Kristian Niemietz is a German chap working for the Institute of Economic Affairs, and he is worth listening to on matters such as housing and health policy. My guess is if you wanted someone to draw up a white paper on how to best allocate scarce resources in a particular field, he’s your man.
He’s also a good example of why technocrats don’t make good politicians or leaders. Look at this tweet:
Not for me, it ain’t. “Sovereignty” has no intrinsic value to me, because I don’t identify with my next-door neighbour any more than I do with a Brussels bureaucrat.
The only question that matters to me is: Which of them is more likely to leave me alone? https://t.co/5y3et2ekt8
— Kristian Niemietz wants to build unsocial housing (@K_Niemietz) December 18, 2018
Niemetz has a PhD in Political Economy (King’s College London) & MSc in Economics (Humboldt University Berlin). He seems to have spent his entire adult life living in capital cities mixing with white-collar professionals and academics. My guess is every apartment he’s lived in, including his current gaff, has shared a wall with someone much like him whether he realises it or not. He says he doesn’t identify with his next door neighbour only because he’s yet to experience living next door to someone he really doesn’t identify with. For example, I bet he and his neighbour place considerable value on getting a good night’s sleep.
The trouble with well-educated, international people like Niemetz is they fall into the trap of meeting foreigners who are much like them except for the accent and assume cultural differences stop there. Of course, if you hang out with academics and white-collar professionals it doesn’t matter if you’re in Berlin, London, Singapore, or Rio de Janeiro, it’s all the same. But if you live beside someone who has no reason to get up in the morning and decides to play music at full blast until 5am, or deals drugs in the stairwell of your apartment block, or uses it as a toilet, or keys your car on a regular basis, all of a sudden you realise the character of your neighbour becomes central to your quality of life. The only reason Niemetz doesn’t know his neighbour is because the latter is culturally conditioned to be considerate, and to get up at 7am each morning to go to work. If he wasn’t, I suspect Niemetz would know him intimately.
If you start dispensing with old-fashioned ideas like sovereignty and believe a neighbour is no different from a Brussels bureaucrat, you’re going to be in a for a rude awakening when diversity and vibrancy moves in next door. Of course, those who advocate such policies rarely have to live with the consequences.