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Old 16-01-2007, 20:36   #121
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Very Interesting thread here. I'm first generation born in the US on one side and better than fourth on the other side. Times are definitley not as easy to get ahead as they were in the 40's when grandma moved here from El Salvador as a single mother or the 50's, 60's and so on. But when I listened to tales from my grandmother she got ahead by being a thought ahead of the next guy. She rented out a house for $200 a month and then rented out the rooms for $250 a month. She then put the money away to buy a house which she did as a non-english speaking single mom. A feat in the 1950's. She traded and worked and saved till she finally ended up owning a nice duplex. Her grandkids traded that building for a multi unit apartment complex.

It is still possible to get ahead in this world although you might not be able to do it where you want to. Don't forget that 50 years ago silicone valley was mostly agricultural land. Anybody who had bought a twenty acre farm there might be a very wealthy man. Or they might be poor. Depending on foresight, timing, and luck.

At any time there is a deal to be found. Questions are: 1) Can you see the deal 2) Do you have the resources to make that deal work 3) Can you compromise, beg, and be flexible enough to see that deal all the way thru. 4) Are you lucky?

Timming and luck are critical to whether you get ahead or not.

First house I ever bought was in Montana. It was 1995 and I bought it for $65k. With $10k down it was cheaper than rent but the reason I bought it was b/c it was zoned R-4. I converted it into a 4 plex refinanced it and was able to pull out enough money to buy a run down duplex that I converted into a nice triplex. All this with my English Major, a drafting class in High school, and summers spent working as a carpenter. I read the books on the different trades so I could do my own electrical and plumbing and kept on adding to my real estate portfolio.

Ok so how would I get ahead now. US tax law being what it is I would get together with four tradesman and buy a $100k lot in a nice neighborhood. From there we would build a house with no labor costs and calling in every deal I could find to build the house as cheap as possible. From there I would sell the house after two years and not pay any taxes on my gain. I would build the house on weekends and after work keeping my regular job. From there I would take what profits I made on that house and get together with less people and do the same thing again and again and again. on a half million dollar house contractors were making a profit of $100k Take out labor and subcontractor profit and there is probably another $100k there. So a group of five would come out of the deal with $40k profit + their original investment of $20k. each person ends with $60k tax free. From there you take the best of the tradesman and do it again with two or three people. This time mabe you build a duplex. Anyway that is the general idea. Can it work. Yes. Can it be done anywhere at anytime. No. Is it a guaranteed? No. Bad Luck can ruin the whole thing. The market can dump. Your friends can flake.
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Old 22-01-2007, 09:39   #122
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And just how did the immigrants do it??
I know how: They piled 3 or 4 generations of their family into a small house, sharing rooms, etc... I live among them now and my wife works with them. This is how they have done it. That, and some we know were prostitutes to pay the mortgage for their families. No lie.
Urban mythology at its best (or worst).

Sorry, but the basic premise that you're 'owed a home' is rubbish. You're owed an equal opportunity to get out there and succeed or fail. Europeans live well and a huge percentage of them rent (in Germany & France about 50%). And to an earlier poster who suggested that Europeans are somehow economically disadvantaged: You need to get out more mate - or in lieu of that, spend a bit of time reading the Economist.

The average home size has almost doubled in my lifetime - in the 60's the average middle class house had one (maybe woo, woo) two bathrooms, no AC and no garage. Now the benchmark 'starter home' would have been considered the CEO's home in the 60's. Why is that so?

The problem is simply that expectations have inflated faster than salaries (and credit). Like everything else, Madison Avenue has infused everyone with affluenza. And Wall Street have provided the credit to satiate that appetite. And multinational corporations have built factories in China to provide the goods.

Go out today and get the big house, the new car, the tech toys, the flash holidays! Houses aren't homes, they're speculative vehicles!!

People really can't afford it so they simply manage the monthly payments which makes them appear to be living the life of the affluent. But they have the balance sheets of the homeless.

The fact of the matter is that as a society North Americans just aren't as productive and frugal as we like to think we are. And we're now competing with a lot of people who are educated, motivated and bloody hungry.

