Rents In San Francisco Crashing

Who wants to live in a city full of feces? Though the media are continuing to blame the pandemic. San Francisco apartment rents plunge as much as 31%, the biggest drop in the US, while parts of Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas see soaring demand.

NOTE: Counting down to the end on WordPress. Please see this post and future posts at my new home: 357 Magnum over on Blogspot. And you should update any links. (Posts are in both places right now, but that is a small, but not meaningless bit of work, so it will go on for a VERY short time.)

  • New data released on Tuesday shows apartment rental trends across the US
  • San Francisco saw the biggest drop, with studio rents down 31% from last year
  • Detroit, New York, and Seattle were also among the cities dropping fastest
  • Meanwhile, parts of Florida, Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas saw rents rise

Of course it all has to do with the pandemic. The epidemic of homelessness, and the feces covering the streets are not an issue at all. At least not to the media.

Meanwhile, rents are rising nearly as quickly, on a percentage basis, in parts of Oklahoma, Florida, Texas and Arizona, indicating a migration trend toward areas with lower density and lower taxes.

Now they don’t say what the ramp up was, but generally speaking, a 31% crash in rents is probably going to cause some landlords to default on loans. Which won’t be great for Real Estate values.

Fact Checking Biden’s Tax Plan

But then lying is what politicians do. Fact Check: Yes, Biden’s Plan Would ‘Increase Taxes on Average for All Income Groups

Biden and the Dems keep saying that only people making more than $400K would see a tax increase.

According to an analysis from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, Biden’s $3.2 trillion tax increase package would reduce incomes, reduce GDP growth, and kill jobs:

Click thru. It’s not long, and there isn’t even much math.

Venezuela Is Out of Gas

And all other petroleum products. Venezuela, Once an Oil Giant, Reaches the End of an Era – The New York Times

It is a textbook case of socialism leading to decay. Well, and the sanctions over human-rights abuses and election fraud haven’t helped.

For the first time in a century, there are no rigs searching for oil in Venezuela.

Wells that once tapped the world’s largest crude reserves are abandoned or left to flare toxic gases that cast an orange glow over depressed oil towns.

Refineries that once processed oil for export are rusting hulks, leaking crude that blackens shorelines and coats the water in an oily sheen.

Because the bad capitalists, and all the technicians they hired to keep stuff repaired, fled that socialist hellhole years ago.

And of course, decaying infrastructure leads to ecological problems.

No oil means no money, and not just to maintain the infrastructure.

The country now has the highest poverty rate in Latin America, overtaking Haiti this year, according to a recent study by Venezuela’s three leading universities.

Hat tip to Babalú Blog, who notes.

Venezuela is not just out of oil. It has also destroyed a once prosperous and well educated middle class. Many from that middle class now live in the U.S. and support President Trump because they understand socialism in a way that few U.S. college students do.

New York City Doubles Down on Socialism

Even the Boston Herald seems to think New York City’s opposition to free enterprise is a disaster. New York the example America should not follow

Most of you will remember the fight against Amazon’s east coast HQ locating in Long Island City. That isn’t the only major development project killed in New York.

The article starts out with a litany of New York’s financial woes. Unemployment rate of 16%. Lack of tax revenue.

Yet, even in the midst of a “financial abyss,” the animosity of New York’s liberal elite remains undeterred in its hostility toward free enterprise and entrepreneurship, the pillars of job creation and economic recovery.

In a latest example, commercial development firms have pulled out of a proposed project, Industry City, that was estimated to bring 20,000 jobs and $100 million in tax revenue to New York City. After several years of fighting opposition to get approval for rezoning that would have made the project possible, they threw in the towel.

They don’t want private enterprise to make things better. They want the Green New Deal. And a bailout from Washington.

New York should be a poster child for the nation about what not to do.

Anyone who cares about the poor, who cares about our nation’s recovery and growth, should fight to prevent the stifling of our system of free enterprise by confused, self-important political ideologues of the left.

How far around the bend do you need to be to lose the Boston Herald?

New York Wants Your Money to Keep Transit Unions Happy

We – the taxpayers supporting the federal government – already gave them $4 billion (with a “B”) in May. The nation’s biggest public transit system is facing ruin. Will Congress save it?

