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If you are a product manager who provides thoughtful rather than asinine criticism, your developers will not do this. It's defence, not offence.

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"34% of North American workers now consider themselves freelancers"

That is a very surprising claim. I'd have appreciated if they told us where they got the information.

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I've been expecting freelancing to become the dominant means of finding work for a long time now. It just seems inevitable. Think about it. What does an employer offer you? Security? Nope. Pension? Nope. Predictable income? Nope. Companies have abandoned absolutely every single thing they ever offered to employees. They stagger along now just because people go to them out of habit.

Companies first came around because someone has to solve the distribution problem. That was such a valuable problem to solve that it shaped commerce and society for well over 100 years. It still shapes society. And it shouldn't. The Internet solves the distribution problem. It makes it so any 12 year old with a net connection can run circles around any mega-corporation when it comes to distributing product from point A to point B. The only place the 12 year old CAN'T beat the corporation is the place that large corporations never really managed to penetrate much in the first place - goods and service which are actually intrinsically bound to geography. You need your hair stylist to be physically near you. You need the plumber to be near you. And those people do not work for a mega-multinational.

And I expect when the change happens, it will only take a matter of weeks or months. There will be a sudden realization on all sides. Companies will realize they can't get ridiculously profitable workers for dirt cheap any more. Workers will realize their company has been playing them like a game - and realize that if they play the company at the same game instead of listening to myths their parents told them - they will kick ass any time.

Zero overhead, zero debt and obligations going up against a large organization who relies COMPLETELY on the ability to hire workers who will accept pay less than 5% of the value they actually earn for the company? It's not even a competition.

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I'm a freelancer and too have wondered why every one else isn't.

I think part of the reason is that freelancers actually do the work; they write a proposal, and then three months later people check what they produced.

So called "white collar" employees, for the most part and in my experience, pretty much sit around doing, well, nothing. They go to meetings, talk on the phone and check out the work produced by various contractors, consultants and trainees, drink gallons of coffee, and that's pretty much it.

This is of course a generalization; people who have physical jobs (moving things or making them) are in a different category, as well as people whose output is somehow monitored, etc.

But in many many big companies there are swathes of people who would be hard pressed to account for any of their day.

And they still get paid, and they still have a job, and they still have colleagues. That's something.

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It's very true. Companies pretty much provide healthcare that may be a better deal than a freelancer can get, paid vacation, and stable income during periods of time when it might for one reason or another be difficult to find work.

In exchange for that, you take on the high risk of only having 1 business paying you at any given time, and only learning about the world via 1 business. If something goes wrong with that business, or they end up doing things in a way that is not relevant to the wider world, you can get screwed.

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Regular employment still has one thing going for it - the unbounded term. Contract employees have to renegotiate every so often. Employment - no issue. Also your insurance keeps renewing, which is convenient.

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Well, in the wrong place (i.e., downsizing org or stacked ranking), you do end up "renegotiating" just that its' mostly on employers terms, and quite an unbalanced contract.

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I never thought of it that way. However, I think companies would be fine (for a while) with all their government contracts and lawyers. I get the impression the "free market" doesn't really apply to big corporations.

One advantage corps have is teamwork. (Maybe I need to get in on some kind of mastermind group.)

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There was an article a week or so back talking about the most common jobs by state. Overwhelmingly it was truck driving, where I would guess it is common to technically be "freelance". I would imagine blue collar stuff like that is the majority of the 34%.

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That's a very good point, I'll update with sources (as they are via studies done in the last few years), that was my bad for not including.

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Actually the number does not surprise me, but the source would be great. My informal observations show that great number of knowledge workers freelance on the side of their day jobs, so I suspect that the number of full-time freelancers and part-time freelancers is different.

Also, the studies might indicated breakdown by profession and how it changed over time... Programmers, graphic designers, writers, etc.

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I updated with sources - here are the direct links to the studys:

http://fu-web-storage-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/content/filer_pu...

http://www.ipse.co.uk/sites/default/files//media/documents/R...

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that caught me be surprise too, I came in here specifically to see if I could find out where that number came from.

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Here's the definition the stated source used:

“individuals who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, or project- or contract-based work in the past 12 months.”

That's very vague and broad. I mean even restricting yourself to "real/full-time" self-employed, you'll find out that many truck drivers, most mechanics, most hair dressers, they're all 1099s...

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And many of those truck drivers are misclassified.

http://www.nelp.org/page/-/Justice/2014/Big-Rig-Overhaul-Mis...

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Working for change from within the system is definitely a legitimate position to take.

That said, the objections I'm reading here are centered around supporting a government that actively tortures political activists and captured enemies. I think the phrase "if you [disagree] with their political views" trivializes that position.

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> That said, the objections I'm reading here are centered around supporting a government that actively tortures political activists and captured enemies. I think the phrase "if you [disagree] with their political views" trivializes that position.

