September 1, 2008

Labor Day Sales in Menlo Park – buy a house, get one free!

163 Willow Rd, Menlo Park, CA 94025 Menlo Oaks Area MLS# 80824474 – Property Details
Willow Rd, Menlo Park, CA
94025

$2,200,000

* Status: Active
* Bedroom: 4
* Bathroom: 3
* Year Built: 1951
* Lot Size: 19900
* Square Footage: N/A
* List Date: 7/28/2008
* Garage Spaces: 2
* MLS#: 80824474

Great opportunity! Two homes on one lot, 161 and 163 Willow Road: 3 bed, 2 bath and 2 bed, 1 bath. Larger home currently rented for $2,500 per month on month to month basis. 19,900 square foot lot. Please check with City of Menlo Park for lot split possibility. Wonderful Menlo Park Schools.

Menlo Park is famous for its Venture Capitalist community. And personally, I don’t think I’ve see a better profit opportunity in a while. All you need are some angel investors!

First, buy $2.2 million house.

Second: Rent the larger home for $2500 a month, and the smaller one for $2000 a month. That’s $4500 a month. Find some other way to pay the remaining $6129 a month for the mortgage.

Third: PROFIT!!!

Sure you might have negative cash flow at the beginning, but does every start up? After a few years, you’ll be up and to the right – hockey stick style. Then boom! You’ll be super glad you bought these two houses at this Labor Day buy one get one free house sale.

Anyone want to work up a term sheet? Come on you entrepreneurs! Make it happen!

Comments (86) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:47 am

86 Responses to “Labor Day Sales in Menlo Park – buy a house, get one free!”

  1. anon Says:

    Nope, No bubble. The entry level homes that have come down in value were over valued. But homes like these which haven’t come off yet? No way!

    Nothin’ but sound economic fundamentals embodied in the listing prices.

    I think this one will sell in ‘short’ order.

  2. madhaus Says:

    Oh come on, the price of these houses is really the location and value of the land. This is almost a half acre, right at the bus stop, and just a short block to the prime intersection of Willow and Middlefield!

    Heck, tear both places down and put in a Starbucks AND a dry cleaners. The neighbors will really appreciate not having to drive downtown anymore, and watch their property values shoot up too!

    The $10,000 bribe to the city council for the variance is money well invested.

  3. Lionel Says:

    From http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/, more good news for future (far, far in the future) buyers —

    When Will Southern California Home Prices Bottom?

    Inquiring minds are wondering about California home prices. My friend “BC” pinged me recently with the following thoughts:

    Were the Kuznets Cycle to confirm to past patterns, real median CA house prices will not again return to the ’04-’06 levels for another 15-20 yrs., if then given the longer-term demographic profile, normalized lending standards, and likely slower real GDP growth trend (2% vs. 3-3.5%).

    Seen another way, nominal SoCal median house prices will not bottom until prices return to the ’99-’01 levels, implying another 20-30% avg. decline in prices hereafter; but even then nominal prices will likely not rise more than inflation for many years thereafter.

    By the early to mid-’10s, CA mortgagees will have made no money in real terms on their real estate purchases for ~15-30 yrs. (worse when counting home-equity loans).

  4. crossroads Says:

    i hate to say this, but that sounds a lot like my 401k. http://seekingalpha.com/article/67780-lost-decade-for-stocks

  5. bob Says:

    First of all, I think the article mentioning that the first home renting for $2,500 is inaccurate. Anyone who’s a savvy RE investor knows that renters will trip all over one another to pay you even more for a home such as that one. You could probably rent it for $3,500 in your sleep. And yes- you might be correct that even though you’d be losing money every month, anyone with a brain in their head knows that losing money on Real estate is perfectly acceptable, because with all these REOs boosting sales, EVERYONE knows that the bottom of the housing market has surely been reached and that happy times with 30% annual appreciation is right around the corner!

    So, Lionel, I totally disagree. RE is about to make a dramatic recovery. Banks have secret loans that will allow anyone making 60-100k per year to purchase 1 million dollar homes, which is a good thing because as we all know any house that’s near a school with running water and gym classes will always demand absolute top-dollar and will have parents fighting each other with wooden sticks just to make an offer on a little house near it, and believe me- they’ll pay ANYTHING to get such a house so they’ll have something to talk about with other envious parents at cocktail parties.

    Ahh… sweet times to be an RE investor….

  6. nomadic Says:

    bob you just reminded me of a “situation” a few blocks from me. There’s a small private school where a homeless person lives in a corner of the yard. I’ve often wondered who lived there, against the tree, with two pallets propped up for shelter. It must be someone really dedicated to getting their child a good education…

    (Yes, I’m telling the story in a callous way, but something should be said for the compassion of the neighbors – no one has called the police to have the person removed. I have never seen this person; apparently he or she goes somewhere during the day.)

  7. rick Says:

    Hey what’s insane with this house? That the lot is too big? That there are two houses included?

    Or maybe this is driving RE investors insane?

  8. RealEstater Says:

    Lionel,

    Southern California is a huge region. As with NCAL, speaking in the aggregate is misleading. There are places such as Riverside County where prices have dropped significantly, but there are also core areas within Orange County where prices are holding well after an initial dip from the peak.

    Bob,

    >>RE is about to make a dramatic recovery.

