Re: My Heart Bleeds For Professor Todd Henderson

1

Pretty much repeating a comment I made at EoTAW, I believe the cumulative effect of inflation helps foster this feeling. Despite relatively low inflation recently, the dollar value of most people's peak earnings would have gone a *lot* further at the time of their childhood, adolescence, entering the workforce or whatever. Imperfectly rational machines that we are, our feelings do not properly adjust for inflation.

Now, of course, one would generally expect some level of rational self-awareness to intervene between having that vague feeling and the act of very publicly whining about it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 6:28 AM
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It's quite similar to girls feeling the responsibility to be as thin as top models. Sympathy is in order, but it's still misguided. But: Professors X can easily pay for therapy.


Posted by: Earnest O'Nest | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 6:32 AM
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There has been a shit-storm about this post on various parts of the Internet. I think that is why the Prof's name is xed out.

I'm not really sure what to say about this. It's just consumerism. Stop wanting stuff you have no need for, stop defining yourself by the stuff you have, and you, Prof X, will be happy. It's an old argument by now.

One idea that I find a bit interesting, but really have no support for, is that there is more stuff to buy these days and product cycles are shorter. Things like iPhones and laptops are obvious status markers that didn't exist 30 years ago, and perhaps changes to big consumer items like TVs were slow enough that a 5 year old model wouldn't seem as old as it might today.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 6:53 AM
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The bigger issue is that Henderson's taxes (if he's being honest about the numbers he reports, which maybe he is and maybe he isn't) are probably going down under the proposed changes, and yet he's still out whining about it. So his post is either disingenuous or misinformed. Either way, he has since deleted it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 6:56 AM
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Capitalism makes people unhappy.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 6:59 AM
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We really need a few extra tax brackets (at, say, 500K and 1M) so that Democrats can demagogue high earners without making the "struggling" upper middle classes apoplectic.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:00 AM
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1: I'm not sure how to look this up -- is there a price index for luxury goods? -- but I think that there may have been more inflation in stuff rich people buy than in consumer goods generally, due to the rising incomes of the seriously rich. I have a sense that a Henderson-class person in, say, the seventies, would have been consuming a lot like the truly wealthy: not living the same lifestyle in terms of housing, travel, and leisure, but buying the same clothes and going to most of the same restaurants. And now there's more of a class gap there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:01 AM
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1.2: Have you met people?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:02 AM
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1: But, if I understand DeLong's numbers correctly, the Prof. is relatively better-off than he would have been 20 years ago (i.e., the 99th percentile in 2010 makes more than the 99th percentile in 1990, in inflation-adjusted dollars).


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:04 AM
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And while the extra tax brackets are a good idea, I'd hate to see them framed as giving Henderson-class taxpayers a deserved break. While I can empathize with Henderson, anyone who feels like he does needs to figure out that they're just wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:06 AM
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The asymptotic nature of wealth is both fascinating and kind of gross to see in practice. The town where I grew up was, basically, wealthy, although we weren't, which meant I knew a lot of people who were rich in the Henderson/DeLong sense: drove luxury cars, had nice houses in a town with great public schools, often had second homes. But I've since met people who are on a whole different scale: live in townhouses on Beacon Hill, only fly in those lay-flat first class seats when going overseas, live half the year in Paris or Sydney for tax purposes. But then there's a whole different level of rich past that, like the people who employ a friend of mine as, basically, a butler, driving their classic Ferraris from place to place and upgrading the whole-house stereo at the malibu mansion while they're on the private jet to the hawaii house, or the family with the beach houses on the hundred-acre ancestral estate that's been organized as a non-profit to avoid property tax (which is how I found myself biking through it), but which closes on the weekend so the family can enjoy the solitude of their town-sized property, private dock, and collection of enormous yachts. Just in terms of multipliers, the difference between the 99th percentile and the 99.999th percentile absolutely dwarfs the difference between the 10th percentile and 90th percentile.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:08 AM
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7 to 9, maybe? I'd think it's possible both that Henderson's income now buys more stuff in the CPI market basket than the income of someone in his percentile would have bought in 1980, but that it buys less of conspicuous-consumption luxury goods than his counterpart would have been able to buy. This has got to be something I could look up someplace.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:08 AM
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Omit the "kind of" in 11. That's not strong enough. It's really quite gross indeed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:11 AM
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A close family member and their family are generally always living about 1/3 beyond their means, despite being quite wealthy. But this is what capitalism does best. Drives marketing and consumerism and comparisons.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:12 AM
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Speaking of wealthy people complaining, when I was in graduate school, most of us were living on our fellowship, which was about $1,000/month. One day, a bunch of us were complaining about our apartments and one woman chimed in with, "My fireplace makes a funny hissing noise."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:16 AM
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Something everybody needs to understand about Henderson is that he's a right-wing nutjob. Even if the tax hike only cost him $1, he'd still object to it on principle. He made this clear in a follow-up post, which seems to have been deleted as well.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:16 AM
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Cars and planes don't impress me at all. Second home, though -- that's living. And I bet second homes have gone up way more than inflation.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:17 AM
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16: Google cache to the rescue: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:tD7wD6NES_oJ:truthonthemarket.com/2010/09/18/10-things/


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:18 AM
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And I bet second homes have gone up way more than inflation.

If you want a second home someplace nice, sure. There are plenty of perfectly functional homes that cost less than a Toyota if you aren't so picky.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:19 AM
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11 is the gospel truth. I was one of the better-off kids in the public school in my thoroughly middle class home town. Then I moved to NYC and I was, like, "Oh."


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:20 AM
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16 -- IT IS NOT A TAX HIKE. We had a deal: they get 10 years to use their tax cuts on activities so productive that we break even. They didn't, we didn't, and, with the experiment coming to its predetermined end date, we move on at non-experimental rates.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:20 AM
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Elizabeth Warren

To cope, millions of families put a second parent into the workforce. But higher housing and medical costs combined with new expenses for child care, the costs of a second car to get to work and higher taxes combined to squeeze families even harder. Even with two incomes, they tightened their belts. Families today spend less than they did a generation ago on food, clothing, furniture, appliances, and other flexible purchases -- but it hasn't been enough to save them. Today's families have spent all their income, have spent all their savings, and have gone into debt to pay for college, to cover serious medical problems, and just to stay afloat a little while longer.

Table:Median Family Spending by Category, Percent Change 1970s-2000s

In part this is a consequence of income redistribution. The rich spend relatively little on consumer goods, but do bid up the price of housing, health care,education.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:20 AM
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So, apart from the monumental assholishness, one of the things that struck me as weird is the amount that he's saving. The truly huge expenses he has now are things like student loans and private school and house payments that he won't be paying in the distant future, so it's not clear that he needs such a giant income after retirement. Why put away $100k/yr in retirement savings and sacrifice discretionary spending now?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:20 AM
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"The posts that generated an unintended blogocane have been deleted. I stand by the posts, the facts in them, and the points they were making. The reason I took the very unusual step of deleting them is because my wife, who did not approve of my original post and disagrees vehemently with my opinion, did not consent to the publication of personal details about our family. In retrospect, it was a highly effective but incredibly stupid thing to do."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:22 AM
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We really need a few extra tax brackets (at, say, 500K and 1M)

500K is already pushing into pretty low numbers of people, even at combined income. But 1M? Fuck that.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:23 AM
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7,9: My main point is a much more trivial one--it is merely that the numbers themselves have gone up so much and semi-rational beasts that we are we can't really adjust our expectations. For instance at some point when I was a kid the local marker for really freaking rich (country club/2nd home rich--someone connected to the scene could probably enumerate them all in my mid-sized Midwestern city) was $100,000/yr. So now someone makes 2-3x that yet is all, "Where is that beautiful 2nd home?"

However, I think LB's point is valid. I know she does not like the book, but I am reminded of Sherman McCoy's calculations in Bonfire of what it took to afford differen amenities (like a driver) in Manhattan.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:23 AM
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Why put away $100k/yr in retirement savings and sacrifice discretionary spending now?

All the better to bitch about. If you aren't putting away at least $50k/year for retirement then you're one of those people that the one guy in that one book by Ayn Rand complain about. You'll wait until you are 70 and live the sweet life on his social security checks. After all his hard work, they'll just give you enough money to buy canned beans and toast.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:24 AM
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25 gets it wrong. People who are just accumulating wealth to keep score? Tax most of it away. Reduce the incentive to make a king-size fortune by working for 5 years extracting wealth from others.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:25 AM
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Of course, I just clearly don't understand what it's like to be rich. I can't imagine why anyone would feel that $10k/yr for automobiles is a necessary expense. Like, I can't conceive of why anyone would feel that this is a reasonable thing to spend on cars, even if I grant them their claimed need for two cars, which I don't believe, given that he lives and works in Hyde Park.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:25 AM
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18 Yay! Here's what I had in mind:

I believe in a dramatically smaller government. Government has grown beyond its means, and threatens the stability of the country. ... I don't like tax policy as social policy. ... If I thought I could pay, say, $12,000 more in taxes and this would help educate poorer kids in my area, I'd gladly do it. I've seen no evidence that it would.

A closer read tells me "nutjob" might not be the right characterization. There are elements of High Broderism:

think George W. Bush was a terrible president. He was a profligate spender, and so was the Republican Congress. ... I think Iraq was a mistake, but pointing political fingers is not helpful as we try to dig ourselves out of the hole we are in.

I think it is obvious that we need to increase government revenue, cut spending ... Sadly I don't see anyone on Capitol Hill capable of this kind of bipartisanship.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:27 AM
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There are plenty of perfectly functional homes that cost less than a Toyota if you aren't so picky.

The house next door to us is the vacation home of a Galveston family. It can't cost more than $80K. Easy-peasy!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:27 AM
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8: 1.2: Have you met people?

Yes, but my assumption was that Chicago law professors would not have such poor impulse control. But I think the answers are in yawnoc's 16 & apo's 24--unrepentant wingnut+massive tool.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:27 AM
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Neither I, nor Warren, have mentioned savings, or saving for retirement. The way the rich have bid up the costs of savings can get complicated. Mostly asset inflation will reduce income streams by lowering rates?

Anyway, it is important to note that, right now, $500,000 in the bank will get you 16k annual income. Secure income has become expensive.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:28 AM
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21: Would you believe I hesitated for a minute before I typed "tax hike" and then decided not to twist myself into knots using the DNC-approved rhetorical frame?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:29 AM
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I can't imagine why anyone would feel that $10k/yr for automobiles is a necessary expense.

If that includes the costs of maintaining and parking, I could see it. People who work in downtown Pittsburgh probably way over $3,500 a year to park if they want close parking. I understand other cities may be more expensive.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:29 AM
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How much inflation was in the housing market between 1980 and today? It seems like, growing up, home ownership was a given for anyone middle class on up. But since then -- at least until the housing bubble burst -- paying the mortgage on a fairly average home seems to require a much more substantial income.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:30 AM
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It's a fundamental and completely astonishing flaw in American politics that no one has been able to point the tea partiers in the direction of Henderson and his ilk.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:30 AM
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And CC in 21 has it exactly right--the guy would still be ahead of where he was ca.2000 if the under $250K are extended.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:30 AM
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It's a fundamental and completely astonishing flaw in American politics that no one has been able to point the tea partiers in the direction of Henderson and his ilk.

In what way? Aren't they on the same team?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:32 AM
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37: what, you mean for fundraising? The tea partiers are Henderson and his ilk.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:32 AM
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31 -- As much as I'd enjoy vacationing next door to you all, uh. well, I think I can think of a better spot . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:32 AM
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31: It must be nice to be able to get away from the beach.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:34 AM
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39,40: Some of them. But they are drawing on economic anxiety amongst those less well off (who make up the majority).


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:36 AM
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It must be nice to be able to get away from the beach.

Have you been to Galveston? I'd totally pay good money to get the hell away from there.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:36 AM
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43: people always say that, and then there are always demographic surveys that show it to not particularly be the case, and then people keep saying it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:37 AM
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A closer read tells me "nutjob" might not be the right characterization.

Oh, he's a nutjob.

I've read and enjoyed all of Ayn Rand's fiction, especially "We the Living," but I've always wondered how I can convey her ideas to my children before they are able to read the books for themselves. What is a Randian to do when the hippies at the local playground sermonize about sharing and winning not mattering? Finally, here is a helpful guide for how to raise your child as an Objectivist. A taste: "You should never feel guilty about your abilities. Including your ability to repeatedly peg a fellow Xxxxler with your Elmo ball as he sobs for mercy"...

Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:38 AM
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47: are we sure he didn't accidentally read that McSweeney's parody as straight advice?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:39 AM
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44: I have actually. Twice. But I was maybe 12 on my last visit, so I might have been unduly impressed by the mere presence of a large body of water.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:39 AM
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And even Henderson is an interesting case: he identifies with the complaints of those wealthier than him when much of his economic worries are, as Delong points out, caused be them leaving him behind.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:39 AM
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there may have been more inflation in stuff rich people buy than in consumer goods generally, due to the rising incomes of the seriously rich.

The rich spend relatively little on consumer goods, but do bid up the price of housing, health care,education.

This probably doesn't need saying, but the underlying principle is that what makes you feel rich is your ability to buy positional goods, goods where a significant part of the value lies in the knowledge that other people can't afford them. Consumer goods used to fall somewhat into that category, but what with advances in manufacturing its just too easy to make enough of those things for everyone. So the burden of providing that sense of exclusivity falls to the things that they aren't making more of - real estate in nice areas, and access to other rich people for your kids at Harvard.



Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:39 AM
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I don't know how old Henderson is, but can certainly buy into JPS' mental lag on inflation point. The late 70s were a pretty big deal. 80s too. My parents sold their house in 1991 for 5 times what they paid in 1974. I was probably making more on my 50th birthday than my dad made on his -- even adjusted for inflation -- but it definitely bought a lot less.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:42 AM
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47: Um, wow. (I actually read We the Living.* A friend gave me a copy when I was sick in bed with the flu. I think I was 17. It was transparently the most ham-fisted, ridiculous piece of shit. I was embarrassed for the person who gave it.)

*Oh, wait. No. It was Anthem. Whatever. I bet my review still obtains.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:42 AM
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45: Surveys show they are better than median, I think. Not that the bulk of the Tea Party is in the top 10 or 1 percent.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:43 AM
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I also think it's interesting from a rhetorical perspective how DeLong pulls off a blend of empathy -- and even to some extent a serious argument that Henderson isn't fundamentally at fault for his perception of how well-off he is -- with twisting the knife.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:43 AM
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But I was maybe 12 on my last visit

I went there as an adult for a family reunion (wife's family). They way they were talking up Padre Island this SoCal native was expecting something like Balboa or Coronado. I came away thinking the rest of Texas must be kitty corner to hell if Padre was their idea of a resort town.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:45 AM
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54: I believe Rauchway called it a "sympathetic vivisection".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:47 AM
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Did anyone see DeLong's bloggingheads with Kinsley and (a) want to punch him in the face, he was such an insufferable d-bag, but (b) wonder what the hell happened at the end there, except maybe Kinsley was thinking (a)?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:48 AM
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One final comment then it's all dissertation for me. This thread hit Metafilter which in turn linked to another blog that turns up this:

I checked the Cook County Recorder of Deeds website to see how much Prof Henderson paid for his house and how much he borrowed against it (by the way, these are public records).

