Weekend Open Thread (2011-06-24)

Here is your open thread for the weekend beginning Friday June 24th, 2011. You may post random links and off-topic discussions here. Also, if you have an idea or a topic you’d like to see covered in an article, please make it known.

Be sure to also check out the forums, and get your word in the user-driven discussions there!

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.

49 comments:

  1. 1
    S-Crow says:

    I think the Sex offender thread has clearly reached the “Global” threshold and would be considered qualified to be placed under the “Global Economic” links. ;)

  2. 2

    Craig found this–Redfin changing it’s model in Boston.

    http://blog.redfin.com/boston/2011/06/redfin_boston_gets_personal.html#comments

    Seems as if rather than traditional brokers moving to a new model, the alternative brokers are moving to the traditional model.

  3. 3
    Blurtman says:

    New Recession Begins Next Year, Shilling Says

    Gary Shilling, economist and author of “The Age of Deleveraging.” While his steadfast bearishness didn’t surprise me, his blunt assessment did.

    “I’m predicting another recession next year,” he told me.

    Not a double dip, he emphasized, because we’re already two years from the end of the last recession and 3 ½ years from the business cycle’s previous peak, in December 2007. Historically, he said, economic expansions last about three years, especially in long down cycles of the kind he thinks we’ve been in since 2000.

    So, he’s looking for a brand new cyclical recession beginning in 2012.

    Many Americans will be forgiven if they can’t see the difference between that and the recovery we’ve been experiencing.

    That’s Shilling’s point. Usually, deep recessions like the one we just lived through are followed by strong snapbacks, like a growth slingshot.

    This time, however, the recovery has been “distinctly subpar,” in his words. “As of the first quarter, ..real GDP is barely above its peak in the fourth quarter of 2007, whereas earlier recoveries were well above their previous tops 13 quarters later,” he wrote in a recent edition of his newsletter, Insight.

    Translation: More than three years after the peak, we’re still not back to where we were.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/113005/shilling-new-recession-marketwatch

  4. 4
    ray pepper says:

    33% to Buyers now from RedFIN? OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is BIG NEWS TIM!!

    Why is it not a TOPIC of DISCUSSION??

    Heck, 1/2 the Agents at Skyline give 50%…!!!!

    This is almost as bad as ZIP Realty and their 25%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. 5
  6. 6
    Blurtman says:

    Bin Laden wanted to change al-Qaida’s bloodied name
    Documents obtained in US assassination reveal frustrations of al-Qaida leader and desire to win over world’s Muslims

    Under consideration were OB Laden-Chase, and Terrorwide Financial

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/24/bin-laden-documents-alqaida-struggle

  7. 7
    The Tim says:

    By ray pepper @ 4:

    33% to Buyers now from RedFIN? OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is BIG NEWS TIM!!

    Why is it not a TOPIC of DISCUSSION??

    Because it’s an experiment in Boston, and this is Seattle Bubble, not Redfin Central. If you want to talk about it on a blog, may I recommend Redfin’s own blog where they made the announcement?

    This is almost as bad as ZIP Realty and their 25%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    For the record, ZipRealty has been experimenting with eliminating their rebate entirely. See this post, in the section titled “A Look into the Numbers @ Non-Rebate Pilot Test.”

  8. 8
    Dirty_Renter says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 6
    Rumor has it he favored – iheartblurtman.

  9. 9

    By The Tim @ 7:

    For the record, ZipRealty has been experimenting with eliminating their rebate entirely. See this post, in the section titled “A Look into the Numbers @ Non-Rebate Pilot Test.”

    And didn’t they also change the compensation of their agents back to a commission model? I seem to recall that, and if true yet another example of alternative moving to traditional. The link you site mentions they are now independent contractors, but I don’t remember exactly the change in compensation.

  10. 10
    ray pepper says:

    RE: The Tim @ 7

    from the amount of Red Fin’s data here and always references and blog posts about red Fin in one fashion or another I consider it Red Fin central. Its HUGE news!!

    Surprised you do NOT find it so…from 66% to 50% to 33%………6000 minimum now..good god!

