“, which might be perfectly fine, so when we see the second part we see: ““The Saudis have a very limited amphibious capability,” Mr. Barrie said. “They do not have the platforms for a large-scale amphibious operation.”“, we might all agree, but these high paid people have taken the time to analyse a video game intro, so as the optional third player makes another movie, will they look at it again? When it comes in a box with image below, will we hear from these people about the substandard weapons that the French are using? #JustSaying





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Two streams, one view

As I see the news pass by, events shown on separate media, I notice myself wondering if my life had any meaning at all. I was young and I went to the Middle East in 1982, I would return in 83 and 84 only to learn that there was change. Terrorists like Hezbollah and Hamas were only small and Hamas rose as I would see in 1984, yet I thought that change would be inevitable. I saw Hezbollah as nothing more than pesky small minded terrorists, a tool to be used by Iran and Syria. Yet even as Lebanon was trying to move forward, there were signs in media and some places that the US needed Syria too much, in their case dealing with Saddam Hussein and as such many of us thinking we would fight for peace, we only fought for the borderlines that the US decided needed to be in place. It must have been the late 80’s, I was not longer in the Middle East and not all clued in towards the events of the day there. You see DARPA had not rolled out the internet at that point; ARPANET was not available for the audience at large. So today I see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Now we see another push against Hezbollah. You see Saudi Arabia has had enough of those terrorists and is pushing back hard, it is also willing to push against Iran. I see two issues. One is that this issue will be bloody and even as we hope for the victory of Saudi Arabia there, there are more than just a few markers showing us that the three largest players (US, Russia and UK) are not completely in agreement whether the Middle East should have one clear dominant party. The issues in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Kuwait that have been going on for half a century should show that. If that had not been the case Hezbollah and Hamas would have been little more than an inconvenience and they would have been dealt with a long time ago. So even as I see certain steps being taken I need to wonder if Saudi Arabia is pushing for a resolution, what will the larger picture show as it shifts. As that unfolds where will the US and Russia stand? What actions, or inactions will they use to leave the Status Quo in the middle east in a place called ‘as is’? The evidence for the longest time has shown that they pronounce whatever allies they have, but in the end, they only care for their needs and options. Now, this is not wrong or immoral, it is merely the way any nation plays its game. It is not a new game, it goes back even before Nicola Machiavelli thought it was a god idea to write down certain options for politicians to be.

As per Friday morning, we see: ““Due to the circumstances in the Lebanese Republic, the kingdom asks its citizens who are visiting or residing there to leave immediately,” a Foreign Ministry source quoted by the news agency said, adding that Saudis were advised not to travel to Lebanon from any country“, so even as we can merely speculate on what comes next, the onus is now pushed on Iran and what it is going to do with its terrorist ally Hezbollah. There is one opposing side which was shown by Reuters (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-saudi-insight/deep-in-yemen-war-saudi-fight-against-iran-falters-idUSKBN1D91UR). With: “The dysfunction is a reminder to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that his campaign to counter arch-enemy Iran in the Middle East, including threats against Tehran’s ally Hezbollah, may be hard to implement” we acknowledge that Iran has resources and skills and they are driven, both sides clearly are. In my mind, is the additional theatre (read: change of scenery) a workable factor? It does put larger pressures on Iran to get the logistics and goods underway, which will be their weakness to some extent. It is equally an issue how Russia will react. They might not openly act in this placement, yet the clear support to Hezbollah and as the times of Israel states: “the truth is that since Russia began its open military activities in Syria, Hezbollah fighters are also learning Russian methods of war, becoming familiar with advanced Russian weaponry, coming to understand the latest Russian technologies, and in some cases, actually fighting alongside Russian special forces“, we might comprehend the skills and training of the Spetsnaz Malcheks, or the ‘Войска специального назначения’ as they call themselves. In one part Avi Issacharoff omitted or decided not to implement one view in his story. In the end when the Spads are not holding their hands, Hezbollah remains what they were trained enthusiastic terrorists, they are only an army in the smallest sense of the total concept, this also means that as logistics falters, as support dwindles the armed Saudi forces will be more than a match and should gain the upper hand. Now, this can only play out if there is a stalemate between Russia and USA, because if the USA backs down and Hezbollah gets open on the ground Russian support, it becomes an entirely different slice of cake and all bets are off at that point. Only the Russians could push Hezbollah in way that the Iranians could never do. You see, if Iran enters the theatre the game changes as they become a clear and present danger to the state of Israel, their vocal insinuations made that so, so as Iran is trying to get a foothold whilst Israel has a few ways to counter them, we will see a more underground event of escalations where Iran is unable to counter a war they never have faced. You see their words (Iran that is) might look good on the news and on PowerPoint presentations, yet in the true data parks there is no setting, because in the end, this generation of Iranians have never faced anyone like Israel before and their faith in their own internal governmental presentations will make them even less prepared. So at that point it is merely a scuffle between Hezbollah and Saudi armed forces and in that equation there is no option of even a remote stalemate for Hezbollah. Is that the goal? I believe that Russia saw Hezbollah as a tool for what they needed, the US has always been hostile and Europe requires high earnings, so the ECB is very much not in favour of any outspoken hostilities against anything that can downgrade their earnings, so they are seemingly steering away from these events as much as they can, yet I will admit that is just me speculating on European events in this case. Even as London is more and more outspoken anti-Hezbollah. Amsterdam and Stockholm are not taking that path. In my mind it is the liberal multicultural flag that they embrace, in that atmosphere a group like Hezbollah can easily hide under this ‘veil’ whilst hating multicultural events as much as possible.

