Quote for Today – 09.19.20

Higher education committed suicide with its dual racketeering model. First was the college loan racket, in which schools colluded with the federal government to jam too many “customers” through the pipeline who didn’t belong there, and who buried themselves under a lifetime debt obligation they could never escape. The second was the intellectual racket of creating sham fields of study that contaminated all the other “humanities” with poisonous bullshit theory, and eventually even invaded the STEM disciplines. Covid-19 screwed the pooch on all that, scotching the four-year party-hearty in-residence part of the deal. For now, who needs an online class in Contemporary Sexual Transgression ($2000-a-credit) when you can just click on Porn-hub for free? Hundreds of colleges and universities will be going out of business in the years ahead.

James Howard Kunstler — https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/things-going-by/#more-‘

Quote for Today – 09.16.20

We do not, as these numbers show, live in one economy. We are a tale of too many economies. There are no one-size fits all solutions, though several trillion dollars more of spending surely will benefit everyone. No part of the country is unaffected by the past months, but some parts are devastated and others merely dented. A sense that we are actually all in this together would dictate that we only thrive when most of us thrive, but that sense was not prevalent enough before this crisis for it to be demonstrable during. Instead, our many economies are making collective stories impossible and added to the sense of fracture that the presidential election and pandemic are magnifying.

America is a Tale of Fractured Economic Realities and That’s Stopping Us From Fixing this Crisis — By Zachary Karabell September 15, 2020 1:30 PM EDT — https://time.com/5888267/america-fractured-economic-realities/

29 Million Americans Don’t Have Enough to Eat

According to a new report commissioned by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), as of July, the number of people who said they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat has skyrocketed to 29 million, or 11 percent of adults in the United States. (By comparison, 8 million adults, or around 4 percent, did not have enough to eat in 2018.) In 38 states and Washington, D.C., more than one in ten adults with children had inadequate amounts of food, with the highest rates of hunger in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas…

Now, new data from the Census Bureau, referenced in the report, shows that even America’s middle class is now reckoning with hunger. Two years ago, only 3 percent of adults earning between $50,000 and $75,000 a year said they did not have enough to eat; during the pandemic, that rose to 8 percent. Similarly, 5 percent of adults earning between $35,000 and $50,000 reported that hunger in 2018; now, it is 12 percent. 

https://thecounter.org/covid-19-hunger-food-insecurity-crisis-america/

Spain – a Squatter’s Paradise

For many people, squatting is a desperate last resort, while for some it is a lifestyle choice or a political statement. Barcelona, which is ground zero of Spain’s squatting phenomenon, attracts squatters from all over Europe. In recent years, more and more young locals — including many with jobs — who have been priced out of the rental market or who simply don’t want to pay the inflated rents have also turned to squatting.

https://wolfstreet.com/2020/09/12/how-spain-became-a-squatters-paradise/

If you live in a part of the world that is blessed with a year round moderate climate this phenomenon is coming to your town.

Meanwhile in Argentina…

In Argentina, they have gone beyond just squatting. Lands with no buildings on them are being occupied, houses build on them and people moves there, sometimes in just a few weeks. Once the illegal houses are occupied getting the people out and the houses destroyed is not easy. That already was a problem before quarantine but during quarantine? It has got a lot worse. And of course there is squatting too.

Reader comment on the arttcle

A majority of young adults in the U.S. live with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression

In July, 52% of young adults resided with one or both of their parents, up from 47% in February, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of monthly Census Bureau data. The number living with parents grew to 26.6 million, an increase of 2.6 million from February. The number and share of young adults living with their parents grew across the board for all major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, and metropolitan and rural residents, as well as in all four main census regions. Growth was sharpest for the youngest adults (ages 18 to 24) and for White young adults.

A majority of young adults in the U.S. live with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression — https://pewrsr.ch/351SVs1

And to think the number of young people living with their parents was based upon data from July. This percentage will go higher since a lot of kids are moving back home from college earlier than expected.

The problem with college during the coronavirus pandemic is not just what’s happening on campuses and in college towns. It’s also that colleges may end up spreading the virus to dozens of other communities. In recent weeks, as students have returned to campus, thousands have become infected. And some colleges have responded by sending students home, including those known to have the virus.

