EU’s 11 million empty homes a speculators paradise

Karl FitzgeraldCampaignsLeave a Comment

houses_stand empty_DHoffman

Here at Earthsharing we could argue to be world leaders in the measurement of vacant housing. For 6 years we have quantified vacant housing with the Speculative Vacancy report. For five of those years we have been using water consumption as a proxy for vacant housing.

This was a likely inspiration for the Chinese State Grid Power company to use electricity consumption as a proxy for vacancy. In 2010 they found 65.4 million empty apartments.

We have been advocating for similar groups such as the UK’s Empty Homes to adopt the water consumption method as a vacancy measure. Here in Australia we have been lobbying the ABS and other government agencies.

Unfortunately there is slow progress to report, despite the fact the global economy is screaming head first towards another land bubble so soon after the last one catalysed the GFC. Vacant housing is a sure sign that the economic fundamentals have departed from reality as insiders chase ‘unearned incomes’.

We should have learnt more from the GFC. Instead, we have increased taxes on our food in the UK, Spain, Greece, Japan, over 300 times in US states, NZ and soon here in Australia. This is exactly the opposite to what we should be doing – shifting taxes off our food (GST is regressive), off our productive work (incomes) and onto the naturally rising value of the earth (and natural monopolies). The tax system then has the ability to reward producers whilst operating on a progressive basis.

Wealth is redistributed to those who employ and create rather than those who hoard and wait.

Vacant housing would significantly fall as the tides of investment money are channeled back to the productive economy.

Long time member and Treasurer Karl Williams penned this excellent letter to the Guardian regarding their recent EU article.

GUARDIAN WEEKLY 14 February 2014

Aren’t homes places to live?

Are homes meant to be investment opportunities or places for people to live? Anyone reading Scandal of EU’s empty homes (28 February) would wonder whose interests Europe’s decision makers are serving.

But if one casts an eye at the west’s tax systems, one can only conclude that we have governments of the speculators, by the speculators and for the speculators. Honest work is frequently hammered by the highest tax rates, whereas those who “reap where they do not sow” are beneficiaries of tax favouritism.

Australia’s sweeping 2010 tax review recommended that properties be encouraged to be put to optimal use by a substantial federal land tax, which is almost impossible to avoid no matter how large one’s battalion of tax lawyers. Why are we not surprised that our system of lobbyocracy soon committed nearly all of these recommendations to oblivion?

Karl Williams
Melbourne, Australia

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