This again has speculative sides, but it is based on solid data and events. You might think that it does not matter, but it does. As more and more nations in their liberal mindset hold off on an actual war on terror, being it for economic or philosophical reasons. Not being part of it is equally a problem down the track. So as we move back towards Lebanon and Hezbollah, we need to realise that not only will this become ugly to a larger degree, there is every chance that unless certain actions are taken the issues seen in Aleppo will be seen in Aleppo too, there is just no way to tell to what extent. In this we can look at Survival Analyses (or listen to the song ‘as time goes by’), where the point in time and the prolongation of all this is the setting on just how much Beirut will look like Aleppo in the end, time is the only factor required here and the people in Europe know this. So as we see the news prepare on how there should be talks and there should be armistices, they all better remember that it was their need for status quo that is pushing the consideration for a terrorist organisation.

Who in Europe would have ever thought that support of a terrorist organisation would be the cool thing to do on September 12th 2001? So consider that and now wonder why Europe is, for now, again sitting on their hands or even contemplating siding to the larger extent with Hexbollah? Yet there is also good news because with the actions by JP Morgan to push into large chunks of the Middle East and more notably the push towards the Kingdom Holding Company. You might think it is not related, but it is. It gives the view that JP Morgan is a facilitator for setting maximised profits and these profits are not to go towards France. There has been a thought that the US is not commitment, but as there is profit in war, the clear fallout of any war is opportunity. It seems to me that the US wants to get as much profit out of that as possible, so as the dominoes are pushed into place, we see a situation where the media proclaims JP Morgan to be a mere financial advisor. I believe that to be incorrect. Even as Reuters reported “JPMorgan is in early talks with Saudi Arabian companies about overseas listings“, that might be true, but JP Morgan has been pushing itself and its ‘friends’ into powerful places where lucrative revenues are not set in millions, but in billions. I cannot answer whether Credit Agricole did the right or wrong thing, they are pretty clever all by themselves. I think that the Saudi issues in play now are pushing for polarising fields of options and opportunity on a global scale. In this case my view will be proven over the next 2 years as we follow the money. They question is where the source will be set and who gets to fill their bucket list from that well. when the options are returned in billions there will be plenty of players, although in this instance I believe that the outside opportunities (non-Saudi based companies) are offered to the friends of JP Morgan and them only, which is again a speculation. Whether I am right or wrong will be initially shown in the next 20 weeks.

There are however facts available to see that there is a direction in place. Reuters show on part (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-jpmorgan-saudi/jpmorgan-sees-more-saudi-firms-looking-at-overseas-listings-after-aramco-idUSKBN1D7107), some might think that “He said listings in New York, London, Hong Kong or Singapore might help increase the liquidity of these companies and make them attractive for international investors, he said” is the part that gives the goods, yet it is the part not seen and more interestingly not implied that gives power to it all. The implied part is seen with “Commenting on the anti-corruption drive, Pinto said: “If it is done in the right way and for the right reasons it is good to do for the future of the kingdom.”” It is however only the first part. The news given with ‘Saudi Arabia detains 201 princes, businessmen in $100 billion corruption probe’ (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-10/saudi-anti-corruption-probe-finds-$100-billion-embezzled/9136608). This was not a sudden part, this had been in play for some time. It was not merely the fact that at present 201 people are now in custody. Even as we see mention of Iran and the Lebanon pressures, we see that there is a larger play. His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud have been on a path to get the nation reformed and moved away from oil dependency. In this the pool of plenty does not last too long when 100 billion get lost one handshake at a time as more and more people are connected to unlimited resources and wealth. As the press seems to be focussing on the crown prince and the ‘wild ride’ he created, there is a larger issue that is not too much in focus. No matter what the sceptics state, There is a clarity that Saudi Arabia is seriously considering that the age of oil is dwindling, as this happens they need to be able to push into other directions and they do have the wealth to create vested interests in pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, consultancy services and educational advantages. Forbes has had its share of articles on the matter, and whilst some look at ‘Saudi Arabia Looks To The Private Sector To Meet Growing Healthcare Demands’ it seems to me that 5G facilitation has much larger and more profitable sides as other providers are considering what to do, Saudi Arabia has the option to facilitate to the largest 4 cities and exceed in opportunity what Sweden has for its entire nation. When there is such a population (9.5 million) in 4 cities, there is an option to grow and grow fast. Now we know that there is a lively market already, but the idea that other services could be added grows the Saudi options to add markets and manufacturing opportunities through investment. I all this JP Morgan is potentially the spider in the centre of the web, growing in value and wealth from all sides at the same time. There is no way to state why Crédit Agricole walked away from those opportunities, but I feel certain that they did not walk away, the merely moved to a place around the corner. Even as the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/0e629bab-494c-34d0-8fe0-f71c8b089118) show mixed results, yet I believe that this French bank is moving into different fields, acquiring other banks and setting new goals. I have no way to tell on the why of it but I feel that moving away was only one as the clever people in this bank have agreed on a strategy that allows to grow faster and on larger fields. How?

