Weekly Open Thread (2014-01-20)

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Here is your open thread for the week of January 20th, 2014. 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.

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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.

42 comments:

  1. 1

    By The Tim @ 67:

    By pfft @ 2:

    Have fun losing to the 9ers this week! So sick of hearing about the 12th man. We get it, SEA is loud.

    Heh, looks like you’re in for (at least) two more weeks of misery.

    If it’s any consolation, it seems the writers at The Onion agree with you.

    Superbowl hype is miserable no matter what. I really wish they’d not have the two week gap in-between the games, just to lessen the hype. But I guess fans need to have time to get tickets and arrange flights (assuming that’s still possible by the time the teams are known).

  2. 2
    ARDELL says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 1

    Superbowl hype is GREAT! Plus they needed time to have the WA State Lottery for a trip for two to the game.

    http://www.king5.com/news/local/State-Lottery-giving-12th-Man-a-chance-to-win-Super-Bowl-tickets-241147101.html

  3. 3

    RE: ARDELL @ 2 – I didn’t even like the hype back in 2003 when both the teams I liked made it to the Superbowl. There’s only so much that can be said about two teams about to play a football game.

  4. 4
    The Tim says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 3:

    There’s only so much that can be said about two teams about to play a football game.

    http://xkcd.com/904/

  5. 5

    RE: The Tim @ 4

    Mathematics and Science is Missing from our Public Schools

    And its trickled down to our current sports announcers spouting meaningless and time wasting NFL statistics, they haven’t a clue about.

  6. 6

    RE: softwarengineer @ 5 – Is it that they don’t have a clue, or they just have to fill time? Superbowl pre-game hype reminds me of a news anchor covering a “breaking news” event that the station doesn’t cut away from for 2+ hours.

  7. 7

    RE: The Tim @ 4 – I would love to have access to the same system the statisticians have for the networks. Seemingly they can sort through the data to find a combination of just about anything.

  8. 8

    The SB Blogger That Was Having Trouble With His Neighbor’s Toxic Smoke Fireplace

    May really have something to scream about today:

    “……AIR STAGNATION ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST
    FRIDAY…

    * AIR QUALITY…CONDITIONS WILL REMAIN STAGNANT THROUGH FRIDAY
    DUE TO THE PRESENCE OF A STRONG TEMPERATURE INVERSION AND
    LIGHT WINDS.

    * IMPACTS…COLDER AIR TRAPPED NEAR THE SURFACE BY WARMER AIR
    ALOFT WILL ALLOW POLLUTANTS TO INCREASE…MAKING FOR REDUCED
    AIR QUALITY.

    * RESTRICTIONS/BURN BANS…CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL CLEAN AIR
    AGENCY FOR ANY RESTRICTIONS…SUCH AS BURN BANS…IN YOUR
    AREA.

    PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

    AN AIR STAGNATION ADVISORY IS BASED ON WEATHER CONDITIONS. IT IS
    NOT AN AIR POLLUTION ADVISORY OR FORECAST. AIR POLLUTION
    ADVISORIES AND FORECASTS ARE ISSUED BY AIR QUALITY AGENCIES.

    THOSE WITH RESPIRATORY ILLNESSES SHOULD CONSIDER LIMITING OUTDOOR
    ACTIVITIES….”

    http://weather.yahoo.com/united-states/Washington/Kent-2431667/

  9. 9

    I actually had some hope for Seattle’s new socialist council member, believing that she could hardly be worse than historical norms for the council. But now she’s contesting relatively nominal utility increases, wanting them to be paid by “corporations.”

    With $15 an hour wages and higher utilities, Seattle’s economy is going to down the toilet. But hey, at least the unemployed won’t have to pay high utility bills!

    Bellevue will be the big winner if she prevails in her plans. I wouldn’t want to own a Seattle high rise office building, or any commercial space.

  10. 10
    whatsmyname says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 9 – Businesses that can’t afford to pay a living wage also can’t afford fancy digs in downtown high-rises. It is entirely appropriate that they reside in marginal properties- just like their employees.

  11. 11

    RE: whatsmyname @ 10 – There are three situations. Some business will close because they can’t afford it. Some will simply relocate. And some will not move to Seattle that would have otherwise. In each of those scenarios, Seattle loses.

