Saturday, January 28, 2006

New Parent Empiricism

My first child is now 14 months old and I wish to share some of my insights and lessons from first year parenthood.

My son was born last November at the Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte.

Lesson One:


My cousin, a doctor himself, warned me that the procedure is almost straight out of a Jaws movie. I mostly averted my eyes but the couple of glimpses that I caught were most retching. There were two student nurses in there observing and one of them actually feinted. Good luck to her in her medical career. It was also most discomfiting to hear the doctors and nurses so glibly discuss their Thanksgiving plans while they had my wife’s belly wide open. Anyway, fortunately the whole process went smoothly and we were extremely happy with the maternity ward there.

So the first night that the baby slept in our room, knowing that we had to feed the baby in about 3 hours, we openly wondered how we would know when to get up and do so. Did we need to set an alarm for 3 hours or what? The nurse heard our discussion and apparently contained all of her laughter.

We soon figured it out that the baby WAS THE ALARM. Screaming his head off was plenty sufficient to both wake us up and alert us to his hunger. In fact, 14 months later my son still role plays as the family/neighborhood alarm clock.

This reminds me a bit of the so-called baby monitor. What rookie parent wouldn’t possibly think about not “monitoring” their child? Every Mom-to-be gets it but it may be the most unnecessary baby appliance. It is almost one of these pure marketing products.

Lesson Two:


You’ll be sure to hear the kid scream from very, very far away. If anything you may need a high end set of earplugs, something I am probably still going to buy.

We have been blessed with a beautiful, yet too often, mostly AWAKE son. Let’s take a step back to pregnancy.

When someone tells you they are pregnant, please DO NOT ASK IF THEY “WERE TRYING”.

First of all, to me, “trying” evokes images more associated with opening a tightly sealed jar or even a constipation battle.

Secondly, what if they tell you “ was an accident”? How are you going to digest that info? Twice I have had people voluntarily tell me they were “accidentally” pregnant and I have fired back at them,

“What happened? Was your husband naked and he tripped onto you or something?”

Most times, just maybe say “congratulations” when you find out someone is pregnant and please don't brand your kid with the "accident" label. Most of you know darn well what causes conception.

Okay, names.

If you have friends who are pregnant, I would advise you tell them all of your name ideas as soon as possible. Too often what happens is you like a name but your friend claims it first publicly. (I know a group of non-communicating friends who consequently all have a daughter named Sophia.) Even if you were reserving a name for years, you will look like you stole from or copied your friend or relative.

Also, if you want to use very STUPID NAMES for your kids, be aware that your family and friends will properly think you (and spouse) are a Moron and they will be making fun of you behind your back for a very long time. And don't forget the burden you'll be putting on that innocent baby. That is just how it goes. I wish I could divulge all of my own personal examples but...

Okay, this one guy I know named his kids:

Tripper, Trina, Tucker, Trevor, and I can’t remember the other one but it also started with the letter “T”.

Personally I wouldn't name a kid something that could be both a girl's and a boy's name like Sidney or Corey. And I don't think that Christians should be naming their kid Abdul nor should a Chinese couple name their kid Rocco.

Consider this couple's naming boner from a prior post,

Mr. Lover, 42, a vice president at the Corcoran Group, and his wife, Kristina Rinaldi, 41, an interior decorator, decided to give up their one-bedroom rental on West 55th Street when they had a daughter, Tallulah.

Tallulah? What the heck is that?

But consider the circumstantial evidence. Miss Rinaldi did not take her husband's last name and they are featured Morons in that bigoted NYT article. It is very true that kids, starting with their names, reflect their parents - hence the popular proverb about the tree and the nearby fallen apple.

Of course the celebrities rank very high on the STUPID NAMERS list. There wasn't an exhaustive site that I could find but there are plenty of examples out there on the web.

Rachel Griffiths has named her baby (boy or girl?), Banjo Griffiths-Taylor.

Jermaine Jackson has a baby (boy or girl?) named Jermajesty Jackson.

George Foreman named all four of his sons “George”.

Asked what gave him the idea to name all his boys after himself, Foreman offers an elaborate explanation that seems as novel as the idea itself. "I wanted my boys to have something that nobody could ever take from them," he says, "and I figured, give them a name that they could run into whenever they had problems or if they ever got lost, their children's children's children could always run back to that name and have something to fall back on so that they wouldn't get lost.

"I didn't find out who my real father was and didn't even know it until 1976," he continues. "After I lost the title to muhammad, I found out I had another father other than the one that I thought was my father. I looked him up and was friends with him until he died in 1978. So I made sure that my boys were going to have something to know one another."

Lesson 3:

PEE AND POOP ARE EXTREMELY OVERRATED (no doubt because of incessant MSM bias).

Of all the lifestyle changes and new parental responsibilities, diaper changing is really one of, it not the easiest new thing to acclimate yourself to.

And you will be sure to get a kick out of the in-laws changing the baby's diapers as well (remember, your parents are in-laws too).

For one thing, they think they have just time-warped back 30 years and are still experts at the whole gamut of childcare. Granted they are inherently a few notches ahead of the baby's parents in terms of knowledge but they have also aged considerably too - no doubt seemingly more from raising the thankless, snot-nosed newbie parents.

The in-laws may have changed a few thousand diapers in their day but now they are prone to putting the diaper on upside down, not fastening it properly, and doing some pretty piss poor wiping jobs (pardon the pun). Not only that, but to see if the kid needs to be changed, invariably the old folk actually stick their finger down a diaper and then smell it!!!

That's right. Those are the hands that cooked us thousands of meals!!!

So fear not, changing diapers is a breeze. The only gross part is perhaps watching the grandparents do it.

Lesson four:


You don't have to use a clean bottle every single time, don't have to sterilize everything that goes near the kid, or make everyone that touches your child go wash their hands. But germaphobia and its big brother hypochondria are not usually rational things so I doubt that anything I could say would influence the pertinent Morons.

Also take the baby out to restaurants almost right away. The kid will sleep and get used to some ambient noise. The kids whose parents shelter them usually become the most hypersensitive and fussy. We had our kid out when he was 3 weeks old and of course some old guy at the restaurant gratuitously scolded us for having our baby outside in the cold weather.

So if you take your newborn out and some elder person asks how old the baby may want to lie if you are too polite to tell a fossil to mind their own business.

Final Lesson:


All of these Morons assume that dirty diapers and less time at the bar are the bane of parenthood but they are dead wrong. It is the body blow to your personal sleep-time that is THE BIGGEST SACRIFICE on the altar of parenthood.