    Back in 2001-2002, the RE recovery in BA real estate following the dot-com crash was nothing short of dramatic. There was a period of about 6 months when buyers were holding back, and then all of sudden all the pent-up demand was unleashed.

  9. anon Says:

    “Back in 2001-2002, the RE recovery in BA real estate following the dot-com crash was nothing short of dramatic. There was a period of about 6 months when buyers were holding back, and then all of sudden all the pent-up demand was unleashed.”

    Yep, Bob. If it happened once before it’ll certainly happen again…Right?! Soon, prices will be even higher than 2006 levels. You just wait.

    RE: Better buy your single investment property before its too late.

  10. RealEstater Says:

    Do tech workers deserve overtime pay?

    http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_10360947?nclick_check=1

    What do you guys think?

  11. Lionel Says:

    Lionel,

    Southern California is a huge region. As with NCAL, speaking in the aggregate is misleading. There are places such as Riverside County where prices have dropped significantly, but there are also core areas within Orange County where prices are holding well after an initial dip from the peak.

    Really?

    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27, 2008

    Los Angeles Beach Cities Resale Activity for July 2008
    I am so sorry I am running so behind on my regular posts. Work is keeping me extremely busy and in my personal life I am preparing for a vacation in early October in southern Idaho and northeast Nevada to check out possibilities in future places to live.

    I’ll keep this short. Here are the detailed RESALE statistics for the beach cities and some of the surrounding zip codes (prices are in 1000’s):

    SFR MEDIAN %YOY
    COMMUNITY ZIP SALES SFR CHG
    LA/Westchester 90045 20 $693 -5.8%
    El Segundo 90245 4 $741 -55.1%
    Hawthorne 90250 26 $496 -7.3%
    Hermosa Beach 90254 10 $1,033 -17.7%
    Lawndale 90260 12 $390 -15.7%
    Manhattan Beach 90266 27 $1,780 -3.0%
    Palos Verdes Pen. 90274 23 $1,301 -12.5%
    Rancho P.V. 90275 43 $1,050 -13.9%
    Redondo Beach 90277 8 $850 -24.7%
    Redondo Beach 90278 21 $755 4.6%

    I guess you’re right, RE, one ZIP in Redondo is holding up.

  12. bob Says:

    RE,
    The whole recovery in RE in 2002-2003 was a result of tech bubble investors seeking a safe place for their money, which at the time was deemed RE. This was only further encouraged by the lowering of interest rates.

    So your assumption that RE is soon to repeat the 2002-2007 boom would make sense had the current economic implosion been tied to something other than RE. But since RE caused the bust, investors will seek whatever is deemed safe, which after having been burnt in RE, will be the last place they’re going to park their money. So far, oil futures, gold, and foreign stocks seem to be the “safe” bets even though some of these are just as stupid as investing in speculative RE.

    So no- I’d find it difficult to believe that a similar turnaround is in the works. The true limit to what consumers could actually afford was tested in the boom. It was far surpassed with the introduction of risky loans. The correction will bring us back to levels that more conventional loans will afford, which I can assure you is far less than even today’s prices.

  13. DreamT Says:

    RealEstater – The article suggests that unless you make at least a certain minimum average hourly rate, you should qualify for overtime. That makes sense to me. Salaried people are paid for the work they deliver rather than the hours they put in, but this luxury (for the hiring entity) is bought by providing a higher compensation base.
    That said I’d rather increase my IT people’s compensation base than switch to an hourly + overtime model. The latter decreases both employee loyalty and productivity as employees are no longer compensated primarily based on the work delivered, but on the hours they put in.
    A final note: I’d much rather see overtime discussed about and granted to teachers rather than software engineers…

  14. RealEstater Says:

    Lionel,

    As already mentioned, Souther California is not just LA County. LA County is generally a smoggy dump. The nicer residential areas are in OC.

  15. Lionel Says:

    “Lionel,

    As already mentioned, Souther California is not just LA County. LA County is generally a smoggy dump. The nicer residential areas are in OC.”

    RE, Palos Verdes and Hermosa Beach are not smoggy dumps. They’re both nicer than area up North. Manhattan Beach isn’t bad, either, though not my cup of tea.

  16. Lionel Says:

    RE, more stats for you, and once again, you are wrong. Only one part of Newport is holding up.

    Orange County Home Prices
    June 2008

    Orange County $550,000 -25.1%
    Aliso Viejo $589,500 -30.2%
    Coto de Caza $1,550,000 -10.3%
    Corona del Mar $2,157,500 -15.4%
    Dana Point $814,000 -11.5%
    Irvine $711,000 -16.1%
    Laguna Beach $1,500,000 -11.8%
    Laguna Hills $665,000 -8.8%
    Laguna Niguel $730,000 -27.4%
    Lake Forest $560,000 -16.4%
    Mission Viejo $530,000 -23.2%
    Newport Beach $1,775,000 -14.4%
    Newport Coast $2,948,750 26.0%
    Rancho Santa Margarita $596,00 -15.30%

  17. bob Says:

    I’d rather see teachers paid more altogether.That they even bother living in this state at what they get paid is admirable in my book.

  18. nomadic Says:

    Teachers should only get paid more if they’re going to work 12 months a year.

  19. bob Says:

    Not sure if I agree. Teachers starting salaries in California is around 35k per year. Hardly what I’d call a salary that remotely comes close to covering the cost of living. Forget ever buying a house on that kind of income.

