I saw this post today
Let’s send our parents off to France
In his column, Boris Johnson has needled the real problem in this country – the reason why we’re never going to be able to go back to really cheap houses. Quite simply, there are too many of us. As Boris puts it, 10 million people are due to “crash land” into the country like a fleet of gliders on D-Day, and they all need somewhere to live. Well I would like to propose a solution. On one day in 1944 we managed to send 175,000 young men into France. Given twenty years, would it be so difficult to send 10 million?
Let me elaborate. As a nation we have clearly decided that we don’t want many more houses. Hating suburban sprawl goes back as far as suburbia – the ugliness of new houses was something even George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh could agree on – but only now are we in the enviable position where we can probably avoid making it worse. How so? Well thankfully, a large chunk of the population doesn’t have to go to work, and so probably doesn’t need to be here at all. Not the unemployed I mean – but retired people. Conveniently, there are almost exactly 10 million of them, and that number is only going to grow. Wouldn’t they like to relocate en masse to somewhere a little cheaper?
Obviously the Dordogne is traditional, but retirees have a whole world of options. America has got a lot cheaper recently. So has Spain. Even tiny Ireland has 300,000 empty houses, all desperately in need of people to live in them. If a few hundred thousand British OAPs were willing to move to Ireland, not only would we relieve a bit of the pressure back here, we’d help a small country get through a drastic economic crisis.
You may ask how we’d pay for it, but it’s simple. Young people can cough up – we’re happy to, providing we can move into the newly empty houses. By the latest measure, the average first time buyer is 37. I’m 22, so apparently I have a good fifteen years left before I’m likely to be able to buy somewhere. Since I’m working in journalism, and living in London, even that number is probably hopeful. Rather than make us wait decades to buy ugly Barratt boxes, old people should just sell us theirs.
So how do we bring about this great migration? Obviously we can’t actually force pensioners onto planes, but surely we could give them an incentive to go? I’ve not worked out the best way yet, but exclusively from the evidence of my parents and their friends, I’d start with a hefty tax on golf courses.
First posted by Francophile