He bought his house for $920k in September 2005, the very top of the market. He took out 3 mortgages to buy it ($736k, $92k, and $82k), financing a total of $910k of the $920k purchase price.

He refinanced all of this with a $1,087,500 mortgage in 2009. Looks like he's borrowed more than the original purchase price and is maxing out the tax code's mortgage interest deduction.

Essentially, all of us taxpayers subsidize Prof Henderson's leveraging up his house to the max. Waytago Todd!

In the comments of http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/09/rich-people-pity-party


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:49 AM
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58: Aren't we supposed to hate on the poors and the browns and the poor browns for this sort of behavior? I am pretty sure the Teabaggers told me that.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:52 AM
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Texas must be kitty corner to hell

Have you been to Arkansas?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:52 AM
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I believe in a dramatically smaller government. Government has grown beyond its means, and threatens the stability of the country.

I agree! We simply cannot continue to spend what we do on the military and on wars of aggression. So cut whatever you want on other social programs -- but only if you cut the military budget by the same percent.


Posted by: t | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:54 AM
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60: Yes, but I can't recall a single thing about it. I can remember Branson, MO. I've tried to repress it, but I can't.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:54 AM
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Does anyone know much about Chicago public schools? I find it hard to believe that they're as terrible as portrayed. I know someone who's moving to Chicago soon and is leaning toward living somewhere in the western suburbs and commuting, because people have convinced him that otherwise he'll have to spend his entire salary on private schools. (Also, every time I mention to anyone that there are nice neighborhoods in the city of Chicago, I get a reaction like "well, I know you think that, but...") I think this is kind of nuts, but as always, I can't say anything because whenever I suggest to people that public schools might be an option they just kind of give me this patronizing "someday you'll have kids, and then you'll understand" speech.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:55 AM
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55: Kitty corner to Hell is an accurate evaluation.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:56 AM
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Just in terms of multipliers, the difference between the 99th percentile and the 99.999th percentile absolutely dwarfs the difference between the 10th percentile and 90th percentile.

Reminds me of a friend who worked for the women's pro tennis tour. She said that the difference in treatment, fan attention, and overall income between the top two players and the rest of the top ten was greater than between the top ten and the rest of the top 50.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:57 AM
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63: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/October-2010/Best-Elementary-Schools-Ranking-Charts/


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:02 AM
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65: If only more people would fixate on physical attractiveness, things would be much more equal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:02 AM
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Am I still allowed to comment here?

To answer a few lingering questions, the law professor in question is just as big a tool, if not bigger, and he makes himself out to be.

63: there are some okay options, though CPS is very hit or miss. Mostly miss.


Posted by: unf | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:06 AM
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From the cached article:

I believe in the power of private associations and charity. I gave large amounts to charity last year, none of which were club goods, as I'm not a religious person. I believe in helping the less fortunate. (For instance, I taught my daughter about the homeless this morning at the Dunkin Donuts near our house, and bought coffees and a dozen donuts for the guys outside selling "Streetwise.")

I love the finality of the wording there. "Tomorrow, we'll do geography. I plan to show her a globe."


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:06 AM
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This is such a tough issue for me. On the one hand, I think Henderson is obviously wealthy, and it's absurd, absurd, that he feels like he's struggling to make ends meet, or doesn't have enough free cash flow or whatever. I'm sure Delong's post is right--he feels that way because he only compares himself to those more wealthy than himself (and to their consumption patterns, etc.), and basically neglects the existence of the vast hordes beneath him, so he has a perversely skewed perspective of what's necessity, what's reasonable luxury, what's exorbitant luxury, etc.

And I feel like I can say that with some (confidence? authority? not sure what word I'm reaching for here), since when I was formerly making a very high income (though less than the bottom of Henderson's $250-$450 income range), I basically felt like I was absurdly wealthy, even though I interacted with vastly more wealthy people on a more or less daily basis (including lots of private equity bigwigs, who sort of top out the absurd-wealth continuum).

On the other hand, I'm now making less, although (a) still relatively speaking a very high income (about 2x the median household income), and (b) I feel like I'm genuinely struggling to make ends meet, I'm saving nothing and I've combed over my budget again and again and can't figure out anything that can be cut. (Some of the steps taken over the last six months: dropping netflix; dropping gym membership; drop swimming lessons for the kid (at the local public pool, not any sort of private club); dropping eating lunch out (I didn't eat anywhere expensive, but can save a few dollars a day bringing something bagged); mostly dropping eating out altogether actually--maybe pizza twice a month; cutting charitable giving to something close to zero (this one especially makes me feel like a world-class asshole). If I had any significant increase in expenses, such as the addition of a car payment (I don't have one currently, but have a 15 year old car, which thankfully I don't use much because I can take the bus to work, but I do (for work-related reasons) have to have a car occasionally), significant medical expenses (I have a HD plan and am not entirely sure how I'd afford the deductible, if I had to pay the whole thing, although thankfully anything above that would be covered) or, more on-topic, a large tax hike*, I feel like I'd be fucked. So, basically, I think about (a) and (b) (I think about them a lot, actually) and I feel like basically I must be exactly like Henderson, perversely skewed perspective and all.

* Or, this would be more on-topic if a large tax-hike for Henderson were actually being contemplated.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:06 AM
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Unf! Holy shit!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:09 AM
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Who's that?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:10 AM
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I was probably making more on my 50th birthday than my dad made on his -- even adjusted for inflation -- but it definitely bought a lot less.

If you've adjusting for inflation, this is definitionally not true.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:12 AM
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63: I will say, I am incredibly happy with the public schools in the western suburbs so far. But you need to be very careful in selecting a location as far as the commute goes. You want to find a station with an express train, and look at the traffic patterns to and from the station at rush hour. You do *not* want to plan on driving into the Loop from the western 'burbs (unless you mean near west, like Oak Park).

I have friends in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago, and they seem to be pretty pleased with their public (magnet) school.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:13 AM
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Wouldn't the real unf use an official email address?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:19 AM
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unf! omg!


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:20 AM
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68: Celebrity commenter! And that's a cute baby pic linked in the masthead.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:21 AM
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73: Well, "inflation" is a bit of a vague term. You could have the effect described for someone who is adjusting by the CPI but able to buy less of many goods because of large proportionate expenditures on things that have increased disproportionately in cost (education, health care, I think) or that don't show up in the CPI's basket (real estate, I think). Or someone who has done a back-of-the-envelope adjustment for inflation using the national CPI but is living in an area that has experienced higher inflation (DC might meet this criterion, I haven't checked).


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:22 AM
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Somebody should cut urple's taxes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:24 AM
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Unf!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:25 AM
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Unf should cut urple's taxes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:27 AM
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On the other hand, I'm now making less, although (a) still relatively speaking a very high income (about 2x the median household income), and (b) I feel like I'm genuinely struggling to make ends meet, I'm saving nothing and I've combed over my budget again and again and can't figure out anything that can be cut

Henderson is not rich.

My grandparents in 1960 had more than what he has:nice house on three acres, new car every other year, good educations for their kids, traveling vacations, full health care forever, secure defined-benefit retirement, and a lake cottage on three acres...and job security...

...on one factory pipefitter's income.

Don't look at the numbers. Look at what the numbers buy. This should be the minimum for middle class, and is very close to what FDR wanted in the economic bill of rights.

Henderson is not rich. The rest of us are lower middle class to poor.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:28 AM
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I get a reaction like "well, I know you think that, but...") I think this is kind of nuts, but as always, I can't say anything because whenever I suggest to people that public schools might be an option they just kind of give me this patronizing "someday you'll have kids, and then you'll understand" speech.

I got those, too, from some people. Folks I like and respect even. It makes me do both of less, and simultaneously makes me wonder if they're not right.

I'm hoping in a couple of years that we'll try it out and be both right, and virtuous. But for now it's parent-lead preschool and county rec-center classes.


Posted by: A Guest | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:28 AM
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70: That sounds rough. Do you have a sense of what the problem is (even if it's not fixable)? Is your mortgage out of scale with your income, or is it student loans left from law school? Nosy, but I'm curious -- don't answer if I'm being intrusive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:29 AM
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I thought the prophecies said that unf's return would drive away the mcmanuses and the ToSes.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:32 AM
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I get a reaction like "well, I know you think that, but...") I think this is kind of nuts, but as always, I can't say anything because whenever I suggest to people that public schools might be an option they just kind of give me this patronizing "someday you'll have kids, and then you'll understand" speech.

This is weird, because you really do have to know the schools. I'm sending my kids to urban public schools, but I'm doing it because I think the ones they're going to are safe (well, barring that drowning thing, but that's the sort of fluke thing that might have happened anywhere), and academically solid. But I can imagine public schools that I wouldn't send my kids to.

I tend to suspect that people reject public schools as unacceptable without really investigating them, but I can't be sure for any set of schools that I don't myself know much about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:32 AM
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Henderson is not rich.

Anybody who is able to put away $60K/year for retirement is rich.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:36 AM
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86: If the public schools are really unsafe, or just desperately awful, I can understand. But I get the sense -- and maybe in this case it isn't true, but in other cases where people have said this to me I'm sure it is -- that a lot of these schools are just mediocre, or have a racial makeup that makes people uncomfortable. And especially for elementary school, I don't think a safe but academically lousy school does much damage; there just isn't much that's taught in elementary school. I went to a pretty mediocre elementary school and a worse middle school, and I don't think I'm any the worse for it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:36 AM
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I tend to suspect that people reject public schools as unacceptable without really investigating them...

I would guess that in urban areas, a great deal of the reluctance stems from uncertainty. Around here, you are never sure where you child will go, at least for elementary school.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:37 AM
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82:

I am guessing that the factory pipefitter had a nice pension so he didnt have to save for retirement. (Thanks to a union!)


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:39 AM
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88: Have you spent much time around parents? Because if you do, you'll probably start to annoy them very quickly by saying things like that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:40 AM
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Also, white suburan people are trained to think of public city schools and cities in general as dangerous and bad. We deal with that all the time.

"You live in the city?!? Arent you scared to let your kids play?'


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:40 AM
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71 gets it exactly right!

Is this a sign of the end times?


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:41 AM
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||
fan-made trailer for an imagined live-action, "dark" Pokémon movie: Pokémon Apokélypse.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDX1m0Y2Vkg&feature=player_embedded
|>


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:42 AM
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88: Plenty of the Chicago public schools are officially unsafe and awful. (And the NYC system has always been lightyears better.) Everyone I know in Chicago (none rich, both black and white) who sends their kids to a public school sends them to a magnet school.
Although the Hendersonesque folks I know (much less wealthy, but who thought their cultural capital entitled them to much fancier school options for their kids) had the wife quit and homeschool the kids. This gave them a convenient out -- they neither had to debase themselves with public schools, nor admit that they couldn't afford private ones. But, you know, Libertarians.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:44 AM
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91: Well, yeah, I've noticed. As I said, I always get the lecture about how someday I'll understand. Or occasionally I get "well, maybe you could get through a crappy public school, but my kids need better teaching if they're going to get in to Harvard", and then I bite my tongue on the "maybe they don't really need to go to Harvard" reply.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:44 AM
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nice house on three acres
What do you need three acres for, unless you're a farmer? Only Americans waste real estate like it was going out of fashion. Middle class Europeans have maybe half an acre

new car every other year
3 - 5 years is plenty. Standard rent and replace deals for middle class cards in Britain run on that sort of cycle.

good educations for their kids
Go where the good public schools are, or fight for the ones where you live. Very few of the academics I know send their kids to private schools.

traveling vacations
Occasionally

full health care forever, secure defined-benefit retirement
Yes, yes and yes.

lake cottage on three acres
WTF!!!eleventy11!!!

and job security
Yes

Four and a half items which should indeed be everybody's by right, but can only become so with political will; three items of egregious conspicuous consumption, and a maybe on the vacations. I call upper middle class assumptions at least.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:45 AM
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Do you have a sense of what the problem is (even if it's not fixable)? Is your mortgage out of scale with your income, or is it student loans left from law school?

Well, the basic answer is no, I really can't figure out what exactly the problem is, despite looking at lots of spreadsheets. The two things you've identified are obvious candidates, in that if I had a lower mortgage or no (or lower) student loan payments, that would of course be helpful. But I don't feel like either of those should be factor that's sinking the ship. (Since I'm already boring everyone with personal details: mortgage is on a house that cost 3x income (and I put 20% down), which is on the higher end of the conservative guidelines (usually 2.5-3x income, I think), but nothing crazy (and certainly far less than we were approved far, and far less than a lot of the houses we were looking at, which, thank god we didn't end up with one of those (which we thought at the time we'd be able to afford, and which we didn't choose not because of cost but just because we liked this one more)). Student loans are what they are, which is absurdly high in absolute terms but a lot less than what many of my peers deal with. (We pay almost exactly $600/mo.))

Some days, I get close to the conclusion in 82, and think the median household these days must just be struggling more than I usually realize, and much more than the word "median" ought to imply.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:47 AM
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95 Everyone I know in Chicago (none rich, both black and white) who sends their kids to a public school sends them to a magnet school.

Do magnet schools exist at the elementary school level?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:47 AM
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Is this a sign of the end times?

Maybe he's like the Mahdi, preparing the way for Ogged's triumphant return.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:48 AM
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90: Maybe, but nothing is more obnoxious than the "Someday you'll understand" line.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:49 AM
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99: They do here in Durham.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:49 AM
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Very few of the academics I know send their kids to private schools.

But being academics, this means they likely live in an area where there are other academics also sending their kids to school, and so the school make-up is already shifted toward the highly-educated-parents end.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:49 AM
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99: Sure do in Chicago. There are tests and applications (such as they are) and the parents submit a list of the schools they'd like to see junior in, and wait to hear back which ones will have her/him.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:50 AM
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87:Anybody who is able to put away $60K/year for retirement is rich.

The IRA in 1974 was an early neo-liberal evil.

Let's presume he's 45. 20 years of that will, at today's rates, give him 35k a year at age 65. Yeah, annuitized(?), plus owns/sells house....looks decent. Not a rich retirement.

But over the next 40, like the last forty, there will very likely be periods of inflation of deflation that could wipe him out.

My grandparents had an indexed defined-benefit retirement and full healthcare, did just fine through the 70s, and were independent to around 1990.

I have an aunt & uncle who retired in 1995 with 3 million and are now broke.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:50 AM
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I think there are a lot of good perspectives on various facets of this debate here, but for me, it all seems to come down to basic expectations about what life will be like -- what's fun, what sucks, who to emulate, who to disdain.

For instance, on that vacation tip: I haven't had a vacation since I quit my old job last year. And that wasn't much of a vacation. I just knocked around the house doing some projects and spent some time on volunteer work. But I have had some pretty fancy vacations, by my standards, and frankly, I'd rather go stay with my parents in their spare bedroom in Northeastern College Town than stay in some fancy hotel in a big city. Rather go canoeing in the BWCAW than sit on a crowded beach in Florida. Hell, even an empty beach in Florida.

One thing I'd also say about moving to the 'burbs "for the kids" -- your kids are probably going to have some rude awakenings throughout their college years and their 20s if that's all they're familiar with. Not to wish ill on anyone's children, but I'd put my MPS education up against anyone's suburban education any day of the week. Not just for book-larning, but for street smarts, emotional competency, political savvy and all sorts of other things.