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is in deep yogurt, and the powers-that-be don’t want to face reality. They are burning through $200 million every week, because no one is going anywhere in NYC. Or to NYC.

The agency, controlled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, could cut service to the bone and hike fares dramatically, but faces the prospect of turning away priced-out riders who feel they can’t depend on the system. It could try to slash labor costs — going after two-thirds of its operating budget — but that would open up a political battle with powerful unions that Cuomo and fellow Democrats rely on in election years.

So the Blue state of New York wants 10 BILLION dollars, from you and me, to keep the Unions happy, so that they will keep electing Deep Blue politicians. Yeah that makes perfect sense. If you’re a Socialist.

Meanwhile, In the Socialist Paradise of Venezuela…

Tyranny, in the name of Socialism, is running amok in that country. Venezuela: Maduro Regime Killed 250 people Per Month in 2020

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, updated her report on Venezuela in which she announced that the regime of Nicolás Maduro murdered more than 2000 people between January and August 2020.

Don’t expect the US media to highlight this story, since they all love socialism, and until a few years ago, they all loved Venezuela. (Hat tip to Wombat-socho.)

Chicago Corruption

JusticeExplained in passing. Da Tech Guy – Update on the continuing Illinois Exodus

Since 1973 over thirty members of Chicago City Council have been sentenced to prison. At one time he was the city’s most powerful alderman, but now Ed Burke is under indictment for allegedly shaking down a fast food franchisee. Do you want to bring your business to Chicago? You may have to endure having your pockets picked by a pol. Or by several of them.

Where do I sign up?

Burke has been an alderman since 1969. Chicago needs term limits. And so does Illinois. Boss Michael Madigan, who is from the same part of the city as Burke, has been speaker of the state House since 1983 except for two years in the 1990s when the Republicans had a majority in the lower chamber. Madigan is also a Chicago ward committeeman. He’s been chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party since 1997. Illinois’ most powerful Dem is also currently under investigation as part of an evolving federal corruption probe that has already ended the careers of several Chicago and suburban politicians.

When I first ran across Da Tech Guy, the “Da” didn’t make sense. But Dese guys, does guys, and dem guys are all from Chicago. Like Da Bulls, or Da Mayor.

It wasn’t so very long ago that I loved that city, and spent most weekends, and not a few weeknights, at clubs in the city. Kaboom was legendary. And a couple of Saturdays every month, I would ride a train into the loop, have breakfast at my favorite bagel place (does anyone hand-roll bagels anymore?) and spend the morning wandering around the Art Institute. Looking at Man Ray’s chess set or Chagall’s Windows, or Picasso’s early period.

Now, you couldn’t pay me to go into the city.

There is a lot more at the Da Tech Guy’s post. Taxes. Pensions. Downstate corruption. Downstate problems. It’s worth a look if you want to see where Democratic policies take a city in a few decades.

Chicago Needs 2 Billion Dollars. Wants Federal Handout

Mayor Lightfoot is expecting the Democrats in Washington to hand it over. Estimated city shortfall hits combined $2 billion for this year and next.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot calls her 2021 spending plan a “pandemic” budget that can be balanced only with replacement revenues from Washington, concessions from city unions and new revenues.

Even though they are hemorrhaging funds, she hasn’t cut the work week, reduced payroll, or done anything to proactively manage the situation.

Because she expects all of you to pay for the past 2 or 3 decades of Chicago’s mismanagement.

Here is what Meep had to say about Chicago’s fiscal position at the end of June. Polities Under Fiscal Pressure: Chicago and Cook County

And they’ve been asking for a bailout since April, at least. Beating Up on Illinois Dems’ Brazen Bailout Request: YOU GET BANKRUPTCY

It isn’t a surprise. Chicago, and other places, have been UNDER-FUNDING their pension obligations for decades. Now that cops, and firefighters, and teachers are retiring, they don’t have the money to pay the pensions that were promised. How exactly is that my fault? My state has issues of its own. The states in the best shape are places like Wyoming and Alaska. You can’t seriously expect them to bailout New York, new Jersey, and Illinois. But that is pretty much what Democratic mayors want.

In Other Words, They Haven’t Got a Clue

I so wanted to add the F-word to the title, but this is family show blog. With new monetary policy approach, Fed lays Phillips curve to rest.

This probably also means that whatever they do next will also be a guess, but let’s get to that Phillips Curve.