  11. 11
    ray pepper says:

    Zip realty hanging on by a thread: http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=ZIPR

    their market cap is only 40 mil…the way they r burning cash they better get a platform quick of a Zillow or they r toast!

    Actually they r toast anyway. 25% back to buyer??..Most any agent will give that. If they dont…Walk away and find a 50% bagger at least!

  12. 12
    Scotsman says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 3

    Yup- and he’s looking for another 20% drop for housing. I agree.

  13. 13
    Snigliastic says:

    Closed on house yesterday. Glad I waited the three years I did. I see interest rates have dropped about .25% since I locked, but what can you do. I do think the housing market has a way to go down, but am fine with that. Great house, good price, perfect location.

    I submitted a “tip” to Seattle Bubble. Thanks for the information/help Tim. I was able to delay the wife about three years in part because of it, saving up the 20% plus buffer, watching prices drop, and being able to afford a place that we can live in and raise kids in when the time comes.

  14. 14
    The Tim says:

    RE: Snigliastic @ 13 – Congrats! And thanks for the tip!

  15. 15
    HappyRenter says:

    Sorry, I have a general question about the job market.

    Is it just my impression or is the job market in Seattle really worse than at the beginning of the year? When I browse for jobs now, I’m under the impression that there is a lot less out there. Is it just a “summer” effect or the much discussed “soft patch” in the economy? In any case, it’s depressing.

    Is anybody else experiencing the same?

  16. 16

    Well some good news. My roof guy came out and said he thinks I might be about to get twice the life out of my shake roof as what I had originally set as the minimum goal–10 years rather than 5. I know mine still looks a lot better than some that I see.

  17. 17

    RE: Snigliastic @ 13
    Don’t you want to post all the details so you can get raked over the coals?

  18. 18
    Pegasus says:

    For those who have funds in money market funds….

    “RETURN-FREE RISK.” That’s just one of the turns of phrase that Jim Grant has tossed off over the years as editor of the invaluable Grant’s Interest Observer and as Barron’s most illustrious alum.

    The term could well apply to major money-market funds, which provide yields barely visible to the naked eye but could suffer collateral damage from any potential fallout from a possible default by Greece. Grant was way out ahead of the crowd by pointing out in his latest issue, dated June 17, that the five largest money funds, Fidelity Cash Reserves (FDRXX), Vanguard Reserve Prime (VMRXX), Fidelity Institutional Money Market Market Portfolio (FNSXX), Fidelity Institutional Prime Money Market Portfolio (FIPXX) and BlackRock Liquidity TempFund (TMPXX) held an average of 41% of their assets in European banks’ short-term debt. Fitch Ratings added in a report last week that the top 10 money funds, with assets of $755 billion, had about half their assets in European bank liabilities.

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/06/money-market-fund-madness/

  19. 19
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Pegasus @ 18 – Great point. I had money in a Schwab money market account that was doing some weird things pre-Lehman meltdown. I pulled the money, and the fund plunged. Schwab was being sued by investors, but I think the lawyers will see some money, but not the investors.

  20. 20
    Pegasus says:

    By ray pepper @ 10:

    RE: The Tim @ 7

    from the amount of Red Fin’s data here and always references and blog posts about red Fin in one fashion or another I consider it Red Fin central. Its HUGE news!!

    Surprised you do NOT find it so…from 66% to 50% to 33%………6000 minimum now..good god!

    Surprising because of this statement:

    “Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman says don’t look for a public offering from his Seattle online real estate upstart anytime soon. “Barring some unforeseen screw-up, we don’t need the capital to fund operations, we probably don’t need the currency to buy companies, and the management team is not impatient to cash out,” Kelman tells GeekWire.”

