Friday, 13 May 2016

Let's not weep for the departing oligarchs - resilience begins at home

Posh London addresses...
Yesterday, billionaire hedge fund managers; today, the nameless super-rich buying into London's property market. All our instincts are screaming that these people do not operate in the best interests of society, and yet the refrain is the same: the rich are "wealth-creators" and we should be grateful to them rather than making them account for their wealth.

The rich are not wealth-creators, but wealth accumulators, and buying premium London property is part of that process. Having to reveal themselves under Cameron's much touted anti-corruption measures, will, it seems, frighten them off. Estate agents and lawyers - and doubtless interior decorators, security companies, limousine drivers and many others - fear for the crumbs that drop their way from these rich people's tables.

The UK is a dependent economy. It imports far more than it exports, and somehow it has to pay for it. Like those estate agents to the oligarchs it cannot operate without a steady flow of foreign money to balance the books.

Whether it's Chinese participation in HS2 and nuclear power stations, or secretive investors snapping up posh London addresses, or public services outsourced to multi-national corporations, or public institutions auctioned off to the highest bidder, almost everything in Britain that can generate an income stream has been sacrificed to keep the cash flowing in and make investors richer.

It's not sustainable and it's not resilient. Instead of Hinkley C we need local energy production; instead of selling off council housing to the highest bidder we need locally affordable homes. so let's not weep for the departing oligarchs - resilience begins in communities providing for themselves.



Picture: Amanda Slater (Flickr: Belgravia. London.) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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