For the past week or so, this pic has been my wallpaper — and a pretty pic is is, too.

However, only a day ago my eye was drawn to this little detail in the bottom-right corner:

I mean, if you’re going to do that camping thing, there are far uglier places to do it e.g. Newark NJ or Bradford Yorks.  Still, it niggles me for reasons I can’t explain.

Texas Ain’t Vancouver

Amid rising fears of furriners buying up Murkin land comes this little glimmer of sunshine:

Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) vowed to back legislation prohibiting Chinese, Russian, Iranian, and North Korean citizens and entities from purchasing land in Texas.

The bill, submitted two months ago by Republican state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, states that citizens, corporations, and government agencies of the four nations “may not purchase or otherwise acquire title to real property” in the state. Abbott confirmed on Sunday that he would endorse the legislation, which has not yet been voted upon by lawmakers.

The bill should pass — and if not, I’ll be looking at the list of who voted against it.

Let The Market Decide

We often hear that mantra from free-traders and staunch capitalists, but sometimes the situation isn’t that simple.  Take this example in the exquisitely-beautiful town of St. Ives, in Cornwall, Britishland:

Landlords and businesses have been buying up properties in the area and converting them into summer homes, meaning there is nowhere left for locals to rent.
Jasmin cannot find a new place to rent and her tenancy is due to end on May 10.  She has exhausted letting agents and spare room sites, and fears in three weeks she will be sleeping rough.

And from the local council:

“The boom in house prices and the demand for holiday accommodation is causing a significant reduction in the availability of homes to rent.  It matched sudden escalation in rental costs.
“Private landlords have been moving away from long-term letting and instead moving towards the short-term holiday market.”

Read the whole thing.

I know that many towns in rural counties Over Here have had the same problems — transplanted Californians, ’nuff said — to where locals with jobs in those towns have to find a place to live in further-off towns, sometimes as much as an hour’s drive (or more) away.

Jackson Hole in Wyoming, when I first drove through there back in 1987, was a one-horse town that had nothing to recommend it other than proximity to Yellowstone and a couple of ski runs;  now, it’s the place to find Hollywood types and other California scum in their vacation homes, with all the foul side-effects:  expensive housing, expensive eateries, empty streets out of season, and so on.

I don’t have any solutions — at least, not free-market solutions — so maybe it’s up to the local governments to step in;  although getting government involved usually if not always seems just to exacerbate the problem.

I welcome discussion on the topic, in Comments.

Spendy Property

We’re all accustomed to stories of how expensive real estate has become in the world’s major cities.  Here’s one in London that caught my eye recently:

A Notting Hill flat that is so small  [254 sq.ft] that there only appears to be a sofa available to sleep on has gone on sale on Rightmove for £350,000.

That works out to $1,872 / sq.ft [pause for recovery time]  but it does raise an interesting question.

Is it actually uninhabitable?  Well, it depends.  If a single person (forget a couple, that’s insane) bought the place as a full-time residence, it would be tight — but not impossible.  And honestly — I know the neighborhood — the kitchen would only be used in emergencies, because that area has about a jillion pubs, restaurants and takeout places pretty much within a few blocks of the place in any direction.

Its purpose, in fact, is that of a corporate flophouse;  where an executive (e.g. Mr. Free Market) has a family house / estate far outside London, but spends Monday- to Thursday nights in the city.  In these circumstances, all he needs is a bed and a bathroom, with the rest being more or less superfluous.

And the flat is quite pleasing to the eye withal, despite its shortage of area:

I could live there, by myself.  But only because it’s in London.  Anywhere else, and I’d feel like this:

Filthy Rich

I’m not afflicted with wealth envy, because I’m not a Communist.  I do get upset, however, when the rich leverage their wealth to become still richer (as opposed to creating more wealth through productivity), or when people such as the late Senator Harry Reid become wealthy by abuse of their position, or by fraud (like this asshole, this asshole and this tart).

I’m also not envious of people who become rich by pure luck:  lottery winners, or people like the Sultan of Brunei, whose country just happens to be sitting on an ocean of oil and natural gas — and who went and created a $5 billion (with-a-B) collection of cars, supercars, bespoke supercars and so on, as discussed here.  I’m not upset that most of the cars have never been driven, or that they’re falling apart and becoming unrecoverable.  Rich people do stupid shit, and that’s the way of the world.

As is the case with people who spend over $100 million to own apartments in New Yawk fucking City that they’ll never visit.

The difference between them and the idiotic Sultan is that their spending is an investment, whereas the Sultan’s spending is just money thrown away, as befits so much of this kind of thing in the Third World.  The latter is similar to inheriting ten million bucks from Aunt Ethel, spending $1,000 on handmade chocolate bars, and never eating any of them.  That kind of spending is actually symptomatic of a psychological defect — but still, I don’t care.

The point about those real estate buyers is that if the real estate market crashes, and it will, the value of their investment will plummet — and they still won’t care too much, because they have that much money.  And remember the truism:  in five generations (or less), all fortunes, no matter how vast, are dissipated.

Which brings me back to my opening statement:  I really don’t care how much money people have, nor how it’s spent.

What does get up my nose is when governments do the same kind of thing as the Sultan of Brunei does:  only with our money and not their own.

Room With A View

For those who want to get away from it all, there’s always this place:

I can just see the listing description:

Adorable cottage with unbeatable Alpine view needs only a little TLC to make a perfect retreat from the bustle of city life.  No-maintenance garden and limitless recreational activities await its next loving owner.  Property adjoins national park, so no neighbors will spoil your view or solitude.  Only the screams of the many falling climbers  soaring eagles disturb the silence, and winter snows turn the area into a picture-postcard life.  Main road  path only steps away.  One of a kind value!

Uh huh.