    Maybe they are getting ready for an IPO further down the road or maybe they just needed to cover Tim’s salary? Hopefully Tim got in on the stock option plan as I suggested in the past and in a few years that home in Everett will be just a memory as he moves to live next to Paul Allen or Bill Gates.

    http://www.geekwire.com/2011/redfin-ceo-glenn-kelman-ipo-plans-were-ready-yet

  21. 21
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 19 – Grant broke that story about a week ago and if you notice short term treasuries were giving a negative yield last Friday and the two year is at a record low in yield. It appears some of that money is being yanked already. That can’t help the European banks with the Greece crisis. As I have said before that a little or a lot of fear does wonders in driving money into our Treasury debt. Unfortunately US banks and insurance companies here in the US insure most of that Greek debt through credit default swaps. It’s no wonder they are all trying to kick the can down the road. Never fear..the US taxpayer is here!

  22. 22
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Pegasus @ 21 – Well, the US taxpayer’s ability to pay may be the ultimate fiction.

    “David Walker, the former U.S. comptroller general, says it’s even worse than that. When he takes into account future obligations for Medicare, Social Security, Federal debt, Military retirement, Civil servant retirement, and more, we owe $546,663 per household. That doesn’t even include your local debt — it may not be as bad as if you lived in Illinois, but it’s substantial nonetheless — and personal debt including mortgages and consumer debt that average more than $120,000 per household.

    We’re told we are a great country and we can “grow our way out of it.” Exactly how does that occur, when jobs are going overseas, taxes for the wealthiest in our country are uncollectible after exploiting tax breaks, and programs for investment in infrastructure and production are virtually nonexistent?”

    http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article28887.html

  23. 23
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 22RE: Blurtman @ 3

    Number on, China has ridden into Europe to buy up bonds. Second China has promised to lend Hungary a billion dollars, or euros, depending on how you read it.

    Politics is much more interesting to me than finance. People talk about soveriegn debt like that is real money. people talk about Bernanke’s infuence on the economy, but it is all politics. It’s not real money, it’s economy.

    The only question that any one has had to ask since the 1970s is who will win the war. Business is war. Who will come out on top, and in control of the world, the global economy. Right now it may look like China.

    China is a communist country, so was Russia, and the Socialist Republic. South America is going socialist, and Cuba has a new future.

    I’m just saying you can count nickles and dimes until the cows come home, but it is certainly looking like our system of economy has failed miserably. If you look at it from the perspective of war, and the war we had for decades against communism, and socialism, we are just a few trillion dollars away from losing the capitalist life style.

  24. 24
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 23 – Not sure what you mean by “real money.” But mathematics is absolute, and balances must balance. And so these are real obligations and there is not an unlimited capacity for future obligations. The value of the dollar and euro will be adjusted downward, in the context of the US dollar as the reserve currency. It appears to be in China’s interests to attempt to slow the rebalancing.

    Corruption is overwhelming the US economic system and there is no reason to believe it will not overwhelm China. The immorality of the financial institutions is quite obvious, and their purchase of the elected officials obvious as well. But the strength of a country really depends on the morality of its people. When a something for nothing, get rich quick mentality becomes commonplace, look out below.

  25. 25
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 24

    Well that is exactly my point. China is corrupt. Business, and politics is intertwined under the communist system. In a Nationaist system the government can step in at any time to call off all bets. Argentina is the number example, but many countries, like Iran have closed banks, businesses, and resources in a National interest. It’s a different set of rules.

    Get it?

    You don’t, I can tell by the look on your face. OK, let’s say China decides, politically, to stop propping up the United States, and throws all of it’s economic might behind what used to the the Socialist Republic? What if South America Nationalizes it’s natural resources in favor of a socialist agenda? What if both China, and Russia join forces?

    I could do this all day with what ever other system of government might take control of our over burdened banking system. I’m going to say that again because you still look confused, what other political system can unwind the debt structure that, you have pointed out, is at the end of it’s rope?

  26. 26
    Pegasus says:

    Washington State’s newest tax for Joe Sixpack….The Discovery Pass.

    In order to squeeze another $70 million dollars a year from the down-trodden masses Washington State will now charge you a total of $35.00 per vehicle to access nearly 7 million acres of state recreation lands in Washington, including:

    More than 100 developed state parks
    More than 350 primitive recreation sites, including campgrounds and picnic areas
    Nearly 700 water access points
    Nearly 2,000 miles of designated water and land recreation trails
    More than 80 natural areas
    More than 30 wildlife areas

    The pass is required starting July 1st! Don’t forget it this summer as the fine is $99.00 and those fines will be a nice additional source of revenues from Joe for the state to blow on ticket writers and such.

    http://www.discoverpass.wa.gov/

  27. 27

    RE: Pegasus @ 26 – I don’t have a big problem with charging a modest fee for users of services and property to access them. Beats the hell out of closing them down.