We will learn this over the next 20 weeks. Yet no matter what is done and how the banks react is not a given, the direct dangers on how things escalate in Lebanon and with Iran seems to be crucial in all of this and I reckon that we will see the shifts quite soon. These shifts will not be through armed conflict, but will rely on the pressures and stresses that exist at present. In this Europe seems to take a ‘diplomatic’ stance (at http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_destabilising_lebanon_will_only_strengthen_hezbollah_7235), yet with “Europeans should veer the other way, taking measures that aim to preserve Lebanon’s stability and governance structures, and to prevent wider conflagration. Iran is clearly a key source of regional instability, and Hezbollah has become increasingly assertive in Lebanon” it seems to advocate a path of inaction, 3 decades of inaction have shown that there is no solution on that path, a stream of casualties, of non-actions and broken promises. Saudi Arabia (and the USA) both had enough, and as Iran seems to be an annoying thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia, they have seemingly decided to take Hezbollah out of the equation. This will be interesting, because the moment Hamas and Iran realise that the gig is finally up, I wonder how must tearful pleads of ‘negotiations’ will be shown on nearly every soft hearted news channel on the planet. Perhaps a recollection of March 2016 is needed. With: “Hamas on Sunday sent a delegation to Egypt in an effort to beseech Egyptian security officials to stop destroying its tunnels out of Gaza. These terror tunnels, employed by the terrorist group for nearly a decade, are used to store weapons, smuggle supplies, and infiltrate enemy territory – Israel – as well as carry out surprise attacks in which people are killed and soldiers abducted.” (source: Breaking Israel News). It reads like “please let us be terrorists a little longer, we need the tunnels to do naughty things”. There is every chance that this falls on deaf ears, because as Israel is optionally no longer pressured in possible two front wars, they can fully focus on Hamas whilst Saudi Arabia will only have to deal with Iran after that. It will truly change the Balance of Power in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia as the only true power in that region, all because to a larger extent, Europe decided to remain in a self-imposed state of inaction. After three decades they still haven’t learned that inaction against terrorists will never ever lead to any solution.

Yes, there are a few elements of speculation from my side, but it is based on gathered facts and it I do not believe it is less likely on the balance of probabilities, it is merely one optional setting in a larger game that has been played for much too long.




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Rulers of London

The times are changing, that has always been known, yet the events made me remember some political satire Newspaper comic. In it you see two Arabs, one stated “Did you get anything nice today”, and the other Arab stated smiling “I bought Bond Street, Regent Street and Piccadilly“. The image was clear, the Arabs had loads of cash and they were spending. That image remained for the longest of times and as oil went to $147 per barrel in 2008, the cash was good, because the US needed millions of barrels per day. Yet now the sands have shifted, the stage is set to what I personally call a very nice building has been sold to the Chinese. The controversial Walkie Talkie Tower has been acquired for £1.3 billion. It was purchased by the Lee Kum Kee condiment company, makers of Oyster sauce. (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jul/27/walkie-talkie-tower-stark-reminder-of-forces-that-rule-the-city) we can read all about it and about the infamous architect who brought Star Wars to London as the building had the ability to send a sun based death ray to the streets, and as quoted “succeeded in melting the bumper of a Jaguar, blistering painted shop fronts and singeing carpets“. Yes, the building became a little too futuristic. In opposition to Feargus O’Sullivan, I do not consider it to be the ‘the ugliest British structure‘, it is actually ‘very Apple‘. I would love to see the new Apple G6 Tower to look like that (preferably as a RISC system of course). Yet in his article (on https://www.citylab.com/design/2015/09/londons-worst-building/403684/), I see that there is no reason not to admire the Victorian buildings in the foreground. Weirdly enough, the photo he added to the article (by Frank Augstein), shows that there is place for the old and the new. It shows clearly that as residential shortages grow that there will be a transfer to different styles of buildings. I would never want to see the Victorian buildings leave the face of London, in opposite directions, we can look at the Battersea Power Station and see how this evolves, yet there is a side not reckoned with, for several reasons there needs to be the evolution and growth of social housing. I like the blend as an offering for developers, yet as the Malaysian consortium pulled a fast one to maximise profits and diminish the amount of social apartments, changes will need to be made.