It's especially tough when you are in your late 20s or early 30s, because you have been probably on you own personal life schedule for a decade now. When you come home with a newborn, your sleep life is over as you know it. You feed the kid and put him to bed but in three hours you have to get up again. Now who can fall asleep on a dime? I certainly can't. So maybe it takes me 2 hours to fall asleep. There is nothing worse in life than being woken up 30 minutes or an hour into your sleep. This is why it is part of the torture portfolio at Guantanamo Bay.

Personally, I will never forget the euphoria from when my son first started sleeping through the night. Even though both my wife and I were reflexively wide awake at 6 AM anyway.

The most life-saving product we got was the Miracle Blanket. It is kind of like a little strait-jacket for the baby, locking his arms down and whatnot. Some people have told me they can replicate this with normal blankets but I could not.

When the first kid comes, the "life-saving" metric effectively depreciates to anything that will get you 10 more minutes of sleep or silence.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

2005 In Review

I predicted that Desperate Housewives would lose viewership this year. I couldn't find out whether or not I was correct on this. And who really cares anyway?

CaptiousNut has been right about a sliding housing market. Click here, here, here, and here for refreshers.

Right about shares of Google. $451 per share as I type this, it was around $300 at my last post and $228 at my first post on the subject.

Right about George Allen. In a prior post I predicted he would be the Republican 2008 nominee for president. Okay, I am not technically right yet, but Rush Limbaugh, subsequent to my post, threw Allen’s name out as the lead candidate. Perhaps Rush is a Marginalizing Morons blog reader?

CaptiousNut was wrong about Google being added to the S&P 500 by January. Wall Street remains befuddled as to why Standard and Poor’s keeps passing them over. By not adding Google, they have cost many investors billions because index-tracking fund managers’ Google entry point seemingly goes up every week.

(weekly sugar chart: click to enlarge)

Jim Rogers hit the homerun on my blog with his call to buy oil, lead, sugar, and coffee.

Obviously oil is roaring, sugar is at 24 year highs, and coffee has been percolating as has lead.

I said that I was waiting for an Asian economic blip to give me a good entry point into the commodities market and unfortunately I haven't gotten one.

Gold is also at multi-year highs. I didn’t predict it was going up officially, but I did mention a purchase of options in the sector that have appreciated nicely.

I predicted the January effect would not come and was wrong. The stock market did rally in November, but also spiked during the first two weeks of January. Incidentally, I was shorting into that rally and was short the market last Friday when the market got obliterated. Unfortunately for me, I covered it a little too early. I also doubled up my Google position at $397, yet I also wimped out and dumped it for a very small profit as it bounced considerably. As much as I love Google, I have been burned enough over the years to learn the wisdom of keeping my eggs in separate baskets. I would rather try to find the next Google then get overly invested in the present one.

I was wrong shorting Apple (but did a good job covering around $70. It went up to $86).

On the subject of Apple, a lot of iPod geeks were high-fiving recently when the stock hit $85 and its market capitalization momentarily passed that of Dell Computer’s.

Jeff Jarvis was delighted as was Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Before the geek celebration even got started however, Apple shares got smacked down to $74. They have still had quite the remarkable run, but the episode reminds me of some of my own gloating stories.

In the summer of 1999, I was on fire with my trading. My account had climbed to a few hundred thousand dollars and I decided to “brag” or at least tell a couple of friends. Well, that was it. From there my account plunged to negative a couple of hundred thousand bucks. And I will never forget the high correlation between my gloating and that particular peak in my profits.

Once I got into a heated altercation on the trading floor with another trader. We were arguing over a trade, of course I was right and he was dead wrong. Four lettered words were flying and we had to be separated. My opponent had that lethal jerk/Moron combo going on and amidst about 50 people standing around he screamed at me,

“...F*ck you….I paid more in taxes last month than you make in an entire year...”

Though he was dead wrong in the original argument, he apparently thought his tax bracket gave him special dispensation. Needless to say, nobody on the trading floor really knows exactly how much others are earning.

How did this Moron end up?

Well two days later, he lost all of his money and got fired. He tried but couldn’t get another job with any other firm. Mind you, this was during the bull market and firms were throwing stupid 22 year old college grads into trading pits.

"I pay more in taxes...." became an oft repeated punchline for the guys down there, even years after the Moron was gone.

I could probably make a list of 50 or so similar traders I knew who suffered similar demises from my six years on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange.

“Pride cometh before a fall…” was also the theme of Johnny Tremain, an American literary classic I had to read in middle school and definitely didn’t learn from. I am not sure but "Pride cometh..." that may actually be from the Bible. Anyway life in the real world is unlike school because the tests come first and the lessons later on.

Definitely click on this Jeff Jarvis link and read the comments under his post. CapitousNut makes a few good pointed comments in the thread.

The difference between me and most opinion-heads is that I tend to put my money where my mouth is. I don't just THINK that the iPod is a fad, I have been shorting the stock and putting my money where my mouth is. Don't think for a second that Steve Jobs was buying Apple stock at $85 per share when he gloated (Apple insiders are actually ONLY SELLING). Nor were many of these college geeks, struggling artists, or cheerleading bloggers buying shares of Apple at any point.

But all in all, I try to stay focused more on analysis and sound financial planning rather than forecasting punditry.

Whether it is buying Google, renting instead of buying a house, or shorting Apple or stem cell research companies, etc., taking money from Morons may be the optimal way to Marginalize them.

Heck, you can even make money off "global warming" Morons by shorting stocks like ENER as I did today.

Maybe I will short the whole basket: Whole Foods, Starbucks, Apple Computer, Alternative Energy companies....

But that would be categorically foolish because,

...selling stuff to Morons is no small industry.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New York Times' Bigotry Towards Golf

Excerpts reprinted with neither permission nor expressed written consent of the NY Times. Red denotes my emphasis.


Published: January 22, 2006

Of all the lessons to emerge from the Jack Abramoff scandal, the most culturally consequential may be just three words long.

"I'm going to go over a lot of things today, and I can take all of your questions, but let me give you the all-encompassing rule," a lawyer teaching the course began at a recent session in Miami, according to one of the participants.

"Golf," he said, pausing for effect, "is bad."

The ominous warning can almost be heard echoing across the greens of the political establishment, where the game is not only a cherished pastime but has increasingly become a critical cog in the wheels of campaign financing and lobbying. Fact-finding Congressional trips are tailored to cross paths with golf resorts. Candidates and their supporters spend tens of thousands of dollars on golfing costs each campaign cycle - more and more each year, it turns out - as part of the cost of doing political business.

But now, as the Abramoff ordeal in Washington unfolds, golf is acquiring the whiff of scandal, its exclusive fairways and cozy clubhouses redolent of an improper commerce between money and influence.