Federal Reserve policymakers watched as the U.S. unemployment rate fell lower and lower and waited for the jump in inflation typically associated with such a tight labor market.

The expectations were based on a rule that has shaped decades of monetary policy decisions: the Phillips curve, or the concept that inflation tends to rise when the unemployment rate falls, and vice versa.

But the inflation that Fed officials anticipated never arrived, and in a monumental speech delivered on Thursday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell announced that the U.S. central bank’s policymakers are done waiting.

So it turns out that the “rule” of the relationship between inflation and low unemployment isn’t really a rule. See the video below.

I could include a definition of the Phillips Curve and talk about how the history of the Pound Sterling from 1861–1957 describes a currency very different from the fiat currency known as the US dollar in the 21st Century. I could talk about the lack of complexity in the model itself, but you can find all of that if you’re interested. I’m not an economist, and that is not the point of this post.

One of the rules that economists have relied on for a long time, is shown to be wrong. So. What does that say about the entire discipline? What else is wrong? And if the “rules” that they relying upon are just wrong, why are they in charge of the money? What flavor of “The Divine Right of Kings” makes them the right group of people to manage the money supply. Sounds like a lot of guesswork with some mathematical justification applied as a veneer.

The video is about when rules, are not really rules.

California’s Electric Grid Is On the Brink

What happens when you bet heavily on unreliable power sources? California’s Electric Grid Is Near Collapse – California Globe

But California politicians and appointed agency officials, under pressure from radical environmental organizations and lobbyists, decided to ignore the energy producing natural resources, and instead move to an all-electric grid, and the only approved “renewable energy:” solar and wind energy.

A meteorologist friend, Anthony Watts, said Tuesday, “we are on the cusp of a massive failure of the electricity grid in California.”

Click thru for the ugly truth. Renewable energy doesn’t work the way it is advertised.

Democrats Target Your 401(k) Retirement Plan

Joe Biden Promises To End Traditional 401(k)-Style Retirement Savings Tax Benefits. What’s That Mean?

The issues are complicated, Biden’s policy statements are vague on a few points and math is hard. But it is clear the Democrats are going after one of the vehicles people use to save for retirement, because if you have savings, or investments, then you are not as easy to control by the bureaucracy than people who are dependent on Social Security, for example.

It’s a long article, that talks around things like net present value of a stream of payments, because that math is hard. Though I’m pretty sure you can get a spreadsheet to calculate it for you.

But it seems that the Democrats are not happy that people are saving for retirement, even though as far as I’m concerned, they are not saving enough.

The Power Grid is Failing in California

Facepalm X 2Green energy. Not so green, and there is a distinct lack of energy. California’s Green Blackouts.

Millions of Californians have lost power in recent days amid a brutal heat wave, and state regulators warn of more outages in the days and perhaps years to come. Welcome to California’s green new normal, a harbinger of a fossil-free world.

And it is only going to get worse. That is the position of the Public Utilities Commission, not just my take.

California’s Independent System Operator (Caiso) has been warning for years that the state’s increasing dependence on intermittent renewables, especially solar, is making it harder to ensure reliable power. Renewables currently make up about 36% of California’s electric generation, and Democrats have set a 60% mandate for 2030 and 100% for 2045.

Who knew that cloud cover could be a problem for solar power, or that weak winds could impact wind energy? Anyone with 2 brain cells to rub together.

Hat tip to Moonbattery.

When Government Attempts to Command the Economy

Usually the attempts to do that end in corruption scandals, or at best, achieve nothing. More ‘Buffalo Billion’ woes as audit finds Cuomo boondoggle a waste of tax money.

So Cuomo thought it would be a good idea to build “technology centers” after the style of Silicon Valley in California, or Boston’s Highway 128. Sounds good. Invest some money near NY universities, and generate tax revenue and jobs. It doesn’t seem to have worked out. But then some of Cuomo’s cronies were getting rich.

The “Buffalo Billion” projects were initially overseen by a longtime Cuomo aide, Alain Kaloyeros, through an arm of the State University of New York system that operated with little oversight.

Kaloyeros was convicted and sentenced to 3 1/2 years for his role in a bid-rigging scheme involving the economic development effort — which reached Cuomo’s innermost circle.