If you're this Henderson guy, and you're making $400K or whatever, don't you naturally expect, looking at those direct deposits on your online banking, that it should all be smooth sailing? That you can basically punch someone up on your iPhone, and whatever the problem is, you'll have money enough to throw at it until it goes away? So any time you do hit a rough patch, whether its actually financial or just affective, you're naturally going to blame your bank account for not being bigger.

Also, there's something to be said for re-reading Fussell's Class here, with an eye towards his description of the upper classes. You know, the ones who rarely buy any new furniture, who never go to hot resorts, who drive a 12-year-old Buick? You don't get and stay rich by spending lots of money. Professors should be smart enough to understand that, if nothing else.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:52 AM
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Only Americans waste real estate like it was going out of fashion. Middle class Europeans have maybe half an acre

There's got to be something else affecting this dynamic, but I can't put my finger on it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:53 AM
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but I'd put my MPS education up against anyone's suburban education any day of the week. Not just for book-larning, but for street smarts, emotional competency, political savvy and all sorts of other things.

There are plenty of drugs and unsupervised kids and hellishly live-by-your-wits situations in the suburbs, too, of course.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:55 AM
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Everyone I know in Chicago (none rich, both black and white) who sends their kids to a public school sends them to a magnet school.

I never encountered the concept of "magnet school" until college, but I thought it was supposed to be a school that gathers together the smart kids. How can everyone you know have extra-smart kids?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:55 AM
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Status competition really messes people up IMO. After expending effort to ensure that the stonework is nicer and the car is newer, it's easy to forget that you didn't actually want these things, but rather a sense of (looking at it benignly) ease or (realistically) smugness.

Having some control over what you want is a big part of wealth IMO. Also, even in just economic terms, income is not wealth.

Maintaining a second house remotely sounds completely insane to me, bad enough to keep the place you live intact or better. Plus, every vacation would then be spent at the second house, so no Machu Picchu or Rome for you.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:58 AM
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109: Well, they probably do all have smart kids. (These are people I know from college and grad school and working in publishing.) But there are magnet schools with all sorts of foci in Chicago -- languagues, creative expression, math and science, etc.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:58 AM
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107: Me either. Maybe if I looked at a map.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:59 AM
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112: a road map, you say?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:01 AM
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107: You're saying Americans have the space to waste? My experience it that some people genuinely like living in what we'd consider high density; this fear of socialising seems to be an English-speaking disease. The Spanish, for example, seem to have no problem living in apartments piled on top of one another.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:03 AM
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108: But people don't like to admit that, do they? It's all swept under the rug in the name of keeping up appearances. I mean, do people in the deep suburbs ever admit to themselves that they have created a world where the only outlet for adventure for their 15 year-old is driving to a deserted parking lot and getting drunk?

Anyway, it's not all just suburban thinking, as the OP shows.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:04 AM
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I believe Rauchway called it a "sympathetic vivisection".

Like.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:04 AM
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The Spanish, for example, seem to have no problem living in apartments piled on top of one another.

Yeah, they're just weird like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:05 AM
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107: come on, the land buying habits of UMC Americans in Cook County are not affected by their knowledge of the vast unused deserts of Arizona. Laws preventing high-density building are probably more important.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:06 AM
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Just finished a recent novel last night that somewhat taps this vein, The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter. It's a bit uneven (and the humor probably not for everyone), but it is a quick read and relevant to the discussion.

"Listen," Richard says, "unless you're about to inherit some money, what we're talking about is irreversible, fatal. You have fiscal Ebola, Matt. You are bleeding out through your nose and your mouth and your eye sockets, from your financial asshole.
"See! Fiscal Ebola? My financial asshole is bleeding? This was exactly why I started poetfolio.com; there are money poets everywhere.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:08 AM
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118: Cook Co. is pretty dense, even the rich suburban parts of it. My parents' generically middle-class house in suburban NJ sits on more than twice the amount of land CA's parents' very UMC house in suburban Cook Co. sits on. Even the lakeside mansions of Kenilworth aren't sitting on very much land.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:09 AM
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Do you have a sense of what the problem is (even if it's not fixable)? Is your mortgage out of scale with your income, or is it student loans left from law school?

Well, the basic answer is no, I really can't figure out what exactly the problem is, despite looking at lots of spreadsheets. The two things you've identified are obvious candidates, in that if I had a lower mortgage or no (or lower) student loan payments, that would of course be helpful. But I don't feel like either of those should be factor that's sinking the ship. (Since I'm already boring everyone with personal details: mortgage is on a house that cost 3x income (and I put 20% down), which is on the higher end of the conservative guidelines (usually 2.5-3x income, I think), but nothing crazy (and certainly far less than we were approved far, and far less than a lot of the houses we were looking at, which, thank god we didn't end up with one of those (which we thought at the time we'd be able to afford, and which we didn't choose not because of cost but just because we liked this one more)). Student loans are what they are, which is absurdly high in absolute terms but a lot less than what many of my peers deal with. (We pay almost exactly $600/mo.))

Some days, I get close to the conclusion in 82, and think the median household these days must just be struggling more than I usually realize, and much more than the word "median" ought to imply.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:09 AM
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This is such a tough issue for me. On the one hand, I think Henderson is obviously wealthy, and it's absurd, absurd, that he feels like he's struggling to make ends meet, or doesn't have enough free cash flow or whatever. I'm sure Delong's post is right--he feels that way because he only compares himself to those more wealthy than himself (and to their consumption patterns, etc.), and basically neglects the existence of the vast hordes beneath him, so he has a perversely skewed perspective of what's necessity, what's reasonable luxury, what's exorbitant luxury, etc.

And I feel like I can say that with some (confidence? authority? not sure what word I'm reaching for here), since when I was formerly making a very high income (though less than the bottom of Henderson's $250-$450 income range), I basically felt like I was absurdly wealthy, even though I interacted with vastly more wealthy people on a more or less daily basis (including lots of private equity bigwigs, who sort of top out the absurd-wealth continuum).

On the other hand, I'm now making less, although (a) still relatively speaking a very high income (about 2x the median household income), and (b) I feel like I'm genuinely struggling to make ends meet, I'm saving nothing and I've combed over my budget again and again and can't figure out anything that can be cut. (Some of the steps taken over the last six months: dropping netflix; dropping gym membership; drop swimming lessons for the kid (at the local public pool, not any sort of private club); dropping eating lunch out (I didn't eat anywhere expensive, but can save a few dollars a day bringing something bagged); mostly dropping eating out altogether actually--maybe pizza twice a month; cutting charitable giving to something close to zero (this one especially makes me feel like a world-class asshole). If I had any significant increase in expenses, such as the addition of a car payment (I don't have one currently, but have a 15 year old car, which thankfully I don't use much because I can take the bus to work, but I do (for work-related reasons) have to have a car occasionally), significant medical expenses (I have a HD plan and am not entirely sure how I'd afford the deductible, if I had to pay the whole thing, although thankfully anything above that would be covered) or, more on-topic, a large tax hike*, I feel like I'd be fucked. So, basically, I think about (a) and (b) (I think about them a lot, actually) and I feel like basically I must be exactly like Henderson, perversely skewed perspective and all.

* Or, this would be more on-topic if a large tax-hike for Henderson were actually being contemplated.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:10 AM
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118 is right in part, but it's more complicated than that. The subsidization of the interstate highway system, postwar mortgage laws, parking requirements and racism all had their part, but, the vastness of the west (especially as expressed in the ideal of suburban California) also probably played a role. Determining cause and effect is difficult. It is fair to say that at this point, development patterns are probably skewed way more in the suburban direction than they would be in the absence of regulations making that happen, but the question of how things got this way is a multi-faceted one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:11 AM
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Magnet schools do not need to accept the worst kids. Those that are charter schools also do not need to follow union rules for teacher hiring and reassignment in many states. IMO discussion of curriculum is a smokescreen.

Student loans go away eventually.

Home value 3x income is really high IMO, maybe a good investment eventually.

Lot sizes in the US are huge IMO beacause of i) crazy zoning and ii) mortgage interest deduction. The crazy zoning happens partly because of a keep-out-the-poor mindset and partly because developers support big-lot zoning with campaign funds for local politicians.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:11 AM
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Huh. Not sure what happened. Sorry.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:11 AM
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come on, the land buying habits of UMC Americans in Cook County are not affected by their knowledge of the vast unused deserts of Arizona. Laws preventing high-density building are probably more important.

And the laws preventing high-density building have nothing to do with the rise of the auto industry in America, which had nothing to do with the fact that this country is incredibly sparse and spread out?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:11 AM
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122 breaks new ground in double-commenting.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:12 AM
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Well, the basic answer is no, I really can't figure out what exactly the problem is, despite looking at lots of spreadsheets.

I had the same problem. It turned out I was spending $700 a month on spreadsheets.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:14 AM
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the fact that this country is incredibly sparse and spread out?

And was way, way more so when *Bob's grandparents* were buying a house.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:14 AM
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Home value 3x income is really high IMO

Yeah, maybe. It would certainly be nice if it were lower. It's possible the metrics we were using were "conservative" by boom-years standards, not be sane standards. I dunno. What's typical? People with a vested interest in our spending as much as possible seemed to think we could comfortably afford lots more.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:17 AM
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I've read and enjoyed all of Ayn Rand's fiction, especially "We the Living," but I've always wondered how I can convey her ideas to my children before they are able to read the books for themselves.

I know a woman who was raised as an honest-to-god Objectivist but has turned out to be a regular person with a social conscience. I don't know her well enough yet to grill her about it -- I'm fascinated -- but my sense is that it's still a big source of tension in her family and they're maybe not aware of how far she's strayed. (She's in her 30's.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:18 AM
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I'm sympathetic to 70 and 98, but 121 and 122 made me reach for my pitchfork.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:18 AM
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My state has a population density of under 10 people per square mile and there are three states that are less dense than that.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:18 AM
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How does 60k/year in student loans work?? Either the student loans are truly unfathomably huge, or else they're paying them off very quickly and will have an extra 60k/year of spending money in a couple years.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:19 AM
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When did everyone on the Internet turn into everybody's parents at their most tiresome?

"There are children starving suffering under inequitable school funding regimes in Africa the Midwest, so don't complain to me about your Jane Brody-approved bean stew marginal tax rate!"


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:19 AM
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Our income has waffled all over the place, but our apartment was under 1x income when we bought it, and would have been under 1.5x if we'd made then what we're making now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:20 AM
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136: well, sure, that's doable where you live, but try living in a city with expensive real estate.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:21 AM
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My house was about 3x income when I bought it and the bank would have definitely given me more than I spent.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:21 AM
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Only Americans waste real estate like it was going out of fashion. Middle class Europeans have maybe half an acre

Three acres is not the norm, at least not in the West and the Rockies. .2 or .25 is much more likely in cities and suburbs out here.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:21 AM
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134: I think medical school loans fulfill both of those conditions.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:21 AM
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I always have a hard time understanding the "we'll have to cancel Netflix" sort of financial issue. Expenses tend to be pretty strongly ordered; my rent is much larger than my car payment which is much larger than any other monthly bill. If I thought I had a financial problem I would start by moving somewhere with cheaper rent. I guess the problem is that when one buys a house, instead of renting, they lock in the largest expense and then are forced to think about changing many smaller expenses instead of one big one. But for Henderson especially, the vast size of a few of his expenses make the answer really obvious -- if he wants an extra $100 to spend freely each month, he should cut his retirement savings by $1200 a year. That's a mere 2% reduction in his contribution to his retirement fund, and he's not going to notice the difference thirty years from now.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:22 AM
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Our income has square dimples to hold the syrup.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:22 AM
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We were being conservative, largely because of my giant student loans. It's a nice apartment, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:22 AM
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He bought his house for $920k in September 2005, the very top of the market. He took out 3 mortgages to buy it ($736k, $92k, and $82k), financing a total of $910k of the $920k purchase price.

Not that I had the slightest bit of sympathy for Henderson's plight to start with, but this would have killed it. You want to buy a million-dollar house you can't afford? Go right ahead, but STFU about your strained budget.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:23 AM
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142 to 136 and my general sense of wanting a waffle.

Also, when you buy an apartment, don't have you a fairly large fee you have to pay every month?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:23 AM
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When I bought my house, it was about 3.5x my income, but I was single with very few expenses. Then Jammies moved in, and now it's about 1.3x our income. But it's about to change again because we're adding on, so.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:24 AM
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Average med student debt is around 160k. That'd be paid off at 60k in 3 years.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:24 AM
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There are very few rewards to parenting, but the ability to give the "you'll understand when you have kids" speech is one of them. You would understand that if you had kids.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:26 AM
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146: Not to mention adding on another kid and a false dance floor.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:27 AM
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I ran the numbers on a 30-year mge, and decided that 2.5x one income of a two-income household was about right. Neither of us had family money for backup or down payment. Had I accepted more house and more debt, we would have had a few very tight years and been better off now in a balance-sheet sense.

The housing calculation completely depends on when in the bubble you purchased and how much of it you recognized, of course.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:27 AM
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149: The dancing is very real.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:28 AM
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a false dance floor.

Gotta cover the indoor pool with something.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:29 AM
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No, the pit.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:30 AM
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Huh, okay, so I guess we spent way too much on a house. Oddly, it's not even a very nice house and needs tons of work (that we can't currently afford) (though it is in a fantastic location, which was one of the biggest factors in the decision) (though not a fantastic location in a pricey suburban UMC sense; it's a fairly gritty neighborhood).


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:30 AM
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||

When I put water in the kettle to make coffee (I use a small French press because I'm fancy it makes the perfect amount of coffee for me and is quicker and easier than the drip machine), I find that running the water for as long as it takes me to silently chant "schlemiel, schlimazel, Hasenpheffer Incorporated" provides just the right amount.

|>


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:30 AM
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145: Also, when you buy an apartment, don't have you a fairly large fee you have to pay every month?

Yes. OTOH, it covers property taxes, external repairs (walls, roof, and so on, including most major plumbing and wiring problems)... lots of stuff that singlefamily homeowners have to pay for out of pocket. I'm not sure if it nets out about the same or more on average.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:36 AM
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147: 160K that was deferred during the low-earning residency years could have ballooned to quite a lot more.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:38 AM
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155: If you can sing "Two out of Three Ain't Bad" before finishing in the bathroom, you need for fiber.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:38 AM
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Coincidentally, I read a bit of this thread, went for a walk while reading The Sirens of Titan (1959) and came across this passage:

According to figures released by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Fern was the highest-paid executive in the country. He had a salary of a flat million dollars a year--plus stock-option plans and cost-of-living adjustments.

Make of it what you will. Interestingly, when I read that, I unconsciously equated "highest-paid executive" with "richest man," and thought, "wait a minute, he's not the richest, he works for the protagonist, who's a billionaire," before realizing my mistake.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:38 AM
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I've read and enjoyed all of Ayn Rand's fiction, especially "We the Living," but I've always wondered how I can convey her ideas to my children before they are able to read the books for themselves.

It occurs to me that the public image of certain professions really did not benefit from the advent of the blogosphere.

Prior to blogs, my picture of a law professor was something along the lines of John Housman in The Paper Chase. Anne Althouse, Eugene Volokh, and now this guy have pretty thoroughly shot down that image.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:39 AM
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How timely: GOP Presses Pelosi For Extension Of Even More Bush Tax Cuts.

[T]hey are now also including a push for a different set of Bush tax cuts -- passed in 2003 -- on capital gains and dividends.

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:39 AM
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Don't forget the Instapundit!