But the Abramoff scandal, which suggests that tens of thousands of dollars were spent by lobbying groups to fly lawmakers around the world to play golf, in violation of ethical and perhaps legal strictures, exposes golf as an almost irresistible political carrot that is used to buy favor and access.

Until golf entered the picture, the ethics scandal surrounding Tom DeLay was hard for many to fathom. It involved complicated transactions between obscure political action committees. (Mr. DeLay was indicted last year in Texas in a campaign finance case and has also been under investigation in Washington as part of a wide public corruption case involving lobbyists' efforts to secure legislation for their clients.) The issues are difficult to convey to average voters. But a weeklong $70,000 trip to the golf course in St. Andrews, Scotland, arranged through Mr. Abramoff, as suggested by financial records and participants in the case? To Democrats seeking to exploit the matter, that is the eye-popping stuff of scandal.

More than any other perk - except perhaps free meals and drinks at Mr. Abramoff's upscale restaurant, Signatures - expensive overseas golfing trips have surfaced as his lobbying gift of choice, meant to curry favor with lawmakers and, more often, their underpaid staff members. Golfing fees to courses in the Washington area have also been listed as evidence of attempts at bribing public officials in court documents.

The effect has been, at least for now, to cast a shadow over certain fairways. "I think what we will see here in the current environment is members being pretty careful about getting caught in golfing adventures that don't pass the sunshine test of full disclosure," said Fred Wertheimer, the president of the nonpartisan group Democracy 21 and a longtime advocate of stricter ethics rules in Congress. "How long that will last remains to be seen, particularly for those who are golf-obsessed. There's a certain golf caucus on Capitol Hill, and playing golf is very high on their list of priorities for the country."

Thus the question is raised: What it is about golf that politicians seem so unable to resist, even when their reputations, their very careers, are at stake?

"To be able to play the most challenging golf courses in the world is as good as it gets," said Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, who shares a golfing obsession with his friend Bill Clinton. "That is a dream vacation."

"Other people shouldn't be paying your golfing dues," Mr. McAuliffe quickly added.

For Mr. DeLay, who wears his golfing passion on his plaid pants,

"Golf has a long, treasured heritage in terms of junkets and even potentially corrupt socializing," said Jan Baran, a lawyer specializing in campaign finance and ethics (and who described himself as "someone who personally doesn't understand or appreciate the allure of golf").

Who, after all, is keeping watch over lawmakers to see which golf courses they are frequenting, and with whom? (Are they proposing that we "spy" on them?)

Golf has long held a special place in political life…..

Limited to the upper classes for much of the 20th century, the game was played more by members of the Senate than the House...

Yet there have been scandals, big and small, all along the way.

During the alcohol-free era of Prohibition in the 1920's, lawmakers flocked to private golf courses because they could get a drink; President Warren G. Harding sparked a ferocious uproar over the bottle of whiskey he pulled from his golf bag…..

Dan Burton, the Republican congressman from Indiana, came under fire in 1997 for accepting an invitation to play the famous Pebble Beach tournament in California - a lifelong dream of his - at a time when the corporate sponsor of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Tournament had business before the committee he led.

President Bush lost his patience on the golf course one morning in August 2002.

But a vast majority of political golf outings these days take place hidden well out of public view; the remoteness and privacy of golf is one of its appeals to politicians...

All of which is perfectly legal. Most golfing members of Congress are proud of their participation in the sport, not embarrassed. Representative John Boehner of Ohio, one of the candidates running to replace Mr. DeLay as majority leader, belongs to Burning Tree despite the fact that it doesn't accept women as members.

Even Congressional members from some urban areas treat golf as a fund-raising vehicle.

They view it as something they must do - they've got to have these fund-raising events, and it's a chore," said Kent Cooper.

"You sort of wonder, do members of Congress exercise other than golf? Have they moved the smoke-filled room to the green? No one is going to stop them from taking out a cigar on the golf course."

Let's play this game again. I will further condense everything the Times wants to say about and associate with golf.

Golf is bad
ominous warning
political establishment
critical cog in the wheels
whiff of scandal
improper commerce
money and influence
violation of ethical and perhaps legal strictures
irresistible political carrot
buy favor and access
ethics scandal
wide public corruption
eye-popping stuff of scandal
curry favor
bribing public officials
cast a shadow
stricter ethics
certain golf caucus
on Capitol Hill
unable to resist
potentially corrupt socializing
upper classes
ferocious uproar
came under fire
lost his patience
hidden well out of public view
not embarrassed
doesn't accept women as members
fund-raising vehicle
smoke-filled room

Anti-golf propaganda at the Times isn't a new wrinkle. They have written almost 50 articles in the last few years ripping Augusta National for its men-only membership policy. They even went so far as to suggest that Tiger Woods should boycott the Masters to advance their agenda.

Devil's Advocate: Hey C-Nut, as usual you are overreacting to a NY Times article. They don't hate golf, just corruption.

Hey DA, I may rename you Simpleton's Advocate because you play the part far too well.

They hate suburbia.

They hate SUVs.

They think everyone should pay $3 per gallon of gasoline.

They hate golf.

DA is a simpleton because he wants to analyze this article in a vacuum rather than see it for what it is - another cog in the Times' demented worldview.



A couple more notes.

When the Times says,

"Who, after all, is keeping watch over lawmakers to see which golf courses they are frequenting, and with whom?"

Are they proposing that we "spy" on American citizens?

I get it. If Muhammad in Brooklyn is using a disposable cell phone to communicate with Al Queda....the government shouldn't monitor that call. BUT, we should "keep watch" over lawmakers on golf courses.

Very interesting set of priorities...

Also, the Times cited Democracy 21 as a "nonpartisan" group which seems to be somewhat of a bald-faced lie. From this link,

"Democracy 21," which has called for "investigations" into what they claim are "ethics violations" by Rep. DeLay, is headed by Fred Wertheimer, a long-time liberal activist who once headed the far-left group "Common Cause". Democracy 21's board of directors has given tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats, but not one single cent to Republicans; and of course, the group has received over $300,000 from George Soros' "Open Society Institute."

That hardly seems "nonpartisan" to me, but remember, this is the New York Times. Also, some googling revealed that Fred Wertheimer originally had decried Soros' soft dollar peddling but based on that above link, he opted for the 300 grand and hypocrite status.

Also there is this comical, yet telling sentence,

"Even Congressional members from some urban areas treat golf as a fund-raising vehicle."

Could you imagine that? Golfing is such depravity that even the enlightened "urban" pols get tangled in its web.

But at least the inherently morally superior urban pols resent golf,

"They view it as something they must do - they've got to have these fund-raising events, and it's a chore," said Kent Cooper.

