Parking economics
Parking is a thing that sometimes doesn't follow the normal laws of economics.  Paid parking makes sense in crowded cities where there's limited real estate and lots of potential users.  Plus the price is roughly correlated to demand.  That's how supply-side economics works.  And the price and availability are a disincentive to use the service; sort of a double-win. 

I went to a minor league baseball game recently, and it was completely the opposite.  The price for parking was constant, so it's completely unrelated to demand.  And the supply was plentiful, so it's not like they were discouraging it.  Plus it's nearly impossible to do anything other than drive to this place; there aren't other options.  I guess it was simply so they could keep their ticket prices low while still maintaining a profit.  A shitty practice. #money

Refund cards
I moved recently, and I had the distinct pleasure of interacting with my local cable/internet company.  They pre-bill, and I moved about halfway through the month.  So they said, "Oh hey, no big deal, we'll send you a refund."  This was a little difficult because, like I said, I moved, but they eventually found my new address and sent me a thing.  Why in the name of holy fuck they couldn't just refund my credit card directly, since that's the payment method I used dutifully for years, I'll never understand. 

Or maybe I will.  So instead of sending me a refund check, they sent me a refund debit card, which is apparently a common thing these days.  A refund debit card works like a regular credit card, or at least that's the idea.  I activated it and tried to use it at a store but it wouldn't work.  I'm 99% sure that's part of the grift -- these debit cards charge ridiculous fees and have a bunch of small print, very likely in an attempt to make it too frustrating to use.  And that's the whole business model of companies that issue refund debit cards.  It's apparently "too expensive" or "too difficult" for cable and other companies to directly issue refunds to customers, so they contract that process out to a third party company which makes things difficult and unpleasant enough to make customers just give up and abandon their money.  Thankfully there was an option to transfer the balance to my bank account, which I'm still not entirely sure isn't a scam.  But either way, I got my money, and I haven't gotten an influx of spam (yet). #money

Static vs. dynamic markets
I'm not an economist, but I've noticed there's a fundamental difference between markets where you buy a widely available item, like cookies or clothes or a car, versus markets where the supply is irregular, like buying a house or finding a job (maybe not technically a market, but it follows the same trend).  For the former, you can pretty much go to any market at pretty much any time, and you can buy pretty much the same thing.  Sure things change a little over time, but it's a fairly static market in that it doesn't really matter when or where you make the purchase.  For houses and jobs, the market is more dynamic, where the offerings could be completely different from one day to the next.  Plus a buyer can't typically own more than one at a time, so it comes down largely to timing and chance. #money

Defense budget over time
Just a heads-up:  The budget for the United States Department of Defense will likely exceed one trillion dollars by about 2040. 

I used data from here, plotted it in Excel and added a treadline with forecasting. #money

Seized drug prices
It's more than a little misleading when law enforcement and reporters say things like "[x value] of drugs was seized" in a sting operation or whatnot.  That's the value of the drugs if they were sold.  But since they're seized, they'll likely be destroyed, and so they're worth nothing.  Actually, since it took personnel and resources to seize the drugs, they're really worth less than nothing.  That's a net negative.  If the law got out of the way, those drugs could be sold for a profit, which would then stimulate the economy instead of being a drain on it. #money

Halloween economics
I think Halloween is actually great financial and economics training for kids.  On this one day of the year, kids enter the labor market and perform a task (door-to-door trick-or-treating) to receive payment (candy).  Some kids are faced with harder working conditions (hills) than others (apartments).  Some receive better compensation (full-size candy bars) than others (fruit).  But in effect, everybody does work and gets paid.  That's a great lesson on labor markets, working conditions, and wage inequality. 

Later that night, there's usually some sort of trade-and-barter system.  Some candy is objectively better than other candy, and some people are just weird and like all the lemon-flavored things.  That's a lesson on value and free market economics. 

Finally, there's a lesson on the time value of money, as the kids who save their candy are able to enjoy it long after all the gluttons blow through their savings in a week. 

I think this is largely why I grew out of celebrating Halloween.  Sure, it's weird to trick-or-treat as an adult or even as a teenager.  But honestly I can work for way less time and buy way more candy at a store whenever I want because I have a real job that pays well.  It's economics. #money

Capitalism vs. healthcare
I've felt for a while now that capitalism is inherently harmful to healthcare.  Right from the get-go, I think it's morally wrong to profit from sickness and death.  That seems pretty clear to me.  I don't think everything should simply be free; doctors and medicine cost money.  But profitability, especially for publicly-traded companies, shouldn't be the thing that prevents people from affording medicine. 

Pharmaceutical companies are harmed (in a sense) by capitalism in two key ways:  (1) In seeking a profit, a company will only develop drugs that have the largest market and/or the lowest development costs, and (2) due to the arguably deleterious patent and trademark system, a company can and will charge as much as they want regardless of the actual cost to develop and produce a drug.  The standard rationale is that the company needs to recoup research and development costs.  But a simple web search shows a number of pharmaceutical companies perform quite well for their investors, which we like to separate from the idea of profiting from sickness and death. 

Health insurance companies are a necessary evil because they allow large groups of people to afford unexpected, large expenses.  But when an insurance company is publicly traded, which many are, their mission changes from providing a necessary service for humans to providing a profit for investors.  This, again, is an idea we like to think of as free market capitalism producing profits, instead of corporations profiting from people dying. 