We can wonder whether the current approach is the best one, or should we examine the options? There is another option that works for developers and the London city council. A company called Nearmap (at https://go.nearmap.com/desktop-assessment-empowers-appraisers), has a ‘Desktop Property Assessment that Empowers Appraisers‘, yet as I looked at the paper and some of the presentations, I figured out that it had other abilities too. In metropolitan areas, when you change the scope and add a dimension, you can do something entirely unexpected. The idea came with the quote by Mal Harrison, project manager at Zinfra. The quote was “Nearmap’s accurate photo imagery is extremely helpful when risk workshopping remote from site as well as reducing site visits required to plan the works“, this is a well stated compliment to the makers of Nearmap. I figured they missed something else, another larger player as a potential client. Not to their disadvantage mind you, but they missed a range of tycoons that could have been looking at as well (for the price of a 7 figure number per seat). You see, consider the current planning settings in London, now consider the Nearmap solution, not just with the London area mapped, with in addition, the roads, infrastructure and ‘plumbing’. Now consider that a developer would want to set up a new high-rise, the options are Poplar, Beckton and Rotherhithe. Now consider the elements, Nearmap could have the ability to ascertain risks that usually are done in person, with proper parameters set the data might reveal options not considered before. You see, most people will shy away from Beckton because it is by the airport, yet new buildings have the options of superior sound cancellations. In addition, when considering that housing prices fluctuate between £2200 and £11500 per meter, the risk factor becomes a more intense issue. Yes, we know that everyone wants to be a developer in Chelsea or Kensington, yet when the option is offered (as an example) as the building in either Beckton of Rotherhithe would get a profit close to £2100 per square meter, yet Poplar offers £2700 per square meter profit, yet when looking at the elements, the risk factor for Poplar might be up by 17%, in the long term, how will development costs and delays impact the choice? When the profit margins change, so does the risk to some extent, an expert can make all the calculations, yet with additional solutions, the risk could be anticipated in advance by a much better degree. That premise holds equal ground for councils, when they can see the evolution of risk, they can in equal measure take steps to lower the risk and become more appealing for the developers to approach them.

Good business is where you find it.

That becomes more and more of a slogan for London. It is no longer just, because it is London, it will become increasingly where the margins are. Even as we see that the Battersea location had hit snags and there was suddenly the twisting arms of local councils to concede in retrenching of 25% of the social housing offer, or else… Councils will soon no longer have that option to merely give in, there will be long term repercussions and they will count sooner rather than later. The rich don’t care and the councils can ill afford the consequences they would be confronted with. There is the chance that certain places like Los Angeles, Tokyo and Kolkata would get the effect of ghost towns and London is not that far away from that. It is so nice that a place like Kolkota has luxurious places like Rajahat new town, South Kolkota and Alipore, yet when the sun goes down, we will see that the infrastructure not merely flows away, it is reduced to zero. That seems peaceful, yet it is in actuality very dangerous. As the travel times increases, these people will more and more eagerly take any job that is closer to home and takes away elements in the cost of living (fuel and travel time). As the infrastructure remains absent, the value of these places will drop like a stone. In addition there would be an increasing chance of crime rise as the area remains empty at night. As people are pushed more and more away as we see in London, there is an increasing risk that not only the businesses go away, as these places are more and more settled with high end owners who are there less than 30% of the time, those remaining will find it harder to get the things they really like to have at a moment’s notice.

How real is that risk?

Well, at present it is really an unrealistic stretch to call London an upcoming Ghost town (read: Ghost Council), yet some areas are already too empty like Kensington, where an astounding amount of places are unused. They will not turn London into a ghost town, yet as the drop continues, having a house there seems fine, yet when you become dependent on businesses from Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush, taking a walk to get a few things becomes a much less rewarding event (at £10880 per square meter). Plenty of people do not feel that way, which is fair enough, but the changes will also change the vibe of a city, which has dangerous consequences in the long term, that is an issue for ANY city. That is also a real main reason to not decrease but to increase the social housing percentage in places like that. Those are the people who bring in the need for Pizza, for groceries on the corner, which brings in the restaurant getting the good stuff from shops like that. Growing the micro economies of life goods is what brings life and traffic to places like that, soon thereafter not the outrageous mega night clubs, the a few smaller bars, the places London was always famous for will re-erect themselves and soon a large complex becomes the magnet for a growing infrastructure. As long term empty houses (read: unsold places) have risen by 25% and in Newham (by London City Airport) has fallen 55%, we see another diminished risk of choosing Beckton. All this would be possible to set when we see this implemented as factors in mapping solutions like Nearmap.

It is a given that houses in transit with short terms become increasingly important to developers, and as such they will need to ascertain risk in different ways. there is a consideration that the Battersea Power House will be the last of the truly large development projects in London for some time to come, so the need to diversify and select something unexpected. Some state that Aldwych Station could become the premise for underground cycling, which also implies that as an underground place for student studios, it could be a place to revitalise the area. The idea of a path clear to Holborn, with apartments, studios and 1 bedroom places on 1.5 floors, could give rise to a lot more than merely revitalise the area. The fact that it is next to King’s College and halls of Justice as well as Inns of Court is almost weird that no one had moved into that area sooner.