In the above article, Terry McAuliffe righteously asserted,

"Other people shouldn't be paying your golfing dues,"

Terry, did you mean "green fees"?

"Dues" connotes country club membership fees usually paid monthly. Most people pay per round and all of the accusations in the article center around per diem courses. I seriously doubt that Terry is an "obsessed" golfer.

This a little bit reminds me of when a certain Massachusetts Senator exclaimed that his favorite member of the Red Sox was "Manny Ortiz [sic]"

(Note: Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz are two different players for the Sox - as even a casual Sox fan would know.)

And lastly,

Representative John Boehner of Ohio, one of the candidates running to replace Mr. DeLay as majority leader, belongs to Burning Tree despite the fact that it doesn't accept women as members.

Remember, golf doesn't just corrupt politics, it oppresses women.

But speaking of exclusive clubs...

....would the Times hire a born-again Christian or a capitalist?

How about an SUV-driver, a Republican, or an anti-abortionist?

Would they hire a global warming skeptic or a military veteran?

They probably don't even have one serious golfer on the "exclusive" payroll.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Wal-Mart, Healthcare, and Economic Illiteracy

Maryland recently passed a law that would require Wal-Mart to increase its spending on workers' healthcare. The bill mandates that employers with over 10,000 employees spend at least 8% of payroll on health benefits. This is a subject that I have previously blogged on.

Lost, or should I say completely ignored, in this Wal-Mart debate in Maryland is the notion that private companies should be OBLIGATED to provide healthcare for employees at all – never mind what percentage of their payroll should be dedicated to it.

This demonstrates once again the hypocrisy of being “pro-jobs” yet anti-business. Why would any company open a huge business in the state of Maryland when meddling socialists are going to hyper-regulate how the company pays its employees? Existing large companies will decide to expand in other locales rather than further invest in an anti-business region. When Wal-Mart first got a whiff of this bill they promptly delayed plans to open a new massive distribution center in Maryland.

Minimum wage law is socialist enough, but mandating health care expenditures takes that up a few notches. First of all, a business can’t control the price of healthcare, so by requiring that they spend any amount on it sows the seeds of more healthcare price inflation. Price increases will invariably raise the number of uninsured. Thank you Commi's....MISSION UNACCOMPLISHED.

The sheer inanity of this debate has no end. Socialists mistakenly presume that businesses SHOULD provide healthcare, and then ratchet up that by arguing for an amount to their liking. And these socialists have yet again conspired to MIS-FRAME the healthcare debate.

People don’t have healthcare because it is EXPENSIVE.


The solution to expensive healthcare is not more of WHAT MAKES IT EXPENSIVE.

Every business would love to provide healthcare, dental care, life insurance and every other benefit to attract and keep good employees.

The econo-illiterates don’t understand that forcing businesses to spend money on already overpriced healthcare DOES NOT ALLEVIATE runaway healthcare inflation. In fact it AGGRAVATES the price and as I have already noted, it INCREASES the ranks of the uninsured.

Of course Maryland legislators are,

1) Too dumb to realize this.
2) Don’t care.
3) In the pocket of the unions of Wal-Mart’s foundering competitors.
4) Outright socialists.

Take your pick(s).

Devil’s Advocate: What about the claim that Wal-Mart is shifting its healthcare burden on to the state’s Medicaid budget?

First of all. Medicare and Medicaid should never have been born – they may even be un-Constitutional. Basically, politicians promised healthcare to some people (poor and elderly) and are taxing productive members of society to fulfill that promise. Unfortunately, eliminating these programs remains a pipe dream and won’t happen any time soon. The only way it would happen is if every young and working person decided to elect pols that represented their real, rather than perceived, self-interests.

Basically, government created this healthcare "burden", and instead of fixing it on a structural level, THEY lazily want to pass the buck to businesses like Wal-Mart. Furthermore, they erroneously think this will have no consequences.

How did/does government inflate the cost of healthcare?

By subsidizing (entitling) healthcare for the poor and elderly, the government effectively became the biggest buyer of medical services.

This creates a panoply of problems, some obvious and some not so.

Axiomatically, government involvement begets gross economic inefficiencies but the overall effects are more pernicious than simply higher consumer prices.

A friend of mine is a pharmaceutical rep for Merck. He recently said this to me about the drug approval process,

“...all we (drug companies) have to do is avoid or limit hospitalization....because it is that expensive.”

Essentially he was saying that drug companies can and will promote any drug that simply reduces hospitalization expenditures. That sounds pretty sensible, right?

But when you consider the exorbitant costs of hospital care, the hurdle for cost savings is set recklessly low. What did Dr. Kovac say on ER last week? Something like the cost of one day spent in the ICU is $22,000.

I can’t find good data on normal daily hospitalization costs but that ICU figure should give some idea of how high they are. With these low hurdles, justifying $500 per year spent on Lipitor or Prozac becomes very easy for all the necessary Morons: HMOs, government bureaucrats, hospitals, and doctors.

Before you know it, the nation is spending billions on new "cost saving" blockbuster drugs.


This low hurdle is the medical analogue of the False Comparison tactic.

Now multiply this by every drug, medical device, and treatment option and you will end up with government (Medicare) approval for almost everything under the sun. In fact, about 14% of the entire Gross Domestic Product was spent on healthcare last year.

Another example. Look at this “ad” for the Freedom Bed, a $24,500 hospital bed.

From that link,

Costs of Bed Sores:

The approximate daily treatment costs for pressure ulcers in US hospitals range from $39 per day for a stage I ulcer to $811 per day for a stage IV ulcer. Stage IV ulcers can take up to 90 days to heal, leading to a total treatment cost of as much as $73,000 per occurrence. Under these circumstances the purchase price of a Freedom Bed™ would be recouped in as little as 30 days. The repayment period is even shorter when the regular hospitalization costs of the patient are factored in. Thus the prevention of bedsores and other complications of immobility such as pneumonia (which can cost up to $40,000 per occurrence to treat) in home-based individuals who would require hospitalization is one key method of considering savings to be realized.

Do you see what is going on here?

This expensive bed wants to be measured only against the outlandish costs of treating certain ailments, rather than by its inherent worth. I guess in this sense, they have re-formulated all medical tradeoffs into crude functions of extant inefficiencies.

This would be like if a consumer decided to buy a $9,000 television simply because it was cheaper than a $10,000 one.

Devil’s Advocate: That's a stupid analogy C-nut...there are more than just two televisions for consumers to choose from.

That’s right DA, but when was the last time a person picked (and was charged accordingly) a hospital based on the cost of its beds? It simply is not possible. The industry-wide bed cost is set by the largest medical buyer, i.e. the government (Medicare), and patients have no purchasing power.