    Yet… parents are obviously willing to shell out huge sums of money to be near a good school? Surely if schools are so important, then paying the teachers whom make these schools good ( because they obviously aren’t doing it for the money) should be compensated better.

    To give you a comparison, my Mom, who has been teaching for 30 years makes over 50,000 per year in TN- which costs 1/4th the cost to live in compared to CA.50k in TN is a respectable, comfortable income. The 50-65k that teachers in CA top out at is still not enough to get what teachers in other states can have- which is a decent middle class lifestyle. Why is it that California has such a disparity in pay scale given its cost of living?

    As far as year-round school, my home state is almost at that stage because it saves money in the long run. Perhaps California is not too far behind. I think its actually a good idea.

  20. RealEstater Says:

    I agree teachers need to be paid more. The problem is that teacher’s pay is derived through the complex budget process in Sacramento. The best way to circumvent that is to directly support your local school through donating to their fund raising. This is why it’s important to live in a community where parents place high value on education, and back it up with their wallet.

  21. RealEstater Says:

    Lionel,

    Those statistics are generally useless (especially without a link). We’ve all seen Madhaus’ weekly status from the Mercury News with many laughable results on a regular basis.

  22. rick Says:

    What does funds raised for school have to do with teacher’s pay?

    Does teacher’s pay really tops out at 65k? Heck a janitor for the school might make more than they do. Don’t tell me it is a budget problem. The state sure has a lot of money to throw around for police, fire, and even bus drivers.

    That is the situation for California. Politicians either have no clue or are powerless to stop the madness (if so why?).

  23. burbed Says:

    Does teacher’s pay really tops out at 65k?

    No it doesn’t. I have friends who are teachers and after just 5 years they’re making $70k. I think it tops out at $99k or something.

    On the other hand, I’ve heard that in Northern NJ, a huge amount of teachers get paid $100k+.

    It’s kind of weird, cops definitely get paid more than teachers in California – and in New Jersey, teachers get paid more than cops.

  24. burbed Says:

    What does funds raised for school have to do with teacher’s pay?

    Isn’t Palo Alto the school district where parents are supposed to bring $2000 in cash on the first day of class?

    As I’ve learned from reading Burbed, districts like PA use “Parents Clubs” instead of PTAs and they buy teachers directly for certain classes.

    Or did I read my own site wrong? :(

  25. RealEstater Says:

    A good district such as PAUSD is able to attract good teachers because the pay is quite decent. $70K to $100K+ is common.

  26. burbed Says:

    Oh, here’s the article I was thinking of:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/nyregion/15liteach.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
    “The Rise of the Six-Figure Teacher”
    One in 12 teachers in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties now earns more than $100,000, and the ranks are growing fast, according to an analysis of state data by The New York Times. On Long Island from 2001 to 2003 (the most recent figures available), the number grew fivefold, to 2,800, including 498 elementary school teachers, 29 physical education teachers and 83 kindergarten teachers.

    [snip]

    Six-figure teachers are not unique to the New York suburbs. Connecticut officials reported about a dozen in 2004, and news reports indicate that some Chicago suburbs pay that much. But the highest salary for New York City teachers is $81,232, and only a handful in the rest of New York State are paid as well. In California, the highest teacher salary in 2003 was well under $100,000, according to state figures.

  27. RealEstater Says:

    >>Isn’t Palo Alto the school district where parents are supposed to bring $2000 in cash on the first day of class?

    Never heard of that one, but there are fund raising events. The suggested donation minimum donation is $500 per child (I believe the same is true in Cupertino). Just about every family donates at least the minimum; many donate a lot more.

  28. Lionel Says:

    Here you go, RE–

    http://orangecoastrealestate.com/news.htm

  29. bob Says:

    Here’s the BLS.gov report.
    http://www.bls.gov/OES/current/oes_CA.htm#b25-0000

    The dirt: Mean annual, state: $53,370

    What pay appears to be tied to is state-wide median income; or in other words a loose attempt to adjust pay to the “cost of living”.

    Of course teachers in other districts or private schools might get paid more or less.

  30. bob Says:

    By the way Burbed,
    Are you either from NJ, living in NJ, or thinking of moving to NJ? You seem to have a detailed interest in it.

  31. rick Says:

    Burbed, I am not sure if it is even legal to ask for parents to “donate” money for teacher’s pay. The donation money goes to school not teachers. I am curious what is the medium pay for BA teachers, it does not make sense that PA gets oversize budget (if budget comes from RE taxes then it makes sense).

    It is probably not that bad, actually 100k is pretty good salary for BA teachers, though I am not surprised that there are plenty of states that pay more. Teachers are comparable to doctors in some countries, like Canada/Singapore/Japan/etc, while in CA a police would proudly tell me that he makes twice the salary of a teacher (I ask him why).

  32. RealEstater Says:

    >>it does not make sense that PA gets oversize budget (if budget comes from RE taxes then it makes sense).

    You get what you pay for. You don’t get what you don’t pay for. Makes perfect sense!

    PA also gets additional money from RE parcel tax, but that’s separate from school donations.

  33. burbed Says:

    I finally finished watching all the seasons of The Sopranos.

  34. bob Says:

    The Sopranos was filmed in NJ. Guess what else takes place in NJ? The children’s book: “The Hoboken Chicken Emergency.”