And back to the original 'thought' - my family were immigrants and I don't think my mom walked the streets to pay the mortgage.

Half-baked preconceptions aren't just brain-dead, they're the intellectual equivalent of the drunken driver - that is, they wreak havoc and it all ends with some half-wit mumbling incoherent apologies.
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Old 22-01-2007, 11:09   #123
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You're owed an equal opportunity to get out there and succeed or fail
.
Not even that. No one is owed anything, except maybe the start in life that your parents may or maynot be able to give you. It's upto that individual to make what they can of it.
However, that is an excellent post Muskoka.
Quote:
And we're now competing with a lot of people who are educated, motivated and bloody hungry.
I especially like this line.
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Old 22-01-2007, 12:20   #124
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Originally Posted by muskoka
Urban mythology at its best (or worst).

And back to the original 'thought' - my family were immigrants and I don't think my mom walked the streets to pay the mortgage.

Half-baked preconceptions aren't just brain-dead, they're the intellectual equivalent of the drunken driver - that is, they wreak havoc and it all ends with some half-wit mumbling incoherent apologies.
Your family may not have had to resort to prostitution and loading people into the house, but I personally know 2 hispanic and 1 black family that did. No urban legends here. Just the price of real estate in the NY area vs incomes. My posts had facts pasted and linked in them. I see no facts in your post. Only opinion.
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Old 22-01-2007, 23:20   #125
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Originally Posted by ssullivan
Your family may not have had to resort to prostitution and loading people into the house, but I personally know 2 hispanic and 1 black family that did. No urban legends here. Just the price of real estate in the NY area vs incomes. My posts had facts pasted and linked in them. I see no facts in your post. Only opinion.
Firstly, an anedote by yourself isn't a 'fact'. Secondly, 3 of your 'factual' instances aren't a statistic and they don't qualify you to make such sweeping generalizations about any group.

And a very nice touch indeed to embellish your intitially offensive comment with some racial overtones.
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Old 23-01-2007, 00:58   #126
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Originally Posted by muskoka

And a very nice touch indeed to embellish your initially offensive comment with some racial overtones.
Muskoka, I didn't read it that way. I understand your point, but the overwhelming fact, regardless of background, is that the opportunities are not what they were 30 years ago. Or even 20 years, in the US. There is a definite standard of living that we aspire to. Those that are willing to forgo that standard of living for a generation or two, likely have a better chance of reaching the American dream. Those that come from developing cultures will likely find it more acceptable to live without the comforts that we, as Americans, in a developed industrialized society, feel is an accepted norm. Put a racial spin on it if you want, but the reality of the situation is, people who have immigrated here from Mexico, or Haiti, are likely going to find it much more acceptable to live in a small apartment with two or three generations of extended family sharing a couple of rooms, in the hopes that their grandchildren will have a better life. Those of us who were raised in middle class American homes, find it much less reasonable to move from those middle class upbringings to hovels, and poverty level standards of living. There are a number of opportunities that are not provided to the average American due to prejudices by those communities. The popular belief that the average American does not want to bus dishes, or pick lettuce is based on surface observations. Having had to enter harvesting operations during the process of my business, at several different levels, I have seen the prejudice. I have been run off, or at least made to feel that I was unwelcome, and been told it was because I did not speak Spanish. Imagine being an 18 year old kid, with no skills, trying to work in a field with a hundred immigrant workers. How long do you think you would last?
As for the size of new homes, you are correct. They have increased. But often, these homes are occupied by extended families just to make the mortgage. The extra space is often to accommodate these extra Tennant's.
It seems that the only way Americans can get close to the dream is to give up on having the standard of living our parents did at the same stages of our life. It is to settle for lower quality products, (like the infamous meat grinder) sharing our homes with extended family, having both parents working, and letting others raise our children, and working until we die at our desks. Unfortunately, you supposition that ALL the homes have become more grand, does not hold up. A 1200 Square foot 2 bedroom 2 bath home in San Jose will go for $350000. This is a very humble sized home for a family, and not in a particularly good neighborhood. Within an hour commute of that home, blue collar salaries, or even lower level white collar salaries are below $50000 per year. 20 years ago, the salaries were $25000 per year, but those same homes for $150000. Real estate prices have clearly inflated beyond local incomes. Same house, higher percentage of income. At the same time, those homes and the neighborhoods they are in, have deteriorated, so they are actually less desirable than they were 20 years ago. If you go back further, I think you will see this trend of real estate inflating faster than salaries increasing has been a constant trend since the 70's. I have not spent any time in Europe, I can not comment on their standard of living. I can say that no society should regress in it's standard of living the way the US is currently. Is it reasonable that the future health and welfare of 300 milloin people is decided by less than 1% of those people who do not have to worry about the issues they are regulating, and are in control of 90% of the wealth of the country?
Our Governor met recently with a group of Silicon Valley's top CEO's to discuss a bill that would mandate healthcare for workers. Why didn't he meet with the workers? Or, the small business owners, who would be adversely effected by the additional 4% they would have to pay the state if they could not provide health insurance? Seems to me that the reason is, their opinion doesn't count.
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Old 23-01-2007, 02:14   #127
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Muskoka, I think your redress to Sean is a little out of line. This entire subject is one that could easily get out of hand and is only being allowed to continue because of the maturity being shown here. Please don't allow your opinions to become flames.