Yet we digress, it started with the good businesses in London and the impact that foreign investors have on the place. As we see the increasing number of Asians who struck it rich move into London we also see a changing dynamic of London itself. A first connection here takes us back to 1999 (at http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1369585/1/LDPREPSUM%2026.11.99.pdf), when Sir Peter Hall and Michael Edwards of Bartlett School, University College London gave us the works with a slightly altered view of London’s spatial economy. In this the introduction gives us “The issues have been discussed in a practical way to help explore how far the proposals could be taken forward by the new London Government as real contributions to improving the working of the London economy, helping to provide more and better jobs, and to making transport more efficient“, which had traction and a level of importance in those years as the wild growth of London as Financial services brought billions to London, an issue partially ignored after the meltdowns of 2004 and 2008, both affecting the UK (read: London) economy, the plans have not (as far as I am aware) been picked up to the degree it should have. In addition, as the development game changed with foreign investors as we see it, the plan is not completely up to scrap to the degree the councils would need them to be. An element discussed in the ‘old’ paper is “PPG6 policies should restrict further Out of Town Centre growth in and around London. Within the framework of these policies there is scope – and an urgent need – to innovate ways which will give centres and local shops a new lease of life and reduce Londoners’ needs to travel“, yet (at https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/the_london_plan_2016_jan_2017_fix.pdf), which seems counterproductive to the need of London city, they are no longer actually valid, and more of a guideline, yet (at https://www.sepa.org.uk/media/60125/ppg-6-working-at-construction-and-demolition-sites.pdf), you will wonder on how it relates. We see with not merely the changing dynamics, but with the need to know the risks which starts at step 1 of their ‘presentation‘, with “Identify surface waters and groundwater on, under or adjacent to your site. This also includes any small (dry) ditches capable of transporting water” and “Find out if the groundwater is in a protected zone as you may need to take extra steps to prevent pollution“. Now, the consultants would know things like that, yet when were they last mapped? And this is merely one city, a solution like Nearmap has the ability to list the level of risks on several levels. the document from Sir Peter Hall (and others) gives us “The main questions here concern the spatial fields Market, where Life have dropped a major proposal after transferring from open outcry to electronic trading, and the very large Bishops gate Goods Yard site which is currently the subject of an architectural competition organised by the Architecture Foundation. The latter in particular suffers from poor accessibility, located half a mile north of Liverpool Street station although close to the present Shoreditch terminus of the East London Line“, yet it is merely one of close to 30 elements that could have been mapped and weighted as a risk in one mapping solution. In all this, the time that developers need to ascertain their possible margins of profit could be negated in one clear updated solution that moves the discussion from ‘possible margin‘ elements to ‘optional margin‘ available. That is quite the change of venue and with the capitalist Chinese population growing, attracting them To London to see if the social housing could be resolved to a better degree requires developers and councils to have a much better grasp of the risks. The nice part is that the Chinese have always been in favour of good business, as that also reflects the better margins of personal (read: family) gain. Even now as we see people write excellent materials on a Dynamic London, based on open data, we see in addition that most are not looking at the margins of risk and the additional risk of margins as they are impacted by this so called dynamic London, in this is see that there are additional paths of data requirement, not merely in mapping, but in the need for a predictive risk path, because it is not merely what is known today that matters, it is the need for considering the risk over the next 10 years that gives rise to the profitability of other new projects, or even more optionally rewarding are the options for the discarded and abandoned places that are in locations where new options will not come, on what the options are for those places.

Now we might be happy that there are foreign investors in the UK, yet the part we seem to ignore is that the Saudi investments alone was set to be worth £60 billion in 2016. That is just the Saudi side and that is not including the Qatari’s with massive contributions in Mayfair and other places. Now we see a growing Asian population investing and in all this the London Councils might have to consider that when £100 billion is invested, these people expect to get well above £150 out of that, that is how investments work so as such to keep the money flowing the councils would needed to consider some time ago where growth is optional and how to offer it, not merely in spoken work, but in the facilitation of solutions. Because no matter how sexy London seems to them (for now), the moment that Paris offers a much better deal, these people will take their billions 283 miles in a SSE (read: South South East) direction.

In this, no matter who the non elected ‘rulers’ of London are, if the profit moves, so do they and they will do it in a heartbeat!


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Betrayed by government?

That is how you should feel in the UK. This is not some issue with the conservatives, I myself am a conservative. The issue is on both sides of the isle. That issue was shown to be very much the case yesterday in an article by Robert Booth titles ‘Tower cladding tests after Grenfell fire lack transparency, say experts‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/26/tower-block-cladding-tests-after-grenfell-fire-lack-transparency-say-experts). Yet, Robert is skating around a few issues, and he should be confronted about this. You see, I covered a few of them three days before that and it took less than an hour to get those facts, they are out in the open. I published them (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/23/under-cover-questions/), with the actual brochure. You see, the Arconic brochure, which I had in the article as well. Stated: ‘it is perfect for projects less than 40 feet high‘. So please give us the name of the project manager who allowed for this cladding to be chosen, please give us his/her name. So when I read “The communities secretary, Sajid Javid, announced on Monday that samples of aluminium panels from all 75 buildings that had been sent for fire retardancy testing had so far “failed”“, I am not that surprised as the Arconic brochure states on page three ‘a polyethylene or fire-retardant compound’, so which is it, because polyethylene is a combustible element, so there must have been two options here. And there is, you see whoever made the choice chose the Reynobond (PE), which is the combustible edition, that is what earlier news gave us. So in that case, who signed off on that idea?