Last week, after hundreds of students came down with the virus, the State University of New York at Oneonta ended in-person classes and sent students home. Colorado College, North Carolina State, James Madison (in Virginia) and Chico State (in California) have taken similar steps. At Illinois State, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia, administrators have encouraged some students who have tested positive to leave campus, so they don’t infect other students, and return home.

These decisions to scatter students — rather than quarantine them on campus — have led to widespread criticism. “It’s the worst thing you could do,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s leading infectious-disease expert, said on NBC. “When you send them home, particularly when you’re dealing with a university where people come from multiple different locations, you could be seeding the different places with infection.” – Zach Morin, a University of Georgia student, told WXIA, a local television station, “Once it is open and people are there and spreading it, it doesn’t make sense to send it across the nation.” Susan Dynarski, a University of Michigan economist, wrote on Twitter that “unloading students onto home communities” was “deeply unethical.”

There are no easy answers for colleges, because creating on-campus quarantines brings its own challenges. At the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, one student who tested positive — Brianna Hayes — said that no employee checked on her during her week in isolation. “Feverish and exhausted from the virus, she made four trips up and down staircases to move her bedding and other belongings to her isolation room,” The Times’s Natasha Singer writes, in a story about campus quarantines.

Still, many experts say that the colleges that chose to reopen their campuses despite the risks, often for financial reasons, have a moral responsibility to do better. “Universities are not taking responsibility for the risks they are creating,” Sarah Cobey, an epidemiologist at the University of Chicago, said.

Last spring, the meatpacking industry became a vector for spreading the disease, when it quickly reopened and caused hundreds of new infections. This fall, higher education may end up being a similar vector.

David Leonhardt – The New York Times The Morning newsletter email 09.09.20

Clusterfuck.

What is the ideal age to retire? Never, according to a neuroscientist — ideas.ted.com

 

If you want to live a satisfying, long life, neuroscientist Daniel Levitin has some advice for you: Stay busy. What is the ideal age to retire? Never. Even if you’re physically impaired, it’s best to keep working, either in a job or as a volunteer. Lamont Dozier, the co-writer of such iconic songs as “Heat…

via What is the ideal age to retire? Never, according to a neuroscientist — ideas.ted.com

 

 

Life Insurance In The Age Of COVID-19

“I just didn’t think I needed it yet, and I’ve committed most of my financial resources to my business,” says Silkoff, 31, the president and co-founder of MyRoofingPal.com, an online marketplace that connects property owners with roofing contractors.

COVID-19, though, forced Silkoff to consider his mortality. “I don’t want to leave my wife in debt should something happen to me,” he says. “Also, during the slowdown, I had more time to do the research.” So Silkoff purchased a 10-year term life policy with $500,000 of coverage for about $30 a month.

Life Insurance In The Age Of COVID-19 — https://insurancenewsnet.com/oarticle/life-insurance-in-the-age-of-covid-19?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=life-insurance-in-the-age-of-covid-19#.X1PyadR7nb0

A life insurance policy is an act of love.

Think about it.

College Clusterfuck 2.0 – “It’s a Dystopian Hell” – Updated

Update 09.05.20

What could be worse than being stuck at home with Mom and Dad for months on end isolated from friends, activities restricted?

Going back to Mom and Dad to be stuck at home for even longer because you got expelled from college AND telling them they just paid for a year of college and housing for nothing.

The students were part of a special one-semester program for first-year students and according to Globe, the prepaid $US 36,500 cost for the semester won’t be refunded. Students won’t be able to take courses from home but are eligible to return in the fall.

11 freshmen at Northeastern were dismissed for violating COVID-19 rules. Their $35,000 tuition won’t be reimbursed. — https://www.businessinsider.com.au/11-northeastern-students-dismissed-breaking-covid-19-rules-party-2020-9

jordanschachtel.substack.com — America’s college students are returning to campus for the Fall semester, and many are finding themselves in an environment that no longer resembles an academic institution, but something closer to a correctional facility for young adults. It’s not just a handful of schools that are pursuing extreme restrictions and punitive measures in the name of “stopping the spread” of the coronavirus, but something that has become a nationwide norm.

Tales from America’s COVID college campuses — https://muckrack.com/jordan-schachtel/articles

College campuses have transformed into some of the most restrictive environments in America.  After hearing about these conditions, I sent out a post on social media asking for testimonials from students, parents, and educators. The responses below are some of the many replies I received discussing what students are experiencing in colleges and universities that have allowed for students to return to campus.

