Saturday, 15 November 2014

Why is UK housing so expensive?

Oxfam Scotland have previously identified housing as the top quality of life priority for most people.

In the seventies the average house cost about 3 times the average income. Today it's closer to 6 times. Why is this, and is this progress? In my opinion there are two main problems, a restricted supply and continued wealth accumulation.

Firstly, a free market should enable the supply of competitively priced units that should not increase in relative price over time. For housing there is a finite supply of land, and one could argue this restriction has driven prices up, but the population has only increased by around ten percent in forty years so it can actually only be a small part of the overall picture.

Secondly, each generation inherits more wealth, particularly that stored up in their parent's housing. This has a one-way ratchet effect, constantly pushing demand and driving up prices. Houses come to represent layers of fossilised wealth valued for their rarity rather than intrinsic utility.

Other questions remain:
  • How much has the rise of dual incomes caused the current cost/income ratio?
  • Are there secret suppliers cartels in operation and how can we ensure none exist?
  • Are politicians doing enough to see that land is reused and enough social housing is built?
  • Are enough voters in favour of a stabilisation, even reduction, over time, of relative house prices?
  • What about the impact of Buy-to-Let? Does this help or hinder supply? via Twitter.
Ultimately, I think, we need to ask what real progress will look like, devise policies to take us in that direction, and secure mandates for change - ie that we need a full supply to meet the strong demand.

But what do you think? Feel free to leave a few thoughts below. The image is from an Economist article that's worth reading too.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Nut Thing - A Tex-Mex Pasta Recipe via Sweden

When I worked in Sweden a good friend made this one weekend.

I've tried a few times to recreate it with mixed results, but it's always tasty.

I really need to confirm the actual ingredients & method some time soon :-)

It's basically a beef mince pasta bake with cashew nuts and taco spices.

Boil pasta. Fry mince & onion. Add taco mix.with water and tomato paste.

Add herbs and garlic. Salt and pepper. Add cashew nuts and stir to simmer.

Add whatever other vegetables you fancy - eg some chopped bell peppers.

Combine pasta and sauce in oven dish. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top.

Bake covered for 30 mins with additional 10 minutes without lid to give crunch.

Enjoy with a salad - the cashews make a nice texture - the nut thing, not a nothing...

Friday, 24 October 2014

Most under-65s voted Yes at IndyRef, but why so many older No voters?

These figures show the average of both exit polls conducted on the 18th September.

The under-65s voted 50.01% in favour of Yes, but why did the older group vote so much for No?

I'd say the strongest reason is that they were the group most dependent on the establishment media, which was almost entirely aligned with the pro-UK camp.

So take heart, we are closer to independence than ever before, it's only a matter of time and effort to get there. The seeds of the future have been planted and objective information will set us free, eventually :-)

Ashcroft Exit Poll - YouGov Exit Poll

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Fabulous Bread & Butter Pudding - quick and easy to make from scratch using a microwave

Two heels of pan loaf, butter, strawberry jam, raisins, a small jar of single cream.

Butter and jam the bread on one side. Slice into bite size pieces..

Arrange in layers, with raisins between in dessert bowl. Sprinkle more raisins on top.

Pour cream over and place in microwave on low for 10 minutes.

Increase to medium and microwave for 5 minutes or until cream starts to bubble over. Let cool for a few minutes.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Why I help Oxfam Scotland

Everyone should do their bit to help make the world a better place, when and as they can.

In the nineties I was shocked to learn that about 30,000 children under five died every day from largely preventable things.

Five years ago, when I had some time to give back, I saw that Oxfam Scotland were looking for social & digital media help so I called them up and soon started giving my time & skills to supplement and complement their staff.

I've been helping them almost every day in one way or another since then, alongside full-time employment. But why help Oxfam amongst all the very worthy charities?
  • They tackle my pet problem, child mortality, head on as a main priority
  • They have a very efficient delivery of donations to the front line at almost 90%
  • They focus on solving the long term causes of poverty as well as giving emergency relief
  • They work locally, nationally and internationally addressing different forms of injustice
Since the nineties the child mortality rate has almost halved. We've made progress, the world is slowly getting better, but there is still a very long way to go. I love helping Oxfam, in my own way, and hope to continue doing so for a long time to come.

Can you do more to help make a better world? Pick what distresses you most and find your way to help tackle it. Together we can make a difference...

Monday, 28 April 2014

Turkey Fajitas

Oil, onion, bell pepper, diced turkey, chilli flakes, lemon juice, tomato puree, sugar.
Serve with lettuce, sour cream, salsa, jalapenos, grated cheese, on tortilla bread.