astrid's comments

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  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 13, 3:47am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


First of all, I'm very wary of government dollars indirectly funding quasi government organizations. It's one thing if the funding is direct and I can expect some accountability (though that is sadly missing in the current administration + congress), quite another to expect me to subsidize someone else's pet project without any real expectation of oversight.

Secondly, I would take Clinton era FEMA over Red Cross. In fact, one of my friends works for a competing blood bank and she thinks very poorly of the Red Cross. Just because something is private sector does not make it an unadulterated good, quite often, the reverse is true. Many charitable trusts run more for the benefit of people running the charity than whatever they claim to be for. In my opinion, that money would be better off in the government coffers or heirs' hands than in hundred year trusts.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 13, 10:24am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Peter P,

I am so going to buy you Battle Royal (the Japanese movie) for X-Mas.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 14, 7:55am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Peter P,

That won't be necessary. You well know stand on social welfare programs and your interest in endangered species (as food) should be enough.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 14, 8:01am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

That was in your response to your quest to putting mom and kids on the street.

I quite frankly think you'd piss off more Americans if you claimed that you like cat stew with smoked dog sandwich, with horse sashimi to start.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 14, 8:03am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

I much prefer modern building with a neutral palette. Anything with a wall of floor to ceiling windows is likely to catch my attention.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 14, 8:11am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

People who neglect their yards should be forcibly moved to apartments. If they can't be bothered to cut their grass or pave over the yard, I don't understand why they bought something with a yard.

re: cat stew - do you mean your cats won't consent to your talk of cat stew or as ingredients of cat stew?

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 14, 8:22am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

I prefer a luxury RV, then I wouldn't get sea sick.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 14, 8:28am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Maybe a luxury train...

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 14, 8:55am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Practicality and yachts have nothing in common.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 14, 9:25am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

I think private tropical island, uniformed henchmen and laser armed sharks are still the henchmarks to go by.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 14, 9:42am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

henchmark = benchmark

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 15, 10:58am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

If I were the worker bees, I would at least sell enough upfront to cover my entire estimated tax obligation. It's one thing to not make money on exercising options, another matter to lose money that one does not have.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 18, 3:38am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


I'm going to guess that you didn't wonder much about history while in college. Your claims about Americans dying to make Hawaii safe for rich Asians and USSR expansion is particularly prepostrous.

1. Wouldn't Hawaii be even more welcoming if the Japanese were in control and spoke Japanese (and everyone in East Asia spoke Japanese because they're members of Imperial Japan's Co-Prosperity Sphere)?

2. Most successful Communist movements, especially in Asia and Latin America, was nationalistic in nature. USSR's "empire" was sufficiently unwieldy to distract it from America for a good chunk of the cold war and ultimately brought its downfall in the Afghan war.

Actually, the core of both WWI and WWII was largely about empire - between the first wave empires of Great Britain/France/Benelux and the second wave empire wannabes Germany/Japan. The heavy tolls on both sides created a power vacuum that was filled by the US and USSR. US and USSR, barred from direct confrontation due to the insanity of MAD, fought limited wars in Korea, Vietnam and Afganistan...and suffered mightily for it.

There is an important takeaway from this: modern empires should avoid armed conflicts, even regional conflicts, as much as possible. Any such conflict is likely to weaken its position domestically and internationally, conveniently creating a power vacuum for...if we're lucky then the EU/Japan/Korea; if we're unlucky then Russia/China/India.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 18, 3:48am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Peter P,

Possibly the case in theory, but likely to yield unpredictable blowback in real life. See also modern histories of Russia, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 18, 6:50am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Sheesh, just when I was planning a foliage viewing trip to Canada...I'm cursed.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 18, 7:01am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

What's this generation's polio? (Yes, I know that FDR probably did not have polio but...)

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 18, 10:10am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

In the long run, sushi is far more valuable than children. In 2050, there will be 10 billion people on earth and close to zero blue fin tuna.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 18, 11:39pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        


The British are par for the course, maybe a little ahead, in its methods. This is a case of "everybody does it."

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 19, 3:21am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


I'm sorry about that, I'm 1/8-1/4 troll :-/

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 20, 1:50am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


In my opinion, a Chinese recession/depression around 2010 is already overdue and healthy (IF managed properly). A visit to the country will reveal vast gulfs of wealth between the very conspicuously rich and the poor. Corruption continues to be endemic. The mainstream culture is wasteful and quite decadent. There are tons of pointless projects that are generating short term GDP growth at the expense of sustainable long term growth.

Politically, China has major challenges ahead and it is not nearly centralized/modernized enough to face it in a very coherent manner. The CCCP core is actually quite enlightened and technocratic, but once you move outside of the booming coastal cities, things still suck.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 20, 1:54am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Perhaps, but it seems an even more common feat to turn a $50,000 account into a $10,000 account...

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 20, 3:04am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Okay, all EMPIRES (AKA successful civilizations in some people's books; since many civilizations, including the Inuits, are suffering cultural declines due to the dominating influences of Russian/Nordic/Anglo-Saxon cultures) do it.

If the Inuits had an empire (I know, that's a comment that's nearly as asinine as "if Iraq was anywhere else.."), I don't think they would have done much better. Brutality and stupidity are inherent in any empire. I'm not advocating that for the British Empire here, just for the British culture (I know, that sounds wrong even as I type it out!).

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 20, 5:18am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

There are several things at play here. In the short run, government subsidy would dramatically increases housing affordability by giving the buyers a lot more money (either in the form of tax deductions or subsidized loans). In the long run, much but not all the buyer's advantage is eroded, with a remainder of the government subsidy going to the seller (often the people already reaped the greatest benefit from the initial subsidy). Meanwhile, the additional demand for home ownership spurs excessive building, buying and selling, and remortgaging, creating jobs.