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:40 AM
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how I can convey her ideas to my children before they are able to read the books for themselves

Obviously, make the little parasites find their own damn food, shelter, and clothing.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:43 AM
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He damn sure oughtn't be letting them see him handing out donuts to The Homeless.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:44 AM
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But in a shared building you need resident consensus for repairs and improvements. So either you need an organized busybody who volunteers their time or you outsource to someone who takes a cut and upsells what are usually inferior services.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:45 AM
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Until I saw the signature, I thought 155 was the latest breakthrough in spambot output.



Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:46 AM
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Bob speaks sense. A lot of what Henderson thinks is riches is an expensive way to substitute for the social wage.

On the other hand, he's also buying a shit-load of status goods that Bob's granddad probably didn't. Notably, housing location. I suspect he's also buying much more car. (Not to start a cars thread, but he's probably buying much more car by the pound, even comparing with 50s Detroit.)

I can't help but think there's a sort of relativistic effect in the Great Decompression (when the rich got rich and everyone else got the bends). The majority saw the rich accelerating off ahead of them, but from their frame-of-reference, the richer appear to be accelerating still faster. If, as J. G. Ballard said, money is the original digital clock, I guess you can have relativistic money-dilation.

But I do think plastering Henderson with abuse as a whining, self-satisfied, selfish pigfucker is a valid idea, especially if it reminds everyone that, as rich as he's got, the real rulers of the earth got richer yet.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:47 AM
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you outsource to someone who takes a cut and upsells what are usually inferior services.

Inferior to what? Our co-op has a board of directors (the busybodies. They don't put in all that much time on it) and a managing agent; most co-ops (and I think most condos) have managing agents. I'm not sure what the comparison that makes you say "inferior services" is to. Single family houses? Rental apartment buildings managed by the landlord?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:50 AM
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(note to self: really is time to contribute unfogged support to Killfile)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:51 AM
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Make sure they charge plenty on their lemonade stand.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:52 AM
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When we initially bought our house it was roughly 3x my salary at the time for a good sized rambler in a middle class neighborhood. We're looking at refinancing with a cashout for some renovations (new roof, exterior siding, etc.) and we'll end up at about 2.5x, but that's with both of us still towards the bottom of pay schedules (cop and teacher). Several more years of step increases will put us at under 2x. Combined income this year will probably fall shy of 80K. Granted, we're in a hugely better position than we'd be if we were making 80K private sector. Both police and teachers pay into a state run pension system here. Her school district pays into Social Security as well. Cops here don't pay into Social Security but my eleven years of full time private sector means I'll still collect. That this is such a rosy outlook relative to so many people lately drives me insane.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:53 AM
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This discussion from a while ago is relevant on the sources of Henderson's rage, beyond his basic status as a giant asshole.

I think the best financial decision our two-earner household made over the past few years was to get the hell out of the property market and rent instead. I've found that choosing to balance the household budget on the back of your housing expenses instead of your childcare is a bit like proposing to balance the federal budget on the back of defense spending instead of on education and health outlays. You can get people to acknowledge in principle that defense spending is discretionary and could be cut, but in practice proposals to do this are not entertained as serious. Some people find it difficult to treat you as rational if you're not determined to by the largest kind of house appropriate to one's station in life.

The main problem with this strategy is that outside of a select few urban areas, America is not the kind of place where middle-class people are expected to rent for long periods.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:54 AM
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166: I'm not sure exactly how to take that.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:58 AM
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172.2: You can get people to acknowledge in principle that [housing] spending is discretionary and could be cut, but in practice proposals to do this are not entertained as serious.

Perfect.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:01 AM
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173: I think it means you failed the Turing Test a long time ago and Walt's just realised it.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:03 AM
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You can get people to acknowledge in principle that defense spending is discretionary and could be cut, but in practice proposals to do this are not entertained as serious. Some people find it difficult to treat you as rational if you're not determined to by the largest kind of house appropriate to one's station in life.

This is my financial problem. I have to sell my house and get a cheaper one.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:11 AM
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176: In as little as a quarter of an hour, if you have a sledge hammer, you can make your current house much cheaper.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:13 AM
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I was gonna say, about Henderson's million-dollar house: Couldn't he rent a pretty swanky 4-bedroom apartment in Chi for a considerable savings, and buy a couple of nice properties in North Dakota Wisconsin, either as an investment or to retire to or both? I realize he's probably maniacally obsessed with reducing his tax bill, even at the cost of a net financial loss, but still.

I wonder what Henderson will think when he looks back on his life in 30 years or so. Will it just be a passel of regrets about investment opportunities he missed, and professional coups he failed to make? Is he going to gloat about all the backs he stabbed, the times he stayed late at the office and missed out on hanging out with his kids because it showed that he was disciplined and Rational and Fitter? It seems like a shitty way to live your life, but I don't know, maybe he was always unredeemable. Optimistically, I'm going to believe that the kind of revolution I want to see would be both an objective and subjective improvement on even the life of as big a prat as Henderson. That he could be shown a way to live that wasn't just an endless slog through the mire of greed and fear. Maybe I'm being foolish, but I think there's still some good in that ol' Darth Vader.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:15 AM
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154: Huh, okay, so I guess we spent way too much on a house.

That is not obvious to me at all, given current interest rates, presumably your % of gross income to housing is not really out of whack.

though not a fantastic location in a pricey suburban UMC sense; it's a fairly gritty neighborhood.

Hmm, maybe you shouldn't read my Financial Lives of the Poets recommendation.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:16 AM
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Back when I was living in California, we were looking at houses that were 3x-4x. Half my reason for moving to Utah was because we purchased a house at 1.5x. It's great. Both my husband and I took huge pay cuts, but it doesn't matter because the mortgage is almost 1/3 of our California rent so we still have more extra money each month (that all goes to school loans).


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:17 AM
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And was way, way more so when *Bob's grandparents* were buying a house.

The house on three acres in 1932, almost farmland when farms weren't doing well. 200 miles from any city > 100k. Upper Midwest.

The lake cottage in 1935. Undeveloped. Had a road. Got electricity in 1940. 300 miles from a city.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:20 AM
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house of three acres 200 miles from a city, costing more than 100k?!? Surely, I am misreading that.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:22 AM
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179: Mortgage+taxes+insurance is 19.6% of monthly gross. What's considered "out of whack"?

(rate is fixed at 4.875%)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:23 AM
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That doesn't sound bad at all -- I thought 25-33% was standard.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:24 AM
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Surely, I am misreading that.

Pretty sure 100K is population.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:25 AM
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urple, make sure your girlfriend isn't surreptitiously using your credit cards.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:27 AM
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183: That seems very low to me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:27 AM
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184: me too, but I thought 2.5-3x was also standard, and it sounds like that's wrong.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:28 AM
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Why do you people worry about your income to house ratio?!?! To pay our mortgage, we just send out an email like Bill Keller does:

"***As we wind down the last 13 days of the month, we still have $35,000 to cover the balance of our September budget, plus it is critical we pay off the last $20,000 of our 2009 shortfall. In addition, we still need to cover the $7,000 for last weeks 9-11 Christian Center operations and the $7,000 for this week and next. So that is $76,000 we need to raise over these last 13 days. I am praying for 4 specific people to step up TODAY to help me cover $34,000 that is critical, and will count on a collection of everyone else giving as they are able to make up the last $42,000. Eveyone can pray, and most everyone can sacrifce something to help me insure these needs are met!

SPECIFICALLY, I AM ASKING GOD TO SEND ME 4 SPECIAL PEOPLE TODAY. FIRST, I NEED ONE PERSON WHO IS ABLE TO WIRE TRANSFER OF FEDEX $15,000 TODAY. THIS COVERS $15,000 OF THAT $20,000 WE STILL OWE FROM 2009 AND NEEDED TO BE PAID LAST FRIDAY. SECOND, I NEED ONE PERSON WHO IS ABLE TO WIRE TRANSFER OR FED EX THE $7,000 FOR THE 9-11 CHRISTIAN CENTER OPERATIONS LAST WEEKEND. THIRD, I NEED ONE PERSON WHO CAN COVER THE LAST $5,000 OF THE $20,000 FROM 2009. FOURTH, I NEED ONE PERSON WHO CAN COVER THE $7,000 FOR THIS WEEKENDS 9-11 CHRISTIAN CENTER OPERATIONS. I HAVE BEEN ON MY KNEES PRAYING TONIGHT FOR THE LORD TO SPEAK TO 4 HEARTS, AND FOR THOSE 4 PEOPLE TO BE OBEDIENT. IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE FOUR, CONTACT ME AT: bkeller@liveprayer.com AND I WILL GET YOU THE BANK WIRE OR FEDEX INFO YOU NEED. THANK YOU!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:30 AM
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172 is on target. I get astonished looks from time to time because I choose to rent rather than buy. I just can't see the case for buying a house. Admittedly, an empty lot I could camp out on while I built a place for myself would be just the ticket, but the camping bit runs afoul of zoning laws just about everywhere.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:31 AM
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Hmm. Am I doing the calculation right? Housing payment divided by total gross monthly income (before taxes, deductions, etc.)?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:31 AM
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Our PITI is like 16.5% of gross income. Which seems pretty low to me. I know a lot of people who are paying at least twice that (admittedly, many of them live in less falling-aparty houses than I do.)


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:31 AM
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188: The monthly cost of a house depends on the price of the house, the interest rate and the property tax rate. So, the old 2.5-3x rule doesn't work as well for current lower interest rates.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:34 AM
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183,184: Agree, that is well within guidelines. 25% is a conservative cutoff. We approached 30% when we bought our current house (at a time with stupidly high interest rates) and fortunately got a chance to re-finance plus salary movement relatively soon (5-6 years later)--but it did not seem that tight. The kid (soon kids) were pre-school during the time, so I think that kept expenses down, not much entertainment/eating out/vacation expense.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:35 AM
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190. How easy is it to find unfurnished rental in the US? And do you have any kind of security, or do you have to resign yourself to moving every couple of years?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:44 AM
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195: Around here, it is fairly easy, but often costs more than owning. Even if you figure every year there is a 15% chance that birds will start to shit shingle-eating acid, it is still cheaper to own in some cases. .


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:52 AM
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195: The vast majority of rental housing is unfurnished. In many places, it's probably 99%. Most of the time, you're looking at 1 year leases, if not month-to-month. Depending on the landlord, you may see fairly steep jumps in the rent if you choose to renew your lease (5%, sometimes 10% if you switch to a month-to-month lease). It's not uncommon for people to rent for decades at a time though, if they find a landlord they get along with and they're generally happy with the apartment. [This is based on my experiences in the Midwest, and those of friends in other parts of the country. Totally different set of rules applies in New York City.]


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:53 AM
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197: Maybe "not unheard of" rather than "not uncommon", but that's mostly because so much of the rental market is student/early-20s driven, after which middle-class people are expected to buy houses.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:56 AM
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The only group of people for whom I have less respect, as a class, than law professors, is landlords.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:58 AM
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Yes, furnished rentals are hard to come by. With some exceptions*, furnished rentals are very down market or very short term hotel-like things.

*I once talked to somebody who did nicer ones for medical residents with year leases.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:58 AM
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190: Furnished rentals are quite rare except in apts. targeted at undergrads. (True at least everywhere I've ever lived or known people. Is there anywhere where furnished rentals are common?)

I've never had trouble finding perfectly acceptable apartments or group houses, though there's always been a location vs. affordable rent (for more than a studio) trade-off.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:59 AM
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There has been a very pronounced growth in long-term hotel accommodations for business people, which take up some of the market that was previously served by furnished apartments.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:00 AM
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Multiply pwned.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:00 AM
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I think the problem with Henderson is best explained by local context. Many folks in the University of Chicago business law faculty got extraordinarily rich by setting up a company, Lexecon, that basically offers testifying "experts" who whore themselves out in the service of big business in commercial litigation. (Why this should be a remotely acceptable thing for a university faculty to do is a separate question). Dan Fischel, longtime dean of the law school, has something like a $10 million apartment in Manhattan and many of the trappings of the super-wealthy, as do a good number of other professors. Henderson, by contrast, despite being a right wing libertarian dickhead in the manner typical to U of C business law professors, hasn't been remotely as successful in whoring out his services, even though he's very rich not only by ordinary American but also by professor standards. Thus, he is beset with deep seated status anxiety.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:02 AM
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199: one is a vastly more diverse class than the other.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:03 AM
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202: MPLS anecdata? Would be interesting if widely true.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:04 AM
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204 is making me take another look at landlords.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:05 AM
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The only group of people for whom I have less respect, as a class, than law professors, is landlords.

Try working with them every fucking day. And yet, owning a small apartment building is an excellent retirement vehicle. Certainly better than stocks.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:05 AM
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Man, the hits just keep coming:

But the market for private-school enrollment generally seems robust: according to one study conducted for a new school, the number of school-age children in households between Battery Park City and 72nd Street with annual incomes above $500,000 soared to 15,700 in 2010, from 4,300 a decade before. According to the study, the top dozen schools in the city - all nonprofit - have only 11,000 seats.

The NY Times is duly concerned.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:07 AM
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205 cont'd: I mean, if you can find something in common with a guatemalan family bought a triple-decker in Boston and rent one unit while the extended family lives in two of them on the one hand, the UMC older suburban couple with an in-law on the second hand, an investor's partnership that owns the controlling interest in a five store strip mall on the third hand, and the CEO of Archstone on the fourth hand, I'm curious to hear it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:08 AM
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I make individual exceptions in both classes all the time.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:09 AM
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210: The CEO of Archstone has always wanted to be a Guatemalan and dresses that way every Halloween.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:10 AM
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I just can't even figure out how you would define that as a singular class. "People who rent out property they own" seems hopelessly vague. "Non-resident owners of multiple multi-family properties" seems like it might be getting closer, but that still covers a ton of ground.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:14 AM
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I mean, if you can find something in common with a guatemalan family bought a triple-decker in Boston and rent one unit while the extended family lives in two of them on the one hand, the UMC older suburban couple with an in-law on the second hand, an investor's partnership that owns the controlling interest in a five store strip mall on the third hand, and the CEO of Archstone on the fourth hand

You make it seem like rent seeking is a bad thing.


Posted by: R. Scot Sellers | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:15 AM
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Look, however you define landlords, law professors are worse. Hasn't the internet taught you anything?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:16 AM
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215: No.


Posted by: Opinionated University of Phoenix Student | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:18 AM
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I CAN HAZ HI CELERY JOB, PLZ?


Posted by: Opinionated University of Phoenix Student | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:23 AM
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Most landlords I've dealt with are whiny, entitled, annoying, and insufficiently (imo) respectful of their tenants' dignity. I sure there are plenty of exceptions among the millions of landlords I have not met.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:26 AM
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Doesn't anyone have sympathy for Henderson? Henderson told Business Insider that his family is "on the verge of disintegrating." Plus, he doesn't understand technology. I mean, sure he has an engineering degree from Princeton, but I can't imagine that any of those classes required that he learn about technology. /sarcasm


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:29 AM
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The law is very firmly on their side in most matters of importance, yet they squeal like stuck pigs about it all the time.

YMMV.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:29 AM
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Also they substitute painting something for fixing it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:31 AM
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I could imagine meeting landlords in the context of said landlords' legal troubles could inculcate some negative feelings.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:31 AM
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Can we get behind hating rental apartment brokers as a class?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:32 AM
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221 is especially annoying with windows.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:34 AM
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223: fuck yeah!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:34 AM
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223: You know, in Chicago they weren't very hate-able, but in Chicago, the landlords pay the broker fees.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:35 AM
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223 -- Not really, since we never encounter them.