    There’s a saying the new council member needs to learn: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

  12. 12
    redmondjp says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 11:

    RE: whatsmyname @ 10 – There are three situations. Some business will close because they can’t afford it. Some will simply relocate. And some will not move to Seattle that would have otherwise. In each of those scenarios, Seattle loses.

    There’s a saying the new council member needs to learn: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

    Yup. Just look at Detroit for what can happen. Their high city taxes essentially drove a vast majority of the auto manufacturing out of city limits by the 1950s (Ford moved out of the city for the same reason way back in the 1920s). Now Detroit is bankrupt, still has the high taxes, and their suburbs are chugging along just fine.

  13. 13
    pfft says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 1:

    By The Tim @ 67:

    By pfft @ 2:

    Have fun losing to the 9ers this week! So sick of hearing about the 12th man. We get it, SEA is loud.

    Heh, looks like you’re in for (at least) two more weeks of misery.

    If it’s any consolation, it seems the writers at The Onion agree with you.

    Superbowl hype is miserable no matter what. I really wish they’d not have the two week gap in-between the games, just to lessen the hype. But I guess fans need to have time to get tickets and arrange flights (assuming that’s still possible by the time the teams are known).

    not much 12th man so far thanks to Sherman…

  14. 14
    pfft says:

    By softwarengineer @ 5:

    RE: The Tim @ 4

    Mathematics and Science is Missing from our Public Schools

    you’re not being serious are you?

  15. 15

    RE: redmondjp @ 12 – Thinking about it further, her position isn’t very ecologically sound either. If you shield people from paying for what things cost, they use too much of those things. And that’s not good when the things are energy and water.

  16. 16

    By pfft @ 14:

    By softwarengineer @ 5:

    RE: The Tim @ 4

    Mathematics and Science is Missing from our Public Schools

    you’re not being serious are you?

    Clearly things are just fine!

    The state Employment Security Department estimated that the jobless rate fell to 6.6 percent in December, down from 6.8 in November. The last time the numbers were that low was in November 2008, when the state’s unemployment rate was at 6.5 percent.

    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Wash-state-jobless-rate-at-66-percent-lowest-in-5-years-241695931.html

  17. 17
  18. 18
    whatsmyname says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 11:

    RE: whatsmyname @ 10 – There are three situations. Some business will close because they can’t afford it. Some will simply relocate. And some will not move to Seattle that would have otherwise. In each of those scenarios, Seattle loses.

    Though not specific to Seattle, these arguments were all used for the justification of America’s “peculiar institution”. We do not lose for not having it here.

  19. 19
    whatsmyname says:

    By redmondjp @ 12:

    Yup. Just look at Detroit for what can happen. Their high city taxes essentially drove a vast majority of the auto manufacturing out of city limits by the 1950s (Ford moved out of the city for the same reason way back in the 1920s). Now Detroit is bankrupt, still has the high taxes, and their suburbs are chugging along just fine.

    I am not yet acquainted with the unique Detroit tax increases of the 1920’s and 1950’s. (Ford manufacturing work was gone by 1910 anyway.) I thought the key to manufacturing plants was large parcels of cheap land – of which Detroit proper was running short by the 1940’s. And that a number of brands were actually started in Flint, Pontiac, and Lansing. I remain convinced that downtown high-rises were never conducive to this activity. Thank goodness New York doesn’t have high taxes. Think of the desert that place would be.

  20. 20

    Here’s an example of a city ordinance (this one voter approved) reducing economic activity in a city.

    http://www.komonews.com/news/entertainment/Porn-production-moves-to-Vegas-after-condom-law-240846381.html

    And while their goal might have been noble, in the end they did not accomplish anything because the activity simply moved somewhere else. And that was very foreseeable.

  21. 21

    Colorado’s new marijuana law apparently allows people to grow their own. I wonder if “bonus room” will become an even more popular feature? ;-)

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/altered_state/2014/01/colorado_marijuana_legalization_how_it_is_remaking_the_state_s_economy_in.html

  22. 22
    pfft says:

    By redmondjp @ 12:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 11:

    RE: whatsmyname @ 10 – There are three situations. Some business will close because they can’t afford it. Some will simply relocate. And some will not move to Seattle that would have otherwise. In each of those scenarios, Seattle loses.