  28. 28
    Pegasus says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 27:

    RE: Pegasus @ 26 – I don’t have a big problem with charging a modest fee for users of services and property to access them. Beats the hell out of closing them down.

    They don’t need to close the parks or charge a fee. They need to take the steps necessary to reduce the state’s costs by doing the right things when revenues are down. That means firing the people they don’t need, reducing the horrific pension costs, reducing wages paid, opening up more items to be managed by private businesses that cost less, etc. Stop treating public employee unions like they are above the rest of the citizens of the state. Get rid of the fat cats that are receiving huge salaries and benefits. Raising taxes on the economically deprived when times are tough means less money to spend. Housing prices have dropped by roughly 30 percent. Has anyone seen their property taxes reduced by more than a few percent if at all? Taxing with a sales tax at about 10 percent doesn’t help either. The economy has dropped and yet all they can do is raise taxes to defend the sinking ship. Remember how they blew the rainy day fund and gave away the gambling rights in this state for peanuts? Shifting items from the general fund to a pay as you use is just another mirage created as an excuse to tax more, not less.

  29. 29
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 25 – Not sure I understand your point, so please make it in one sentence. If the PTB had the will to do so, the TBTF’s could have been nationalized, a la Sweden, and the USA could have still kept its semblance of capitalism. Resolving insolvent banks is not incompatible with capitalism. Look at what the PTB did with GM, for example.

    I think more to the point is the undue influence the banking industry has on the USG. What will it take to turn that around?

  30. 30
    pfft says:

    By Blurtman @ 22:

    RE: Pegasus @ 21 – Well, the US taxpayer’s ability to pay may be the ultimate fiction.

    “David Walker, the former U.S. comptroller general, says it’s even worse than that. When he takes into account future obligations for Medicare, Social Security, Federal debt, Military retirement, Civil servant retirement, and more, we owe $546,663 per household. That doesn’t even include your local debt — it may not be as bad as if you lived in Illinois, but it’s substantial nonetheless — and personal debt including mortgages and consumer debt that average more than $120,000 per household.

    We’re told we are a great country and we can “grow our way out of it.” Exactly how does that occur, when jobs are going overseas, taxes for the wealthiest in our country are uncollectible after exploiting tax breaks, and programs for investment in infrastructure and production are virtually nonexistent?”

    http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article28887.html

    you fell for the unfunded liabilities mumbo jumbo. there are at least 3 other errors in the commentary.

  31. 31
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 29

    Communism wins.

  32. 32
    David Losh says:

    RE: Pegasus @ 28

    While you read what you wrote keep in mind those are lost jobs. Pension funds keep people spending after retirement. Privatizing hasn’t worked well at all for any one.

    If you have examples of privatization great, let’s debate. It always sounds good.

  33. 33
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 31 – I think Communism lost. I don’t see China going back to their anti-capitalist ways.

  34. 34
    Blurtman says:

    RE: pfft @ 30 – Even if you control your own currency, unlimited debt is not possible.

  35. 35
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 33

    I don’t see capitalism working for a billion plus people.

  36. 36
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 35 – If it delivers on the promise of providing a better life, I see it working.

  37. 37
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 36

    It can’t, and it won’t.

    A few years ago we passed a point of no returns on investment. There was a promise of a better life with technology that our government is still trying to keep. It’s just not going to happen.

    Technology doesn’t do anything except make mathmatical calculations. Technology keeps improving without improving the quality of lives. We spent, or lost, a decade developing technology that created vast wealth for a very few, and today we have nothing to show for it, but debt.

    China on the other hand seems to be the great saviour of the global economy. They make plastic toys that we all buy. They have a manufacturing wage base. Geez, how techy is that?