If the hospital were in a truly competitive industry it would be working indefatigably to lower all of its costs, just as any normal business would. It would have to, simply to remain competitive with other hospitals. But there is no such competition and with more people joining the Medicare rolls each year, dumb money keeps getting pumped into the system. This undermines the very tenets of capitalism. When the price of a good goes up, consumers need to be able to lower their demand for said good – otherwise there is no mechanism to check rising prices.

What happens when capitalism is unchained? From a prior post,

I was trying to explain to someone how we need more free market forces in healthcare. I used the example of corrective laser eye surgery. That procedure is not covered by healthcare (or Medicare) and thus its cost has crashed from over $2000 per eye to around $350 an eye now.

Government involvement in healthcare is more pernicious than simply higher prices because it adulterates the innovation process. This interference keeps medical research stuck on treatment and blockbuster drugs that only improve healthcare AT THE MARGIN. A free market in healthcare would re-align the economics of healthcare consumption and production, yielding prices more like corrective laser surgery than the ever escalating costs we have now.

Medical consumers are impotent also because of what is known as the Third Party Payer system.

When John Doe is sick and visits his doctor to decide a treatment plan…..neither John nor the Doc pay directly for this medical care. Either an HMO or the government (Medicare) will foot the bill. Thus divorced from the economics, neither the doctor nor the patients are directly vested in the cost of treatment. Unfortunately both are pre-disposed toward overspending.

My pregnant wife recently noticed some slight spotting. She wanted to call her doctor and I warned her not to. Of course her doctor insisted that she go to the hospital that night. It is strictly CYA on the doctor’s part who is more concerned about her legal liability than the marginal healthcare dollar spent. The same goes for my infant son. Every time he is a little bit sick, my wife calls the doctor, and they reflexively tell us to come in for a visit. It is not the revenue they want. They just don’t want to risk, God forbid, someone dying after they telephonically advise them not to come in. With today's jury awards, who can blame them?

The same indifference applies to the patient. If told that running some extra tests would cost them say $1 in extra healthcare premiums per month, for the rest of their lives, indubitably many would opt out of the tests. Of course a fretful CYA Doc may not be honest about how necessary the additional tests are in the first place. This is the morass that medical spending and decision-making are stuck in.

Also in this medical malpractice debate, watch out for deceitful propaganda. During the 2004 Vice-Presidential debates, class action “gouger” John Edwards tried to downplay the malpractice component cost of healthcare. I think the number he tried to throw out was 2% of the total cost of healthcare. It is deceitful because it only takes into account malpractice premiums and jury awards – it DOES NOT INCLUDE THE COST OF SUPERFLUOUS CARE FROM CYA DOCTORS.

Anyway enough on healthcare stupidity and back to Wal-Mart stupidity.

Semi-business basher David Faber asked the head of Wal-Mart if Sam Walton would be proud of the company’s healthcare record today to which he responded something like,

Sam would because he was all about value and money well spent…

What Faber and many other viewers probably couldn’t discern from that response is that healthcare is simply too expensive as it is currently priced. What econo-illiterates probably heard was, “we are too cheap to pay for healthcare...” – which is a patently ignorant inference.

It is not an either-or situation, both worker and employer bear the healthcare burden. More money spent towards healthcare is less for cash wages and vice versa. If Wal-Mart workers wanted more healthcare benefits and less cash, they would have already left and found a job that compensated accordingly. But they don't because Wal-Marts everywhere are overrun by job applicants.

Of course, if you are of the arch elitist mindset that thinks Wal-Mart workers too dumb to take such action....then you have your acrobatic mental escape from this logic. But you should at least be honest about your arrogant postulation.

It also should be noted that Wal-Mart already spends about 7% of its payroll towards healthcare coverage. An increase to 8% would represent a 14% jump in healthcare spending for Wal-Mart. Last I checked, basic arithmetic was simply not part of the Communist Manifesto. I'll explain.

Healthcare premiums are up an astounding 73% since 2000 and a mere deflation of 14% would be financially equivalent to forcing Wal-Mart to meet the 8% threshold. Furthermore, such deflation would:

1) help Wal-Mart AND every other business in Maryland.
2) make healthcare more affordable, reducing the number of uninsured.
3) refocus medical innovation on substantial, rather than marginal, cost savings.
4) keep large employers in-state.

Economically illiterate pols should be decrying and addressing the cost of healthcare. Instead they choose to clang the bell of class warfare and deflect attention from the depravity of Medicare, an albatross of their own creation.

What was that expression about socialists? Something like,

"You need us in power today to solve the problems we created yesterday..."?

Click here for another trenchant indictment of the Maryland bill.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Massachusetts: A Perpetual Cycle of Economic Illiteracy

If Joe Blow decides to launch a business and sell widgets, if won’t be long before he figures out whether or not this was a good idea. If he doesn’t sell enough widgets to cover his costs....he is not going to stay with this too long. Not making money is some serious NEGATIVE FEEDBACK.

Consider the philosophy professor at a government subsidized university. If he is a bad teacher, where is his negative feedback? Maybe a low rating in a student guidebook? He certainly doesn’t lose any money after a poor job of teaching one semester. He may flounder for years and still not lose his job.

Others insulated from negative feedback are 99% of government employees, much of the unionized workforce, journalists, and generally anyone in a very secure job – usually marked by monopolistic or government involvement.

A person’s job is their main intersection with the economy. The secure jobs with no negative feedback effectively insulate these workers from connecting with capitalism. It is no surprise that such people are collectively the most economically illiterate. They are the ones that think jobs descend out of nowhere, that prices are arbitrarily set by old men in Texas or Enron executives, that high wages and benefits are an entitlement, and that the President can flip a switch to lower gas prices or create the jobs to which they feel entitled.

These are the people that vote for politicians that are “pro-jobs” and yet anti-business.

These are the dummies unaware of the dangers of taxing the rich.

These are the Morons that I blog about all of the time.

There is, by inference at least, a constitutional right to be a Moron. These econo-illiterates are a blight on the country even though their condition may be accidental.

Consider Massachusetts, which has, in my limited travels, revealed itself to me as the most economically illiterate place I have ever been. For the most part, the people here are economically illiterate by default. Essentially, despite the dense population, there is no thriving economy up here.

Demographically, Massachusetts is dominated by the elderly. They are all on fixed incomes with very little money to spend. So there are very few high end clothiers and restaurants – instead there are probably a billion Dunkin Donuts, hospitals, and discount retailers. Forget about a vibrant service economy and its jobs. Also, Puritanical regulation of liquor licenses also retards new restaurant and bar development.