    There’s a saying the new council member needs to learn: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

    Yup. Just look at Detroit for what can happen. Their high city taxes essentially drove a vast majority of the auto manufacturing out of city limits by the 1950s (Ford moved out of the city for the same reason way back in the 1920s). Now Detroit is bankrupt, still has the high taxes, and their suburbs are chugging along just fine.

    oh yeah you left out a lot. what about white flight? what about how Detroit had a deal with the state to reduce taxes and receive hundreds of millions in state aid that never materialized? what about NAFTA and the strong dollar?

    “Their high city taxes essentially drove a vast majority of the auto manufacturing out of city limits by the 1950s”

    Isn’t it easier to manufacture cars outside of a city? Car plants need a lot of space and didn’t outside of Detroit have lots of it?

  23. 23

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 9

    I Predict No Change

    They’ll just shrink eveyone’s work weeks at $15/hr by 2/3s….wallaa….back to $10/hr now.

  24. 24

    RE: softwarengineer @ 23 – Via automation that is very likely over the long run.

    Go down to Mexico and you’ll see people doing things (e.g. bookkeeping, accounting, billing, etc.) that could better be done by a computer.

  25. 25
    Erik says:

    Azucar or sugar,

    Yes, your definition of a really nice place is different than mine. I have been pretty poor before making $128k on my 2 year remodel. I would like to find another condo like I had. I paid $92.7k and sold for $233k 2 years later. When you are poor, that is a ton of money. It was a pretty awesome place. Kirkland overlooking lake Washington. I am use to having less.

    Let me know if you have a job for me. I would take any work right now. I am taking my last class for grad school. It is a really easy class and I am really bored.

  26. 26
    Azucar says:

    By Erik @ 25:

    Azucar or sugar,

    Yes, your definition of a really nice place is different than mine. I have been pretty poor before making $128k on my 2 year remodel. I would like to find another condo like I had. I paid $92.7k and sold for $233k 2 years later. When you are poor, that is a ton of money. It was a pretty awesome place. Kirkland overlooking lake Washington. I am use to having less.

    Let me know if you have a job for me. I would take any work right now. I am taking my last class for grad school. It is a really easy class and I am really bored.

    So, counting transaction costs you probably have something like $120,000 after the dust settled. As you currently don’t have a job, you’re probably slowly chipping away at that and probably want to keep a little in the bank to live on until the paychecks start flowing… so you’re talking maybe $100,000 to buy a “really nice place” in cash. Considering the latest edition of Tim’s “cheapest homes in the Seattle Area” had nothing under $150,000, it’s sounding like your definition of a “really nice place” differs from more than just mine… it differs from just about anything that is available in Seattle. Bringing condos into the picture opens things up a lot, but… well, good luck to you!

  27. 27
    Erik says:

    RE: Azucar @ 26
    I have 128k after transaction costs ahole. I moved in with my parents, so my rent is only 300 per month. I have no other expenses, so I am actually saving money. I get really good unemployment benefits until I get another job or get hired back on. Good luck to you sir!

  28. 28
    Darwin is Watching says:

    “27. Erik
    RE: Azucar @ 26 –
    I moved in with my parents, so my rent is only 300 per month.”

    Bwa ha ha ha ha. ROFLMAO. BIG Wheeler & Dealer. I bet the chicks like the thousand dollar pickup too.

    Let’s recap: Unemployed. On unemployment. Former Short-Seller. Living with Mommy & Daddy. . . A shown-to-the-curb Boeing-ite.

    You’re a Real Catch. LMAO. I bet your ‘parents’ are real proud.

    Keep up the Good Work. If nothing else, you ARE entertaining.

  29. 29

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 15RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 11 – One more point on Seattle politics/economics.

    If Seattle has a $15 minimum wage that will attract more qualified workers from out of the city, making those currently making minimum wage living in Seattle less employable. So the new council member and new major are hurting their constituents pushing for a higher minimum wage just in the city.