  35. crossroads Says:

    >This is why it’s important to live in a community where parents place high value on education, and back it up with their wallet.

    well if you believe burbed and bob then you should live outside of california. it seems californians don’t place a high value on education. just look at how uc has fallen.

  36. bob Says:

    And lastly, for some of you who might be thinkin’ of ditchin’ the Bay Area for a piece of NJ heaven, here’s some facts that are actually quite interesting.

    1: NJ is the most densely populated state in the country. 1,174 per square mile.

    2: NJ is the 2nd wealthiest state in the country, right after NY- which is where those rich folks come from, which leads into the next item of interest…

    3: NJ is the largest bedroom community in the US, serving as home for some of the wealthiest elites who work in Philadelphia and NYC.

    4: NJ is the most ethically diverse state.The 2nd highest Jewish population after NYC. Additionally, the second largest Muslim population, and the third highest Asian population. It also has the second highest Indian American population.

    5: Summers tend to be hot, with 18-25 days over 90 degrees per year. Winters can be cold and well below freezing.

    There ya go! Newwwwwww Jersey!

  37. burbed Says:

    http://soli.inav.net/~catalyst/Humor/jersey.htm

  38. rick Says:

    Anybody has information on how much RE taxes collected for BA cities? CA’s RE taxes should not be low compare to NJ, EVEN with Prop 13 folks dragging. I think the real problem is that cities throwing money at bus driver/fire fighter/etc while state has no money to spend on education other than special proposition on tax increases.

    We have bridges run out of maintenance money while the maintenance crew making better income than teacher, we have public transportation constantly in deep red (and sub-standard public transportation) while service crew making better income than teacher, we can’t even afford to spend on infrastructure projects but we sure have boat load of money for public servants, like water board employees making 150k on average for what?

  39. madhaus Says:

    4: NJ is the most ethically diverse state.

    That’s true. They have mobsters, and they have rabbis. Ba-dum-ching!

    Anybody has information on how much RE taxes collected for BA cities? CA’s RE taxes should not be low compare to NJ, EVEN with Prop 13 folks dragging.

    rick, I am from NJ, the average house there is taxed between 2-3% but it varies like heck because assessment has nothing to do with what the house was sold for or even when. Houses are taxed at a much higher rate than they are here, even if every house here were to be taxed at full market value.

    Burbed, I am not sure if it is even legal to ask for parents to “donate” money for teacher’s pay. The donation money goes to school not teachers. I am curious what is the medium pay for BA teachers, it does not make sense that PA gets oversize budget (if budget comes from RE taxes then it makes sense).

    The money some CUSD schools raise for the parent-teacher fund does not go into the teacher’s pockets as salary but does pay for classroom items, conferences, training classes, and some instructional time by others (aides, outside specialists, etc). I cannot speak about other schools, but I heard one elementary school used money to fund all-day kindergarten (CUSD does not have it otherwise).

  40. Herve Says:

    “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”

    I am actually against donations to schools. It does not solve the long term issues with education here, although I understand why parents do it: they are more concerned about their own kids than the system as a whole (and I can’t really blame them).

    Do you think many parents keep donating money to their local school after the kids graduate?

  41. rick Says:

    Madhaus,
    So do you think NJ normal zips collect much more RE taxes than CA?

    Donation used as class material is right, it is ridiculous if teacher has to subsidize school. I am all for all-day kindergarten as well, that is not giving teachers more pay as they need to earn it with lower wage (do they really want to do that?). I am not against donating money so that teacher can have higher pay at all, just think it is probably illegal.

  42. Herve Says:

    As far as I am concerned I think our taxes should be enough to pay for salaries and class material, it’s as simple as that.

  43. DreamT Says:

    Donations help perpetuate an already severe bias towards an elitist education that gives richer parents the advantage.
    I violently disagree with RealEstater (in an old thread where he laid his opinion on this matter) that only basic education is a right (i.e. a government duty). If that’s all a country can strive for, it is morally bankrupt. Some countries strive for giving the best, most adapted education for all. If RealEstater was in charge, he’d probably eradicate public schools and put regulated private companies in charge of education.
    Education shouldn’t be privately founded, even partially, if the real goal is to give everybody an equal chance. To give donations is to spit in the face of your poorer neighbor.
    It reminds me of an excellent post from Renter4 about Atherton residents throwing ever more money in the hope that their children will always get the very best. Sounds like a very backward and antiquated approach to education – some will nicely call this ‘conservative’.

  44. burbed Says:

    I don’t see how you can exclude the Prop 13ers.

    Don’t forget Prop 13 isn’t just people – it’s corporations!

  45. burbed Says:

    @DreamT – isn’t that known as libertarianism?

  46. DreamT Says:

    burbed – No since freedom and ignorance are antithetical. Access to knowledge and information is a prerequisite to real freedom, because what you don’t know will restricts your choices, binding you down unknowingly, and freedom starts with access to choices.
    Libertarianism defends ultimate freedom in action and equal liberty. You cannot call yourself a libertarian while promoting an education structure (including donations) that works against the foundation needed for all to equally access this liberty and freedom. Libertarianism is a social political philosophy and it’s easy to reach the wrong conclusions when its principles are applied to oneself at the exclusion of others.

  47. DreamT Says:

    I’ll simplify my post a bit. Burbed – no it’s not called libertarianism, it’s called the hypocrisy of the rich.