Posted by: opinionated everyone who doesn't live in NYC | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:35 AM
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I could imagine meeting landlordspeople in the context of said landlords'people's legal troubles could inculcate some negative feelings about humanity generally.

Fixed that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:35 AM
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insufficiently (imo) respectful of their tenants' dignity

I'm not sure what exactly you have in mind here, and maybe it's something horrible, but one thing to note (that's not the landlords' fault) is that our laws generally place a lot of liability on landlords for things that happen on their properties, which is thought to be fair and reasonable because of the presumption that landlords are both snoopy and largely in control of what tenants are doing. And of course those laws further incentivize the behavior.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:35 AM
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Also they substitute painting something for fixing it.

Never works on cats and dogs.


Posted by: A Guest | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:36 AM
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Can we get behind hating rental apartment brokers as a class?

I surely must have told the story here of my first experience with an apartment broker. It was a guy who couldn't have been much older than I was (24), and we spent the better part of an afternoon driving around looking at apartments. So we had a decent amount of time together, enough that we couldn't just talk about apartments the entire time. I told the guy pretty early on that I was a doctoral student in German literature, and then he talked the entire rest of the afternoon about how he was Jewish and he couldn't imagine ever even visiting Germany and had I ever thought of that perspective? Huh, had I?? Well???


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:39 AM
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Also they substitute painting something for fixing it

Works for me!


Posted by: Chief Petty Officer Sharkey, USN | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:41 AM
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219: Henderson told Business Insider that his family is "on the verge of disintegrating."

I'm sure it is given that his wife did not agree with his sentiments on the subject to begin with and then came home to discover the details of her family life and financials spread all over the Internet. "I have chosen poorly."

Plus, he doesn't understand technology when to go presidential.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:41 AM
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Landlords are one instance where (now that's a grammatical way to start a sentence) the corporation seems to be a better citizen than the mom&pop/random guy.

1. They are prepared for things to go wrong, as opposed to the "but fixing TWO furnaces in a single winter will wipe out most of my profits! I can't be expected to do that." attitude of the random guy landlord.

2. They put some priority on efficiency, which means mailing your security deposit back to you promptly even though they could probably get away with stalling for months and months and months.

3. There's an office with someone to talk to at it. You might think the random guy is easier to get ahold of, but he might not answer his phone.

4. Economies of scale mean they can have spare dryers or microwaves or whatnot lying in wait for a tenant's to break down, so it can be replaced quickly instead of having to wait for the landlord to get the day off from work so he can go to Sears.

5. A random guy doesn't care about his reputation among tenants because it's unlikely that the random people he finds through Craigslist will know each other, unlike a company that is renting to a thousand people mostly between ages 20 and 30.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:41 AM
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196-202. Under those conditions renting makes perfect sense unless you regard property as as much an investment as a consumer good (see D^2, passim). In Britain unfurnished rental is almost non-existent in much of the country, and people staying in a decent rented house for many years is a sort of historical memory which most people know of only through late Anthony Powell and early Doris Lessing.

The big exception was always social housing, but successive governments have done their best to abolish with varying degrees of success. But unless you qualify for that, then once you've started to accumulate stuff, let alone kids, you're more or less forced to buy. I hate it, me.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:42 AM
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So the idea is that we should feel bad for him in that narrator-of-a-Coetzee-novel kind of way, right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:42 AM
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Henderson told Business Insider that his family is "on the verge of disintegrating."

"The reason for this note is because I've decided to hang up my blogging hat. I was a fool, and I didn't anticipate how this kind of thing could happen."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:43 AM
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233.last: Or how to close an italics tag. He was actually quoting someone else!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:43 AM
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234 dovetails with my experience, actually, which is that you want a landlord who either owns a lot of units (and uses a property management company) or very few (like, ideally a building's worth or less). Anywhere in the middle there seems most likely to be problematic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:45 AM
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the corporation seems to be a better citizen than the mom&pop/random guy.

This. Professionalism, if nothing else. Or branding, if you prefer.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:46 AM
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It's a shame, I had hoped maybe he had taken the post down in chagrin after talking to his accountant and discovering his taxes were going down.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:47 AM
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237: Annnnd comments closed after the first criticism (5 comments in).


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:49 AM
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Anywhere in the middle there seems most likely to be problematic.

IME the worst slumlords owned four to five different buildings. One guy was quite the amateur anthropologist, with quite novel theories on why blacks Hispanics were better tenants than blacks.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:50 AM
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243: And if he'd had just three buildings, he wouldn't have had the data to support his theories?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:52 AM
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Argh, the homeownership numbers are making me feel really anxious. We've been looking, unsuccessfully, for about a year and a half, and targeting about 3x of our combined income - a price that puts us slightly outside of walk+subway commuting range (not quite into driving-commute range; that's completely out of the question). It feels a bit like too much, too dependant on both of us having our incomes, and I feel guilty for wanting the things we do (yard for gardening, or a basement for projects, say), instead of being accepting of the rental apartment we're in. Cutting back to what we could afford on one income would likely mean moving much further out than I can see myself being happy with, and yet seems like it is the safer thing to do.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:54 AM
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My experience with the current landlord has instructed me that it's terribly convenient to have a landlord who's a plumber, especially if you're going to live in a house with crappy (oh ho ho!) plumbing.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:55 AM
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Wait, in re the OP, aren't professors supposed to live lives of genteel poverty? What's all this Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous crap?


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:55 AM
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243: I had a landlord from whom I was considering renting give me a long speech about "bugs" and how his building had none. I didn't notice much about it, except that it was strangely emphatic. As soon as we left, the rental agent said, "You know what that was about, right?" Me: Uh, bugs? Agent: Oh, you naive girl . . . (No, of course we didn't rent from him.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:55 AM
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247: He married a doctor!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:56 AM
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248: I think I understand in general terms, but is that a specific reference?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:57 AM
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discovering his taxes were going down

To be fair, most economists preach that behavior is incentivized at the margins, so it's basically only the applicable marginal tax rate that matters, so that's genuinely all they even really pay attention to. When he says his "taxes are going up", he's not thinking in terms of his total bill (which he may or may not have even bothered to calculate); he's thinking in terms of marginal rates.

(And, without reading his screed, I doubt he was actually claiming that it would be a hardship for him to pay the additional amounts (which probably don't, in fact, exist, as you note), so much as just responding to what he viewed as demagoguery against "the rich", and trying (wrongly) to point out that someone in his position isn't really rich at all.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:57 AM
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248: Is that somebody everybody else would have figured out? Because I would have been confused.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:58 AM
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Also they substitute painting something pink for fixing it.


Posted by: Yeoman Hunkle | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:59 AM
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245: CA and I have been half-assedly looking in CA-land for more than a year. We're entirely immobilized by pretty much the opposite problem. The houses are lovely and way too big for us and dirt cheap. And the prices keep going down. We're watching the bottoming-out of a market that was never that inflated (5 and 6 bedroom houses that were were 450k 5 years ago are around 200k now) and we're extremely wary of buying a house that cannot ever easily be sold. Bah.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:01 PM
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Hey- is the guy the dad of Stanley's barrista? 'Cuz that would explain alot.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:01 PM
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250: He just meant black folks. Apparently. It wasn't specific as in known slang (I guess) but specific enough that the rental agent had zero doubt about what the landlord trying to make sure I knew.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:02 PM
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2. They put some priority on efficiency, which means when you accidentally underpay your bill by $3 they immediately start threatening eviction.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:03 PM
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we're extremely wary of buying a house that cannot ever easily be sold

One of the unforseen traps of the housing bubble was worker immobility, previously touted as an American workforce strength.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:04 PM
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Nice furnished rental apartments were pretty easy to find in the town where I went to grad school. I lived in them the whole time. They were almost entirely populated by grad students, postdocs, and visiting professors, not undergrads.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:05 PM
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Huh. 248 merely put me in mind of the room-rented I phoned who went on and on for minutes about being a kind, decent Christian. Weird enough to be a warning sign to me, but not really signalling anything (definitely no you-better-be-Christian-too vibe).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:05 PM
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s/b renter


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:05 PM
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Why did people think worker immobility was an American workforce strength? Highly educated people who were also easily exploited?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:05 PM
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Somehow I feel like I read 248 before in an old thread but that it was posted by AWB that time.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:08 PM
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barrista

I'm amusing myself by saying this in my head as if it were a Boston-accent pronunciation of "barrister" and therefore somehow related to the OP. Very strange things amuse me sometimes.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:09 PM
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Why did people think worker immobility was an American workforce strength?

Other way around. Worker mobility was a strength. The bursting of the housing bubble has locked people in homes that cannot sell, so they can't move to where the jobs are. Or would be, if there were any.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:13 PM
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aren't professors supposed to live lives of genteel poverty?

Professors of law, like professors of business and engineering, get paid about twice what the rest of us are paid, because the college has to compete with the private sector for employees. If only there were big philosophy firms with thriving practices! Then I could threaten to leave my job and go join one if Last Chance Community College didn't raise my salary.

The utter toolishness of so many law professors on the internet actually has me really pissed off about the situation. A lot of what law professors do boils down to crappy philosophy. The rest of it looks like crappy political science, crappy economics, or crappy blogging. Why do these schmucks make all the money?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:16 PM
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And if he'd had just three buildings, he wouldn't have had the data to support his theories?

His paper was originally rejected as not having been peer reviewed. So he went to the Elks Lodge and got some of the boys to give it the OK.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:16 PM
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266: There are a handful of classics profs whose official jobs are in law schools -- and I am very jealous of them!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:19 PM
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They do get more in salary, but, as I mentioned above, the big money is in being an expert witness. If you set that up right, you can become extremely wealthy as a law professor, and many have.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:21 PM
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Professors of law, like professors of business and engineering, get paid about twice what the rest of us are paid, because the college has to compete with the private sector for employees.

This isn't a completely satisfying account of their salaries, unless maybe law professor jobs are perceived as extremely unappealing by lawyers. I mean, the non-academic sector that most wants to hire people who do what I do is finance, and there sure isn't any effort to make my salary competitive with theirs.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:21 PM
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Nussbaum is one, right? I guess I'm not as mad about her making the big bucks.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:21 PM
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271: Right. She would be making the big bucks anyway. But there are others! (And I like most of them anyway, so, hey.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:23 PM
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A lot of what law professors do boils down to crappy philosophy.

Maybe, but the philosphy class I took was about boat repair, without enough detail to be of any use. I dropped after the first week.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:23 PM
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270: Yeah, but you wouldn't be doing physics if you were in finance. You'd just be a guy with a head for numbers. And people go into physics because they want to do physics.

On the other hand, a law prof who goes into private practice is still doing law. Likewise for business and engineering. In fact, they are farther away from actually doing what they were trained to do if they are teaching.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:24 PM
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270: I know someone who left your field (or maybe it was math?) to go do, like, alchemy or some kind of voodoo with the private equity folks.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:25 PM
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In fact, they are farther away from actually doing what they were trained to do if they are teaching.

HAHAHAHA, no.


Posted by: Opinated Everyone Who's Been to Law School | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:26 PM
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Law professors can have their cake and eat it, too, thanks in large part to torte reform.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:26 PM
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the philosphy class I took was about boat repair

Not motorcycles ?


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:26 PM
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Maybe, but the philosphy class I took was about boat repair, without enough detail to be of any use.

You just replace each part of the boat one at a time. What's so hard about that?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:27 PM
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||

Did everybody else know that unfogged's favorite blind subterranean mammal can breathe underwater?

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:28 PM
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270: Yeah, but you wouldn't be doing physics if you were in finance. You'd just be a guy with a head for numbers. And people go into physics because they want to do physics.

I know someone who spent some time visiting Renaissance and described it as being a strange mirror world where the culture and the way people spend their time is extremely close to what we do (sit in your office and read blogs calculate for much of the day, emerge to have tea or coffee and cookies at some point in the afternoon and chat about what you're up to, go to the occasional seminar where someone explains their work), and the only significant change is that the desire to understand things has been systematically replaced by the desire to accumulate money.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:30 PM
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Presumably also they all have goatees.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:32 PM
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Can we get behind hating rental apartment brokers as a class?

Oh yes.

Also, quite apart from the ridiculously high cost of the parasitic brokers' fee, looking for an apartment in NYC was an insanely stressful experience. There were bidding wars!


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:32 PM
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parasitic brokers' fee

Yummy blood! More please.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:34 PM
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Inferior to what?

Single-family. The managing agent takes a cut and (though you personally may be fortunate in yours) IME doesn't search too hard for the best contractor at the lowest price.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:34 PM
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I know a few people who decided to stop being real lawyers and take up professing. They seem to be happy with the choice, in the same way a big firm lawyer who moves way out to the sticks, works part time and spends the rest mountain biking etc might seem to be happy. Obviously, in both cases, a big drop in status (and income -- we paid 25 year olds what Prof Henderson makes) but, you know, some people just (a) can't hack the real world and/or (b) have skewed values.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:41 PM
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the only significant change is that the desire to understand things has been systematically replaced by the desire to accumulate money.

That sounds like my own personal vision of hell (and, I imagine, is intended as such).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:43 PM
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And this reminds me about Prof. Henderson's situation: he might not be comparing himself to rich people generally, or to his colleagues with the expert witness racket. He just has to look at the people who were first year associates with him at K&E, who stuck with it and made partner. He knows they are no more deserving than he is.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:43 PM
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Say, wasn't there some famous politician who taught law at U of C? Did he consult this way?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:45 PM
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286:

By, "cant hack the real world" you mean "gets injured by attempting to hike/climb/bike as if they were a 25 year old"?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:49 PM
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285: And you're contrasting that with owners of single family houses, who uniformly have the industry knowledge and expertise to find the best contractors at the lowest point? You're right that introducing an agent gets you agency problems. On the other hand, the point of an agent is that they have professional knowledge of who the reliable (at least, reliable enough that the Board of Directors doesn't get pissed off and fire the agent) contractors are. And lack of that knowledge is a huge problem for homeowners.

You look to be comparing apples and oranges, to me, and claiming with no real basis that the apples are better fruit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:50 PM
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289: Meaning Obama? I very much doubt it. Lexecon provides expert witnesses for things like antitrust and commercial litigation cases. That kind of expert testimony is worth a lot of money. There's not really anything similar a constitutional law professor has to sell -- unless you count someone like Larry Tribe, who gets paid to argue cases, but that's not common.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:56 PM
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291: Apples are the better fruit because you can make cider. Oranges get you a mixer, at best.

But keeping a house in good repair is a huge pain in the ass largely because you don't know who is reliable and if you do know who is reliable, so does everybody else. Hence, the reliable guy may not want to look at your small job. And, if your plumbing breaks often enough that you do find a reliable plumber, that means you've had all sorts of problems getting you fecal matter out to the sewer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:57 PM
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You look to be comparing apples and oranges, to me, and claiming with no real basis that the apples are better fruit.

I had a professor who exclaimed once "That's like comparing apples and lightbulbs!"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:57 PM
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Whatever. The three agents I've had experience with in three different cities are not trustworthy, the only service they provide is aggregating paperwork and payments, never useful knowledge. Changing agents is a bitch, even if the residents are sensible and of one mind, which they usually aren't. Maybe manhattan is different.