Unless you're designing some kind of torture software, I think you're massive reaching to make one apply to the other.

Nothing about doing better e.g. tax software, road planning, or similar is going to help the US Government torture detainees.

Realistically there are millions of US Government connected jobs, it is just unrealistic for everyone to boycott them because another part of a massive government did something ethically and morally wrong.

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Agreed. Even if you think the tax code benefits the $interest_group_of_choice, reducing the number of automatically flagged audits, for example, due to better algorithms, is a win for everybody.

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Without actually proffering an opinion on the government, your argument has a problem. To the extent that streamlining some bit of the government with software frees up resources to be used elsewhere in the org chart by folks engaged in activities with which you disagree, a software developer would absolutely have enabled the offending activity.

I suppose you could counter that the abhorrent practice of intentionally wasting resources to ensure that subsequent budgets don't shrink will tend to prevent the torturers from getting the additional funds you free up with your advanced tax or road planning software, but there remains a good chance you'd free up resources for something within the department that would cause someone to be worse off than they were before. The only winning move is not to play. (OK, that was an opinion on the gov't)

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I'm not a fan of bundling up "government" like that. After all, it is a huge, huge organisation, and the torturers occupy a space entirely different from those who help you file your tax return.

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No one who eats meat can have morals stronger than those of the butcher.

Of course, that implies that U.S. citizenship is already tainted---if you aren't actively protesting, working for the government in an unrelated area isn't any worse.

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I totally understand your sentiment, but to me this reflects one of the biggest scams that has ever been pulled on the "average guy" - the notion that debt has moral weight.

I was taught by my parents, and by the books I read and TV shows I watched, that "paying your debts" made you a good person. If you don't pay your debts you're slacking. We've all heard the parables of the great person who went broke, but managed to pay his debtors later even though he legally didn't have to.

What hogwash. Lenders get paid interest in compensation for the risk that the loan might go bad. They deny credit to people if the risk is too high. That's their business. If you borrow to start a business and the business goes south, that's not a moral issue - it's built into the bank's models. Turning it into a moral issue, rather than "just bizness", is just a way for the lenders to shift the risk - that you're paying for - back to you. It's like buying insurance and then not collecting for your burnt house, because you didn't work hard enough to put out the fire.

OK, sucky analogy, but you can bet that people like Donald Trump don't worry about the morality of debt when one of their companies go broke. It's in the contract.

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This is a very interesting comment and I used to think similarly, but Matt Levine over at Bloomberg convinced me over several articles (couldn't find exactly which ones on a casual searching) that it's a little more subtle than that. In contracts between big companies, this is absolutely true. Financial institutions expect that companies will act as rational economic actors and discharge their debt when it's beneficial for them to do so. But in contracts with very small business or with individuals (say mortgages), people act economically irrationally, constrained by social norms, and not dumping their debts as quickly as the laws allow. This results in lower delinquency rates than would otherwise be the case, so the actuarial models allow for the pricing of lower interest rates, more lenient credit policies, etc. If individual people starting acting like big corporations, then default rates would go up and correspondingly interest rates on things like mortgages would go up to.

This isn't to say that that state of the world is worse. It might be better! Certainly we shouldn't discount the burden it places on people to feel guilty over their debts. That's real cost to them and to society generally. But if the social norms around debt changed, they wouldn't change in a vacuum. Probably rates would go up and that's a real cost as well.

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You make a common economy error. You are assuming the price of a good or service is defined by its cost. This is only true in very liquid (competitive) markets. Banking is no such market.

You make a perfect case of justifying that the cost of providing the lending service would be higher. However, prices are not defined by cost. They are defined, loosely, by what the market can bear. The cost is a lower limit, but nothing more. Namely, it does not define the price.

For the price of a good or service to approach cost of goods, you need very strong and constant competitive pressure. The banking market, in most countries, is not nearly competitive enough.

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It is certainly not the case that cost == price, I agree. Price is determined by supply and demand. But if you change the cost of mortgages, you probably change their supply curve and hence the market clearing price. To argue that raising the cost of mortgages doesn't change the market clearing price is make a pretty strong claim about the shape of supply and demand curves.

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The banking market, in most countries, is not nearly competitive enough.

You don't think money lending is competitive enough? You can get loans for houses, cars and school at just a few points over the risk-free rate.

I'd say the banking market is very competitive since they are all offering the same thing, money (a commodity).

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I agree that paying debts is deeply engrained as a moral issue. Although I think this is more cultural and is persistent across many cultures, not necessarily something conjured up by lenders. There is a distinction between personal debt and debt tied to a business venture.

How would you feel if your parents passed away with unpaid debt? Although not legally obliged to pay it, many people do [0]. I, personally, would feel a little sadness to know that my parents had unpaid bills. Nor would I abuse the system by taking out large debts on my death bed.