  48. madhaus Says:

    rick, NJ pays more per student than any other state. How do they do it? Ginormous property taxes. I can tell you they collect 2-3x what California does per property VALUE, but you can’t compare it across the board as NJ has some areas where houses are much cheaper than here. And their construction costs seem to be about a quarter of ours, so they can put up a new school more easily.

    I pay NJ income taxes as well as California so I can tell you they are both high-tax states.

    DreamT, I know a lot of libertarians who would insist education must be privitized. In fact, I know very few libertarians who are even married, let alone have kids. It always struck me that this idea of doing everything on your own, including building your own street and enforcing your own laws, was antithetical to having a family.

    I also agree the current system makes the education system even more stratified than it is, but my very liberal solution is to further fund the poor schools rather than removing donations from the wealthier ones. Now you know what I’d do with the extra tax money once I repeal Prop 13.

    You’d be amazed how few classroom supplies teachers could purchase without those donations. But someone got some grant money or something, because I am seeing these way cool document projectors all over the school, they don’t require transparancies. They illuminate anything (book, worksheet, printout) and then project it up on the wall or a screen. I’ve never seen one before but it’s going to help the teachers with prep time if they don’t have to make transparencies anymore. It looks like a magnifying/lighting unit connected to a digital light projector, figure it must run at least $500 a pop and probably more.

    I doubt they have these at the poorer schools, teachers are probably fighting over the 2 overhead projectors. I don’t think that’s right.

  49. DreamT Says:

    madhaus – aren’t you describing anarchists (doing everything on your own, no government at all) rather than libertarians (equal liberty to all and freedom of action, no oppressive or arbitrary government)? Notwithstanding whatever they call themselves, I don’t think they thought through the role of education in a libertarian society.

  50. nomadic Says:

    Huh, this is some messed up sh*t… here’s the Libertarian Party’s view on education. It’s quite different than I expected.

    http://www.ontheissues.org/Celeb/Libertarian_Party_Education.htm

  51. bob Says:

    After reading up on NJ, I have zero interest in living there. It sort of sounds like it has a similar situation as much of metro CA has: If you want to live anywhere even remotely close to job centers or major cities, which in NJ’s case would be NYC and Philly, then be prepared to pay out eh wazoo for the ‘privelage’ to do so. Similarly, you’re going to have to compete financially with some of the richest people in the country- even richer than Californians. Of course I guess you could live out in the sticks or in Newark, but still- Not sure if NJ sounds all that different than just about any other major metro these days in that the social strata and spending power of the avg consumer is all out of whack. Then again, that’s just my take. I’m sure there’s wonderful places in NJ that would make me reconsider. Then again… I really dislike frigid weather. Oh well.

    As far as schools, while I don’t have any solutions or ideas as how to fix it, I am also really bothered by the fact that if you go to say- Marin, parts of Palo Alto, or other super-wealthy areas, the school children there clearly have the upper hand over their peers in other less affluent areas like West Oakland and Hunter’s Point,SF. There is a large disparity in the quality of the schools here, and the attitude seems to be that letting those other less fortunate kids fall through the cracks is A-ok. Meanwhile, people seem baffled as to why those same less affluent areas seem to be perpetually locked into cycles of violence, crime, and poverty. Its because the kids had crappy educations. Simple as that. If you want to improve society, then it starts from the beginning.

  52. nomadic Says:

    Playing devil’s advocate here: do you really think if you bussed the poorest students from Oakland to Palo Alto, they’d be significantly more successful academically (and in life)?

    I’d say maybe 1/2% would. Maybe that makes it worth it, but spending money on the schools is only the tip of this iceberg.

  53. bob Says:

    Nomadic,
    The short answer is probably no. My Wife used to teach kids at a school which wasn’t exactly great. Lots of kids with problems-many of which stemmed from trouble at home. But from her take, these problems are from a generations old legacy of education disparity. Their parents were likely taught in the same schools as their kids where they were puked out as soon as the state had fulfilled its legal obligation to them.

    So the short answer would be no, but over the long term, societies are wrought from their foundations. The education system throughout most major metro areas in the US is un-sound. So if these problems are to be fixed, then more will need to be done shore up what exists and bring it to an acceptable level that ensures that the future generations of kids being taught within become beneficial citizens who in turn pass their values down to their own kids. This is not a quick-fix issue. But the problem has to be at least addressed and fixed with the clear understanding that it will take perhaps decades to see any results.

    We pride ourselves as a country of equals. But inequality in education is unacceptable and contradicts this belief, if you believe in such a thing.

  54. Lionel Says:

    More on NJ/RBA connection —

    Roche to move out of Palo Alto

    September 2, 2008
    By Maureen Martino
    TAGS South San Francisco Roche Palo Alto Genentech biotech jobs

    Palo Alto may have to say goodbye to as many as 3,000 jobs. According to the San Francisco Business Times, Roche is planning to move its inflammation business from Palo Alto to Nutley, NJ and its virology ops–also at Palo Alto–to South San Francisco. The company will also move U.S. pharmaceutical commercial operations from its New Jersey site to South San Francisco.

  55. burbed Says:

    Huh, this is some messed up sh*t… here’s the Libertarian Party’s view on education. It’s quite different than I expected.

    That’s actually what I had heard. I have a registered libertarian party colleague who spouts of stats like “Did you know that before schools were mandated by the GOVERNMENT that student scores were higher?”