Aside from the obvious step of asking neighbors, reputation aggregators exist.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:58 PM
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I bet you could ferment oranges, no? Orange wine or something?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:58 PM
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296: Pruno. Not worth it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 12:59 PM
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Mais, Oui!

http://www.cointreau.us/#header


Posted by: Dita Von Teese | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:03 PM
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I had a professor who exclaimed once "That's like comparing apples and lightbulbs!"

"Apples and dump trucks" is the alternate construction I tend to use.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:03 PM
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Speaking of fermented stuff, someone recently told me that the ABC store now sells legal moonshine, which seemed surprising.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:05 PM
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300: what does that mean?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:05 PM
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I'm currently comparing different problems to put on a Cal II exam. It's not at all like comparing apples, oranges, light bulbs, or dump trucks.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:06 PM
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300, 301: Unaged corn whiskey.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:07 PM
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The legal moonshine is in the section with the beefsteak cherry tomatoes.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:07 PM
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301: White-lightning hooch in the state-run liquor stores or something.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:07 PM
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Orange wine is delicious, by the way, but it's made from grapes.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:09 PM
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303: Hopefully, they don't use an old car radiator for the condenser.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:10 PM
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303: oh, okay. I've seen that in stores (and had some before; it's disgusting). But it's not like they're selling the product of home distilleries on consignment or anything.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:11 PM
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"Legal moonshine" is an oxymoron.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:12 PM
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legal moonshine

Oxymoron?

I know there has been talk about deregulating spirits the way that beer was deregulated and led to the microbrew explosion. (not from improper caps on the homebrew, Tweety).


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:12 PM
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(not from improper caps on the homebrew, Tweety)

?

Have I become unfogged's designated butt of hillbilly jokes for some reason?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:16 PM
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308, It's a gimmick. They've sold legal poteen in Ireland for years. But not to me.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:16 PM
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designated butt of hillbilly jokes

Well, you're the one who drove bob mcmanus into oblivion.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:19 PM
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I'm so confused.

... maybe I shouldn't have eaten those squirrel brains.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:22 PM
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My parents were in the deLong-Henderson area of income in the second half of my childhood once you adjust for inflation and my dad's tax free status. I remember once asking my dad at around age thirteen why we had only one car, and a rather old used-bought generic one at that. He explained that we're doing very, very well and that that means that not only are the necessities of life are a non-issue, we can also get some of the luxuries that are associated with the rich, but not in all areas. So - travel, very nice restaurants, etc. but cheapo car and a generic middle class home (1000 ft2 two bedroom in a nice area of a very expensive city which cost them only a small fraction of their income), mostly traveling on the cheap (but not sweating it if an unexpected factor leads to a need to stay in a nice hotel for a night) and so on. If the Hendersons chose to cut their housing expenses and car expenses by half, they could afford plenty of luxuries. Or they can afford the fancy house, and not the other stuff.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:22 PM
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My experience it that some people genuinely like living in what we'd consider high density; this fear of socialising seems to be an English-speaking disease.

The same person can like both high density and lots of land, of course, you just have to choose. I love my urban neighborhood, but sometimes I fantasize about moving back to VT and living in a place like this with its 129 acres.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:23 PM
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300:

Back when I was in college, the ABC store sold everclear.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:24 PM
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I fantasize about moving back to VT

Can you telecommute? I think that the interwebs will change housing density in ways only now being imagined.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:26 PM
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317: Today's blackout was brought to you by the letters A, B, and C.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:26 PM
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Can we get behind hating rental apartment brokers as a class?

Nope. I'd never heard of my neighbourhood until the head of a rental agency walked by as I was talking to one of her agents, listened in and said that in that area on my budget I'd end up with a really crappy place and I should check out my current area. They didn't list places there, but she suggested some agencies and suddenly I was looking at decent places.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:28 PM
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313:I'm rather starting to like oblivion. I'll slouch along toward it.

Withdrawal is hard. It's like quitting sugar or starting to exercise. But the vapidity of discourse becomes ever more apparent.

And Lois Tyson rocks!


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:29 PM
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I know there has been talk about deregulating spirits the way that beer was deregulated and led to the microbrew explosion.

There's been a micro-distillery boom here without (AFAIK) deregulation, which is not to say that deregulation would be a bad thing. Moonshiners still distill, in any case; I think you'd have to be incautious, unlucky and/or greedy to get caught.

Can you telecommute?

If I shifted some of my work to other subjects, yeah, sort of, but we're pretty firmly rooted here. We could, however, sell this place and buy that one with money left over, thanks mostly to dumb luck on my part when I decided to buy a house.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:32 PM
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Back when I was in college, the ABC store sold everclear.

And you lived beside the ocean? Left the fire behind? Swam out past the breakers? Watched the world die?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:33 PM
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There's a watchdog group for everything!
http://www.marininstitute.org


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:36 PM
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mostly traveling on the cheap (but not sweating it if an unexpected factor leads to a need to stay in a nice hotel for a night) and so on.

Not having to fear unexpected expenses on the order of under, say, $1500 is probably the thing I'm most grateful for, financially-secure-wise. If I'm forced to rent a car for a week because my car breaks down, we'll be fine. If an unexpected medical bill comes through, we'll be fine. Etc.

That's where I'd find a real anxiety quality-of-life consequence, financially, and I'm very very glad we're not in that position.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:38 PM
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More on the Marin Institute.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:39 PM
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323

Tell me what you see, when you look back on your life and you dont see me.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:41 PM
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ABC store of mine
tell me where did you go?
yeah you had the world inside your hand
but you did not seem to know


Posted by: cree | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:42 PM
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ugh. I delurk only to get pwned.


Posted by: cree | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:43 PM
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326. What part of the Twenty First Amendment don't these guys understand?


Posted by: Elliot Ness | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:44 PM
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delurk away, cree!

Your comment was much better than mine.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:47 PM
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237: but my family has to come first, and my blogging has caused them incalculable damage.

Incalculable, eh? Now there's an interesting word for someone like him to reach for.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:48 PM
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One million giraffes: Done.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:54 PM
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Shhh, Gonerill, or you'll push thst money-grubber Obama to start taxing blogs. No wonder the good prof doesn't want to enumerate!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:54 PM
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334: If you live in Philly and have a blog with ads, they want $300 a year. Or at least, they were trying to get that. I don't know if they have given-up or not.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 1:55 PM
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334: Ugh, I remember that. And here I was just trying to be mildly amusing and obnoxious.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:03 PM
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I just like to feel superior to the fancy end of this state.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:04 PM
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my blogging has caused them incalculable damage.

"Honey, I'm not sure if you ever heard of the Star Wars Light Saber Kid on YouTube, but uh .... Oh so you have? Yeah, well, we're going to be kinda the same, except, it'd be like if the kid himself had put the video out on the 'net. ... Yeah, I know, it sucks but at least lesson learned by me, that's for sure."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:12 PM
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326: That site casts an awfully broad net when it tries to catch the "anti-alcohol industry." A lot of those groups work on nutrition and food safety in general. The main campaign of the Center for Science in the Public Interest is to raise the tax on soda pop, not beer. The Pew Trust also does a lot of good work in heathcare.

There are a lot of neo-prohibitionists out there and I know they are pumping out fake science and screwing up the public health debate on alcohol. But that website looks like the well funded propaganda effort from the alcohol industry. And it wouldn't surprise me at all if there was a lot of overlap between alcohol producers trying to avoid regulation and junk food producers trying to avoid regulation.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:15 PM
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||

Oh God, I'm getting a semi-live IM precis of the world's most sexist conference opening dinner.

|>


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:18 PM
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325: That's where I'd find a real anxiety quality-of-life consequence, financially, and I'm very very glad we're not in that position.

Indeed. Which I why I don't really understand Flippanter's 135.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:21 PM
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You know what would aid this conversation? If we all posted our incomes, that's what!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:24 PM
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Oh God, I'm getting a semi-live IM precis of the world's most sexist conference opening dinner.

What could possibly be the field, I wonder.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:25 PM
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340: Details!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:25 PM
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343: Hee.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:26 PM
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What could possibly be the field, I wonder.

It transcends the usual because of its location in Continental Europe.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:27 PM
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Way late but

Can we get behind hating rental apartment brokers as a class?

I can not only get behind it, I can...try and figure out a graceful way to end this sentence that conveys great enthusiasm but eschews the metaphor that came most readily to mind.

Apartment brokers are a blight. Only Madeline Kahn could convey my hatred for them. Seriously, flames.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:29 PM
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I'm trying to imagine the world's sexiest conference opening dinner.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:30 PM
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325: I felt incredibly nervous until I saved up enough money to make the mortgage for a year. Even though our jobs are very secure and I could use that money to pay down school loans, invest, etc., I need to know that it's in my bank account and can be withdrawn at any time. I'm not sure if this makes me very conservative or stupid.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:30 PM
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342: hey, I already did, more or less. You really want more detail? The 19% number above made me curious enough to pull out a calculator; I'm happy to share. Starting with gross pay, there's about 39% I don't ever see (taxes, health insurance, etc.), the aforementioned 19% for housing (plus about 7% once you add together all the utilities), about 11% for student loans, and about 15% for food. Altogether that leaves about 8% for everything else, like auto insurance and gas, transit pass, clothes for us or for the kids, any contingent expenses (home repairs, medical bills, etc. A sick fucking pet a few months ago was a huge problem, which I'm still a little irritiated at my wife about for just taking it to the vet unquestioningly instead of putting the damn thing down, which she thinks is a completely unreasonable response on my part) and any sort of spending money.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:37 PM
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Starting with gross pay, there's about 39% I don't ever see (taxes, health insurance, etc.),

Do you get a big tax refund? That seems high.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:45 PM
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I guess I should also say that I'm not trying to pretend we have it tough, things are actually just fine, and I'm not intending this to come across as complaint. I'm just sort of still shocked that what I think of as a very high income still leaves us needing to pay such close attention to prices in the grocery store. I'd have expected that sort of pressure to go away at a much lower income threshold. And I guess that gives me sympathy for someone like Henderson, since I feel he sounds like a giant tool and yet I'm guilty of the same sin.

And 325 is exactly right. That's a threshold I didn't really intend to drop below, and I feel like my sanity will improve dramatically if I can get back to it. I don't think there's significantly increased welfare as incomes rise dramatically beyond that point, but the stress difference between being just beneath it and just above it is dramatic.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:46 PM
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I'm apparently feeling dramatic.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:46 PM
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351: I don't expect to, although this is the first year at this job, so I could be miscalculating.

Other factors that could make it high? Off the top of my head, part of it may be that my employer only pays 20% of my health insurance premium. I'd have to look at a pay stub to think of anything else.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:50 PM
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Wait, was 342 a joke?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:50 PM
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351 -- Health insurance, I presume. Mine's 17k/yr.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:50 PM
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Do you get a big tax refund? That seems high

If you include health insurance I am at about 35% off the top. Granted where I work health insurance is on top of my salary not included so in reality I am at around 25% off the top with just taxes.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:52 PM
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356: You're a lawyer and you have to pay your own health insurance? Is it because you're a partner?


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:53 PM
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Overall, to the OP: any sort of sympathy (which has been called empathy) for Henderson and those in his financial position rather makes my skin crawl. We're talking about a 4% marginal tax rate increase (expiration of the previous cut) -- which apparently, though incidentally, results in a tax decrease in Henderson's case.

As some blogger or other remarked on this matter: Henderson fails to account for the value he currently, and in an ongoing way, receives from the monies he pays out for housing and schooling in his chosen area, for the amount he sets aside for retirement, and so on. That these should be considered disappeared monies in some peculiar way is a joke: he is investing a great deal in his lifestyle and future. He and his family experience the rewards in an ongoing way, and to characterize this as somehow 'just making ends meet', as though he has to start all over again every week, is absurd.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:54 PM
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Wait, was 342 a joke?

There was a thread not that long ago where someone suggested everyone disclose their income and some of us did while others talked about what an awful, awful idea that is. As far as I can tell no one cared much, and it was neither a disaster nor very interesting. Except that we learned that unimaginative is rich and should buy us all drinks.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:55 PM
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358 -- When I was, I did. Now I'm a "member" and still do.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:56 PM
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349. Not conservative or stupid; conservative is if you want the money more liquid than a bank, which could fail or in which your accounts could be frozen or attached.

350. Financial discussions here turn out not to be harmonious unifiers.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:56 PM
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351: Remind me to complain less about how much I have to pay for that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 2:56 PM
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In light of 352, my 359 seems quite obnoxious. Sorry - posted before seeing 352.

And yeah, health insurance costs'll really kill ya, budget wise. I don't wish to be a broken record about that, though (suffice it to say that those whose health insurance is paid in large part by their employers tend not to realize).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 3:00 PM
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That's where I'd find a real anxiety quality-of-life consequence, financially, and I'm very very glad we're not in that position.

To me that sounds consistent with the study that found that the inflection point at which higher income no longer predicts higher happiness is USD75,000.

With due allowance for regional variation in cost of living, that sounds about right to me. At $75K, you can satisfy basic material needs and have a cushion against risk, but you're not in such an elevated socio-economic status that you're tempted to feel entitled to a lot of high-end consumer expenditures.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 3:02 PM
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I've been finding the positional goods among my coworkers at my new job to be disconcerting - more crazy-expensive cars and boats than I'm used to hearing about. I'm not well-calibrated here yet, since I've never before had bonuses or stock with nonzero value, and yet they could easily increase my gross pay by 50 percent over my base salary. The safe thing to do is clearly to pretend that they don't exist, but that doesn't seem to be how people operate.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:19 PM
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(suffice it to say that those whose health insurance is paid in large part by their employers tend not to realize)

I'm sure this is true, but the problem is, even if people do realize it, there's not much they can do about it, it seems to me. The only meaningful solution here is a universal, single-payer system, which seems impossible to achieve. But anyway, yes, health insurance premiums can really eat into one's budget.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:20 PM
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I'm in a horribly argumentative mood, Mary Catherine, so I shouldn't say much. However! What they might have done about it is to have argued more strenuously for a public option. We (here I mean the center-left) let that go without enough of a public outcry.

No use rehearsing issues long past. I ... perhaps think I'm seeing something of the same dynamic at work now? We all know there's a class of people whose voices tend to be heard: the kind of people here are among them. To listen to the more-or-less satisfied here, you'd think that letting the GOP regain the House, and god forbid, the Senate, would not be the end of the world. I would like to see a greater outcry.

And yes, I know I'm hand-wringing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:45 PM
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In fact, the hand-wringing isn't useful. This isn't the time or place.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:51 PM
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I have a horrible toothache right now and I'm finding hand-wringing very useful at distracting me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 7:55 PM
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I don't think there was any shortage of outcry -- there was, however, a shortage of votes. It was a near run thing as it was. Now there's plenty of room to disagree about whether got passed was worth shit -- certainly apo has one of the stronger views on that subject -- but on the question whether a materially better package could have gotten through the Congress we actually have: I don't think that's really in question.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:16 PM
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I took the back-roads route home today after work, which swings me out into redder-state regions. There's a ton of signs for the guy running against Perriello, State Sen. Hurt. It's depressing, but my current coping strategy is to read his signs:

HURT
U.S. CONGRESS

and then say smugly to myself, "Yes. Yes, you will."