Now adding to the poor demographics is a very hostile anti-business political climate. High corporate tax rates, onerous unemployment benefits, meddling politicians like Tom Reilly and William Galvin(BoA/Fleet merger, Gillete merger, NStar), etc. You can’t build anything here because of the restrictive zoning. This list goes on and on.

Some big developer was going to develop the Fan Pier on the Boston waterfront, but at the last second meddling pols stepped in and demanded that they build a ridiculously expensive parking garage, all sorts of public access, a marina, space for civic institutions, and a deal-killing expensive seawall. Needless to say, the developer (Boston Properties REIT) walked away, paying a $2.5 million fee, rather than be extorted. Moronic pols celebrated their success with one Legislator exclaiming that he wasn't there to enrich a private individual from another state.


Maybe the Fan Pier will be developed before the Big Dig, but regardless this one example is a microcosm of how Bostonians retard development. (That Big Dig link is worthwhile reading as a case study in government ineptitude.)

I want to comment on mass transit up here. Let’s just say that it basically sucks. The commuter rail doesn’t run that often (actually closed on Sundays). You can’t even buy a monthly pass from a vending machine. You have to wait in line at South Station and buy it from the booth AND you have to show identification. Why they need to see ID to sell you a train pass is mysterious and it doesn’t exactly speed up the wait in line. Also the trolleys wait for everyone to pay before they move and have to stop at all of the same traffic lights as cars.

As far as I am concerned they don’t have mass transit here.

Nobody uses it because it is cumbersome and impractical so everyone has to own a car and drive around town. Obviously this makes traffic worse and parking very expensive.

Forget about cabs, they are a complete jam-job. Not sure about now, but in 2004, the same 2.8 mile cab ride in Manhattan that cost $6.85 was averaging $10.08 in Boston. That was an astounding 47% more expensive.

These taxi rates are set by politicians, explaining the disconnect. The retarded Boston pols want the cab drivers to earn a good living AND want to limit the number of taxis on the streets. How the bleep is this good for most Bostonians? Instead of having a few more cabs on the streets, Boston gets a ton more passenger cars.

So nobody will take mass transit and nobody will take cabs… does that mitigate the traffic and parking problems?

Boston should float a ton more taxi medallions and drastically lower the fare rates. There is no justifiable reason why cab drivers in Boston need higher incomes than NYC drivers. The cost of living in NYC is still much higher.

Devil’s Advocate: Wait a minute, C-Nut…..Boston cab drivers don’t get the same volume of business as do their brethren in NYC so they need a higher rate, no?

CaptiousNut: They would get more volume if they lowered the damn rates to a reasonable level!!!!!!!! Now shut up DA, you are always wrong.

NewsFlash...Boston just raised cab rates last month, ostensibly to offset rising gasoline costs. The deplorable Boston Globe has the story.

The city of Boston has approved a 50 cents per ride gasoline surcharge on cab fares, which are already among the highest in the nation

City officials did not say how far gas prices would have to drop before the surcharge was rescinded.

The fare relief comes at a time when the city is also mandating that cabs must have transponders in their vehicles so they can use Fast Lanes on the Massachusetts Turnpike and tunnels.

The move is unpopular with many taxi drivers, who do not want to face a huge Fast Lane bill every month.

"I've had a transponder, and the average bill was $800 to $900 a month," Meister said.

That’s right, the already sky high taxi rates for everyone in Boston have been raised and the Boston Globe calls it “fare relief”.

And can you believe that the cab drivers actually don’t want to have Fast Lane (even though the tolls are a direct surcharge to the riders)?

But then again, why should they be any different than the rest of the dopes up here that prefer to wait in the cash lanes?

The idiocy up here seemingly never ends, pick any topic, talk to almost any person, open any newspaper and your jaw will drop at the depth of ignorance in Boston.

Let me give another example. I just grabbed a copy of The Bulletin, a West Roxbury local newpaper. Consider the headline Harvard expansion raises expectations, real estate values

Harvard University’s decision to expand into Allston has some residents concerned about the growing number of students inhabiting the area and the threat of increased traffic.

Now, as the proposed project draws closer, another fear has emerged - the likely rise in cost of homes in the area.

A home at 62-64 Kirkwood Rd. in Brighton has been put on the market with an asking price of approximately $1.6 million, an out-of-the-norm price that has some local activists uneasy about what could be a market shift set in motion by Harvard’s plans.

Local activist Bill Haas said he is "tremendously amazed" at how high the price has been set for the home on Kirkwood Road.

"To put a home up for sale at $1.6 million is just crazy," Haas said. "This could drive up other prices in the area and make Brighton unaffordable. I hope this is an anomaly because it is so way out there, but on the other hand, everything else in the area can go up with it."

Haas said he thinks the cost of the home is proof that Boston College students are "driving the rental income through the roof."

"If there is a condominium in a complex that decides to sell their unit for a much higher cost than everyone else - then the costs all eventually go up because everyone thinks that they can get much more for their property. It’s just amazing."

Local activist”? Why don’t they aptly call him some local Moron?

He thinks that simply listing a house at a high price will “drive up other prices in the area”?

I love how that article bemoans the "cost" instead of the value of homes. Almost as if real estate appreciation is categorically a bad thing. I am sure all of the homeowners in that area are PISSED at the prospect of their houses appreciating.

With Perma-Commi Naysayers, both the appreciation and the depreciation of real estate are ripe talking points.

Yeah it is the listing that drives home prices up, not fundamentals or demand. I hate to even spend one sentence debunking these dopes but include such only for purposes of econo-illiteracy illustration. It is not like these Morons are harmlessly wallowing in their ignorance, they pervade media stories, politics, and public policy.

Okay, I went off in a slight tangential rant, but this is where any discussion of Boston takes me. Back to the cycle of economic illiteracy. To reiterate, we have fossilized demographics with fixed income and the resultant blah service sector. We have a socialized political climate that away scares and taxes away businesses. We have poor transportation infrastructure.

On the other end of the demography side is the considerable college and university populations. Whatever the issue, Boston Globe writers will find some university professor to back their pre-conceived claim. The whole city’s obsession with these schools numbs the mind.

These academics are absolute Morons. Everytime an esteemed university economist open their mouths, they say something profoundly ignorant like,

"consumers are irrational when they leave tips at restaurants that they will probably never return to..." or

"tax cuts are trying to take credit for 'normal' growth..."

Red Sox outfielder Mike Greenwell used to slide into first base and sportswriter Bob Ryan just had to go find some MIT Physics professor assert its folly (i.e. that a baserunner would not be optimizing their speed by sliding.)

It is another variation of Selective Metric Fishing. The columnists start out with conclusions and then go looking for dignified evidence. Most people think a Harvard professor is an unimpeachable source, which I think is laughable in and of itself.