    Seriously.

  56. DreamT Says:

    nomadic – Thanks for the link. It would seem that the current political incarnation of libertarian thinking is demagogic. Who’d have known? :)
    Reminds me of fiscally and socially conservative republican folks watching their elected party build an uber-deficit and push a religious agenda. Party lines and supporting philosophies can easily be at odds to say the least.

  57. nomadic Says:

    burbed, there was student testing (and thus “scores”) before the 1870s? Wow. ;-)

    DreamT I think that just goes to show that you can’t have organized politics around one’s ideals without their getting corrupted.

  58. DreamT Says:

    nomadic – Yes you nailed it, unless the general population’s education level were to be vastly raised. Then, no need for demagogy and for ill-conceived compromises on fundamentals such as education.
    Anyway, food for pseudo-libertarian thought.

  59. rick Says:

    Philosophy aside, I just question where the heck has the RE taxes gone. Not for schools, not for infrastructure maintenance, and no small sum of money.

    I don’t think it is fair to unevenly spread public resource, libertarian or whatever. I think the taxation philosophy is largely right, we tax the rich and yet remain one of the lowest taxing countries for them, we encourage donation (which I think is not enough). But when it comes to spending, this is a country with no fiscal responsibility and has some of the highest pay fat cats amongst the western civilization, especially true at federal and CA state level.

  60. bob Says:

    Well… something like under 10% of the US population owns 90% of the wealth. We are indeed a capitalist, money-driven society. But you get a feeling that most of us peons are simply here to ultimately fill the pockets of the super upper-ups. Its a devolving system these days. The middle class is toast in most large cities and will likely be as well in the smaller metros, and so on. As Rick mentioned, we tax the rich more than others, but less than in most other countries. Its a delicate balance.

  61. burbed Says:

    Personally I believe the middle class is toast.

    Period.

    The middle class is a modern invention. There’s no reason why it should exist in a perfectly capitalist economy.

    BTW, that libertarian coworker of mine actually did point to studies that showed that in the 1800’s people who went to school were more educated that people who went to school today.

    Which makes sense since back then only aristocrats went to school, everyone else went to the fields. But that works in his world view so there’s not much I can say about that…

  62. Pralay Says:

    BTW, that libertarian coworker of mine actually did point to studies that showed that in the 1800’s people who went to school were more educated that people who went to school today.
    ——

    I can’t believe he would that far back in 19th century to back up his theory. I guess he cannot find anything similar 20th century.

  63. burbed Says:

    Well in the 20th century, he points to private schools.

    At the end of the day, he’s right. He really is right.

    Public mandated schools result in overall dumber students that if only smart and rich people were allowed to go to school.

    You really can’t argue with that.

    The question that’s not asked by that statement is whether or not the latter is the right thing to do.

  64. bob Says:

    The middle class is only dead in a sense that what we as Americans consider the middle class of yore is gone and replaced with a new one. To me, middle class means that one can procure a job that enables a comfortable- albeit not posh- but a sustainable living situation and have access to basic amenities such as libraries, healthcare, schools, and banks.

    But what’s happened in the last 20-odd years was a number of things. The first was that we went from being a productive, industrial country to one based more on services. Secondly, in order to facilitate the expectations of the middle class, banks and lending services offered more and more credit, which in turn increased debt. It was debt that allowed the middle class to continue on with at least the illusion of a middle class lifestyle until the system was broken. It broke because the desire of people to adhere to that middle class apple pie lifestyle is so strong that the level of financial pain they were willing to endure turned out to be overwhelmingly profitable to lenders and sellers of debt futures and packaged loans.

    So the aftermath is that those- such as the people in places like Palo Alto and San Fran who might make over 200k yet can only afford small starter homes are today’s new middle class. If that barely. That cities like SF and NYC conveniently have disguised the cost of living with a veil of belief that the prices are the result of their inherent superiority over other areas hides the reality of the actual societal shift.

    The middle class of our Parents is dead ( at least in some cities) but the middle class as defined by classical terminology is still here.

  65. DreamT Says:

    burbed – There’s lots to say about the 1800’s level of Maths & Physics, health, hygiene and life expectancy, or political stability – none of which in my opinion are superior to today’s. In any case, we had an aristocratic society then, not libertarian.
    As for middle class, the wealthy will ensure it does not disappear if only to avoid social unstability. It’s in their as well as everybody’s interest to keep the masses sedated and uniform and a semblance of social elevator – public education’s primary purpose. And a healthy capitalist economy has a large service sector, whether it be public or private.

  66. DreamT Says:

    The middle-class of the 50s could barely afford a television, a fridge or a telephone. Today’s middle-class has much loftier aspirations – there’s so much more to acquire and there’s easier access to what the wealthier folks do. But from the standards of 60 years ago, the middle-class is proportionally much larger. Most would realize that if they lived within their means instead of taking their neighbors’ extravagances as a measuring stick. Burbed, sorry to disagree with you on this.

  67. DreamT Says:

    burbed – “Public mandated schools result in overall dumber students that if only smart and rich people were allowed to go to school.”
    The worry is not overall education achievement statistics skewed by the influx of children from less educated parents, but the adjustment teachers have to make to accommodate them resulting in these “smart and rich people” getting a lesser education (slower) for themselves.
    But the reality is that society overall is better off if the “smart and rich” don’t live in their own educational world.