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:24 PM
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371: I really don't know, Charley. I think what the upcoming midterm elections are making startlingly clear is that voter outcry -- call it outspokenness -- is really much more central to swaying the votes of incumbent lawmakers than I'd realized.

There are a few too many states in which lawmakers hedge their bets, fearful of being voted out of office in future should they alienate their perceived constituency. I'm beginning to think that we aren't making clear enough who's among their constituency; we're doing that by failing to vote, and call the congressional office, and just turning out in general numbers.

The apparent lack of enthusiasm -- I'd rather call it sheer interest -- among Dem voters for the midterm elections is a problem not just for the midterms, but in a broader way.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:37 PM
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Parsi, your senators would totally have supported a public option. Mine would not -- and they were repeatedly confronted on the issue. No additional outcry would have moved Sen. Baucus, I think that's certain. And Tester, in his first term, wasn't going to dis Baucus on his signature issue. Nelson wouldn't have moved. These men are not responsive to you, or even to the more progressive among their constituents.

Yelling louder at Cardin and Mikulski wouldn't have gotten it done.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 8:54 PM
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156

Yes. OTOH, it covers property taxes, external repairs (walls, roof, and so on, including most major plumbing and wiring problems)... lots of stuff that singlefamily homeowners have to pay for out of pocket. I'm not sure if it nets out about the same or more on average.

Co-ops often have an overall mortgage. If so your proportional share should be added to the cost of your apartment for a fair comparison.

As for maintenance expenses I expect my condo association gets better prices than I would as an individual because of economy of scale issues. And of course there is a considerable time savings in not having to deal with lots of stuff.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:21 PM
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374.last: Point taken. Of course. For this:

No additional outcry would have moved Sen. Baucus, I think that's certain. And Tester, in his first term, wasn't going to dis Baucus on his signature issue. Nelson wouldn't have moved. These men are not responsive to you, or even to the more progressive among their constituents.

I'm thinking on the fly here. I'm thinking that out of state influence is called for. But that's not fair play, is it. Told you I'm frustrated.

Anyway, with respect to current events, I was thinking more about the political dance-making regarding the recent DADT/DREAM legislation attached to the military appropriations bill. The eventual arrangements there seemed due to weakness on the part of Blue Dog dems (in the face, of course, of Republican obstruction). I don't want to get into the weeds on that. But can't we do something to help those people? The Blue Dog Democrats?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 9:28 PM
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Going back to the OP, two things:

First, they're saving 100K a year for retirement, not 60K, if you count employer contributions. Assume thirty years of that plus one or two percent real return and you've got yourself a pretty hefty retirement fund.

Second: I just did a very brief search for 3Brs in Hyde Park. Rents are from $1500 to $3000. Best I can tell, these folks are spending about $8000/mo on housing. Subtract out 'equity building' and you've still got 6k.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:10 PM
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What they might have done about it is to have argued more strenuously for a public option.

Yeah. Look, I'm not disagreeing with you at all, far from it. But I feel that I argued very strenuously indeed, and then got dismissed as a malcontent, or perhaps even as a tea partier (God forbid! it is to shudder). Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, I recall being repeatedly exhorted (a sentiment I share, btw), but when it's the crap versus the crappier, the analogy breaks down, I'm pretty sure.

And most people don't have the time or the resources to argue strenuously for anything at all. That's where party leadership comes in, or its lack thereof.

If the public option were presented to the American people as a doable policy option, I remain convinced that a clear majority would sign on with enthusiasm. But we have to pretend that the power of the insurance lobby represents some sort of insurmountable electoral challenge, I guess.

Tommy Douglas remains the one and only politician I'm ever going to get misty-eyed over, I strongly suspect. Dude brought universal medicare to Canada, and no, it was not an easy task. He faced accusations of Communism, and secret ties to the Kremlin, and all sorts of crazy conspiracy theories, and he faced them down with intelligence, grace, and humour, and then he kept on fighting. Every schoolchild in Canada now knows his name as a founding father of social justice in Canuckistan, but once upon a time the media and the powers that be tried to marginalize Tommy as a kooky crazy fringe figure. He fought back, though, and he looked the Canadian public right in the eye, and they looked back, and then they did it. So yeah, misty-eyed, as I say, and all our best politicians came from Scotland, of course.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:11 PM
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I like talking to you, and I'm glad you're here, Mary Catherine. I'm just off to bed now, alas.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:20 PM
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Oh, but hang on.

377.last: I just did a very brief search for 3Brs in Hyde Park. Rents are from $1500 to $3000.

I find it very hard to believe that a 3 bedroom place in Hyde Park can be had for as low as $1500 or $2000. Here in mere (cheap) Balto, you can't get a one-bedroom without roaches for under $800, and you'll have to search well for that. Are you sure you've done that search correctly?

I'm ready to stand corrected, of course. But I'm surprised.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:29 PM
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This took nearly no effort.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:35 PM
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I'll have to look at that later.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:42 PM
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Just don't stress yourself.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:45 PM
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I read 218 as "Most landlords are... insufficiently emo"
I bought an apartment in grad school, my first year the price/income was ~10x. But- I had some money saved (Bar Mitzvahs really are useful!) and some inheritance so I put 50% down, so mortgage/income was 5x. Then to-be wife moved in and got a job, which knocked it down to 2.5x price/income (1.3x mortgage/income).
Then, when we traded up, the place had appreciated, we got a bigger place and put ~40% down (even though the market was approaching the top- 2004) but wife stopped working to have kids, I got a real job but price/income was still 5.5x, mortgage/income was 4x. Even now after much income growth price/income is still 3x (mortgage/income 2x). Crazy times.
But, we have no student loans, no car payments, only one child care bill for half-day preschool, low 15-year fixed rate, mortgage+tax+condo fee = 22% of gross and plenty of savings. I consider us very well off mostly because we had support in inheritance and grandparents paying for all of college so we could start building up assets very early. I don't know about rich, we're still way under $250k, but we just don't tend to spend a lot of money so current income is plenty. "The Millionaire Next Door" makes the point that people who act richest are those who have the biggest cash flow problems- it's people who keep their car for 10 years and send kids to public school who can stash away a lot.
Also- really good health insurance, employer pays 80% of premiums- wife just had back surgery, with MRIs, stay, follow-ups it was about $30k, we paid $10 total out of pocket (plus $15 in copays for pain drugs.) The biggest hit was that we had to pay for child care for several weeks, which ended up at a couple thousand, but didn't cause any financial problems.
My in-laws, now they're rich- wall st. income, vacation home on well-known island- but they also spend a whole lot of it on nice cars, home renovations, etc.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 10:45 PM
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Oh, and just to add, Tommy Douglas had a daughter Shirley who got into 60s radicalism in a serious way, and who had real ties to the Black Panthers. I remember watching a retrospective news clip with my father (I can't find it on youtube, it was pre-internet), where some reporters tried to do a gotcha! with Tommy re: his radical daughter, and he just let forth with a stream of eloquence and snide, snarky humour, and soon had those reporters backing down and even running for cover.

And what I most recall is how my dad laughed in sympathy with Père Douglas, and just cheered him on in general. He (my father, that is) had no prior sympathy with the Black Panthers, nor any automatic affinity with a Scottish Baptist politician either (well, not at all, as a matter of fact, what with the politics of RC versus Orangeman in Ontario, which defined his political horizons). But Tommy Douglas somehow got him to get outside the usual categories. That is the best side of populism, and it is potentially very powerful (and yes, I'm well aware of its darker side too: hello Tea Party! but I think that instead of having overeducated pencil-necked geeks snipping and sniping at the obvious errors of grammar and logic of the unwashed hordes, the Democrats should actually identify and nourish some populist candidates of their own. Call me crazy...oh, wait, I guess you already have).


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:02 PM
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I don't think the problem with populist candidates is that they can't do grammar. Show me the populist leftists/Democrats and I will teach them grammar personally. The overall problem is that popular sentiment turned crassly selfish starting in the 80's and hasn't yet recovered.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:17 PM
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Show me the populist left, and I'll have Emerson abandoning his no-relationships policy to enter into a covenant marriage with a no-exit clause.

Yeah, grammar is not really the point, of course. I just meant that as a stand-in for something broader and more amorphous.

The influence of "me first" greed has greatly contributed to the fraying of the social fabric, no doubt. But many Americans don't really believe in the Randian trinity "reason, egotism, and capitalism," I remain convinced. Often, it's a question of emphasis, or of how the initial question/proposal is framed.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:31 PM
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Randian trinity s/b Randian trinity of


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 09-22-10 11:34 PM
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the only significant change is that the desire to understand things has been systematically replaced by the desire to accumulate money.

Reminds me slightly of the best Dilbert cartoon ever: Dilbert is visited by the Devil, who tells him that the time has come to pay for his sins, and he can choose one of two fates. Either his work will be useful and appreciated, but he will be doomed to eternal poverty; or he will be well paid, but all his work will be burned in front of his eyes at the end of each day.

"Wow! They're both better than what I do!"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 1:58 AM
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Covenant marriage=ok if it involves Scarlett Johansen.


Posted by: Opinionated Pseudo-Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 2:59 AM
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If the public option were presented to the American people as a doable policy option, I remain convinced that a clear majority would sign on with enthusiasm.

A clear majority of New Yorkers and Californians? And people from Illinois? Absolutely. Easy-peasy. A clear majority of Floridians? Then you've got the Massachusetts problem:* I've got mine, fuck the rest of you. A clear majority of Texans? You need a time machine, set back to the time of Sen. Yarborough.

* Which, in the event, would not have actually been a problem: even though (if) the Massachusetts public at large would've voted for someone opposed to the public option, during most of the relevant period, both senators would've voted for it. If they'd thought Baucus, Nelson, Lieberman, Landrieu would've done so as well.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 6:29 AM
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But I welcome Parsi's efforts to move Joe Lieberman in a more progressive direction. I'm sure that'll work out fine.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 6:31 AM
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Then you've got the Massachusetts problem:* I've got mine, fuck the rest of you.

* N.B.: not actually a particularly important dynamic in the Brown/Coakley race.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 6:31 AM
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Charley we must rage, rage, rage! All setbacks are caused by insufficient online rage.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 6:32 AM
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There have been some comments above to the effect that Obama is actually proposing to cut the good prof's taxes. I suspect this is some sort of funny liberal accounting but if true it is another reason to oppose Obama.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 6:45 AM
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I've started collecting canned goods for him.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 6:46 AM
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James you're feeling pretty punchy this morning.

That said, the key uncertainty is that Henderson didn't actually reveal his income.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 6:47 AM
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I suspect this is some sort of funny liberal accounting

Alternative Minimum Tax reform.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 6:54 AM
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Anyhow, the O'Hare estimations were that if *all* of the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire, that Henderson's taxes would remain roughly the same, but if the proposed package passed, it would be a drop of a couple or three thousand dollars off his total tax bill.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 6:59 AM
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Kobe pays taxes.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 7:02 AM
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I've got mine, fuck the rest of you.

Yes, this is a problem, undoubtedly. But I think a majority of Americans support some kind of universal coverage for children and the elderly, and I believe this support could be expanded.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 7:22 AM
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I never knew that the US Senate was populated with such philosopher-kings, people so attached their particular philosophy that they cannot be induced to deviate from it by persuasion, flattery, bribery, or pressure, the way ordinary people can. The votes of Nelson and Snowe are as fixed and unchanging as the tablets Moses brought down from Sinai, and it is folly to think the efforts of mere mortals could ever change them.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 7:34 AM
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402: I imagine mere mortals with leverage could do it quite nimbly. Let's next think about who those mortals might be.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 7:43 AM
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There have been some comments above to the effect that Obama is actually proposing to cut the good prof's taxes. I suspect this is some sort of funny liberal accounting but if true it is another reason to oppose Obama.

You'll be astonished to learn the tax brackets work such that if you go into a higher tax bracket (e.g. over $250,000), this does not mean all your income below that level is also taxed at the higher rate.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 7:43 AM
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Actually, I was looking up something about CA tax rates and found what looked like a reputable site that implied that tax rates were not marginal (one extra dollar of income could result in hundreds more in taxes.)
Found it, salary.com:
If your income range is between $0 and $7,168, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 1%.
If your income range is between $7,169 and $16,994, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 2%.
If your income range is between $16,995 and $26,821, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 4%.
If your income range is between $26,822 and $37,233, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 6%.
If your income range is between $37,234 and $47,055, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 8%.
If your income range is between $47,056 and $1,000,000, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 9.3%.
If your income range is $1,000,001 and over, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 10.3%.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:05 AM
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405: Doesn't hold true for Illinois state taxes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:13 AM
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But if IL is 3% of a marginal rate structure then it too is effectively a marginal rate structure.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:21 AM
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405: I suspect they're just wrong about that. They say the same for DC, where the rates are definitely applied marginally, and for every other of the half-dozen states I peeked at. (And of course it's never "every dollar of income earned.")


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:23 AM
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I'm quite certain they're wrong about that, mostly because no one would be insane enough to have such a system. Despite that I bet something approaching or over a majority of the country thinks that's how federal income tax works.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:27 AM
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But the federal tax rate doesn't work that way. Moving into the next bracket only gets the higher tax rate applied to the amount of income over the cutoff.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:28 AM
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something approaching or over a majority

I would guess that it's a huge majority, actually.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:31 AM
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411 Yeah, I recall being annoyed with "Bad news/good news" jokes about getting a bigger salary, but now you're in a higher tax bracket from way back in my youth. It is also the thinking that is behind the WSJ's use of "lucky duckies" for those who pay no Federal income tax.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 9:38 AM
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So let me get this straight: Shearer, who is some kind of mathematician, and used to work for IBM, and pays enough attention to politics to identify as some kind of anti-Democratic independent who hates unions, and teachers, and unionized teachers, because they consume too much of his tax bill; that same Shearer does not understand the most basic facts about how the income tax works in this country? You could knock me over with a feather right now.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 9:56 AM
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They way they were talking up Padre Island this SoCal native was expecting something like Balboa or Coronado. I came away thinking the rest of Texas must be kitty corner to hell if Padre was their idea of a resort town.

That was kind of my reaction to Malibu.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 9:58 AM
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That was kind of my reaction to Malibu Miami.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 10:02 AM
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I found both Texas and Southern California to be less intriguing than popular culture had led me to suspect.

Actually, pretty much the only place that's been cooler than I thought it would be was Cleveland, and that only on the basis of their Greyhound terminal.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 10:03 AM
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Not that I'm asking, but you must be a cheap date.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 10:18 AM
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Yeah, if someone wanted to drive me around to see all the WPA-era constructions in any particular town, I would consider that a really great date. Hell, we could even take the bus.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 10:22 AM
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But, I like you as a person. Just not in a drive around and look at WPA buildings kind of way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 10:26 AM
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Also, this:

I know someone who spent some time visiting Renaissance and described it as being a strange mirror world where the culture and the way people spend their time is extremely close to what we do (sit in your office and read blogs calculate for much of the day, emerge to have tea or coffee and cookies at some point in the afternoon and chat about what you're up to, go to the occasional seminar where someone explains their work), and the only significant change is that the desire to understand things has been systematically replaced by the desire to accumulate money.

is pretty much completely wrong IME. I think it's true that high-end head work is pretty similar whether you're doing venture capital or particle physics, but divvying things up into "interesting" and "money" is bullshit. People are people, there are neat people and shitty people in most lines of work, and chatting about the interesting problems of particle physics is exactly the same sort of social-primate stuff as chatting about the interesting problems of business valuation.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 10:32 AM
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Actually, pretty much the only place that's been cooler than I thought it would be was Cleveland, and that only on the basis of their Greyhound terminal.

