How Americans spend their money in the last 75 years

How many relatives do you know who bought a house right after WW2, and stayed there? In my case, there are a bunch of them. It is probably different for urban people, but all of the elderly people in my family paid off any mortgages long before retirement. Their housing costs are very low. Of course, the source article does not define housing costs, which include rent, property taxes, utilities, day care(?), furniture, electronics, appliances, dorm rooms, parking, but does not include mortgage payments, which are apparently not included in any of these categories. Also, it seems that other loan payments, such as credit cards, are not included as expenditures.

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Oh, I should have guessed that even. I wasn’t doubting you nor the data you supplied. I just didn’t know, was impatient and annoyed because I didn’t know immediately and wanted to.
It would be interesting to see how much of those homes was “owned” by banks (financed) in a graph like that.
Didn’t the “flipping houses bubble” happen when financing was too easy, driving prices and thereby making it harder to outright buy and own property?
Since the burst people default, banks hold massive real estate?

[quote=“tlwest, post:60, topic:91977, full:true”]

The trouble is that once the transition is finished and scarcity is almost artificial, it’s even harder to change the status quo and it’s really easy to be locked in to a world were 90% have almost nothing (and 10% are working their tail off to avoid being part of the 90%).

It’s a nasty treadmill, but we’re all running on it.

My other worry about UBI is that if we do achieve it, I’m afraid what it will do to people. I’ve known a fair number of people who’ve suffered from depression at one time or another, and for almost all of them, “earning their daily oxygen” was almost always a vital part of preventing from falling of the depression cliff.

Now maybe it’s just my handful sample size, but if if my observation is true more widely, I really worry about the mental health of a population that could easily feel they’re utterly superfluous.

The healthy can take up a hobby, become a care-giver, etc. but if your energy is already being sapped by depression, it becomes incredibly easy to just curl up in bed, which just makes things worse.[/quote]

As one of those who suffers from that degree of depression, I think the capitalist treadmill has a great deal to do with whether or not one feels truly superfluous.

I feel that once a basic-income cycle like that is attained, there would be more people who have the time and inclination to engage with each other more directly (fewer connections dependent solely on business and capitalist ideals), humanely (hopefully, with less classist behavior), and with more time to reflect on our existence in life.
I think this would at least provide some positive stimulation and interaction for the melancholy ones who desire it.


I would love to see a re-re-released edition of Putnam’s Bowling Alone that includes a new section on just this. I can only imagine it will greatly accelerate the shift towards a new norm where one’s real social network is nodal rather than geographical.


A slummy one-bedroom apartment in a bad neighborhood costs about 3 to 4 times what it would have 20 years ago, and twice what a decent apartment in a decent neighborhood used to be. It is different in different regions, but when I moved from low cost region to high cost, it was pay rates 25% higher while rents were 50-100% higher.

So if each person in the country owned 5 houses but only lived in 1 of them, that would be only a 20% home ownership rate and would look worse than if only 1/3rd of the people owned 1 house and lived in it? Interesting.

I would guess so. But I wonder how much ended up in the lost and found. The 2007 crash was odd. Many mortgages had been bought, sold, split up, securitized, retranched, divested in bankruptcies, etc. There’ve been a number of articles about cases involving houses where no one really knows exactly who owns the property anymore. There’ve also been a number of cases where con artists broke into foreclosed/abandoned houses, changed the locks, and rented them out (in some cases for several years). At least one guy got busted for that after making millions, did his jail time, got out, and made over a hundred thousand doing it again before he got busted again. And on top of that, there are statutes of limitations on foreclosures, and legal disputes about whether banks can keep foreclosing on a house after the statute of limitations runs out or if the occupants get ownership. And of course, the question of squatters rights for those who’ve managed to stay in one of those houses long enough for the banks to figure out the paperwork.

Landlords aren’t “producing” rental stock. You could argue that developers are, but new owners of older rental properties? They didn’t build that. And they wouldn’t have bought it if they didn’t think they could make a profit leeching off the tenants who couldn’t afford to buy a house of their own.

Here’s an exercise: Compare someone who does not have the benefit of your expertise in machine learning to someone who is SLEEPING ON THE FUCKING STREET.

Housing is not a commodity, it’s a human right. The market fails at housing for many of the same reasons it fails at healthcare. Stop worshipping the goddamned market, it’s a human construct, not some absolute philosophical truth.


None. The census enumerates people not corporate people.

But you could look

I’m another companion of the black dog. We’re both artists. It’s easy for us to see all the novels, paintings, sculptures, plays, albums, and other works the world would be enriched with if no one had to work a 40+ hour week to survive.

I believe in UBI for a lot of reasons. I think it’d be better for the human soul if our self-worth wasn’t tied up in the struggle to make a group of rich people think your services are worth your right to live. I think for a lot of us it would still be a pretty big adjustment. A worthwhile one but it’s important not to understate how big an adjustment it will be. It’s not a show stopper but we need to build social structure into the plan.

“You feel like you need to do something? Awesome. We have a garden program which meets every morning at 9AM and works on community gardening. I know they’d love to have you.” With lots of options available. Preferably things that don’t get done today because we don’t have anyone willing to pay for them to be done. Otherwise we’re just forcing more people out of paying jobs, amplifying the problems we have today.

Collaborative art spaces so newly freed-up artists who need to work on their art around other people have places to go and the walls on their own places don’t start to loom and mock them.