  68. RealEstater Says:

    The middle class of today lives better lives than the upper class of yesterday. DreamT mentioned a few good examples in post #66. You could be a King and still wouldn’t have experienced high-speed internet or be shuttled around in an air-conditioned car.

  69. burbed Says:

    To be clear, I’m not agreeing with my co-worker, but if you frame the argument the way he does, he’s right.

    He’d be a pretty good politician if he didn’t hate them so much. :)

    BTW, as for the 1950’s – I seem to have seen reports that indicate that that was the time when college was most affordable. So while people couldn’t afford TVs, they could afford college. Now it’s sort of the opposite.

  70. burbed Says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_tuition

  71. bob Says:

    But I wouldn’t say that people living in the 50’s had to deal with as much instability as those living in the middle class today deal with. I agree that much of what has gotten us into serious trouble is the addiction to credit and debt. That’s an individual choice. But the fact that in the 50’s, you had better have had Excellent credit and a serious down payment on anything meant that what people owned was what they could actually afford, and they knew it.

    If you bought a house back then, you did it because you could afford it. Not because there was some little sneaky loan that ‘might’ enable you to actually pay for it only if the housing market goes up enough for you to weasel into a second almost equally silly loan. So those who owned homes likely stayed in them with the means to do so.

    Additionally, if you worked at a job, it was the job you stayed at sometimes for decades. My Wife’s Dad worked at the same company for 50 years. They’ve lived in the same house for 40 years. The same with the majority of my family. That’s not the case in my neighborhood, and certainly not the case with me where I seem to get a new job every single year. That’s why I save and save and refuse to buy a house here because I do not trust the job market or economy here at the scale that things cost and the risks that it would introduce to my Family.But that’s my choice.

    So to me, when you remove stability from a class such as the middle class, which in this case was the creation of an indebted society, then you essentially destabilize society, and that to me is precisely what the US economy has created out of its working populace.

  72. DreamT Says:

    bob – decade-long stability is a thing of the past with an accelerating economy due to globalization. The pace at which society changes is ever increasing, and that’s a good thing. You call this instability but with the right attitude and continued education, others will call it social and economic opportunities.
    burbed – my rambling about education was meant to encompass compulsory education only. I actually have no arguments against a fully privatized college-level education, as this is a voluntary investment into one’s future and credible alternatives exist.

  73. sonarrat Says:

    California colleges are CHEAP, as long as you live here already. I got a four-year degree at a CSU for less than $15,000, and it was good enough to get me an income of about $50,000 within two years of graduating, even though I chose a very competitive and low-paying field because it was my passion (music). No student loans to pay off either.

  74. nomadic Says:

    RE: education in the 1800’s

    I ran across a site earlier today titled “U.S. Founded Without Public Schools.” It was pointing out the lack of formal education of our founding fathers. For example, Ben Franklin went to school only from the ages of 8 to 10.

    I’m sure he was “home schooled” for years before that. And at 10 he went to work with his father, but continued to read voraciously. I would argue that self-education in today’s complicated world would fall far short of preparing even the most intelligent individual for a successful career.

  75. Pralay Says:

    Well in the 20th century, he points to private schools.

    At the end of the day, he’s right. He really is right.
    ——–

    I don’t understand his point that private schools make student “more educated”. Do they stuff more intelligence/knowledge in students head? Or because those students do better because their parents are well off, can afford to send them to private schools? You see, it’s just a circular argument.

  76. bob Says:

    DreamT,
    We’re sort of talking about two separate things.Yes, the world is changing fast and people change jobs and often careers more often than not. I’m not sure if I’d necessarily call it progress. Its good for business and industrial advancement,but whether its actually good for individual workers is debatable.Sure- I’ve changed jobs probably 5-6 times already. With it has come increases in salary. Fully half were a result of failed businesses or downsizing. Do I accept the work environment I live in? Yes. Do I like it? Not so much. At least for me, knowing your job, work, people you work with, and so on is comforting. Let’s face it. Switching jobs or having to find a new one isn’t a picnic. I’m sort of de-sensitized by it since I’ve done it so much. Enough to not trust that the paychecks will always be coming in, and especially not enough to be buying a fancy car or an overpriced house.

    But what I was getting at was the effects that debt has had on the US at large. The avg. US citizen is well over $8,000 in debt. That doesn’t include debt tied to housing, which if it were would be considerably more. The fact is that since we have been allowed more debt, we have to work harder and harder to pay those debts off. Of course anyone in debt has nobody but themselves to blame. But the fact that the US financial and credit industries has enabled such reckless lending and credit allowances to the avg Joe means that we’re actually by far worse off then if we actually had to pay for what we bought. In other words- if what the US citizen could afford was in their pockets, then guess what? Stuff wouldn’t be as expensive as it is today. A simple concept.

  77. DreamT Says:

    bob – It’s natural to strive for stability and comfort – building and maintaining a sense of home is deeply rooted into childhood aspirations. Most including myself don’t relish the stress that external change brings.
    But I’d assert this is simply a more mature, adult world, where more responsibility befalls on the individual and companies are less of the substitute life-careholders of the past. I for one prefer a world with more opportunities to all and less infantilization, which means more dynamism, i.e. less stability. You don’t get the former without the latter.
    As for debt, same line of thought: do you want to infantilize the pseudo-adults that took on too much debt and whine, by displacing core responsibility on lending institutions? Relevant and equal education education to all addresses both points, handling external change with the right attitude and handling personal finances responsibly. I believe purely privately funded education would get society further away from that goal.