[0] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/04/business/04dead.html?pagew...

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> How would you feel if your parents passed away with unpaid debt?

It depends. If they owed a real human being, I would probably pay it. If it was a faceless corporate conglomerate, or a bank that reported millions in profits on the last quarter, I wouldn't bother.

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That's true. Sure, pay the debt if you can, otherwise just trigger the warranties (read: repo)

Of course you want to pick priorities in what to pay and what to not pay when in difficulty.

And negotiation/consolidation is an alternative

Just keep in mind your credit score will go down the drain, and yeah, maybe you can't get another credit card to hang yourself with, which might be a good thing

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Do lender's get paid interest in compensation for risk? If I'm not mistaken, lenders get paid interest because a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.

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I think this is true about loans from banks and credit cards. One place I don't believe this is true is for personal loans, often they have no interest and while you can be declined (they can so no), it is often socially awkward to do so.

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The article says the government "convinced" banks and other companies to cancel the debts, but the lenders will not be compensated. It's left as an exercise to imagine how the lenders were convinced.

I can see the benefits of getting a large number of people out of what must be a terrible situation - the numbers suggest most of the people affected probably didn't have enough income to even service their debt.

But I wonder how this will affect the ability of non-elites to borrow in the future. Although we all like to hate our financial institutions, they really have been an incredible force against class structures over the last 100 years or so, allowing the middle class to own property, start businesses, etc, by gradually extending credit to more and more people. (I recognize it's not been perfect <coughsubprime>.) Reverting to a situation where only the rich and connected can get loans would be a negative consequence. I hope the government of Croatia can counter that.

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> But I wonder how this will affect the ability of non-elites to borrow in the future. Although we all like to hate our financial institutions, they really have been an incredible force against class structures over the last 100 years or so, allowing the middle class to own property, start businesses, etc, by gradually extending credit to more and more people. (I recognize it's not been perfect <coughsubprime>.) Reverting to a situation where only the rich and connected can get loans would be a negative consequence. I hope the government of Croatia can counter that.

I have the opposite reading of history. Mortgages have been a force of social stagnation in the developed world[1].

What mortgages have done is create lots of middle class property owners. These people have a strong interest in keeping property prices high. Politicians are only too happy to oblige them.

Thus society has bifurcated into the "have houses" and the "have nots". The middle classes throw their weight around to prevent new houses being built, as every new house decreases the price of the houses around it.

Unlike the developing world, the developed world is perfectly capable of building a house for every man, woman and child. If it did, poverty would all but disappear; it's hard to be poor when you have your own house.

But the financial institutions have tied enough of the population into mortgages and home ownership that developed world poverty cannot be eradicated without a serious amount of middle class hurt.

[1] (I can only speak for the UK but I guess Croatia, like all countries, will end up in this situation eventually)

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> Unlike the developing world, the developed world is perfectly capable of building a house for every man, woman and child. If it did, poverty would all but disappear; it's hard to be poor when you have your own house.

If only that was true. The top countries by home ownership are Romania, Lithuania and Hungary, while UK and US are in the 33st/34th position and Germany/Switzerland 10 positions below: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_home_owner...

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> The top countries by home ownership are Romania, Lithuania and Hungary, while UK and US are in the 33st/34th position and Germany/Switzerland 10 positions

That has very little to do with the question. Housing costs the same amount to construct whether it's rented as apartments or sold as condominiums and the amount people are paying in rent is generally sufficient for the owner of the apartment to turn a profit.

The problem is they can't afford to buy the housing they're living in and the mortgage interest tax deduction only makes it worse. The reason renters can't buy is that they have bad credit and no down payment. The tax deduction doesn't change that, but what it does is cause the people who can get a mortgage to bid up housing prices. Higher prices requires people at the margin to have a higher down payment, which pushes them back into renting. Meanwhile higher home prices put upward pressure on rents because renters have to pay enough to overcome the landlord's opportunity cost of converting many small apartments into fewer large condos. The higher rents make it again harder for people at the margin to save a down payment, pushing them further away from home ownership.

Then the people who have paid $250K for a house that should be worth $150K realize that the price of that asset has an unduly large consequence for their net worth, so they push to eliminate high density housing and do everything possible to increase housing prices. After that the house that should have cost $150K costs $450K and the idea of doing anything to reduce housing prices is very politically unpopular indeed.

Making housing affordable is easy: Subsidize the construction of high density housing and penalize destroying existing high density housing without replacing it. "Make housing more affordable" is literally the same thing as "lower housing prices." Increase the supply, price goes down, more people can afford it. Meanwhile middle class people invest more of their money in economically productive activities rather than housing speculation.

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> The reason renters can't buy is that they have bad credit and no down payment.

