RANT: House Costs

Arrrg, National and Labour are arguing about first time home buyers, and it’s driving me nuts.

I’m reading some good posts from NZ econ people, which frame it nicely in econ speak, but it’s just so simple in my mind.

If you want first time buyers to get cheap houses, all house must be cheaper, so that there are cheap houses for them to buy.

I will now make up some numbers:

  • 60% of the population owns houses (group A)
  • 15% of the population wants to own houses but don’t because they are too expensive (group B)
  • 25% of the population don’t own houses because they understand the can’t afford them (and are not bothered) or they want the flexibility of renting. (group C)

So with these made up numbers in mind, we have the two main political parties frothing at the mouth because group B can’t buy houses, and its always been their dream.

Queue sad story of dreams here…. I dream to… oh dreams of the group B people, anyway we all have dreams, work towards them and realise you can’t have it all. Because I have lots of dreams, and so far I’ve not been to the moon!

So to me the “first home buyers” argument is really group A needs to lose some of their capital wealth in their houses to help bring all house prices down, so group B can have cheap houses. How has the big drop in house prices worked for the USA so far???

So which party would be stupid to ask the majority of the country to lose money now and forever, so that another group can get a house. None, they don’t talk about it in this frame of reference, but they are one and the same to me.

How would we go about destroying that value group A thinks they have: be that with tax (first time buyers grants, government houses for cheap, etc) or allowing faster building of houses, or destroying the markets desire for NZ property, you know act ‘North Korea like’ until the world is scared of us. Ether way “The Answer” is going to be unpopular.

National’s solutions seems to be a non-solution solution, but a political “response”.

What I don’t understand is why did Labour start playing this debate/issue.

There are the core base in the Labour camp, who will vote Labour ether way? Are they trying to rev them up, and get them to mobilise the swing voters? Are they trying to win the hearts of the swing voters, the group B people might like the idea of cheaper houses, but as soon as they own a house they will want to increase in value, thus become group A, and not want this policy again. Or the group A people that “have a heart” but are too slow see what this would “require to fix” or is Labour also not really caring about the issue at all, and just trying to make National demonstrate has “no heart for the poor”

I say this as swing voter, that’s not found of National’s sell it all policy, because how well did the Toll Rail  sell/buy back program work out? So now there’s no way I can vote for Labour with a stupid policy stance like this, so I’m back to National, thank Labour.

It all drives me nuts, mix in the NSA spy electronic crap, and NZ rolling over for trade agreements, Labour of all people lowering the drinking age, to vote buying (n years ago) because 18 year olds are “adults”, yet also insisting we need more/tighter tobacco/drink/drug control because those aforementioned adults need to be told how to live (long live the nanny state).

Mean while the politicians embarrass themselves and our country with their antic’s in the “debate” chamber, and around the country. What a bunch of clowns.

And there lies the rub, I don’t trust them to do a mediocre job, I’m not sure how to make them be less stupid, so do I shut-up take my lumps, or join them. Sigh….

Petrol Price Math

For the last couple of weeks I’ve filled up at the same petrol station, and then entered the details into Gas Cubby and the docket price is 2 cents different from that displayed on the ipod….

Fuel Docket

2.119 x 27.94 = 59.20486, which should round to 55.20

I could forgive 55.21, but really 50.22, that’s magic rounding, or they are using more decimal places than shown.

To make the checking easy I’ll assume infinite precision and thus the rounding will trend towards .5 of the last digit. 2.1195 x 27.9405 = 59.2198898 thus 59.22, so it could be both figures are misrepresented or just the $/litre, as when you don’t fudge the price and only the litre amount the total rounds to 59.21.

Or maybe they  just have bad programmers and the company is not evil.

Which reminds me of how my TelstraClear (now Vodaphone) bill never added up. If you telly the sub totals reported to 2 decimal places, the total was off 1 to 2 cents every bill. Scary was that two of three sections were fixed price, and the third was fractional. So how they did that I was never sure.

CafePress Fix Checkout with Amazon, or Remove It!

For the last week I have been trying to buy a t-shirt from CafePress for the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk, and CafePress have three options to pay.

Sweet, ‘Checkout with Amazon’ I say, I love Amazon. So press that, then log into Amazon, press ‘Submit my order’ and get an error saying:

You must specify a state of the corrosponding country

Really, it states my state quite clearly to me, in fact, I didn’t enter any values. It even knows the magic long zip code, which means blanking out my house is almost pointless.

State Stated!

So I called the CafePress phone support, and the guy on the other end siad: “Oh yeah that got broken a few weeks ago with an update from Amazon, our IT guys are looking into it. I can complete your order over the phone if you like”

Um, how about if it’s been broken for two weeks, and your IT guys are too clueless to fix it in that time, you edit the page to not show the Amazon option. Then I would have seen your online payment option or Pay Pal, and chosen yours.

But instead you gave me a known broken option, and expected me to chase you as to how to work around the problem.

So now I have a dilemma, I want to have the t-shirt, but I don’t want to support such a useless merchant.

[Update 11 Sep]Still broken 2 ½ weeks later, so it’s been broken for a whole month. Cafe Press need some new coders.

Superlative is not a Superlative

Looking at the back of a box of cereal I noticed this great modesty:

"Superlative" and "Unsurpassed" Just Sounded A Bit Like Bragging

No it more sounds like bad copy editing to me. Noting that superlative is not a superlative, it’s an adjective (or adverb).

I’m guess this came about because someone said lets get some quotes from customers and then be coy about not not using those words (yes double negative).

So person A gave the following text to person B, “Superlative” and “Superlative” just sounded a bit like bragging and then person B knowing that if they asked customers what they thought they would get “Bland” and “Cardboard-like” and those are not really positive or superlatives, I would have to said “Blandest” and “Cardboard-est”.

So person B Google’d superlative, choice unsurpassed as there first word, which means: not capable of being improved on and (superlative of `good’) [Source]. The former is true and I’m not sure how you could improve this product, and the second ‘good’ is just untrue. At this point person B’s brain prolapsed from personal integrity check failure, and when they awoke they had something that look like “super…” and “unsurpassed” and it looked good enough.

Ship it!

Then in the search for a cereal that is not mostly sugar, or honey coated (natures sugar, it must be good for you), my wife purchased it, I lucked out by eating it. That box is finished, but we have two other types from the same company, and the first of those is equally bad so far.


USD Thinking

Now that I’m in the US I notice how all news is 100% US based in perspective, i.e. it all happens due to US based reasons.

Thus you see stock charts like these:

And it’s all about Trimble has done this, and Trimble did that. Or when you see some currency charts:

it generates US focused articles like this:

Which is funny, because in reality that article is the exact opposite of what’s happening. Currency is not a stock, it’s a ratio of strength, and those downward graphs are showing the amount of foreign dollars you get for each USD, which is the opposite of the stock chart, where you look at the USD cost per single stock, thus if you inverse the charts you’d see the cost of foreign dollars are rising.

Another way to notice this is the price of gold in USD, people are all “oh look at its growth” when it’s also an exchange ratio. Looking at it in AUD it’s not current higher than 2009 prices, thus is it gold or the USD that’s changing?

Also if you look at how the stock-market has grown, you then wonder is the value of everything going up, or is the value of the central currency the USD going down.

The latter is what you’d expect when the Fed has been busy over the last few years creating trillions of new dollars.