I think capitalism is largely a good economic system, capable of incentivizing great ideas and allowing class mobility.  But unregulated free market capitalism, especially with regards to the healthcare industry, directly profits from disease and death.  This is a bad thing. #money #health

Paying more for better things
I can't remember when it happened, but sometime in the last five years or so, I flipped the switch from always seeking out the cheapest alternative, to occasionally paying more for better things.  Case in point:  I switched from Sprint to Verizon as my cell phone provider.  I initially went with Sprint because they had the lowest prices for the most features.  That may still be true (with their unlimited data), but Sprint has notoriously poor coverage, and cheap and abundant features don't make up for poor cell service.

I also recently switched cable providers because I'd rather have a good product for more money than a bad product for less money.  This idea has some sort of boundary which I'm still figuring out.  I won't pay more money for better clothes or a better car or better wine, UNLESS of course the more expensive things offer me something I value more highly than thriftiness.  I spend more for shoes because I'd rather be comfortable than not.  I bought my car because it had the exact features I wanted (all-wheel drive and gas mileage), sort of regardless of price.  But once you start factoring in more than one requirement, your options get more limited, and saving money becomes less of an option. 

The bottom line is that spending more money for certain things now brings me more pleasure than spending less money on a worse version of things. #money

Buying our second house
A few months ago, we completed the purchase of our second house.  It was a trying experience, for a variety of reasons.  Of course it meant selling our first house, moving all our stuff, paying the ridiculous fees that go along with buying a house, and whatnot.  But it was made much worse by the sellers of the house we were buying, and really the entire process in general. 

After a few different tries at it, and months of looking each time, we found a house we liked for a price we could afford in an area that was convenient for us.  Standard hurdles, made more difficult because we had preferences that included things like having a garage and not living on a main road.  The house had been put on the market in January, and the price was lowered in March.  We put in an offer in May for under the asking price, and there just so happened to be a higher offer at right around the same time.  I still have a hard time believing that was an actual offer, and not the seller's friend pretending to put in a higher offer so we would increase our offer.  On the market for four months and suddenly you get two offers in one week?  Regardless, we increased our offer and they accepted, and they also offered to sell us stuff from their house -- standard stuff like a washer and dryer, curtains, etc.  But they also offered a big ugly shelving unit in the basement that they didn't feel like moving out, plus a generator hookup, which was physically wired to the main circuit breaker box.  I questioned how they could sell us the house then charge us more for the actual contents of the house, but I was told this is an acceptable practice.  Already feeling slighted, I rejected all their offers, hoping they would be pissed off at having to clear all that stuff out of their house. 

So we put in the initial paperwork and waited around for a while.  About a month later, our realtor asked us if we secured a mortgage yet.  We thought we were still in the negotiation process and needed to wait until after the home inspection.  (Side note:  This is the second time we've done this process in a decade.  We can't remember what happened last time, and we won't remember what happened this time.  You'd think a realtor would understand that.)  We hadn't even started the paperwork and document-collecting.  So suddenly we had to rush around and try to get a mortgage, which was no problem and we were already pre-approved for.  But the actual process takes time, and suddenly people felt the need to rush. 

The home inspection went fine, except for one little detail:  The home inspector initially said he'd never seen such low numbers on a radon test, which suggested to him that the test had been tampered with.  He didn't note this on his report, since the actual numbers fell within the acceptable limits.  But his feeling was that the seller moved the radon test kit so it wouldn't show the actual radon numbers in the house.  Since it wasn't official, nothing was done about it.  So that's cool. 

At some point in the process, the potential buyer of our old house hit a snag with finances or something, so the closing date had to be postponed a few weeks.  Our seller sent along a nice little threat saying the delay was unacceptable and that they could simply accept one of the other offers on the table.  I was pretty sure that wouldn't happen because we already had a signed legal contract, but that didn't make the threat any less threatening. 

Next up was the home warranty.  The real estate listing said there was a home warranty, which is a pretty cheap thing for the seller to pay for in case of unexpected broken appliances or whatnot.  In the signed contract after submitting our official offer, the seller said they refused to pay for a home warranty.  I went to our realtor and objected to the seller's habit of offering something for free and then reneging.  Realtor-to-realtor discussions proved I was correct.  The seller still refused to pay for the warranty, so the seller's realtor ended up paying for it.  This is the type of person we were dealing with. 

A few weeks before our scheduled closing date, I decided to do a quick drive by the house just to make sure they didn't decide to steal anything else from us.  What I found was a giant pile of trash and household construction debris on the curb.  Like a ridiculous giant pile of garbage.  I figured that was gonna be my first home project, so I kept driving and hoped the issue would take care of itself.  By closing time, the pile had magically vanished, but not before the seller's realtor received complaints from neighbors for the giant pile of trash in the otherwise nice neighborhood. 

At the official closing at the lawyer's office, the seller didn't show up because they had already moved to Texas.  The seller's lawyer signed the papers and said something along the following lines:  "Not to be racist, but I've dealt with people from that culture before, and they all tend to be like that."  The seller's realtor had a similar comment:  "Most real estate negotiations are win-win:  Both sides come out on top.  This seller was the first person I've dealt with who was a win-lose negotiator." 

So there you have it.  Three months of my life questioning if I would have a house to live in.  I'm sure all real estate transactions have their complications.  I feel like it shouldn't have to be that way. #money

Grades and money
When I was in school, my primary motivation was to get good grades.  I think I knew that good grades wouldn't necessarily guarantee me success in the future, but I was pretty sure bad grades would likely set me up for future failure. 

I have almost the exact same viewpoint today concerning money.  I know money can't buy me everything, but I'm also quite sure that a lack of money can't buy shit. #money

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