At least over here, the reason is not bad credit nor need for down payment. The reason is that they do not have enough regular, stable income.

Their rents are subsidized, but the same subsidy is not available for buying property. Which does make some sense, of course.

> Making housing affordable is easy: Subsidize the construction of high density housing

No. Generally, in European countries and areas with high demand for housing, subsidizing construction is not necessary, and could be counter-productive. Making land available for construction is enough.

In areas of high demand, housing is much more expensive than construction cost, and that is because there is more demand than there is supply. And in areas where there is shortage of housing, supply is limited not by inability to construct, but by unavailability of plots to build.

Give me some land, and I can build a house myself.

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> Their rents are subsidized, but the same subsidy is not available for buying property.

That's just a whole different brand of stupidity. If you're going to subsidize people, just give them the money and let people decide whether it's more important that they pay rent or buy a house or live with parents and go to college etc. Central planning bureaucrats are going to get it wrong nine times out of ten.

> Generally, in European countries and areas with high demand for housing, subsidizing construction is not necessary, and could be counter-productive. Making land available for construction is enough.

What land? You can't make land. There is plenty of land in the middle of the desert or the tundra but nobody wants to live there. What you need is to find some old two story apartments in places where people actually want to live and put twelve story condos there instead. Or in bigger cities, replace the twelve story buildings with fifty story ones.

You don't even need subsidies. That is what the market would do naturally when housing is expensive, the problem is local governments actively interfere with it. Existing residents don't want the homes they already own to go down in value when the housing supply increases, so they throw up a bunch of zoning regulations that de facto prohibit the construction of high density housing.

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> What land? You can't make land.

In fact, often you can. Just a week ago in Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8940235

As to making bigger houses, you're quite right, but that's another aspect of "making land available". The land is there, zoning or lack of building permit does not allow developing it.

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notice that ex-warsaw-pact countries all have high home ownership due to having expropriated property and having had large "social building" projects (which also lead to some horrible places though).

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Though quite a lot of Romanians still have mortgages to pay. And to add to the injury, some are in Swiss francs.

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> Unlike the developing world, the developed world is perfectly capable of building a house for every man, woman and child.

The trick isn't building n houses. It's building n houses where people actually want to live. Oh, and also the bit where the houses should be of the kind people actually want to live in. The UK, as you are no doubt aware, but for quite understandable reasons you neglected to mention, ran with pretty much exactly that idea in the decades following WWII. To the extent that solved anything, it was in a strictly numerical sense.

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> If it did, poverty would all but disappear; it's hard to be poor when you have your own house.

I disagree. It's not so much a case of having, as a case of owing, a lot of money. Direct experience from my own family, it's really really easy to make yourself poor when you have a mortgage - because you can remortgage. And way too many predatory lenders are more than happy to let you do that until you owe more than the value of your house. Having a house makes it easy to borrow too much because you have an asset you can leverage and that way too many predators will let you leverage terribly.

I agree with your comment in general, it seems reasonable - and I'm sure things would be better if everyone had their own house. But that wouldn't stop people being poor, not if their house came with tens of thousands of debt and they could leverage it to borrow more.

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In the United States, there is a huge difference between owning your house outright and through a mortgage. As a leveraged investment, homeowners are more home speculators, requiring ever increasing values to be profitable. Up until the last decade, this had been a great engine of wealth creation for the middle class.

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> The middle classes throw their weight around to prevent new houses being built

Most middle- class folk I know are too busy cutting expenses to clear their mortgage sooner than to care about the ability of other people to buy houses.

Why would they care? You pay off your mortgage and you're done.

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Paying off your mortgage is a significant drain on resources when house prices have been driven through the roof by speculation and inflation. (See also the Bay Area.)

Disposable income drives the economy. If people are cutting instead of spending everyone loses - except property loan lenders.

Affordable housing frees up money for new businesses. Second to education, it's one of the strongest prosperity generators.

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If you are in the middle of paying your mortgage, and housing prices rise, you actually benefit, because the equity of your home will increase.

It's new homeowners who will struggle to pay.

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As long as you have a reasonable level of inflation.

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I'm guessing because:

1) A lot of middle class folk who buy houses see it as an investment, and they hope to seem some return on that investment driven by rising prices.

2) A lot of middle-class folk tap into their home equity to pay for major expenses (see HELOCs and 2nd Mortgages). Rising home values give homeowners more equity to tap into.

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>Thus society has bifurcated into the "have houses" and the "have nots".

I don't think this applies as much in the US.

A house that would cost $20,000,000 in Manhattan might cost $20,000 in Tennessee. Owning a house isn't a very good measure of wealth in the US, because almost anyone can do it.