  30. 30
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 28 – Opening up jobs outside of the city. But you are right, Seattle workers should demand less money in order to keep their jobs.

  31. 31
    Blurtman says:

    GM sweeps Car and Truck of the Year with Corvette, Silverado

    http://t.nbcnews.com/business/gm-sweeps-car-truck-year-corvette-silverado-2D11914083

  32. 32
    Azucar says:

    By Erik @ 27:

    RE: Azucar @ 26
    I have 128k after transaction costs ahole. I moved in with my parents, so my rent is only 300 per month. I have no other expenses, so I am actually saving money. I get really good unemployment benefits until I get another job or get hired back on. Good luck to you sir!

    Correct me if I’m wrong… but I think that $128,000 is still less than $150,000.

    And you’d be wise, IMO, to leave at least $25,000 or $30,000 in the bank as an “emergency fund” so some tricky thing like a “negative amortization loan where the payments kept increasing” won’t catch you by surprise again.

  33. 33

    By Blurtman @ 30:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 28 – Opening up jobs outside of the city. But you are right, Seattle workers should demand less money in order to keep their jobs.

    Opening up jobs outside the city for less money, and a longer commute, assuming they’re qualified for the job. Any way you slice it, the constituents of the Seattle politicians will lose.

  34. 34

    I forget who was mentioning this, but I was out in North Bend today, east of the town but down near the river. The pollution from wood fires was unbearable in one neighborhood.

    Advice: Don’t live in a valley out in the woods if there are a lot of houses around.

  35. 35
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 33 – Perhaps competition from the suburbs for the higher wage Seattle jobs will increase, but competition will also come from Seattle residents as well. And maybe the suburban commuters will decide to settle in Seattle. Your argument, that workers should be happy with lower wages or run the risk of losing their jobs, sounds like a cynical argument and cowardly threat.

  36. 36
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 34 – Wood smoke is a proven health hazard. Folks who choose to dump their pollution into the lungs of their neighbors are at best ignorant, or at worst, anti-social.

  37. 37

    RE: Blurtman @ 35 – My point isn’t that people should be happy with low wages. My point is that by trying to help people with an overly simplistic measure the mayor and city council may actually be hurting the people they are trying to help.

    The example I’ve given in the past is back years ago when they made it illegal to retain a security deposit if the tenant stayed less than a year. Landlords switched to leases, so rather than being at risk for a security deposit, the tenant was at risk for up to 12 months of rent. Not really helping.

    You have to remember that politicians are not elected because of their intelligence and education. At least half the US Senate is elected because of their hair. And here we’re only talking about local politicians. They’re the bottom of the barrel.

  38. 38

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 37 – Or if you want a more recent example of politicians trying to help but actually hurting, how about those who are: (1) Unemployed; (2) Working fewer hours; or (3) No longer receiving employer provided health insurance as a direct result of changes made by their employer to adapt to Obamacare.

  39. 39
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 38 – Yes, government is bad. Never has done anything good. Of course, you are correct.

  40. 40

    RE: Blurtman @ 39 – Also not my position.

    But hey, go ahead and think that the minimum wage can be changed to $15 in Seattle, and that will only lead to good things, with no one suffering any adverse impact. That’s completely unrealistic, but if that’s your opinion, fine. And then perhaps propose legislation where all existing currency and bank accounts will be increased in value by 10X. Then everyone will be 10X as rich and we’ll have totally eliminated poverty! That makes about as much sense as the thinking of the Seattle politicians.

  41. 41
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 40 – If there are no incremental gains for all citizens, after a while, the left behind will come after it, and in indiscriminate ways. Turn on the telly – future-less young men are lashing out by committing indiscriminate violence.

    When the brotherhood of comrades is marauding through the Northwest, your imported Italian Italian Rococo wrought iron gate will not protect you from the fury of the avenging berzerkers.

  42. 42

    RE: Blurtman @ 41 – I had been noticing an uptick in crime reported by the TV stations, but don’t know if this is just another “shark attack” moment, like before 9/11 when such attacks were the focus of attention for no statistical reason. If there is such an uptick I would suggest it’s probably because the unemployment figures are not quite a rosy as what is being reported by the government.

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