We're so hosed
I feel like I post about housing all the time, but:
- Looking at the number of American households and the number of vacant housing units, Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored purchaser of mortgage-backed securities, estimates a current supply shortage of 3.8 million units, driven by a 40-year collapse in the construction of homes smaller than 1,400 square feet...
- The National Association of Realtors compared the issuance of housing permits with the number of jobs created in 174 different metro areas. It found that only 38 metro regions are permitting enough new homes to keep up with job growth; in more than a dozen areas, including New York, the Bay Area, Boston, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Miami, and Chicago, just one new home is getting built for every 20-plus jobs created. The NAR estimates an "underbuilding gap" of as many as 7 million units...
But none of the estimates capture what I've come to think of as the affordability gap: the difference between the housing we have and the housing we would need in order to ensure that working-class people could once again live in our big coastal cities for a reasonable cost. Freddie Mac does not purport that building 3.8 million units would make New York accessible to big middle-class families and end homelessess in San Francisco. The National Association of Realtors is not contemplating whether janitors can walk to work in Boston.
Housing and homelessness is starting to move into the category of crises like climate change that give me existential despair, where I can't come up with a rosy vision of how it could hypothetically be solved..
I hate the recommendation form+letter system. Maybe I just hate the scarcity of opportunity in this country? I have a strong student. The form asks me for my comparison group (which I really appreciate). I can specify that I am comparing the student with other math majors at my institution. They are applying to regional programs in a field that is not math, though.
Are they top 5%? Yes! They usually get the highest or next-highest grade in a class. Are they top 1-2% No. But if I answer that, am I damning the student? Does the person reading the recommendation really picture 100 undergrad math students and say, "Well of course it would be insane to hold it against this student that they're not in 1st or 2nd place" or do they say, "Nope! We only take the cream of the crop here!"
I have no idea, having never served on a graduate admissions committee anywhere, let alone everywhere, in every field.
Would it be a good idea or a bad idea to allow national referendum? It sometimes feels like it would be nice to just have everyone answer a direct question about policy, and then they could see in a really direct way which party actually acts in ways that accords. But it could also go extremely off-the-rails, and also sometimes the masses are in favor of extremely racist/sexist/etc/problematic policies. So maybe not. Or maybe it just needs certain guard rails.
This strike-breaking thing is pretty shitty. Especially, JFC, over paid sick leave?
I'm sure there are many details and complexities, which you all know more about than me.
I hear there's a big game on today.
Guest post idea: Retiring personality
Moby writes: In the back of my head, I've always had the idea that I'd keep working into my 70s. But lately I've been sitting at my desk wondering what it would be like to have the middle of my day free while I'm young enough to be more active. As nice as the idea sounds, what if the pressure of earning a living was what kept me on the rails? What if as soon as I'm in charge of myself, I'll latch on some hairbrained idea that seems good at first thought but doesn't really pan out? Probably, someone would tell me it isn't working out, but if that person isn't giving me money, why would I listen?
Heebie's take: I think I'd be great at being retired. The danger for me is that I'd start giving every activity more and more of a buffer until I grind to a halt. "Well let's see. It makes sense to go to the grocery store right after lunch, and so... I guess that fills up the day! And the next one too. I just can't squeeze anything else in." And I'd believe it, too, and I'd enjoy the hell out of it.
Also that article is disturbing.