The actual Arconic leaflet gives you this information BEFORE purchasing. So when Robert gives us “The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) asked councils to cut samples of at least 25cm x 25cm from the cladding of towers and send them to the Building Research Establishment (BRE) at Watford for testing but has not said if the tests show whether they meet a British standard test” I wonder who are they kidding here. My question would be ‘Did the DCLG know that they were enabling their buildings to become Roman Candles with the option to kill anyone inside that building?‘ it is not really the same question, yet with Grenfell, we have the ‘evidence‘ to the better extent. The next part is even more hilarious, although not on the side of Robert Booth. The quote “Experts have warned that far more comprehensive tests on the entire cladding system are needed to establish if buildings are as at-risk as Grenfell was, including the insulation and design details such as fire stops. The shadow housing secretary, John Healey, told the House of Commons that “cladding is not the whole story”.” You see, here John Healey is as I personally see it the joke and it will be on him. There is indeed more than Cladding, yet the Celotex RS5000 seems to hold water as there are comprehensive fire tests, as one would expect and the brochure does not beat around the bush. They are giving the reader the test names, what and how it was tested. Unless specific combinations crop up (which is possible), the French firm who resides in Saint-Gobain did a decent job. Although in the last days there is an update that they are withdrawing their materials for any project on buildings that are taller than 18 metres. That is a fair step to take, yet with the possible impact this offers, certain parties could under common law now find themselves in a torts case for loss of economic value and losses, which could be a very large amount. This is what a lack of transparency gets you and Robert Booth does point that out. And yes, after my article, Celotex gives us “Celotex is shocked by the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this devastating human tragedy. We have been supplying building products for over forty years and as a business our focus has always been to supply safe insulation products to make better buildings.” I find that acceptable. Their brochure is to the point, gives us a lot of good and the architects should have had the info they needed as well as a handle what else to ask for or what else to test for. At present, unless there are inconsistencies or misquotes, the work of Celotex is all above board and all good (me speaking as a non civil-engineer). The second person now under scrutiny should be Barry Turner as we read: “Barry Turner, director of technical policy at Local Authority Building Control, which represents council building control officers also asked: “I would like to know just what tests these panels are failing.”“. You see, in opposition I would ask, what tests were performed, how was testing done and who signed off on that? Again Arconic gives us in their own brochure: “the ASTM E84 test” and it passed with a Class A. Yet, that test involves a horizontal test sample’, so how horizontal was the Grenfell tower when people were living in there? Perhaps a vertical test would have been needed. I am merely going for broke with the questions. Of course the press will soon focus on the ‘savings of £1.5 million‘ yet I wonder if there is a real story there. It could be, but I am not convinced. You see, the directive to choose away from the initial builder as to the why, and the shown facts beyond the mere cost saving that will impact it all. In addition, the fact that the cladding was done to appease the luxury flats around that building is another matter for discussion. You see, when a building was safe enough, adding a fire hazard means that those requestors can also be interviewed very visibly now. They wanted a better view, so how was that view on June 14th? Yet we see little of that in the article. At this point, Robert gives us a gem, one that is interesting. The quote “The London Borough of Hounslow, where the Clements Court tower failed the DCLG test, panels are being “swiftly” removed, but the council stressed: “The insulation material behind this outer cladding is a ‘Rockwool’ material which is a non-combustible product, unlike the case of the Grenfell Tower, where the insulation was a combustible type“. You see, when we look at the RS5000, we see “Due to its excellent thermal insulating efficiency at service temperatures ranging from -297°F to +300°F, polyiso foam has become the standard for low temperature insulation applications“, this is the information we get on ‘Polyisocyanurate Foam‘ which is what is used in RS5000. So who are the members of that council, can we get names please? With the encountered allegations that go nowhere, we do not seem to get any names, so shall we get all the members of the Borough of Hounslow in the dock and ask them some questions? The fact that the insulator seems to fail is that vertically burning polyethylene (Raynobond PE) tends to go beyond 300F really fast, and we can agree that under normal weather conditions, the temperature of 150 degrees would never be met, would it? The final quote to look at is “One architect responsible for some of the projects where cladding has been ruled to have failed, asked: “What are they testing to what standard? This could be a massively costly and disruptive error to thousands of residents.”“, what standard? Well the one that does not burn people to a crisp would be nice. And if it is a costly, does that not make the test still valid? Also the given term “’costly and disruptive error’ to thousands of residents” by that architect? Perhaps his comment was taken out of context to some degree, but it still leaves me with questions. The disruptive error we see now is that those people who died do not complain, the ones burned and still living will complain as will their family members. The fact that I as a non architect, with limited firefighting expertise (a remnant of my merchant navy and marine rescue days) was able to question the validity of choosing Raynobond PE the moment I had gone through their 7 page marketing brochure. There remains an option that there are questions regarding the Celotex RS5000, yet with the massive failure that the cladding was, the insulator has no real way of proving itself. All this was obtained from merely watching 30 seconds of news film and one product brochure. In that we see that over half a dozen councils need to reassess their values and choices as we now see that changes made in haste are done in Liverpool, London, Plymouth, Salford city and Camden. I reckon that a few more are to follow before the week is out. In all this I love the BBC radio 4 quote the best: “Cladding is being removed from three tower blocks in Plymouth, which were found to have the lowest possible fire safety rating“, how does one consider going for the LOWEST possible fire rating? It almost sounds like a Victorian advertisement: “Pay rent until the day you die, we offer both in our places of settlement!