Interestingly, statistical figures were just released yesterday stating that NZ and Australia (equal placing) are the two most expensive countries in the world to own your own home in.
Sean, I just don't see that prostitution should ever become something that someone HAS to do to pay a mortgage or rent. There is always another way. Selling your body or commiting crime should never have to be an excuse. (OK stealing some food because you or your family maybe starving is not on my list of crime.
Let me suggest this in another way. If things were real tough for you and your wife, would she ever consider lowering herself to the level of prostitution? Would you allow her?? I think not. Why? because you just aren't that sort of people and there would always be another way for you. To sell your body means you have to think of your life on a very different level.
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Old 23-01-2007, 04:26   #128
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Let me suggest this in another way. If things were real tough for you and your wife, would she ever consider lowering herself to the level of prostitution? Would you allow her?? I think not. Why? because you just aren't that sort of people and there would always be another way for you.
But could be quite a handy way to finance a long trip .

On a more serious note, I think blokes (more than women) tend to underestimate the willingness of many woman to "sell themselves using sex" - whether this be cash up front or in deferred payment / benefits terms. IMO they are as capable and as willing to seperate sexual acts from any "meaning" as fellas are (albeit for differing reasons / different aims).
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Old 23-01-2007, 04:46   #129
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Cool

Kai Nui,

No question housing is currently at unaffordable levels. And anyone aspiring to their first home during the past few years finds it an almost impossible task to get on that first rung of the ladder.

But...

Housing moves in cycles and the current situation won't persist. Indeed, it's unravelling as we speak (type). Robert Shiller did a remarkable study of home prices back to 1890 and established that the average house price only beat inflatation by 0.4% for the first hundred years. Thats an inflation adjusted 50% gain. And, I'd argue that it reflects the fact that houses got larger and more luxurious. Your average 1900 home was uninsulated, probably had 1 bathroom, maybe had electricity and was typically a row house. So, a lot of that gain was due to getting more for more money.

The last decade of course threw all that to the wind. And you're dead right that house price inflation has vastly outstripped wages. But, the last 25 years have produced 3 booms (1980, 1989 & this one) so I see no reason why this cycle won't end in bringing prices back into affordability. My view is that it isn't systematic, it's merely the inevitable byproduct of capitalism to create periods of excess and periods of scarcity. Right now we're in excess mode.

It also isn't demographic or supply/demand. The current housing stock of the US is about 80 million which implies the average household is about 3.75 persons.

This situation we find ourselves in is global - every western economy is currently experiencing a real estate bubble (Germany excluded), and even China has astonishing issues of house price inflation. In Hong Kong prices shot up astronomically and peaked in 1997 only to slide 65% by 2003. At which time, I and virtually all of my friends bought. The same thing will happen in western markets though in a different fashion - prices may not collapse but inflation or rising salaries will make housing more affordable.

Ironically, properties on the Herrenstrasse in Amsterdam (the epicentre of the Tulip Bubble), exhibit similar long-term gains to Shillers study. And those records go back some 300 years.

