I have a tangential question to the issue in a recent thread of whether we're poorer than we were fifty years ago, in absolute terms. Is it actually true that we're more anxious and stressed out than we used to be? Not even whether that's measurable, but do we think that's actually a grounded statement? It gets tossed around a whole lot. Some of the supporting evidence seems to be that anxiety gets diagnosed a lot more than it used to be, but that's hard for me to interpret. There's also data and stats about how we have fewer close friends and we're all a bunch of lonely sad sacks, but again, I'm not sure. (I saw a tweet recently that was:
BABY BOOMER: Millenials are disconnected and always on their phones!
ME: [Looks up from texting my mom to tell her that I love her] )
Or maybe the argument goes that stress and anxiety are modern day reactions to hardship, and in other times people reacted by becoming some other expression altogether?
And what's the reference point?
Bumped! Here's a sign-up sheet for the book. Mossy said he'd send in a summary of chapters 1-3 on Wednesday 6/6.
1. THE AGE OF POLITICAL SEGREGATION
2. THE POLITICS OF MIGRATION
3. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE TRIBE
4. CULTURE SHIFT
5. THE BEGINNING OF DIVISION
6. THE ECONOMICS OF THE BIG SORT
10. CHOOSING A SIDE
11. THE BIG SORT CAMPAIGN
12. TO MARRY YOUR ENEMIES
Mossichar writes: It's short, low-density, and sheds light on a lot of things we talk about anyway, but hopefully in a more structured way. NYT review; and a contrary view, which makes good points, but I think is less thorough a refutation than it thinks.
Heebie's take: I'm game to organize, and I'd probably read along since it's the beginning of summer* and I'm feeling like I've got some breathing room.
First thought: Are we sure we're going to respect this book? RIchard Florida is a collaborator. OTOH, ripping something to shreds is awfully fun, and book that has both good and bad makes for good conversation.
Second thought: Mossy's second link questions whether or not there even has been a geographical reassortment, which is interesting but I didn't make it very far through that one.
Other studies have shown that when relatively like-minded people are grouped together, they don't settle around the average point of view of the individuals in the group but rather become more extreme in the direction toward which they're already inclined. This gives clustering a powerful self-reinforcing quality, and helps explain how American counties have hardened into such immovable political clumps. "It doesn't seem to matter if you're a frat boy, a French high school student, a petty criminal or a federal appeals court judge," Bishop writes. "Mixed company moderates; like-minded company polarizes. Heterogeneous communities restrain group excesses; homogeneous communities march toward the extremes."
It seems so obvious when it's laid out like that, but I'd never thought about it so clearly.
*I almost said "summer's eve". Nope, not that.
For the record, I've come to loathe the phrase "Friday WTFuckery" and wish I had something better to call these. It's just the "fuckery" part that I think is dumb and too snorty-professor of me.
Anyway: my vote goes to separating immigrant children from their parents in military detention facilities. How fucking terrifying and traumatizing for these poor children, and how sickening for their poor parents.
This is one my favorite things recently.
This is like a painting from the Renaissance. pic.twitter.com/nhmxYxD0vC— Frank Pallotta (@frankpallotta) April 22, 2018
Lurid Keyaki writes: Especially interesting passage in the middle -- but there's a lot of Houston-specific content to discuss:
In the aftermath of the Great Recession, banks were left with millions of foreclosed homes. In 2012, large investors, including private equity giant Blackstone Group, which now manages $450 billion in assets, began investing in the purchase of such homes, helping kick off the nascent industry.
And in 2013, Blackstone designed a bond backed by single-family home rent. Companies then started to bundle rental homes based on risk, as done with mortgages before the 2008 financial crisis, and sell the securities on Wall Street as a way to borrow money, fueling the purchase of even more homes. Credit ratings agency Morningstar says 13 single-family rental companies have now issued $24.5 billion in such securities.
Between 2005 and 2015, the number of U.S. single-family rental homes ballooned by 7 million, or more than two-thirds, from 10.5 million to 17.5 million.
Institutional investors own a tiny portion of that total -- fewer than 300,000, or 2 percent of the market. But executives see the vast volume as targets for future expansion.
Meanwhile, university researchers say the rent-backed loans are already exhibiting characteristics of mortgage-backed securities, which contributed to the 2008 financial crisis: Companies are taking out multiple loans on the same property. They're trading risky properties as well as more secure ones. They've persuaded the federal government to guarantee some of the loans. And they've transferred the risk of default to taxpayers, stockholders and investors.
Multiple companies have securitized Houston houses, including a few that have since flooded.
Heebie's take: It makes me irate, to be honest.
But flood plain experts, local officials and real estate agents warn that the practice of buying flooded houses has consequences:
It prevents or delays government agencies from buying out homeowners whose houses have repeatedly flooded. Harris County said it has already lost to private parties 88 Harvey-flooded houses it wanted to buy.
It puts renters in harm's way, since Texas law doesn't require landlords to tell tenants their homes have flooded or sit in a flood plain.
Since flood insurance is available at deep discounts through the federal government, investors are often insuring their properties on the back of the American taxpayer.
Investor firms are really the one of the most distilled expressions of capitalism in their lamprey-esque sucking, and I'm reminded yet again of Kotsko's Run It Like a Business.