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" allowing the middle class to own property, start businesses, etc,"

Well, there's this crazy concept called "saving money" where you don't borrow from a bank but rather put some money aside every month to be able to afford something expensive

I wonder what would happen to property prices if lending was severely restricted, maybe then the value would actually be affordable and not a lifelong debt that becomes unserviceable in the first hiccup

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The benefits of saving vs. borrowing really depends on the situation, and it's possible that borrowing is actually more beneficial.

Let's say I want to save money to buy a house, and I want to pay in cash (i.e., no mortgage). I estimate it will take me about 20 years to afford the house, so I start putting away money from my pay check.

However, since I don't have a mortgage and thus no house to live in, I also have to pay rent somewhere. This means I am paying 1/20 the cost of a house + the cost of rent in my city.

Additionally, since I won't be buying a house for 20 years, there's a risk that the value of housing could change drastically in that time period, meaning the amount I've saved might not amount to enough to cover the price of housing when I'm finally ready to buy. Obviously the risk of this happening varies by how I invest my savings, and the particularities of the housing market I live in.

So the benefit to saving vs. borrowing comes down to something like:

(Cost of Housing in 20Years) + (Cost of Rent for 20 Years) - (Gains from Investments) vs. (Cost of Housing Today) + (Interest on Mortgage for 20 years)

Obviously there's a lot of other things to take into account, but it's not as simple as Savings Good Debt Bad.

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I agree with your calculation, of course you don't need to save for 20yrs, just save for a good down payment

Too bad a lot of people go buy a house on the wrong side of that equation

However, owning vs. renting has an interesting hidden cost: you can move "anytime you want" with rent. Renting usually tracks the market affordability/cost more closely, while your mortgage doesn't change while the price go up or down, BUT if the price goes down this might be a problem.

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Well to be fair, borrowing with interest works really well only in the presence of endless growth.

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Not necessarily. Borrowing with interest also works in the presence of endless inflation; it does not necessarily need real growth.

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But does it work with near-zero inflation or deflation?

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Well, there's this crazy concept called "saving money" where you don't borrow from a bank but rather put some money aside every month to be able to afford something expensive

Yeah. Unfortunately this only works if you have enough money after you pay the bills etc. to put aside.

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"if you have enough money after you pay the bills etc. to put aside."

And how do you expect to afford a loan if you don't have money to put aside?!

(excluding the rent to mortgage case, obviously)

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And how do you expect to afford a loan if you don't have money to put aside?!

The trick is you need to live somewhere. If you can't have a loan, the money goes to rent.

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> The trick is you need to live somewhere. If you can't have a loan, the money goes to rent.

The difference is that a landlord wants a tenant who can actually pay the rent, but banks often hand out loans that are far more than the new homeowner can afford.

If a tenant can't pay their rent, the landlord will have to go through a long and painful process to remove them and find another tenant, and they'll likely be out many months of rent in the process, with nothing to show for it. If the bank doesn't get their money, they own the house, they get paid whatever costs they can't recover by PMI (which the former owner had to pay for), and they can potentially offer a loan to the next sucker to buy that same house.

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> The difference is that a landlord wants a tenant who can actually pay the rent, but banks often hand out loans that are far more than the new homeowner can afford.

That's actually pretty rare – and the problem wasn't the load but the fact that the banks which engaged in those practices for a historically brief period of time were allowed to shift the cost to other people.

I've applied for mortgages three times – 1998, 2008 and 2011. In 1998 and 2011, everyone did their due diligence correct. In 2008, the credit union and the New England regional bank both behaved responsibly while Bank of America simply confirmed my employer and pre-approved me for loan over 3 times higher than I was asking for.

Guess the only one of those three which had any problems whatsoever with loans? The other two had default rates which didn't significantly change throughout the crisis.

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The difference is that a landlord wants a tenant who can actually pay the rent...

The thread has drifted in a non-sequitur way (or maybe I misinterpreted your comment).

They were talking about saving money vs getting a loan. My comment was from the buyer's POV: you can't save for a house because you need the money to pay rent.

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The homebuyer can simply buy a smaller home and extract the difference between paying mortgage and renting.

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The greatest boon of credit is the generation of new businesses. IE, you fund a venture through a loan, which upon its success becomes a thriving business.

Beforehand, you could not save or afford the cost of the loan. Afterwards, you will make more than enough to pay it back.

Which is also the implicit risk credit is meant to impose on financers, which is why most countries have regulatory bodies that try to incentivize these kinds of loans. You put what you have up as collateral to try to make significantly more, but if you fail you lose a lot of ground and have to start over.

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I'm not sure how this relates to the previous comment.

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Plus, saving up the 10-50 thousand dollars (say, to start a restaurant in the US) required to start a business would take a significant chunk of someone's working lifetime.

To use a more concrete example, you can't make money weaving cloth when you can't afford a loom.