Grenfell is showing clearly that the focus of the government failed, not just this one, both Labour and Conservatives are equally guilty here. Having seen the paper trail as a foundation of non-clarity for far too long, I wonder how this was not brought to light a lot earlier. The complaints from the people in Grenfell can be used as evidence in this case. This time it got a lot of people killed and as he Tottenham MP, David Lammy stated the term “corporate manslaughter“, it leaves me with two things that you all should consider carefully. The scope implies that it is not just corporate and there is every chance that MP’s and council members could share the dock here in court. The second one is that when the evidence shows that it was about cutting costs at any expense, we see that with the BBC4 radio part. Is it still manslaughter, or does it become murder? Is leaving people in death-traps, with such intend manslaughter, or should we call it the way it is “casualties for the sake of profit margins“. There is no common law part in law or in UK cases to make this an actuality, but perhaps it should. Perhaps it is time to make that change, if only to stop greed to some degree, because 149 victims in one building would sanctify such a change in law. The government that does not give that honest consideration in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords during at least two sittings each is betraying the trust you bestowed upon them. This is now becoming a job for the Law Lords and as the blogger Lawlordtobe I call upon them to make the UK a safer place to be.


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Sex Driven Developers

There are always ways to find weaknesses in government; there is a decent chance that we find them on a daily basis. Yet, how must we react when the foundation of those making the decisions are now in a runt of enabling? What happens when the government first decides on cyber rules for the safety of all whilst opening a bordello around the corner so that those in dire need of affordable housing are getting screwed over?

This is what is on the goose feather of Julia Kollewe as she dipped it into the ink jar and gave us ‘Battersea Power Station developer slashes number of affordable homes‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/21/battersea-power-station-affordable-homes-almost-halved-by-developer). She is trying to wake up pretty much everyone with this and it should wake us all up. You see, the next decade is about the dire need of affordable housing, London is in danger of alienating the very population that is the means for its survival. You see, in my mind, greed is not a ‘technical issue‘. Greed merely is and never goes away. A technical issue is when you get the cement batter wrong in one shipment, a technical issue is when you are looking at a square and you calculated for 5 corners. When you have a £9 billion project and you have to redesign 40%, you are in my humble opinion screwing people over for your need of greed and profit whilst ‘putain‘ the 250 people now left outside in the cold (pardon my French). So as we see that someone clever from these Malaysian investors, are now trying to maximise profit by slashing the affordable housing part as we read: “The affordable home proposals amounted to 15% of the total 4,239 homes planned, which included luxury pads ranging from £800,000 for a studio atop the former power station to £4m for a four-bedroom flat (the three penthouses have yet to be priced).” there is no other option but to fight back. In this there are two options left to the government. One is to get the list of investors and they are to be banned from any other real estate investment in the UK for 5 years. The second option would be that if the apartments are uninhabited for over 40% of the time, there must be a large service surcharge to the building services. Once that these investors have to report these surcharges in the upcoming sales bill, they might have to let slip some of their expected profits. In all this, the ‘compensation‘ of mentioned “build the 386 affordable homes three years earlier than previously envisaged, which means residents will receive their keys in 2020. They will be located in apartment blocks near the power station“, is only a small band aid, because it is not just about time, it is about space and location, the space of 250 apartments is now gone! We sometimes state that no man is an island, but the UK kind of is, so that means that once the space is gone, it is definitively gone. We also get the quote “an assessment of the profits the developer expects to make. Independent adviser BNP Paribas advised the council that it is “very unlikely” that the 250 homes will materialise“. So when we see this ‘independent’ party. Have they been on this project from the very beginning? You see, if that is true than we see a feigned level of incompetence. From my point of view, BNP Paribas is not just the largest bank in France; it is one of the largest banks in the world, so when they make an £9B ‘oopsie’, something else is going on. From my speculated view is that they had made for whatever plan they could offer so that they could get the project, whilst down the track they adjusted the view to get the results their investors needed and submitted the new plans so that they end up getting what they wanted in the first place. I cannot tell how deep BNP Paribas is into this as ‘Independent adviser‘ implies that they could have been called in down the track, not initially. In support of this view the article also gives us: “Keith Garner, a local architect who has campaigned against the Battersea project for years, said: “Underlying it, the financial model is all wrong. A developer-led project to conserve, repair and bring back in to use a famous London landmark is turning in to a predictable disaster“. This now gives us two parts. The first is that this is not just coming to view and even as the lord Mayor Sadiq Khan is only now coming into view, his administration as well as the previous one, will now need to show clearly that due diligence was maintained throughout the project including the view and calculations before approval was given. This puts Boris Johnson equally on the hot chair as his team comes under scrutiny. If we are to maintain the push for affordable housing, we cannot accept screw ups of this magnitude. Because once the cashable buildings are gone, it is over and no other option remains. It is the curse of sitting on an island. Keith Garner has been vocal in the past, going back even before January 2015, yet from this point onwards we see Keybridge House in Vauxhall where only 4.5% became affordable (19 out of 419), it seems to me that when we tally that part the failure is a lot larger than most realise. Even then there was a list for the PowerStation with a setting of ‘3,444 new homes at the power station 560, or 16%, will be affordable‘, so the list got slashed before and it got slashed again. Actually, the numbers changed as 3,444 became 4239, so there has been more ‘revamping’ it seems that a project this much in flux implies that certain elements were either never set or set in a questionable way. Now, we get that things change, there are always details that need ‘alteration‘ yet when you ‘suddenly‘ add 795 apartments (which under normal conditions seem to be 2-4 additional towers, we should agree that ‘questionable‘ is very much the better word to use (without getting to rude and rely on the ‘putain’ word).