  38. 38

    By Pegasus @ 28:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 27:

    RE: Pegasus @ 26 – I don’t have a big problem with charging a modest fee for users of services and property to access them. Beats the hell out of closing them down.

    They don’t need to close the parks or charge a fee. They need to take the steps necessary to reduce the state’s costs by doing the right things when revenues are down. That means firing the people they don’t need, reducing the horrific pension costs, reducing wages paid, opening up more items to be managed by private businesses that cost less, etc. Stop treating public employee unions like they are above the rest of the citizens of the state.

    I’ll agree government often doesn’t do the right things, but the question I have for you is: Are you in favor of austerity measures? That’s exactly what you’re describing.

    Also, contrary to some Republican Wisconsin thinking, I don’t think the state has the power to simply re-write union contracts.

  39. 39

    RE: David Losh @ 37 – You really have a strange way of looking at thing David. Technology allows us to do more with less human effort, allowing those humans to do more in other areas, meaning more productivity overall.

    Just as an example, imagine how many more people would need to be employed to just deal with credit card and checking transactions if we didn’t have computers. The critics of technology years ago used to complain that technology was putting people out of work, but those people are now doing other things. Society is now more productive. There’s a much bigger pie.

  40. 40
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 37 – I think the relevant metric for China’s capitalism is – does the average citizen believe their standard of living is increasing, and that their children will have a beter life then they have. A related question is, in the USA, when the average citizen believes this is not the case, what happens?

  41. 41
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 38 – I am in favor of austerity for state and local government employees when their pay and benefits far outweigh the private sector wages and benefits for similar occupations. The governments have the power to negotiate public employee benefits and wages. They had the power years ago and did nothing. They also have the power to reduce the amount of employees employed. They also have the power to negotiate private company contracts such as garbage collection and many others. They sell out every year to get the votes and donations from these groups. There is a reason their costs keep rising when the economy has fallen. They are not being fiscally responsible and their solution is always to place this unfair burden upon the backs of the taxpayers. New Jersey has the right ideas and is at least doing something meaningful while being attacked at every step of the way by special interest groups trying to keep their gravy train alive.

  42. 42
    David Losh says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 39

    You’ve made my point by bringing up credit cards. Ten years ago credit cards were a status symbol. Today credit cards are everywhere in the world. The emerging markets have credit cards, with interest. That is your service sector employment.

    At the same time that we have an explosion in consumer debt we have a decrease in hands on production. Technology has also shown us a mathematical formula for crop rotation that maximizes profits based on future projections. It doesn’t mean we feed more people, or that the farmer makes more, it’s simply a projection of profits.

    The time that gets freed up doesn’t mean that time will be spent productively. In fact, in my opinion, more people are doing busy work to pay bills on purchases they have already made. I would also say that the stuff we buy isn’t as good.

    What is all that “free” time doing right now? Is it on unemployment? Is it globally unemployed? Is it selling drugs, or engaged in crime? What’s that free time doing? Maybe that free time is over throwing governments in North Africa, or electing socialist leaders in South America, it could be rioting in Europe.

    What I also hear is that China is in every corner of the global investing in bonds, and currency. What’s that about?

  43. 43
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 40

    China has most certainly increased it’s standard of living since 1949. In the boom and bust cycle that the United States has had, China has had steady growth culminating in the transfer of political power of Hong Kong.

    Even though there are claims China is no longer communist it does have central political control. It still has public health, food distribution, and employment for those who want it.

    Employment is probably the biggest thing China has. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2011-03/29/content_12240929.htm

    If you take the position that the poor people of China can’t advance you would be ignoring the fact the government can move what it wants, where it wants. You can talk about a lack of personal freedom, but that isn’t the debate here. The debates here are about pension plans, government workers being paid too much, Social Security, and the real oddity, Medicare.

    We give up a lot here in the United States so a very, very few can live the life of Riley.

  44. 44
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 43 – It’s all relative. Let’s say that in spite of corruption, the people’s lot in China is improving, relatively speaking. I am led to believe that the central government there wants to balance things so that civil unrest does not get out of hand.