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Just to support what other people are saying about you being correct but insufficiently pessimistic, this has been discussed a lot here in Washington DC in connection with licensing for food trucks. There's a huge amount of interest in the trucks because they're what you can get if you can save/borrow $50K. Here's an article from a few years ago which leads with an example of an experienced chef trying to get a venture off the ground and looking at well over $750K just to open the budget version of his restaurant:

“If anyone can understand the tension between brick-and-mortar restaurants and the mobile army of food trucks that has stormed D.C. in the past year, it’s Stephan Boillon. After he lost his job at Dino in Cleveland Park in 2008, the veteran chef sought to launch an upscale sandwich shop on Connecticut Avenue NW. His plan was to offer only cold sandwiches, which would enable him to build a restaurant with no burners, no oven, and no deep fryers.

But even Boillon’s stripped-down concept was going to cost $750,000 before the doors opened—a figure that didn’t include rent, utilities, insurance, advertising, taxes, labor, association fees, or any of the other overhead it takes to operate a business in a neighborhood that expects a lot from its entrepreneurs.

So with credit tight and investment money scarce, Boillon found a cheaper way into the gourmet sandwich business: a food truck. For $50,000, one-fifteenth of the price to build his brick-and-mortar concept, Boillon started El Floridano, his rolling unit dedicated to home-made roast-pork Cubans and other bread-driven bites. Boillon had traded a restaurant’s higher profit margin for a truck’s lower start-up costs.“

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/39815/inside-dc-...

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You're right, but undershooting it by a lot. $50k couldn't even open a Subway franchise in a really cheap location. And Subway has really cheap franchises. Most fast food restaurant franchises will have startup costs in the $250,000 to $3m range. (I use franchises because the numbers are easily available. Independent restaurants vary, and if you're doing an indie-feel coffee shop or hole-in-the-wall you might be able to swing $10k, but $100-200k is what you'll start at for the type of restaurant that might actually make money. Heck, your signage might cost $5k.)

The sort of capital needed for most businesses is beyond the ability of most people to save. For some businesses (like software or various types of personal services) you can pay a lot of sweat equity, but there's lots of other types that just plain need money capital. If you're just saving, most of these would be out of range for even the upper middle class.

Financing is even more important for business expansion. I can get a loan or raise money to buy equipment/rent space/hire people that'll let me expand my business to meet demand now. It'd take ten years to save that much from current profits.

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I think your numbers are off by an order of magnitude, which makes it even harder to do for someone with few resources.

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To quote a TV personality:

"How were you able to start this with only $20,000?"

The restaurant business is particularly hard to break into: you need to rent the space, purchase all of the equipment (each piece of industrial kitchen equipment can run from the single to double digit thousands), furnish the interior, get certified, hire employees and stock perishables (including dishes), all before you can even serve one customer.

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Not really - I know someone in the town where I went to school who opened a coffee shop using a combination of cash and credit cards at that level. She now owns the building the shop is in and a home in Hawaii. Not VC riches or anything, but not bad either.

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A coffee shop isn't a restaurant.

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Well, a restaurant isn't the only business venture an individual can get into. Just the other day I saw meme-photo (can't vouch for the validity/truthfulness) about a woman that made money at the beach by attaching balloons filled with margharita mix over her breasts. And charging party-goers (probably mostly male) for the chance to drink out of them.

Ridiculous and asinine example, but I bet she started off with no more than a hundred dollars in capital. Which means that entrepreneurship, and ingenuity are what's most important. Capital will follow.

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Do you libertarians even listen to yourselves? The amount of disease that would spread... "hustling sketchy shit" is not a sustainable model of entrepreneurship.

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Do you communists even listen to yourselves? He never said he was a libertarian. And where the hell do you get this "hustling sketchy shit" from? Do us a favor and reply to the comment, not whatever your mind twisted it into.

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> Do you communists even listen to yourselves?

> And where the hell do you get this

> Do us a favor

> whatever your mind twisted it into

All of this violates the HN guidelines. Please re-read the site rules and try harder to follow them:

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsfaq.html

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Butthurt libertarian detected. Sexual arousal at thought of drinking from bacteria-laden water balloons probable.

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> Butthurt libertarian detected

This violates the HN guidelines and I'm afraid some of your other comments have as well. Please re-read the site rules and try harder to follow them:

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsfaq.html

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Your comment (and others) are not adding anything to the discussion. It's fine if you disagree, just do it in a civil manner.

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And your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries. It's fine if you get all judgey, just have a real argument.

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I'm not a libertarian, I'm an anarcho-capitalist, thanks.

And I'm all ears if you have some valid, debate inducing criticism. Though, I'd appreciate it if you kept it civil, as others have already asked you.