Community-based recognition of the art and community improvements made possible by UBI both to give feedback to people who are used to having (or wanting but not getting) feedback and to prevent the issue the ACA has had.

(Plus group therapy, one-on-one therapy, and all the other things we’ve never had a lot of but we’ve also never had in lower supply than we do today.)


Ah, but it took a year for the huge piles of Silent Running money to accumulate :stuck_out_tongue:

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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Yes, after some more in-depth research (Wiki), disco as we know disco was still baking in the oven back in '73. Though all the ingredients were there, it would still be a year or two before dance floors would be filled with coke-addled booty-shakers.


I think that it would be worth mapping soil bacteria in large areas. With regard to things like temperature, Ph avaliable nutrients etc. Having universal basic income would benefit everyone by enabling people to spend their time exploring pet projects that have no immediate pay day.

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But while you map soil bacteria, and I conserve antiquities, someone else is going to have to pump septic tanks or move bricks on a construction site. And I can tell you for sure that stacking bricks for 12 hours at a time is no fun. So there has to be some incentive for people to do useful but unpleasant things.
Also, my big question is how we deal with all the people who feel that they can best contribute to society by looking at pornography and smoking dope. If doing so pays as well as digging ditches, it becomes an easy choice.

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Then bricklaying and ditchdigging will pay better than UBI. You want more than a room in an SRO with a shared toilet and ramen or rice & beans for dinner, you sober up and put down the porn and go do something you’re not real excited about. Nobody would be living high on the hog on UBI, just as nobody is eating ribeye and lobster on food stamps. (Except people committing fraud with off-the-books income.)


Yeah. Maybe it worked ok at a time when people who couldn’t afford to buy a house of their own could just grab a shovel and an axe, head west, and build one of their own, claim the land, and eventually become a landlord themselves. Times have changed a bit since then.


Ok, I understand your point. I still think that more people will be called to the study of dope and porn than society would normally require.


Why do you believe that? It’s not like real actual people who exist in the real world have high rates of 'Well, I’ve done enough work to afford my dope and porn for the month and pay my bills. Time to quit and go get high and jerk off. That expensive [commodity/item/tool] that I want? Yeah, forget it this month." Because that’s basically what you’re saying–that, once the very basic needs are met, you figure that this will enable a larger number of people to simply drop out instead of having ambition for finer things.

But I don’t see white collar or blue-collar people going, “Oh, bills are paid, time to slack off!” anytime soon.

So, yeah. Calling this argument a strawman.


Well, since the whole conversation is hypothetical, I will admit that I might be completely wrong.

Except that new rental stock is produced pretty much directly proportional to returns (unless prevented by incumbent land-owners who don’t want to see more density). I’d have loved a substantial break on rents in the 1980’s and 90’s. However, the cost of it would have been everybody who is housed in stock built from those times onward, and that seems to be a pretty selfish attitude.

Incumbent landlords have come into a windfall. No denying that. But the only way out of high rents is more rental stock. Everything else is basically “to hell with anyone who comes after me as long as I get mine now”. How do we get more rental stock?

Well, there’s certainly social housing, but the capital requirements are way too high for government to ever add much more than a drop in the bucket. Personally, I prefer gov’t programs that encourage low-level (fewer amenities, smaller square-footage) apartments, boarding houses, basement apartments, etc. all of which increase the supply.

Anything that is not directed at increasing the supply is simply shuffling different tenants, usually to a diminished supply, which is overall welfare reducing.

Here’s hoping you’re right and I’m not :-).

Well put (and worth 15 likes). Let’s worry about landlord’s windfall rents instead of measures to actually increase housing stock. Let’s give every incentive for casual landlords (renting rooms, etc.) to ensure that they take the extra room over the extra income (and substantial risk) . At least they won’t be bleeding us.

The idea that it’s worse to have people who “unjustly” win than to have fewer losers is corrosive. In my mind, the only thing that matters is having more housing units which means less people sleeping on the street.

Alright. But if this isn’t simply a fatuous claim, let’s talk about exactly how this achieved. Mandatory housing of refugees at what, a rate of one person per 300 sq ft. of housing owned or rented?

Or is this a human right that’s confined only to us Lords of Creation, where we have no duty to the rest of the world?

Rather than a human right, which is a universal obligation upon all of us to every one, I’d call this something that a nation that is wealthy enough has an ethical duty to try and provide to its citizenry.

True, but it embodies a lot of human drives that are ignored to our peril, Venezuela being an unfortunate example of what happens when we pretend it doesn’t exist at all.

There’s a hell of a difference between letting water flow wherever it likes and ignoring the damage (laisse-faire capitalism) and pretending that you can just ignore how water flows. (And yes, there is one way, but frankly the examples of that are even more frightening.)

As almost everything in life, the sensible answer lies in the middle, even if it’s not as satisfying as watching the tears of your enemies.

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That’s a false dichotomy, and also a nonsequitur, since I was pointing out the fundamental disparity in effect between someone not being able to afford computer programming services and someone not being able to afford housing. An individual going without a specialized inessential service doesn’t meaningfully suffer; one going without shelter dies. The market works for the former and fails at the other.

OT: Even there it’s not necessarily a universally proven best system. How much would Office 365 sell for if LibreOffice didn’t exist? WordStar alone retailed for $495 in 1983 — $1,199.50 in 2016 dollars.