It's a great system and everyone is happy and prosperous except the JBRs who are now out a lot of money with nothing to show for it except a lot of sneering housedebtors, but JBRs are subhuman so nobody cares.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 20, 5:35am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


On the bright side, I heard that British restaurant foods have improved by leaps and bounds.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 20, 11:55pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

The "government" thinks in terms of the next election cycle, just like many CEOs think in terms of the next annual report. It's not about what's economically rational but what's going to keep them in their jobs in 2, 4, or 6 years' time. Problems 5 years down the line are just vague abstractions and...they might be caught molesting a page or soliciting for public restroom sex by then.

To the extent that this is influenced by longer term thinking, it would be the lobbying arms of the mortgage and banking industries. Even then, it's not about a consistent policy, but money to get your local congress person through their next election cycle.

This country is run by corrupt idiots. Bush certainly made the whole matter worse with his economic illiteracy, but the miasma has been hanging around for a while.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 21, 12:02am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


But the housing bubble did happen on Bush and the Republicans' watch, ditto fighting Bin Laden in Iraq, ditto alienating American allies, ditto destroying whatever budget surplus Clinton managed to save up, ditto zero oversight on military contracts to Cheney's former employer...

If you're looking for better alternatives than the Democrats, you're not find it amongst Bush's rubberstamper brigade.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 21, 12:52am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


The GOP did nothing to quash the housing bubble and plenty to encourage it. They enjoyed much of the political benefits of people feeling wealthy from house value increases, so they deserve the blame as well. It's one thing to vote in a bad law not know the full extent of the problem, it's another to be the party in control and happily encouraging this bubble to grow and grow.

Furthermore, I am in no way persuaded that the $250K/per person tax exemption is the primary reason for the bubble. It played a role, but lax credit standards and lack of securities law enforcement played a much greater role.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 21, 12:53am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Read my original response to Skibum. I did not exempt the Democrats from blame, I simply argued that because the Democrats were blameworthy, the Republicans are somehow exempt from great blame for the role in the housing bubble debacle.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 21, 5:42am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


The 250K exemption would have meant very little if the prices only went up 3% year on a 330K house. I agree that in conjunction with loose lending standards and the post capital "flight to quality," it helped the bubble expand for upper middle class RE investors.

However, I still contend that the far bigger problem was inadequate screening of buyers and people completely losing track of what they can afford. The inducement on the sale was merely icing on the cake.

$250K exemption is a nice tax cut for home sellers, but it didn't take away at least half of home buy/sell costs. The seller would still be paying 6% fees to realtors and the buyer pay financing costs on the value of the sale. The expected value of the $250K tax exemption on 15% of gains is just not enough to justify the crazy RE price increases.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 21, 6:22am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


15% of $500,000 (though very few people outside of NY and CA have seen anywhere near that amount of gain) is $75,000. Nothing to sneeze at, but not an explanation for 50-100% increase in housing value. It's as simple as that. The 1997 act is not sufficiently valuable to explain more than a small portion of the housing bubble.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 21, 6:27am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


And I would predict that if Joe and Jane Howmuchamonth could play the stock market for 90-100% leverage with no perceived risk and 15% LTCG or even STCG, they would take it over housing in a heartbeat. Transaction costs are much lower for stocks and stocks don't get brown if I forget to water the lawn.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 21, 6:32am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


You've convinced yourself. I'm out.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 22, 12:51am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag long as I don't have to learn French again.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Sep 22, 10:40am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Huh? That particular discussion from last thread is closed, not necessarily in a satisfactory manner for me, but closed. I'm not going to act like a fifth grader and hate you now.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2012 Jul 12, 8:01am   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Not a surprise. Apple under Steve Jobs was always driven by putting out products that lived up to Jobs's vision. If that meant having suppliers that expose workers to toxic chemicals or forces mandatory 100 hour weeks, Apple doesn't care as long as those suppliers can meet Jobs's demanding deadlines and specs.

There may still be companies with a moral compass (Costco comes to my mind), but I don't think Apple has ever been one of them.

  astrid   ignore (0)   2012 Jul 12, 8:15am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

How do you do the NET accounting on that?

What's the value of the US's military position for a US based businessman or corporation?

What's the value of US educated scientists to an employer?

What's the value of roads and transportation?

What's the value of a court system and a police force that enforces property rights.

What's the value of a Fed that funnels trillions in below market interest rates and accepts crap at full book value?

What's the value of a strong country that backstops the alleged NET taxpayer's various business interests?

  astrid   ignore (0)   2012 Jul 13, 8:25am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

@ Peter P - corporate persons should not exist in its current form. Its rights should be far more curtailed and it should be equity financed with minimal leverage. There should be substantial holding time for shares and shares should only be held and controlled by natural persons, not other artificial entities. The current form of corporations, especially mature corporations, is monstrous and should be cut down.

re discussion on wages
The wage issue is a red herring. Wages are a relatively small component of the cost of producing and marketing products, I believe sub-15% for most types of manufacturing.

Just look at Japan and Germany - they continue to export manufactured goods even though their workers are far more pampered than most American workers.

The biggest drivers of corporate outsourcing/in-sourcing decisions tend are taxation and access to resource/market.

The Housing Trap
You're being set up to spend your life paying off a debt you don't need to take on, for a house that costs far more than it should. The conspirators are all around you, smiling to lure you in, carefully choosing their words and watching your reactions as they push your buttons, anxiously waiting for the moment when you sign the papers that will trap you and guarantee their payoff. Don't be just another victim of the housing market. Use this book to defend your freedom and defeat their schemes. You can win the game, but first you have to learn how to play it.
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Kindle version available

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