Housing is a commodity and will never hold price levels which make it unaffordable to the average wage earner.

Unless it's different this time....

And as to the top 10% controlling 70% of the economy ... that is a big issue. Politicians skirting the electorate to talk directly to CEO's are old fashioned pork-barrel politics - but as long as political campaigns require tens of millions of dollars this power structure will remain intact. I think the electorate is conveniently distracted by divisive politics (you know, stem-cell research, creationism, guns, gay marriage) and Survivor whilst the kleptocrats merrily walk off with the loot.

But all things change, and I personally think my generation is better off than my parents generation. I also think that the more these issues become public discourse, the more things will improve.

Cheers
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Old 23-01-2007, 04:54   #130
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Prostitutes do NOT “use” sex - they ARE "USED and ABUSED” victims

David, and many others*, seem to view prostitution as a vocational choice - that prostitution is “work”. Unfortunately, prostitution is institutionalized and mainstreamed when it is considered to be unpleasant but legitimate "sex work."

* Even organizations such as the World Health Organization and Amnesty International USA have made the policy error of defining prostitution as a job rather than as human rights abuse.

Prostitution is a last-ditch means of economic survival or "paid rape", and has much in common with other kinds of violence against women. What rape is to the community, prostitution is to the individual. It is a statistical error to assume that most women in prostitution have consented.
Instead of the question,
"Did she voluntarily consent to prostitution?"

the more relevant question would be,
"Did she have real alternatives to prostitution for survival?"


The conditions that make genuine consent possible are absent from prostitution (ie: physical safety, equal power with customers, and real alternatives).

The incidence of homelessness (75%) among prostitutes, and their desire to get out of prostitution (89%) reflect their lack of options for escape. Additionally, there is a lack of awareness regarding the systematic methods of brainwashing, indoctrination, and physical control that are used against women in prostitution.

The average age of entry into prostitution is 13 or 14 years. Most of these 13 or 14 year old girls were recruited or coerced into prostitution. Others were "traditional wives" without job skills who escaped from or were abandoned by abusive husbands and went into prostitution to support themselves and their children.

The Council for Prostitution Alternatives, Portland, Oregon Annual Report in 1991 stated that: 85% of prostitute reported history of sexual abuse in childhood; 70% reported incest.

Do these sound like people who are "using" sex, for their own purposes?

David reminds me what the CF is about, so please accept my apologies for the rant.
As David correctly intuits, the subject struck a nerve.

Respectfully,
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Old 23-01-2007, 05:08   #131
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Gord,

I would not have chosen to start this subject and I did hesitate in posting my response (and I did leave a few things out), but I tend to err on the side of not letting some things remaining unchallenged..........lest folk be led to think that everyone agrees with.

Having said that, from your post I can see that I have hit a nerve - and as this is a board meant to be boaty, (not about booty ), I think I shall refrain from adding anything apart from saying that I do disagree more than "slightly" .........albeit I have never been to Oregon

Cheers

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Old 23-01-2007, 05:22   #132
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David:
Point taken and acknowledged.
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Old 23-01-2007, 06:43   #133
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay
Prostitutes do NOT “use” sex - they ARE "USED and ABUSED” victims

David, and many others*, seem to view prostitution as a vocational choice - that prostitution is “work”. Unfortunately, prostitution is institutionalized and mainstreamed when it is considered to be unpleasant but legitimate "sex work."

* Even organizations such as the World Health Organization and Amnesty International USA have made the policy error of defining prostitution as a job rather than as human rights abuse.

Prostitution is a last-ditch means of economic survival or "paid rape", and has much in common with other kinds of violence against women. What rape is to the community, prostitution is to the individual. It is a statistical error to assume that most women in prostitution have consented.
Instead of the question,
"Did she voluntarily consent to prostitution?"

the more relevant question would be,
"Did she have real alternatives to prostitution for survival?"


The conditions that make genuine consent possible are absent from prostitution (ie: physical safety, equal power with customers, and real alternatives).