That was one of a few “development efforts.” Let’s let some of the Governor’s inner circle control millions of taxpayer money. What could go wrong?

Now they have created some jobs, just no where near what was promised.

An analysis of the project’s costs and benefits reviewed by DiNapoli revealed that the state would only net 54 cents in “economic benefit” for every dollar spent — a mere fraction of the usual $30 return that each dollar typically yields.

If you lose 46 cents on every dollar you spend, you won’t recoup the investment in volume.

And risk assessment was not done. Risks? What are those? Oh, and it is ALL COVID-19’s fault.

Abandoned Railway Stations

Some beautiful buildings were built for rail travel. A lot of them, all over the world, have been abandoned. Fascinating stories behind the world’s abandoned train stations.

Some places you can almost understand, like Gary Indiana. People no longer take the train to Chicago, or not as many do. (I don’t remember if the commuter lines run that far or not.) But the space in California surprised me. Though it being where it is, it has been used for a movie set from time to time.

The number of stations abandoned in Europe, even in cities like Paris, was surprising, but the Swanbourne Station, in Buckinghamshire, England was what really surprised me, because not only is the station abandoned, but it is clear that the railroad itself is no longer in use. I thought the Europeans were all about traveling by rail.

Anyway, the photos are beautiful, and the image of rail travel 100 years, or more, ago is fascinating.

“It is such a pillage of the taxpayers.”

California’s high-speed rail to nowhere is still a mess. ‘Horrible sequence of mistakes’: How bullet train contractors botched a bridge project.

So they needed to build a bridge with a span of 636 feet to allow car/truck traffic to cross the high-speed rail right-of-way, and part of the existing freight tracks. This is not the longest bridge ever built, but before it was even completed, it started to fall down.

High-strength steel strands supporting the 636-foot-long structure began to snap on Oct. 22, one after another. Ultimately, 23 of the strands, which are comprised of seven individual wires each, broke unexpectedly, according to rail authority documents and officials. The order to stop work was issued Nov. 4.

A forensic engineering analysis, obtained by The Times, found that the strands corroded from rainwater that had leaked into the internal structure of the bridge and then broke.

The bureaucracy on the rail project is amazing, even by 21st Century government standards. And everyone is pointing the finger at everyone. And in the meantime people are stuck. Construction, which was supposed to take a year, is now up to 4. Detours around the site are long.

“The layers on this project are onerous,” said William Ibbs, a UC Berkeley civil engineering professor who has consulted on high-speed-rail projects around the world. “The levels of administration and review are very unusual. No one company is going to be wholly to blame if something goes wrong, because they can spread the blame around.”

Post tensioned concrete for structures are not new. They are used to build most parking garages today, a lot of highway bridges. This is just stupid. And the fact that they have arranged things so that no one will be held accountable is criminal.

And to review, the 20-billion-dollar high-speed rail, if it is ever complete, will connect Merced to Bakersfield. Merced is more than 100 miles from Oakland and the Bay Area, and Bakersfield is more than 100 miles from Los Angeles. Given that high-speed-rail is NOT freight, this won’t be an auto-train, so you will need some way to get from Bakersfield to LA, or from Merced to the Bay Area. I’m sure that they will have bus or train service (if possible) but not high-speed. And given that you can currently fly round-trip from San Jose to LA for about 110 bucks, and be dropped at the airport where there are lots of rental cars… So what is the purpose of this train? To prove the insanity of government? (Hat tip to William Teach)

Why Do the Rich Want to Live in New York?

Given that everything is closed, I can’t see a reason, and a lot of it is likely gone for good. Taxing Thursday: It’s Up to You, New York, New York.

So the Left loves to go on about people paying their fair share… Does this seem fair?

It’s no coincidence, after all, that New York, where “1 percent of the population pays 50 percent of the taxes,” as Cuomo notes, has been steadily losing residents.

That is not a stable way to finance anything. In a state with about 19 million people, 1% is 190,000 people.

How many of those people need to move away permanently before the sting is felt in the budget?

There are a handful of states that have no state or local income tax. Where the weather is better than New York, and you can always visit. Assuming Broadway, the restaurants, etc. ever open again.

It’s the same in California where 0.5% of taxpayers are paying 40% of taxes. Who isn’t paying their fair share?