No disrespect to teachers, on the contrary I have the highest respect for the profession. I even aspire to teach some high school myself one day. BUT, teachers represent one of the most economically illiterate demographics out there. This goes from elementary school educators all the way to Harvard professors. Working in a socialized industry completely insulates them from the real world and negative feedback.

Recently I asked my mother, a high school teacher, whether she thought we were in a recession or not. She paused, accurately sensing entrapment and replied,

"I don't know......that is your thing (to know about)..."

Now that was a much more satisfying answer than the "yes...we are in a recession" response of an astounding 43% of the public, but it still leaves much to be desired.

How can someone who is a homeowner, taxpayer, grandparent, consumer, and voter not bother themselves with knowing an inkling about the economy in which they are inexorably immersered?

One more note about teachers. John Stossel of ABC was on Bill O'Reilly last night promoting his upcoming show on how bad government schools are and he dropped this nugget:

"In the last two years, out of over 80,000 teachers in the New York City School system, only 2 have been fired for incompetence."

This is what I mean when I talk about insulation from NEGATIVE FEEDBACK.

I would venture to guess that substantially more than 2 highly competent teachers quit teaching in NYC over that same period because of work conditions, bureaucratic BS, the socialistic pay scale, etc.

Such ignorance is par for the course up here in Massachusetts mostly because nobody works in the private sector. Growing up in Central Massachusetts, I barely knew a handful of people who had jobs in the private sector - everyone either worked for the government, in education, or healthcare.


Because of the hostile business climate there simply are no private sector jobs which forces new workers into the un-competitive sectors. Entreprenurial types move out of state and it is not hard to see how this cycle is self-sustaining. What's left is a economically illiterate public that elects representative idiot politicians.

Are you getting the impression that I hate this state?

Sticking me, a self-appointed econo-illiteracy cop in Taxachusetts is like sentencing Emeril to a lifetime of McDonalds or banishing an avid golfer to Antarctica.

Massachusetts is nothing but a bunch very old people with no life experience, pandemic economic illiteracy, and the formidable inertia of dumb ideas. Ideas so stupid that they scare good hardworking people out of state, leaving a monolith of Morons in their wake.

I'll end this post with a sign of economic vibrancy on Harvard's campus.

Yeah that will look great on your resume.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

New York Times' Bigotry Towards Suburbia

Excerpted from today's paper - with neither permission nor expressed written consent of the NY Times. Red denotes my emphasis.


Published: January 8, 2006

...those plotting a hasty exit to the suburbs (the space! the schools! the space!) may want to consider the experience of others who went before them, only to double back within a year.

"I'm never leaving the city again; I'm terrified of leaving the city," said Anna Hillen, 42, summing up the prevailing sentiment among the repatriates interviewed for this article.

Ms. Hillen, her husband, Gerry McConnell, 42, and their son, Duncan, who was 1 at the time, vacated their TriBeCa loft in December 2001, shortly after 9/11. They bought a 6,000-square-foot newly built McMansion on three acres in the upscale, semirural Westchester enclave of Pound Ridge, N.Y., not far from the country homes they had rented before.

"It was just a giant, echoing space," Ms. Hillen said, adding, "It was great to have all that room, but we never used it," except to put up extended family on holidays.

Once settled, Ms. Hillen, a stay-at-home mother, embarked on a fruitless hunt for companionship. "Out there, you have to work at being with people," she said. "In a year, I got one play date for my kid. We joined the Newcomers Club, and the day we put our house on the market, they finally called. You'd go to the library for a reading and there would be no one there." She added, "You're a lonely, desperate housewife with nothing to do."

Even the playgrounds were desolate. "And on the rare occasions there was somebody there and you struck up a conversation," she said, "they would literally move away. And they didn't encourage the kids to play together. We were so shocked."

After nine months, she persuaded her husband - who was enjoying his truncated commute to his financial services job in Greenwich, Conn. - to sell the house. "Summer had come and gone and I was looking at another winter of being completely alone," she said, citing frequent power failures as another concern, along with the so-so restaurants and lack of food delivery. "He was very supportive, the poor man."

By December 2002, the house was sold at a loss and the furniture stowed away, and the family was tucked back into their old 1,800-square-foot, two-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment in TriBeCa, which they had never got around to selling.

It's worth noting that the suburbs are populated by plenty of satisfied former city dwellers harboring few, if any, regrets. Fully expecting to join the ranks of the contented, most of the couples interviewed here said their motivation for moving out was linked to a vague understanding that it was a prerequisite for raising children - a normal transition from one phase of life to the next, and one in which they would find plenty of company.

"Everybody says when you get the baby, you leave the city," said Ronn Torossian, 31, the president and chief executive of 5W Public Relations in Midtown Manhattan. In July, he and his wife, Zhana - who have a 1-year-old daughter - sold their large one-bedroom on West 68th Street and Broadway and moved into a 3,500-square-foot split-level house in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., near friends. With the help of Ilan Bracha, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman, who had sold their apartment on West 68th, they moved back in December to a three-bedroom rental a block south from where they started.

It's like death out there," said Mr. Torossian, a fast-talking Bronx native who resisted the comparatively tempered pace, like food delivery that stops at 9 p.m…..

“…..I go home and there's, like, people doing their lawn every five minutes. They seem like normal people but they spend, like, hours working on their lawn."

"You go to these little towns and they are very charming and sweet and have all these cute little shops," said Brian Lover, who put his West Orange, N.J., house back on the market just three months after moving there. "But I think when you live in these areas full time, those neighborhood shops aren't so cute. And those neighborhood restaurants that look so great, you know how bad they really are."

Mr. Lover, 42, a vice president at the Corcoran Group, and his wife, Kristina Rinaldi, 41, an interior decorator, decided to give up their one-bedroom rental on West 55th Street when they had a daughter, Tallulah. They wanted to live in Montclair, N.J., a popular magnet for exurbanites. Outmatched in bidding wars, they expanded their search to neighboring West Orange. There they became besotted by "an old English Tudor with a slate roof, character, an acre and a half of land," said Mr. Lover, who worked as a fashion advertising director for Esquire magazine at the time.

In July 2001 they bought the house for $480,000; it came with a tinge of unreality. "Every day when I came home, I would say to myself, 'I really am a king and this is a castle, and who do I think I am?' "

With their baby in tow, the couple stalked the parks and Gymboree classes in nearby Montclair, figuring "that's where we'll find the city people and the cool parents," Mr. Lover said. "But there wasn't anyone we could find a core to. It was all air." As for the city people they'd hoped to meet? "They were city people, not anymore," he said. "The suburbs have some way of sucking the city out of you."