Tales from America’s COVID college campuses — https://jordanschachtel.substack.com/p/tales-from-americas-covid-college

From what I can tell Jordan Schachtel is an investigative journalist. If you follow the link in the second quote above you’ll find a bevy of quotes from both students and parents on college life 2020 pandemic edition. What you’ll read is absolutely jaw dropping. A lot of prison analogies…

This is not going well nor will it end well. Online education will become the new operating model for higher education sooner rather than later. See my earlier rant Post Pandemic Changes in Consumer Behavior for Professor Galloway’s opinion. He says it’s simple math.

Funny to think how colleges and universities will succeed now that they all have to focus on education and teaching their students. Not sports. No longer modern day fiefoms that exist solely to enrich the clueless intellectual elites. My Dad always told me the purpose of college was to teach you how to think, not what to think. High time to get back to what a “higher” education should be.

The Implosion of Freelance Work

I live in LA, and the article is really about people who work in entertainment/media — every tv show, commercial, music video and movie is the result of anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of people who work for the run of the project, then move on to another project. It’s everything from the building trades – carpentry, electrical, rigging/framing – to business services — legal, accounting, HR – to tech heavy work – video/sound editing — and finally, a lot of musicians — people who write and play the music you hear. All of these people are employees of the production, not AB5 type gig workers.

It’s a lifestyle/career choice and not for everyone. People hustle, build relationships and are always on the lookout for the next gig. But the work has been steady for decades, and then very suddenly the whole sector shut down hard.

Los Angeles Hit Hard by Implosion of Freelance Work

 

The pandemic has only exacerbated tenuous financial conditions for many in the flexible workforce.  According to a survey of more than 1,100 U.S.-based respondents interested in flexible work, more than half (53%) of people are currently earning half or less of their pre-pandemic income. Approximately one-third (31%) of respondents have lost their entire income since the pandemic started. This survey was conducted by FlexJobs, fielded in partnership with Prudential (1), in late June 2020.

Demographic breakdown of the 1,100 U.S.-based respondents interested in flexible work. Gender: female (81%), Male (17%) Prefer not to identify (2%) Ages: 20-39 (29%), 40-59 (53%), 60+ (18%); Education: high school degree or equivalent (4%), some college but no degree (15%), associate or bachelor’s degree (48%), graduate degree (33%); Career level: entry-level (11%), experienced (56%), manager (21%), senior level or higher (12%). Household income: Less than less than $50,000 (35%), $50,000 to less than $75,000 (18%); $75,000 to less than $100,000 (17%), $100,000 to less than $150,000 (17%), $150,000+ (13%). 34% of respondents were unemployed and looking for work.

Survey Finds 53% Earning Half Or Less Of Their Pre-COVID-19 Income

As a former freelancer my heart goes out to all of the gig workers whose lives have been upended by the pandemic.  I transitioned back to the world of W-2 work quite some time ago and haven’t regretted the move.

Meanwhile in Georgia…

“I think quite honestly this week went real well other than a couple of virtual photos,” Gov. Brian Kemp said at a news conference with the U.S. surgeon general.

Georgia governor: School openings going well except photos of crowded hallways

3rd Cherokee County school closes due to new COVID-19 cases

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Aspen Market – Report July 2020 – the Great Urban Exodus

unnamed
6 Bedrooms / 7 Full Baths / 2 Half Baths / 7,489 SF
$4,299,000 — EXTREMELY well priced at $575./sq ft
Extremely well priced relative to Aspen proper.  The most recent highest Sale in Aspen was $27,000,000 or $3090/sq ft for a 7-bedroom home on Willoughby Way built in 2015.
Aspen 072020

 

The real estate market is booming! Demand has reached unprecedented levels as people escape the big cities, take advantage of record low interest rates and opt to work remotely. This was the biggest July our market has ever seen by far with 42 closings in Aspen and Snowmass, a 100% increase compared to last July, and dollar volume increased 215%. July sales for Aspen and Snowmass combined are illustrated below.

The local realtor’s email contains tons more information and data on her real estate market.  Her email was forwarded to me from my project who lives and works in the Aspen area.  If I could get $3090/sq ft for my house I’d get $11,124,000!  (minus realtor commissions).

Time to reread Jane Jacobs’ Life and Death of American Cities.