There is more, about the decimation currently happening in retail in New York City, Chicago and Palm Beach, Florida. Click thru, it is worth a few minutes of your time.

The Steel Industry Recovers

This will only be “local news,” because good economic news doesn’t help the Democrats. U.S. Steel restarting another blast furnace at Gary Works as steel industry recovers.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker, one of Northwest Indiana’s largest industrial employers, idled blast furnaces as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that shuttered many auto plants, some of the largest end users of steel products. But it fired back up the No. 6 Blast Furnace at Gary Works right after the 4th of July weekend and is now bringing the No. 8 blast furnace back online.

Why produce more steel? Because the auto industry is recovering as well.

The announcement comes at a time when production has been picking back up after auto factories like the Chicago Assembly Plant went back to work and ramped back up to three shifts. Steel production in the Great Lakes region climbed up to 450,000 tons last week, up from around 400,000 a week a few weeks ago, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Well, and there was an explosion at another mill which showed “shrapnel of refractory” indicating that the furnace suffered serious damage.

But good economic news on the auto industry and steel fronts? That is only local interest! The media has to cover how Trump is killing people with COVID-19.

Note: A recent post on Detroit, got me thinking about steel on Chicago’s South Side. I remember when the City of Chicago paid the gas bill on the blast furnaces for two years, because shutting off the furnaces meant they would have to be partially destroyed to relight them. Anyway, that brought about search on steel, and what do you know, good economic news.

Gun Sales Continue Their Record Pace

Gee, I can’t imagine why. The FBI’s July Gun Data Shows Another Month of Record Background Checks.

3.6 million instant background checks were performed in July.

It’s also the third-greatest number recorded since the FBI began keeping track back in 1998, surpassed by the record 3.9 million conducted in June and the 3.7 million done in March.

The year-to-date rate is 43% higher than last year, which was a record-setting year.

Smith & Wesson Brands (NASDAQ:SWBI) reported fiscal 2020 fourth-quarter results in June and noted sales surged 32% from the year-ago period. Sturm, Ruger’s (NYSE:RGR) second-quarter earnings last week revealed a 36% jump in firearms sales leading it to declare a special dividend of $5 per share on top of its regular quarterly dividend of $0.42 per share.

Stocks I wish i had purchased…

What’s the Use of Government?

Why do governments exist? Something about securing the blessings of liberty comes to mind. Defund the government.

Municipalities that can’t provide basic services lose any justification for their existence.

Local governments now want to be lavishly funded so that they can shut down businesses, open up prisons, keep schools closed, keep crime high and defund first responders.

What exactly is the appeal of this arrangement?

Would you stay in a place where the police can’t keep you safe (or they have been eliminated in favor of Social Justice), and the politics of an area keep you from defending yourself? What would you do? Sit down and wait to be a victim?

We’ve seen what happens when people decide that local government can’t help them. They abandon their locale, like what happened in Detroit. They leave everything they worked for, because what they really wanted was for their family to be safe. So what happens if you don’t think your family can’t have a future where you are? You don’t stay. If enough people decide to leave, then you aren’t leaving much behind.

Democrats Hate Suburbia

And won’t rest until everything is a high-rise, mess. Democrats vs. Suburbia: Biden Will Make ‘Magic Dirt Theory’ Federal Policy.

And then I investigated, and discovered that Democrats plan to abolish single-family home zoning.

It’s for your own good peasant, so just shut up and do what we tell you to do.

Here is what is said on Biden’s website – after you click past the plea for money. The Biden Plan for Investing in Our Communities through Housing – Joe Biden for President

Eliminate local and state housing regulations that perpetuate discrimination. Exclusionary zoning has for decades been strategically used to keep people of color and low-income families out of certain communities.

Want to live in a neighborhood of single-family homes? Nope, not allowed. Want to minimum lot size. Nope not allowed. Want a minimum house size? (That is common in upscale developments.) Also not allowed.

All decisions will be made by the Dems in Washington. Because they know best.

Back to The Other McCain for the definition of the Magic Dirt Theory.

Biden and the Democrats have embraced, as the basis of policy, what Vox Day has called Magic Dirt Theory, “the idea that beliefs, behaviors, and values somehow appear in particular geographical areas, from the air, from the water, or from the ground, rather than being carried from place to place by groups of people wherever they happen to be.”

This is a problem.