"It's definitely someone's dream; it's just not our dream," said Andrew McCaul, a 37-year-old photographer who moved from Ridgewood back to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, in June - exactly one year after buying a $580,000 three-bedroom Dutch colonial, in walking distance of town, with his wife, Sarma Ozols, 36, and their son Aidan, now 2.

Their suburban sojourn started off promisingly in June 2004. "It was like a honeymoon period where it felt like we had a country house in the summer," Mr. McCaul said. But after three months, he said, "real life started setting in."

There was the commute, for one thing. "You kind of trick yourself into thinking the commute is going to be easier than it is," said Mr. McCaul, who only occasionally caught the express train for a 40-minute door-to-door commute. "I spent many depressing nights at the Hoboken station," he added, waiting more than half an hour for a connection.

"If you go out for a drink with friends, you're always watching the clock," he said. Adding insult to tedium, Mr. McCaul suffered through the suburban version of the Freshman 15, putting 10 to 15 pounds on his normally thin frame, which he attributed to his mostly nonpedestrian lifestyle.

Though the couple liked their neighbors, Ms. Ozols, a photographer at home part time with her young son, recalled feeling cut off. "I didn't have a community of moms, and I guess that would have come in time if my child were older and going to school," she said. "It's not as easy as being in Brooklyn where you just start talking at the playground and there's always someone to talk to."

She also found that the unaccustomed space - the house was roomy compared with the 850-square-foot rental they had left behind - "weighed on me," she said. And she developed an unfamiliar, unwelcome compulsion toward domesticity. "On Thanksgiving, I kind of felt I had to be Martha Stewart, with all the right plates and everything," she said.

They listed the house last Mother's Day and sold it for $60,000 more than they had paid. The couple, who now also have a 4-month-old child, Julian, put the proceeds toward a 1,000-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bath condo loft in Carroll Gardens West. "The space is a lot smaller, but it's all we need," Ms. Ozols said.

Melanie Williams, 40, also determined that smaller can be better. In February 2004, she exchanged a $950-a-month, rent-stabilized two-bedroom apartment in a "decrepit" Hell's Kitchen building for a spacious $1,350-a-month four-room apartment in Riverdale, a suburban-feeling section of the Bronx, in part because of the good public schools available to her daughter, Dorothy, now 5.

"It was just like this land of no culture," said Ms. Williams, who owns Plain Jane, a children's home furnishings shop on the Upper West Side. "You never met anybody. There's one little street with a meat market on it. It was very bizarre but beautiful."

Petty crime troubled them. The family car was broken into several times while parked on the street - an unfortunate necessity, she said, because all the garages were full. And over the next nine months, she said, both she and her actor/carpenter husband, Andrew Finney, 44, came to realize that although they had moved, "our life was still in New York."

In November 2004, they rented a 900-square-foot loft in the financial district, in the well-regarded Public School 234 school district, which cost a third more than the Riverdale apartment. "It didn't matter," she said. "We had to get out of there."

Learning the hard way, twice, Mary A. Sweeney, an Upper East Side registered nurse, moved back and forth - then back and forth again - to Poughkeepsie. (The first chapter, beginning in 2000, lasted almost two years; she blamed the second, three-month-long episode, occurring in 2003 when Ms. Sweeney was newly pregnant with her third child, on "lack of oxygen going to the brain.")

Ms. Sweeney, 36, recalled the many disconnects she discovered between fantasy and reality.

"We had this beautifully landscaped acre-and-a-half of land for the kids to play in, but we were terrified of Lyme disease," Ms. Sweeney said. "We lived in a cul-de-sac and it was lovely but if we biked off the cul-de-sac, we were on these beautiful country roads that were curved so that bike riding on them wasn't so safe. We realized we were far safer going to Central Park, really playing with the kids and having our picnic, especially in the summertime."

She mostly stayed at home while her husband, Azeddine Yachkouri, 43, commuted to his job as a banquet manager at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Manhattan. "It was lovely for him to drive home to me and the kids and the house and then drive back to the city the next day and work and socialize," she recalled. "But for me, when this retreat is my everyday life, it became monotonous and mundane."

Those who have left and returned sometimes share their wisdom with friends who are considering the same move. "When people tell us that they're thinking about it, I'm like, don't do it," Ms. Ozols said. "But everybody has to get it out of their system. If we didn't do it, it would still be in the back of our heads. Maybe I would tell them to rent instead."

Why doesn't the Times just hoist up a flag for all to see proclaiming,


They can't just say they like the city, they have to piss on suburbia.

Where is the enlightened tolerance? What about multiculturalism?

Oh yeah, I forgot. There is no "culture" in the burbs? How is that for untrammelled arrogance?

Make no mistake, this is the Times Editorial Board speaking here. These "random" people are simply the vehicular mouthpiece of Arthur Sulzberger and his degenerate minions.

Where I grew up, children came first. Whether it was soccer games or homework, my family revolved around what was best for the kids - and this applied to almost everyone I knew. But this article is full of self-centered parents hellbent on THEIR SOCIAL LIFE, THEIR FOOD, THEIR CULTURE, etc. But what about the kids?

No crap the food is great in Manhattan, but that is a FALSE COMPARISON.

Shouldn't they choose to live in the best environment for their children?

The government schools in Westchester County may be the best in the nation. Maybe these selfish whiners should elevate the education of their children over the alleged Third World takeout menus in Scarsdale and Pound Ridge?

The only complaint that superficially reflected the best interests of children was from the dolt who asserted that suburbanites don't "encourage the kids to play together".

This is anti-suburban propaganda, pure and simple. Out of 2668 words, and only these mere 21,

"It's worth noting that the suburbs are populated by plenty of satisfied former city dwellers harboring few, if any, regrets.",

...are not inimical towards the burbs.

This article reminds me of a Manhattan lifer that I know. When he moved his family out to Westchester, a light in his new house went out and he didn't know how to change a lightbulb. Seriously. He thought one needed a super to change a bulb.

So who really are the culturally deficient fools?

Those who think small talk with a doorman is socialization? Those who can't screw in lightbulbs and can't cook? Or the rest of America?

I already synopsized this article once (above) but this further condensation is all one needs to know about the Times' attitude toward suburbia.

giant, echoing space
fruitless hunt for companionship
lonely, desperate housewife
didn't encourage the kids to play together
completely alone
lack of food delivery
It's like death
seem like normal people but
tinge of unreality
all air
sucking the city
nonpedestrian lifestyle
compulsion towards domesticity
smaller can be better
land of no culture
lack of oxygen going to the brain
don't do it
get it out of their system

And if this is how they feel about tony Westchester and other uppidity Manhattan suburbs.....imagine what they think of flyover-country suburbia.