As someone who grew up in SoCal and now lives in Cleveland, I must say that Cleveland is a much nicer place than I was led to believe before moving here.

Unfortunately, you'll never convince native Clevelanders of that. Their most firmly held bedrock belief is that they suck.

As for SoCal, it really is pretty great, but you generally only find the nicer bits if you live there (it's just to big to explore much on a visit).


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 10:42 AM
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421: I like Cleveland! I was pleasantly surprised from the first time I ever went there (for a conference). They put us on a bus from a downtown hotel to the museum and I was shocked. So green! And hilly! It looked like Westchester! (When I later told that story to a Clevelander I met in NYC, he thought I was making fun of him. Sigh.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 10:49 AM
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you'll never convince native Clevelanders of that

Not even after reminding them the river's not on fire anymore? Malcontents, the lot of 'em.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 10:52 AM
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The votes of Nelson and Snowe are as fixed and unchanging as the tablets Moses brought down from Sinai, and it is folly to think the efforts of mere mortals could ever change them.

Knock yourself out.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 10:57 AM
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a majority of Americans support some kind of universal coverage for children and the elderly

The majority of American have supported some form of universal health care for a long time; that doesn't necessarily mean much politically. Majority support for anything is not as powerful as it is in countries with proportional representation.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 11:48 AM
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Yeah, if someone wanted to drive me around to see all the WPA-era constructions in any particular town, I would consider that a really great date. Hell, we could even take the bus.

I've been thinking of a tour involving the remnants of the Mount Hood Freeway, the cancellation of which was crucial in making Portland what it is today (if you read further up in the Wikipedia entry, ignore the introductory section; Robert Moses was in fact the author of the original 1943 plan). This would be a fabulous date for transportation and policy wonks. Hell, we could even take our bikes.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 12:29 PM
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426: I have already had a Robert Moses-related argument today!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 12:32 PM
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OT: Is will a divorce attorney in CA? And if so, will someone please send me the best way to reach him? (No, I'm not getting a divorce. I'm asking on behalf of a friend. Really.)


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 12:33 PM
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Virginia.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 12:39 PM
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421, 422: There's really good beer and Melt's Big Popper. On the other hand, there's the Browns and the vague sense that the city is responsible for Drew Carey.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 12:44 PM
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430: We try not to think about Drew Carey.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 12:48 PM
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Contrary to everything people around here say, I've found Cleveland to be nice enough. Akron smells funny, but also seems nice.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 12:52 PM
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432: I like the Akron airport, because no one is ever there, and I can eat my fried pickles at the Great Lakes Brewing Co. in peace.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 12:54 PM
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I like the Wright-Patterson airfield because the aliens are frozen and quiet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 12:55 PM
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Melt's Big Popper

Dear God.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 12:56 PM
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431: You must be living on the West Side. On the East Side, there were packs of Drew Carey cosplayers roaming the streets.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 12:57 PM
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ari:

I'm a big believer in the collaborative process for your "friend's" divorce.

http://www.collaborativepractice.com/

It is a much saner way to get divorce. If you go to the link, you can find lawyers in your area who do collaborative law. I mean, your friend can.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 1:00 PM
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Huh, I guess the bus terminal is actually from 1948, but the inside seemed very reminiscent of WPA architecture & design aesthetics to me.

The downtown post office here in MPLS is the kind of thing I'm thinking of -- lots of stone and brass and wide corridors and cool built-in features.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 1:00 PM
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I think I've mentioned the WPA* bridges in Schenley Park. Some of them have crumbled, but some of them are far nicer than you would expect to come across after walking on a dirt path.

*Or maybe CCC or something. They have '1931' carved on them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 1:06 PM
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Another cool thing about Cleveland is used to be LeBron James.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 1:08 PM
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Another cool thing about Cleveland is used to be BURNING RIVER.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 1:10 PM
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Burning River Brass is fun, too.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 1:12 PM
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In the summer, you can (if they still have it) see Thomas the Tank Engine if you go out to the very scenic Cuyahoga valley*.

*Once you get south of the city, it is very and nice and no more likely to burn than your typical river.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 1:13 PM
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Another cool thing about Cleveland is used to be BURNING RIVER.

There's a giant weeklong rave and at the end they set the river on fire?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 1:14 PM
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Burning River Pale Ale is still good.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 1:18 PM
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Having grown up in the NE Ohio area, one of its most endearing features is a relative lack of pretension. Also some pretty nice park areas--nothing spectacular, but well set up. The Cuyahoga is a good example of an underfit stream, the part from Akron to Cleveland on to the lake flows through a valley carved by glacial outwash which originally drained south.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 1:31 PM
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446: relative lack of pretension

My mother was a part of a civic organization in Akron which was involved in choosing a slogan/bumper sticker many years back. They ultimately decided on "FOLLOW ME TO AKR♥N" (as seen in this video). Not too bad, other than lamely and unnecessarily incorporating the ♥, but apparently one suggestion that they kept coming back to was "Akron, Beautiful City by the Sea". To me *that* would of captured the right spirit of the area.


Posted by: Lightly Presidential | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 2:45 PM
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Lightly Presidential, you know you didn't change your email address, right? And there's no need to go presidential at all just because you wrote "would of": you could, instead, correct your mistake, which you must have noticed if you knew to use a pseudonym on its account.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 2:47 PM
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What part of "Lightly" didn't you understand? And "would of" is also right in the spirit of the place, not that I'd expect you to understand, coastal boy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 2:51 PM
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449: I dunno about nosflow (ever!) but I assumed it meant you didn't want to be mistaken for the current prez.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 2:53 PM
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And I might as well go on record saying that my favorite Lake Erie city is definitely Buffalo.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 2:54 PM
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I have lived in the Midwest.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 2:54 PM
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I have lived in Orange County.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:00 PM
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But I have not yet gone to college.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:03 PM
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Do I take 450 to mean that Thorn is unfamiliar with the local custom of changing one's pseud to the name of president (or other head of state/government) when one wishes to share something perhaps a bit more private/personal than usual?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:19 PM
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455: I did not read it that way.


Posted by: Darkly Hussein Presidential | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:22 PM
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454: But at least you've been to U.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:23 PM
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I've been to paradise, but I've never been to me.


Posted by: Charlene | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:26 PM
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Thanks for making that obvious.


Posted by: Jolene | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:29 PM
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But at least you've been to U.

Of course. I'm me.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:30 PM
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Why'd ya have to be so mean, Jolene?


Posted by: Dolly Parton | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:31 PM
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446: Does "underfit stream" mean "scenic as far as Ohio goes?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:31 PM
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462: Size of valley larger than expected for stream size. So, basically yes.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:32 PM
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461: Why do you look like Tom Robbins writes?


Posted by: Some British Critic Whose Name I Can't Find | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:37 PM
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463 to 464


Posted by: Dolly Parton | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:42 PM
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455: No, no, I'm well aware. I'm also sick and dopey and probably not being funny except in my head. I was just hoping to be called a racist, but for once no one took the bait.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:44 PM
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463, 465: Also of interest to geomorphologists.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 3:48 PM
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I've been telling people that Pittsburgh is a dicked-up* plateau, not 'hilly.' Nobody has hit me yet, so your geography lessons have been mostly productive.

*I say 'eroded' when I explain it to mom and people like that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 4:32 PM
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468: Speaking of P'burgh, have you been besieged by brown marmorated stink bugs? We've had them before, some last year, but this year literally hundreds have gotten into the house (at least they are only overwintering, not laying eggs). Sounds like they are being a problem other places in the mid-Atlantic as well.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 4:53 PM
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469: It's a frickin' plague here. They get in the house and hide between the window blinds. They also do not seem to be very smart or fast.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 4:57 PM
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Quitcher beefin. DDT ain't comin' back.


Posted by: Rachel Carson | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 5:01 PM
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I've only seen one in the house. Walking to my car, I decided to step on as many as I could. I got to twenty in a block before getting bored and stopping.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 5:04 PM
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So (I haven't read all the comments yet) Henderson thinks he's poor and he's a Rand disciple? Then his poverty is a function of his own inherent uselessness, isn't it? His life is in his own hands entirely and he's failed. Why does he continue to bother? Why doesn't he use his talent, such as it is, in a more lucrative field? Whining loser.


Posted by: dave heasman | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 5:06 PM
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Stanley is right about how slow they are. The acorns are as good at avoiding a shoe. (Stepping on little green acorns is as close as nature can get you to popping bubble wrap.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 5:10 PM
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473: You fool! Don't you see how the weak are conspiring to undermine the strong! It's only a matter of time before the collectivist hordes kill us all! And it all starts with the teacher's unions!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 5:10 PM
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I just want to go on record as agreeing vehemently with will re: collaborative divorce. No, my divorce was NOT collaborative. Really. But my divorce lawyer is certified as a collaborative lawyer. Looking back both with hindsight and with the added perspective of having defended a few divorce lawyers in legal mal cases, it is incredibly clear to me just how big of a role the collaborative orientation played in keeping things relatively (relatively!!) sane and cost effective. And, AND! In retrospect, I really got a great settlement. I sent my lawyer and her associate a Thank You note a couple weeks ago as it sunk in how unbelievably good the representation I got was.

So, yes, hire a collaborative lawyer. And if you are in my jurisdiction, contact me and I'll give you the name of mine.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 5:36 PM
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http://missoulian.com/news/local/article_aaae89f6-c741-11df-9ea6-001cc4c002e0.html

Bugs are getting into your houses? I hear violins.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 5:48 PM
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469: It's a frickin' plague here. They get in the house and hide between the window blinds. They also do not seem to be very smart or fast.

Yep. "Plague" might be an exaggeration here, but I find one in my blinds every few days.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 5:50 PM
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477: My wife suggests you engage in a solitary unnatural act.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 5:51 PM
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477: I don't think you get to play that particular card unless it was *your* zucchini.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 6:06 PM
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New vocabulary word for me though, marmorated ="Variegated like marble; covered or overlaid with marble".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 6:08 PM
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480: After that, it's your zucchini no matter who actually owns it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 6:13 PM
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have you been besieged by brown marmorated stink bugs?

God yes. Everywhere. I gave in to the rising mini-heat wave here this evening and turned on the air conditioner (window unit), and a couple of them immediately crawled out of its vents. HELP MEEEE! HELP! HELP, WHAT THE FUCK?!

Easy to kill, but there are so many of them.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 6:31 PM
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413

So let me get this straight: Shearer, who is some kind of mathematician, and used to work for IBM, and pays enough attention to politics to identify as some kind of anti-Democratic independent who hates unions, and teachers, and unionized teachers, because they consume too much of his tax bill; that same Shearer does not understand the most basic facts about how the income tax works in this country? You could knock me over with a feather right now.

I understand how marginal rates work. I thought the Democrats were proposing leaving current tax rates unchanged in the lower brackets (meaning no change for most people) but raising them in the top bracket which would only affect people earning over some limit ($250000?). But you people are claiming that the plan is cut current rates in the lower brackets and raise them in the upper brackets in such a way that people earning $450000/year get a cut. If so this is crazy.

Personally I think the Democrats should just let the Bush tax cuts expire.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 7:22 PM
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James, no, you're just missing a piece. See O'Hare's analysis of the matter here.

The lowering of Henderson's taxes would be a function of changes to the Alternative Minimum Tax, as apo mentions upthread at 398.

The Dems aren't proposing cutting the rates in the lower brackets; just extending the Bush tax cuts in those brackets.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 7:36 PM
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chris y: The Oxofrd academics I knew did send their children to private schools. (I think that they were raising them in the 50's and 60's.) These were hard-core Labour people who would never dream of paying for private healthcare, but they thought that private education was great and that undergraduates who could spend money on alcohol shouldn't complain about having to spend some money on fees.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 7:45 PM
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472: Jesus Christ, Moby! Way to build your legend.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 7:48 PM
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487

The lowering of Henderson's taxes would be a function of changes to the Alternative Minimum Tax, as apo mentions upthread at 398.

OK. Btw I think cutting the AMT which only affects rich people is a bad idea also.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:00 PM
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I'm shocked at all the bloodthirsty marmorated insect killers here. You should all use those no-kill traps and release them in your yards.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:04 PM
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You should all use those no-kill traps and release them in your yards on a farm where they can frolic until the end of their natural lives.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:16 PM
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DK, do I need to email you a picture of bear prints that were on my driveway Monday morning? I will, if I have to.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:23 PM
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Prints, schmints. You wait till that bear invites you up to see some etchings before you consent to anything, CC.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:27 PM
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487: I am become Moby Hick, destroyer of worlds.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:33 PM
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I gave in to the rising mini-heat wave here this evening and turned on the air conditioner

So are you also a person who feels a lot more reluctant to turn on the AC out of 'season' under circumstances when you wouldn't hesitate if it were mid July?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:40 PM
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494: That's been us this week, thanks in large part to a letter from the electric company telling us what terrible people we are when it comes to energy consumption compared to other people in our neighborhood. There were graphs. Multiple graphs.

Ninety-fucking-five today. But fans with cross ventilation at night has been quite nice.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 8:51 PM
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492: I emphatically endorse collaborative bear tracking.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-23-10 9:30 PM
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364: And yeah, health insurance costs'll really kill ya, budget wise.

I know. My wife has spent most this year in and out of hospital, so her own risk for this year is gone, I myself had to pay for some lab research and other co-payments and all in all that was another 200 euros we could've spent on other things this year.

What?


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 09-24-10 1:03 AM
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Now, now, Martin, don't mock the Americans. Play nice.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-24-10 3:00 AM
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498: Pls send more cigarettes and pron down the pipe. K thx bai.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-24-10 7:18 AM
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OK, but no wine!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-24-10 7:19 AM
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494: So are you also a person who feels a lot more reluctant to turn on the AC out of 'season' under circumstances when you wouldn't hesitate if it were mid July?

I saw this in the mid-afternoon today, way after you'd posted it, but I reply now:

I am. There's something more to the reluctance, though: it's that in mid-July, I'm aware of the buildup of ambient temperature, the warming of ground and buildings. When you've had numerous consecutive days of 90-degree weather, sure, air conditioning -- everything is just warm/hot, including surrounding bodies of water. What we've been having these days is (what seem to me to be) wild swings of temperature from the mid- or upper-90s, down to the lower 80s, up to mid-90s again, then down to 70. And repeat. We're having another one of those now. Today it was nearly 100 here. On Sunday it's to be 70.

If this is going to be the pattern, or non-pattern, for the future, I don't really want to be hitting the air conditioning button any time I feel hot.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-24-10 7:39 PM
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Any time I feel hot, I strut my stuff and shake my moneymaker.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-24-10 7:51 PM
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...small-scale geothermal, also known as 'pipe to the basement', looks better and better though.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-24-10 7:51 PM
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I don't like where Stanley puts his wine.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-24-10 7:52 PM
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503: Explain, clew? Maybe I should know what that means, but I don't. I'll look it up.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-24-10 7:59 PM
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485

The lowering of Henderson's taxes would be a function of changes to the Alternative Minimum Tax, as apo mentions upthread at 398.

According to today's paper the AMT "changes" are just an extension of current (2009 and earlier) practice and are not in fact cuts. Is this correct?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-26-10 7:58 AM
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