    What happens in the USA when things continue to become unbalanced, i.e., a shrinking middle class, increasing wealth concentration at the top. Personally, I think there is a long way to go in the USA to widespread civil unrest.

  45. 45
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 44

    We are well past civil unrest. It’s really naive to think that a spike in the banking sector of the economy would mollify the masses. You don’t see it because there is a black economy that is far removed from the middle class mentality.

    An observation of a Young Republican for Freedom was that both the extreme left, and extreme right in this country are exactly the same. Which is true. We all hate the very wealthy, we all hate banks, bankers, and financiers. We hate the people who “play” the stock market, or any kind of corporate lackey.

    The middle class has become more of a minority. You would be wrong to hold the middle class out as the norm in our society.

  46. 46

    RE: Pegasus @ 41
    New Jersey has more multi millionaires per square mile than any other state in the country, but you’re cheering on the Governor there who is reducing the health and pension benefits of public employees, a lot of whom are teachers and nurses and make in the neighborhood of 60k per year, because they are ” special interests?”

  47. 47
    Pegasus says:

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 46:

    RE: Pegasus @ 41
    New Jersey has more multi millionaires per square mile than any other state in the country, but you’re cheering on the Governor there who is reducing the health and pension benefits of public employees, a lot of whom are teachers and nurses and make in the neighborhood of 60k per year, because they are ” special interests?”

    Actually those teachers make much more than 60k when you include their benefits for healthcare and pensions. New Jersey teachers are the fourth-highest-paid in the country, behind California’s, New York’s and Connecticut’s, and make nearly $10,000 more than the national average. School administrators are pulling down much bigger paychecks, with 235 making more than the governor’s $175,000 salary. New Jersey gave the teachers a 4 percent increase for the 2009-2010 while most private workers saw their paycheck decline. Their healthcare costs about $22,000 for those with family coverage. Those with 20 years of service get healthcare when they retire. Their pensions are ridiculously high when compared to private industry. The UW has more than doubled tuition in the past 5 years while the economy floundered. Take a look at all those making over $100,000 there. Did they take any meaningful benefit costs reductions or pay cuts in the past 4 years?

  48. 48

    RE: Pegasus @ 47
    First of all, you can’t really count the health benefits or pension as added salary because they can’t be cashed out for added income. Second, do you honesty believe that teachers go into the profession because of the big money?
    Third, do you think you might be a tool of the corporate elite, pitting the lower class against the middle class, divide and conquer? Instead of blaming the corporate elite, the brokerages and the banks, go after public school teachers and those evil special interests, the unions?
    It’s a crappy enough job as it is. If you want quality people to go into teaching, do you think the way to do that is to cut benefits and pensions?
    Also, the cost of living in New Jersey is very high. Home prices in North Jersey are higher than Seattle. Property taxes are astronomical. Utilities are sky high.
    But that’s okay, maybe teachers can set up a tent in the classroom and live there.

  49. 49
    Pegasus says:

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 48:

    RE: Pegasus @ 47
    First of all, you can’t really count the health benefits or pension as added salary because they can’t be cashed out for added income. Second, do you honesty believe that teachers go into the profession because of the big money?
    Third, do you think you might be a tool of the corporate elite, pitting the lower class against the middle class, divide and conquer? Instead of blaming the corporate elite, the brokerages and the banks, go after public school teachers and those evil special interests, the unions?
    It’s a crappy enough job as it is. If you want quality people to go into teaching, do you think the way to do that is to cut benefits and pensions?
    Also, the cost of living in New Jersey is very high. Home prices in North Jersey are higher than Seattle. Property taxes are astronomical. Utilities are sky high.
    But that’s okay, maybe teachers can set up a tent in the classroom and live there.

    Hehehe. Pension and healthcare costs that are paid or a liability of the state certainly can be counted. NJ has over a 110 BILLION dollars in unfunded pension liabilities alone. It is ridiculous and that is why their governor and Democrat controlled legislature are about finished with a bill to start shaving down that liability. The bill requires teachers, police and other public workers to pay part of their health care premiums based on income. Their pension contributions will also rise. Its about time.

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