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> Well, there's this crazy concept called "saving money" where you don't borrow from a bank but rather put some money aside every month to be able to afford something expensive

That's great, except that everyone is born short housing. You're not trying to afford something expensive, you are trying to cover your short position. And you're either going to do it by buying or renting. And since renting is just throwing the money at someone else, it can make a lot of sense to get into a mortgage instead. (This is why rent vs buy calculators exist.)

> I wonder what would happen to property prices if lending was severely restricted, maybe then the value would actually be affordable and not a lifelong debt that becomes unserviceable in the first hiccup

Agree on this point. It's a lot like universities and student loans. They have the numbers; they know the average student can afford $x / semester. They also know the average student can take out $y / semester in loans. So what are they going to charge? $(x + y)! Increasing the accessibility of student loans just gives the universities a reason to increase the prices. They don't care how much debt students walk out with; they already got theirs.

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> Well, there's this crazy concept called "saving money" where you don't borrow from a bank but rather put some money aside every month to be able to afford something expensive

I think the point here is opportunity. You might be able to afford it in X years and pay no interest, which of course is better, but you may also have to act "now". This is where credit is adequate and needed.

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Also: time. Imagine a fellow (me, as a student) who hasn't got a washing machine and does his laundry every other week at the coin launderette, which takes several hours, including the time spent on public transport. They could save up the several hundred bucks for a washing machine and buy one in a year (student, limited budget, or just simply poor), or buy one on credit now. As soon as the thing is installed you have two more afternoons each month to get more productive work done. What would you choose?

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If you didn't borrow from a bank then banks would charge for you to store your money, making your purchases more expensive

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> Well, there's this crazy concept called "saving money" where you don't borrow from a bank but rather put some money aside every month to be able to afford something expensive.

Capital idea. I think we should outlaw all lending, to individuals and to corporations. If poor people are expected to save, then it should be even easier for those of much better circumstance and financial ability.

Imagine. No more mortgages.

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saving money

because we're all keynesians now, saving is now evil.

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Doing five years of work to get the money you need to capitalize on an opportunity is often not an option.

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> the numbers suggest most of the people affected probably didn't have enough income to even service their debt.

Consider the analogue of the UK, where the banks have a duty to consider the ability of a persons ability to service a debt before letting them take out the loan.

Failure to do so will let the person who have taken out the loan get the debt stricken off, as the bank will have broken the law...

In that light this doesn't seem terribly shocking to me.

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I'm not aware of any situation where a debt has been struck out because of this law.

Debts are usually struck out because of errors in contracts, statutory procedures, and other paperwork.

But courts usually seem to assume that a simple credit check counts as due diligence, and it's the borrower's responsibility to repay debt even if it's offered on an unrealistic basis - e.g. a credit card with a limit equal to a year's income, and an exploding interest rate of 50% or more if a borrower misses a payment or two.

Which is not unrealistic, btw. I know of one credit card company offering rates up to 99.9% compound to individuals with poor credit ratings.

Obviously they know most borrowers will default - and that seems to be the basis of their business model.

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Here is an example where Lloyds TSB offered to strike off a 100k debt after it became clear they had likely broken the banking code (the banking code is voluntary, but it does not go much further than legal requirements), and it is by no means the only time UK banks have written off loans because they were wrongly given out to people who could not afford them:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4528567.stm

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Forget the 1% of most likely noncollectable debt and get 60 thousands customers instead? That seems like no-brainer. I don't think banks needed much convincing.

Poor people will repay their debt in trick fees for the banks in no time or just become indebted again.

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The article says the government "convinced" banks and other companies to cancel the debts, but the lenders will not be compensated. It's left as an exercise to imagine how the lenders were convinced.

I have to wonder the same about the US banking system about 8 years ago: the aforementioned subprime problem apparently led to top bankers literally being brought into a room and told in no uncertain terms they would agree to the planned solution to the problem; what was actually said remains unknown and rather...intriguing.

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There's a thing here -- with widespread bad debts, its generally not in the interests of lenders to write them off individually (because it means that those likely to default are attracted to those lenders that seem most willing to do that), but when there is a major wave of them, its in the interest of the lenders for them to be addressed en masse so that the system as a whole is dragged down by the burden those debts put on the consumer market.

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My wife took a class in "provocation theatre" during her masters degree in drama. An assignment was to do a "shock piece". There was the usual round-up of naked people, simulated excrement, etc.

As a trial balloon Heather said she was going to get a pastor from a local church to come up on stage and sing the Lord's Prayer with his seven-year old son. The outrage from her classmates and teacher at the mere suggestion of this was incredible.

The indignation came from two sources - those who claimed they were being judged for their art and she was trying to redeem them, etc., and those who thought it was basically child abuse. She was basically told (by her "provocation theatre" professor) it would be the end of her degree if she pulled such a stunt.