  78. burbed Says:

    I don’t understand his point that private schools make student “more educated”. Do they stuff more intelligence/knowledge in students head? Or because those students do better because their parents are well off, can afford to send them to private schools? You see, it’s just a circular argument.

    I have no doubt it is due to the selection aspect.

    Only those who care enough about education are private schools, so therefore the aggregate output is bound to be better.

    By definition, public schools which have to accept everyone – including people with all sorts of disabilities and background – will never have as good aggregate output.

    I don’t think anyone can disagree with that – it’s intuitive. The question is what is the solution. Or if there even exists one.

    Incidentally, it’s why I like going to the UPS store instead of the USPS. Truth be told, the USPS employees actually care more and do a better job – but the customers at the USPS tend to be more stupid and far more time consuming than at the UPS store.

  79. bob Says:

    DReamT,
    Then I suppose we differ on opinion then. I don’t think it is at all infantile for companies to take care of their employees. Not only is it intelligent because it actually reduces costs because employees grumble less, but those same companies grow to be increasingly knowledgeable think-tanks filled with experienced employees.My Dad was an HR manager for 30 years. How you treat and manage your staff is perhaps the most important thing companies can do to ensure their future success.

    In today’s world, most people clearly associate their jobs with their entire character and even extracurricular activities. I think the opposite. Enjoy your job, earn some money, learn new skills… but also educate yourself when you’re NOT at work. A more stable job enables this kind of experimentation.

    Where companies have Fuc*!# Up is by turning the employee into an expendable, replaceable asset. You see companies like Ford, GM, and even some tech companies fail or weaken? It’s because they wound up putting too much emphasis on cutting costs to show market improvements to investors. This is why they will likely continue to have problems.

    I’ve done the rat-race now for almost 9 years. Sure- its exciting, dynamic, challenging, and educational. I’m sure that if I keep up, I’ll make a pile of money someday. But I’ve also come full-circle and realized that there’s beauty to living more simple, less cluttered lives. Perhaps some of those people – some might call losers- who live in small towns, and work at the same job, living in the same house, eating at the same diners are actually the ones who know what life is really about. In fact, I get this sense of desperation talking to people who live in the Bay Area. They all want community. They want perfect schools. They want this, they want that, and they’ll pay a lot to get it. They’re looking for community, but in order to get it, they’re going to have to do some more rat-racing and climb climb climb their way up. Perhaps what they’re really wanting is what that person I mentioned who lives in that small town has had all along. That kind of lifestyle can’t be bought.No matter how much money you make. It is a choice. For some people, living fast, bustling, challenging lives is what turns them on. That isn’t to say that is wrong. But as for myself, who has lived in both environments, living here has made me appreciate what life could be about much more.

    As far as debt, my simple response is that The US populace should be weaned off of debt, be shown consequences of debt, and learn the value of the dollar. Some of that is going on right this minute. But until people understand that they can’t buy anything or afford a lifestyle they happen to like, we’re probably going to be living in an ever more costly and financially challenging world.

  80. DreamT Says:

    bob – I don’t see in your last post anything I disagree with, nor anything that challenges what I posted earlier as a counterpoint opinion. It’s rather in line with what I said: companies enabling education rather than taking your life in charge, self-identity built proactively (participation to community, ongoing self-education, dedication to family and friend circle) rather than passively (job, title, house, car…), and need for individuals to rise to personal financial responsibility, including setting their own standards on personal spending.
    Where you probably misunderstood me: infantilizing means someone else is deciding for you or acting on your behalf. Dynamic environment is a source of personal growth and should be tackled with the corresponding attitude. In short, I believe in rewards for take-charge attitude of one’s own life, and calling for more job market stability at the cost of job opportunities, and for companies taking charge of an employee’s future, goes against this belief.

  81. DreamT Says:

    burbed – you showed why private and public education must coexist to address vastly different expectations, but that does not address why private funding for local public elementary education is morally right..

  82. burbed Says:

    I don’t claim to have any solutions – nor do I propose any. :)

  83. DreamT Says:

    I thought for one moment that you had an opinion on the subject… along the lines of post #40 and #43. Nevermind then :P

  84. Herve Says:

    Interesting take on what Larry Ellison “owes” Atherton’s schools.

    And when I say “interesting”, I actually mean this is one of the stupidest arguments I ever heard. I guess whoever did the budget also thought real estate would go up 15% a year forever. Or is it 25? 35?

  85. nomadic Says:

    burbed you get the the quote of the day! You really cracked me up: …but the customers at the USPS tend to be more stupid and far more time consuming than at the UPS store.

  86. Stepford Says:

    “Where companies have Fuc*!# Up is by turning the employee into an expendable, replaceable asset. You see companies like Ford, GM, and even some tech companies fail or weaken? It’s because they wound up putting too much emphasis on cutting costs to show market improvements to investors. This is why they will likely continue to have problems.”

    Partly true -Detroit automakers gave very generous benefits to its workers historically and are now paying the price. For the first time the UAW has more retirees then active workers in its membership and the healthcare costs are crippling the restructuring efforts. Foreign auto makers don’t have this burden. So yes, now they are cutting costs.


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