Another issue is seen in “Officers appreciate the level of stresses a scheme of this size and complexity has and that the main priorities of the scheme have been the conservation and redevelopment of the listed power station building, the delivery of the Northern Line extension and new underground station and the jobs to be created as part of the new town centre“, you see, as investors are always happy to sue the pants of any official, the mention of ‘delivery of the Northern Line extension and new underground station‘ is not a problem to the Malaysian investors, so if the UK government had impeded the development of an agreed project, the government get the invoice. So there is now the implied issue that there was a mere trade off and 250 affordable homes were scrapped. Is that not a view you would envision? In addition ‘jobs to be created as part of the new town centre‘ sounds nice, but how is that part of the powerhouse building project? So as this all comes to heads in “A report by the Wandsworth council planning officer recommends that the proposals be approved, ahead of a meeting of the planning committee on Thursday evening“, there is the speculated issue that the Wandsworth council made a right mess of things and they are trying to appease the situation so that they keep their jobs and possibly avoid the wrath of parliament, there was just the need to scrap housing for 250 people who desperately needed them.

So, feel free to object and oppose my way of thinking, but that is how I see it. I understand that the UK needs economy, it needs houses and it needs jobs, but when a limited resource is wasted to this degree we need to ask questions loudly and there needs to be the revision of policies to make certain that affordable housing remains at the top of the list, and remains the top priority of the list of achievements. Yet in the last 2-3 years, there is additional evidence growing that what was a desperate need is ignored by those, because it does not really impact them.

Yet the 2015 article also gives some opposition. We see this in “Tony Travers, director of the Greater London group at the London School of Economics, says: “In fairness, the developer is being required to pay for a lot of other things. The land has to be used very intensely to produce enough yield to pay for the things that the government used to pay for.”“. OK, this is fair enough. My response would be: ‘I agree, but that is the assessment of an investment opportunity. The numbers are done and in the end it is either feasible or it is not!‘ So the investor could have walked away from it. If the government had found the £9B, it has the option to do it themselves, with a very different balance, and perhaps with only one penthouse, the other 2 could have become 3 3-bedrooms apartment each. In addition, as it is now less about profit, there could have been 900 affordable houses instead of the 636 initially envisioned. As I read the articles over time and the sources given, it seems to me that orchestration might have been at the centre of things from the beginning. That feeling is gotten from ‘The land has to be used very intensely to produce enough yield to pay for the things that the government used to pay for‘, you see, like some naval projects, where voting for adjustments is often much better than being the messenger on a failed project, because those investors would sue, and the eagerness of the Wandsworth council implies to some degree that there would be a case and a court settlement of £9B might not be the best way to go forward. And as we see in the past “Many flats were sold off-plan and, still unbuilt, are back on the market at higher prices. Just before Christmas one unbuilt studio flat in the power station, which had sold for close to £1m, was back on the market for £1.4m. Last week, estate agent Chestertons was reported to have other unbuilt flats on the market for £865,000 – £150,000 more than their original asking price” implies that investors are getting rich fast, so the entire drop of 250 affordable apartments is becoming more and more of a debatable issue.

Yet the final issue not seen in the latter article is most damning on both the houses of Sadiq Khan and Boris Johnson. The quote “the lack of a master plan for the area” is damning because it implies that the area could lose its identity, and I am willing to buy either a coffee with a cream cheese bagel with Salmon if they can clearly oppose the drop of value for the loss of identity validity. Those who truly move to London want to be in an area. They want to be part of Islington, Hammersmith or Chelsea. Some will prefer Southwark because of Hay’s galleria, yet in reality they might just do it because the hookers give much better value in that borough. Whatever reason we hear the identity of the place matters. And this requires a clear master plan. to some degree when it is in the hands of foreign investors, things go into flux, yet a clear master plan is essential the prevent London of becoming an anonymous place of chaos.

In this we remain at minus 250 apartments. You see, no matter how grand it all looks, the immediate need for infrastructure is simple. When the people have to travel too far to work, the job will no longer be a feasible solution. Even as some are pointing to an extension of the Northern Line, the simple truth is that it is an additional 15 minutes, meaning that some people will travel 90 minutes each way to get to (or from) a place where they can afford to live, on top of that travel costs are rising too. So the new place ends up being a ghost town without infrastructure. How is that an interesting investment when some could go in and out of this ghost town to burglar it into heaven as they get to do that unopposed? How many paintings and electronics need to be removed before the investors seek another place to go to?

All elements that seem to have been missed, all part of a master plan not in place and all linked to investment and economic plans that might have been dubious from the beginning. As I personally see it, a lack of long term oversight, checks and balances all cast aside for the quick profit and the marketable view of mentioning, to merely look good. And now Lord Mayor Sadiq Khan has the mess on his plate and he gets to see what might be salvaged, because when I see ‘A report by the Wandsworth council planning officer recommends that the proposals be approved‘, I wonder what has not hit the light of day yet and what else has to be sacrificed (or additional costs received) in the next upcoming year. Would you not wonder (read: worry) about that very same thing?


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