The incidence of homelessness (75%) among prostitutes, and their desire to get out of prostitution (89%) reflect their lack of options for escape. Additionally, there is a lack of awareness regarding the systematic methods of brainwashing, indoctrination, and physical control that are used against women in prostitution.

The average age of entry into prostitution is 13 or 14 years. Most of these 13 or 14 year old girls were recruited or coerced into prostitution. Others were "traditional wives" without job skills who escaped from or were abandoned by abusive husbands and went into prostitution to support themselves and their children.

The Council for Prostitution Alternatives, Portland, Oregon Annual Report in 1991 stated that: 85% of prostitute reported history of sexual abuse in childhood; 70% reported incest.

Do these sound like people who are "using" sex, for their own purposes?

David reminds me what the CF is about, so please accept my apologies for the rant.
As David correctly intuits, the subject struck a nerve.

Respectfully,

Gord,

What happened to a womans right to be pro-choice when it comes to issues dealing with her body? Why is it the right of the government or you and I to tell her how and when to have sex. All sex is prostitution according to folks like Gloria Allred. Many women mary men for their money and then have sex with them. Is this not prostitution? Was it any different for Anna Nicole Smith to walk away with almost a billion dollars for her prostitution? You don't really beleive she married that 80 year old be cause she loved him do you? There are plenty of high priced hookers in all cities making in the top 2% are you saying these woman are also to stupid to make up their own minds about what they do or don't do with their bodies.

What is the difference between any female under 18 who has sex, gets pregnant, and then gets an abortion only to regret it later & a prostitute by your definition? The average age for sex in this country is less than the ages for prostitution so I guess all underage sex should be made illegal seeing as it, like pot, can lead to more serious ( ie: drugs) problems such as prostitution. I guess underage or any uneducated women should also be banned from having an abortion because they too are to stupid to make that decision?

I went to college with a girl who came from a very white collar family yet still decided to sell herself to make some "side money" during college. She is not emotionally scarred and is infact a self described "nympho" so to her getting paid for sex was a bonus. She was a fun girl and only a selct few of us knew why she was always so loaded with cash. She picked her clients carefully, used protection & usually her clients were in the banking field. They all had big money and spread the good word about her so she did not have to advertise. Word of mouth was her best marketing. She used to charge over 2k for one night and she did about two "jobs" a week un-taxed. The issue I had with her was that she was not paying her fair share and walking away with the potential of 208k per year. Her attitude was make prostitution leagal and I'll be glad to pay my taxes. We used to joke about it a lot. She used to make a trip to Boston two nights a week and come back to campus with tons of cash as no-one paid by check. In 1989 she was driving a new BMW while in college! In her second semester of her junior year she bought an appartmnet building with pizza joint on the foirst floor. She then rented units to other students and laundered some of her earnings throught the Pizza joint so she could at least invest some of her earnings legally in the stock market. She is now a successfull lawyer making even more than she did turning tricks but who knows she may still have a side business because I know she is still single by choice..

The laws can't be hypocritical and they in fact are. Pro-choice is just that pro choice and it's a woman's right to decide what she wants to do with her body regardless of stupidity or education level. We can't legislate stupidity, even though folks like Hillary would like to, so for now all women must be treated equally regardless of their victim or socio-economic status. The same types of women who have numerous abortions are the same types of women who lead lives of prostitution so we should either allow prostitution and abortions or ban both the hypocrisy kills me. It's ok for a woman to kill an inocent human, even into the third trimester, but not ok for her to have sex and charge cash for it but it is ok to marry a guy for his money????

I happen to be pro-choice and beleive a woman, not the government, should decide how, when, where why and what to do with her own body...
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Old 23-01-2007, 10:00   #134
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Well, to get things back to basics. I think this thread was originally about meat grinders and quality products. With a wee nod to sailing.

Speaking of which, ironically, my wife pulled something out of the cupboard this evening and said 'Let's get rid of this'. IT being a meat grinder. European provenence, vintage unknown. But very sturdy.

Serendipity at work. Sean, send me a PM and it's yours mate.

Cheers.
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Old 23-01-2007, 10:10   #135
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That's what I love about this place. Even a heated discussion about politics and economics can have a productive end
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