Posted by: gaiusc | 3 September, 2008

I’m a bankrupt, GET ME OUT OF HERE

So Uncle Tom is up to his old tricks again in trying to con people?

The chancer has had quite an interesting career. He was president of the Irish Farmers Association at the time that the CAP reforms emasculated Irish farmers. He joined the Progressive Democrats just in time to participate in the destruction of their parliamentary party. He also lost his seat in what was so-called “Parlon country” in 2007. A short time later he took up the position of Director General of the Irish Construction Industry Federation and the property market imploded. As a latter-day Jonah, future employers should be aware that giving gainful employment to Tom Parlon is likely to result in ten biblical plagues being visted upon his place of work.

In his current line of work, Tom Parlon is nominally the public face of the Construction Industry Federation, who did rather well out of the boom years with enormous demand for housing fueling the construction of 93,419 units in 2006. Since the bubble popped, Tom has been very prominent in attempting to convince people that there is “fantastic value” to be had in the current market and that interest rates would always be 4%. Now I don’t doubt for a second that having homes selling at over 10 times the average wage represents good value and the current slowdown is the fault of doom & gloomers who couldn’t be proper patriots and keep their mouths shut (or even better, hang themselves as Bertie suggested) but I must admit that I’m puzzled by some of his latest pronouncements.

Recently, he came up with an ingenious scheme to help re-ignite the property market. No no, it’s not the plan to pilfer the national pension reserve fund. That deserves a stint in Mountjoy for anybody who even tries to do it. It’s actually his recent proposals on the affordable housing scheme that take the cake.

The CIF has met environment minister John Gormley and is calling for the income eligibility limit for local authority housing loans to be doubled from €40,000 to €80,000, and for the maximum available mortgage to be increased from €185,000 to €400,000.

So the public face of an enormously powerful vested interest has some ideas to save the economy and selfless fellow that he is, he and his developer buddies don’t stand to benefit in the slightest.

The linked article refers to 40,000 empty properties in the country. A quick look at the census of 2006 and the number of units completed since would indicate that the real figure is somewhere north of 300,000. The developers are sitting on a lot of empty property with the banks looking to get paid. With the banks are up to their necks in this mess as well, they are going along with it and rolling up interest payments while hoping that this all blows over soon.

Back to the proposal highlighted above, Tom Parlon wants the state to change the rules for affordable housing to include people earning twice the average wage. The fact that those people who are earning very very good wages effectively need welfare assistance to buy a house should be something of a clue. Maybe, just maybe, houses are too expensive and they should be priced so that a middle-class person can buy a reasonable house in a middle-class area.

Furthermore, we’re in this mess partially because of reckless lending practices and Tom wants the state to step in so that people can live in properties that cost over ten times the average industrial wage? The sooner the government do away with the scam that affordable housing has become, the better.

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