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This brought to mind the documentary series Metal Evolution[0] and the episode on shock rock. The episode progressed from the origins of the genre to what we have today, from Alice Cooper to Marilyn Manson and to Rammstein. What would probably be the money quotes come from Alice Cooper and Till Lindemann, of Rammstein. Everyone was asked the question "what would it take to shock an audience today" - Cooper said something along the lines of eating your own arm. Lindemann said killing oneself on stage might do it. Something that struck me when I started writing this comment is how I don't even consider Rammstein's schtick one bit shocking, and considering the finale of the last concert I attended involved Till riding a giant phallus cannon spraying white foam on the audience while singing a song titled "Pussy". Seeing that in an arena with 15,000 other people would probably have been inconceivable just a generation ago, and makes some of Manson's tearing up a bible look innocent, which in turn made Cooper's guillotine routine and boa constrictor look quite quaint.

It seems each generation has become "desensitized" and it would take an act more shocking than ever before to provoke a reaction. But in an age where you can pull up the most depraved acts of sex and violence at will, people are finding themselves (acting?) shocked at something so laughable it seems unbelievable.

[0] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_Evolution

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If Rammstein really where dedicated to shocking their audience they would, without any warning, open their next world tour by having Till walk on to an empty stage lit by a single spotlight, sit on a stool and do a 1 hour, non-ironic solo acoustic guitar set, and then get up and leave. End of show.

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What really made me think though, is that I never once thought of them as "shock rock" and even found their presence on the show, ironically shocking and misplaced. I'm in my early twenties, so I was a little late to the whole Marilyn Manson/Columbine show, and Cooper has always been a relic to me, but seeing a contemporary band I enjoy labelled shocking was rather odd to me. Of course I'm an American and Rammstein, though popular, was never in the spotlight so I was also never in a situation to have my parents question my choice in that particular band so that may factor into my lack of perspective.

The term is really just something for the previous generation to apply to something they find distasteful or scary. Sitting here writing about it really made me comprehend that term. I suppose +1 for rubber ducking.

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In the same vein, there was an interesting article about how radical Islam is appealing to the youth as a rebellion against contemporary society.

> Noise, wild music - has ceased to function as a provocation. An important factor for the Salafist movement is asceticism: voluntary renunciation of what young people - at least ostensibly - consider fun. Social life like in the early Middle Ages, which is now provocation at its best.

https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&pr...

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So she was goint to fail because she succeeded flawlessly on the assignment.

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Things that didn't happen, this.

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Why would you call me a liar? I don't even know you.

If it is important to you, my email is in my profile - I'll tell you the year, department, and university in question.

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> my email is in my profile

It is? http://i.imgur.com/WRSmk6n.png

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I guess not - I have it entered in my profile, I thought that made it show up.

rodfrey at g mail

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This can go too far in the other direction too.

My latest project was a sunglasses/eyewear design site, where people could design their own glasses (I had a tech stack on the backend to make the glasses in my studio - the company is an experiment in mass customization).

I went to great lengths to allow people to use the software without creating an account. In the end, I probably spent two weeks trying to get it to work properly with all the edge cases - saving the anonymous design when they do finally create an account, locking out certain features that required identity, appropriate warning dialogs when work was going to be lost, etc.

And I still had edge cases. I burned two or three weeks trying to accommodate account-averse people, then had to spend another two days yanking it. That effort was based on my personal distaste at having ten billion website accounts, a distaste probably widely shared here on HN and likely nowhere else.

(This isn't an argument with Ben's points - his example use cases clearly don't need accounts.)

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But the quoted bit means social disapproval from the cult/church - not from the outsiders. Geeks have always made fun of themselves.

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You're probably joking, and my humour unit is impaired today. But in case you're not...

Those laws are the requirements document - the $10mm is for the implementation.

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> But then again, you don't see those people on cancer wards as patients too often.

This comment makes it seem like you believe the majority, maybe even the large majority, of cancers are caused exclusively by poor diet.

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Should I get cancer I would instantly take today's cancer treatments and not rely on diet. After all, if I do get cancer and it is a metabolic disease affected by diet, then my idea of the correct diet is wrong by definition. I wouldn't expect it to cure the disease it just caused.

"Exclusively" is a tad too strong, but other than that what you said is exactly what I believe. And it's not only a belief, it's based on research and evidence that's publicly available.

To my best knowledge cancer reasearch by and large is off tracks, and it's the aberrant metabolism of cancer cells (which has been known for decades and is not controversial, even PET scanners operate on that principle) that should be studied more. And that's highly linked to diet as well.

I'm more interested in not getting cancer in the first place, and here I believe diet is the key. I know there are many people who died of cancer and thought the same way, but then again, I operate on the logic I stated in the first paragraph. I expect more evidence starts popping up during the years and decades ahead. The results of mainstream ideology are not at all convincing, and to me it seems hard evidence supports the metabolic theory.

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