What have you been reading lately?

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AuthorTopic: What have you been reading lately?
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #425
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

What's bad about two incomes?
Because particular resources will always be limited should systems remain the way they are, i.e., the ammount of family homes in desirable school districts, or spaces at Ivy League (or even public) universities, increases in family incomes through the second parent going to work, instead of being used to improve the family safety net or be used for the "good things" in life, are thrown into the bidding war for these "vital" resources. The result then is the inflation in the housing market and the cost of university tuition (which has definitely outstripped inflation). At the same time, the two-income family has increased its exposure to risk of financial ruin, as it's almost twice as likely that one of the wage earners may lose his or her job. If that family is relying on both incomes to provide for basic needs, i.e. housing, health insurance, car payments, etc., the chance that they will fall into debt and other financial trouble increases.

In short, if every family has two incomes, then all that happens is prices will increase to match, no one has an edge, and the likelihood of financial calamity increases, be it from job loss, medical emergency, divorce, etc.

I'm not really doing it justice, but I think the takeaway point is: live well below your means if at all possible. Hard to do though, when you're trying to provide the best for your children, which is what any good parent wants.
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
Off With Their Heads
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Uh, certain resources won't increase, sure, but won't the important resources increase when twice as many people are working? I mean, your examples of education sort of work, but you don't — or at least you're not supposed to — pay for a spot in a prestigious institution, anyway; that's not a resource that's related to money. But technological stuff will actually increase if twice as many people are working (doing research, etc.).

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Law Bringer
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The flaw for some two income families is that the expenses associated with having both parents work exceed the lower spouse's income. Between extra income taxes, child care and housekeeping expenses since one of them isn't there to do the work, job related expenses, etc. it can add up so the family is losing money. Sometimes you are better off if only the higher wage earner works because of these costs.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
Electric Sheep One
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That can happen, and child care alone can do it. Preschools in the Boston area can cost around $20K per year, per child.
But if both your incomes are high compared to that, then it's a difficult thing to assess.

If you're not just working for money, but because professional careers interest you both more than housework, then it shouldn't bother you that you're getting less than the doubly high lifestyle you could have enjoyed if you were the only working couple in the land. You probably won't be able to afford one of those wise-cracking live-in servants that used to populate sitcoms, and so your home will not be the elegant haven it could be if your talented spouse worked full-time at maintaining it. But you'll both get the careers you want, and you'll be fine financially.

From an economics standpoint, I'm not sure the trap quite makes sense. Injecting lots of extra cash into an economy, and doing nothing else, is sure to be inflationary. But a second salary means a second person working, and presumably earning that income with what they produce. And indeed, overall inflation has been low in the US for a long time now.

But housing prices have certainly risen a lot in certain areas, and I bet that two-income couples are indeed responsible for a lot of that. And although two breadwinners don't have any higher risk to average income than one, they do have double the risk of experiencing any significant income loss. So if a couple with negligible savings gets a mortgage they can only barely carry together, making any significant income loss tantamount to catastrophe, their risk of financial disaster is indeed double what it would be for a mortgage-maxed single income without a savings cushion.

On the other hand, if you exercise the same prudence that a single-income household should, keeping enough savings to endure possible periods of underemployment, then I think the proportion you save ought to be the same, to achieve the same high level of security. I don't think a careful double income requires any more care than a careful single income; it's only that a reckless double income is twice as reckless.

Playing Russian roulette twice is twice as dangerous. You can play tiddlywinks as much as you like.

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Listen carefully because some of your options may have changed.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Law Bringer
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quote:
twice as dangerous
On any quantitative scale that makes sense (if there is one), the danger would not be doubled, but squared (or rather the chance of survival would be).

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Yesterday, I found a few really old (1978-1980) copies of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine at a stall outside a bookshop. Unfortunately, there were only German translations, but I bought two anyway.

[ Monday, June 18, 2007 23:29: Message edited by: jg.faust ]

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The Noble and Ancient Order of Polaris - We're Not Yet Dead.
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Electric Sheep One
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We assume the chance of losing your job is low, so that squaring survival chance is essentially the same as doubling disaster chance. If this chance is not low, you don't really have two incomes.

[ Tuesday, June 19, 2007 00:05: Message edited by: Student of Trinity ]

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Listen carefully because some of your options may have changed.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #431
quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

Uh, certain resources won't increase, sure, but won't the important resources increase when twice as many people are working? I mean, your examples of education sort of work, but you don't — or at least you're not supposed to — pay for a spot in a prestigious institution, anyway; that's not a resource that's related to money. But technological stuff will actually increase if twice as many people are working (doing research, etc.).
What has happened is that as demand for university spaces has increased, universities have found it much easier to raise tuition without worry. A college education today costs proportionately a heck of a lot more than it did in my parents' day; heck, my law school tuition just increased by a little more than $1800 for the coming year alone (to the hefty sum of $38,000), and I promise you, I'm not seeing any proportional increase in the quality of the education I'm receiving or facilities I'm using.

Further, there are other costs associated with getting children into these better institutions to begin with, like a good preschool program (which is generally not provided or subsidized by the state, and does not come cheap), a house in a good school district, tutoring, and those excellent test prep courses you offer, for example. :) Sure, it can't all be attributed to providing higher education for one's children, but apparently, it's a big factor.

The trouble is that it has become the norm for families to maintain two incomes; as such, a one-income family is at a disadvantage when shopping for desirable housing, and that isn't acceptable to many families, who want good schools and safe neighborhoods for their children. So they take on a larger mortgage, and expose themselves to greater risk, i.e., play Russian roulette, as SoT said.

There are several solutions that were proferred, which may work to greater or lesser extents. The big one is that the lending industry needs to be reregulated to control predatory lending. This will prevent people from taking on more than they could chew, which would decrease competition for housing (and therefore, price inflation) as well as the number of foreclosures.

Anyway, I'm just poorly aping what the book has to say; if you're interested, by all means give it a shot - it's a pretty quick read.

[ Tuesday, June 19, 2007 05:01: Message edited by: Drew ]
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
Infiltrator
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I'm currently reading the Earth-Sea saga by Ursula Le Quin. Material properties of steel serve as secondary reading.

And, uh, what were those few last, really long posts about? I'm too tired to backtarck this thread, could somebody summarize it for me?

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Life is a neverending carneval where everyone has multiple costumes. I just hope mine are pleasing to the eye.
Posts: 617 | Registered: Tuesday, April 13 2004 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #433
Losing your house if your spouse gets fired.

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Listen carefully because some of your options may have changed.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Off With Their Heads
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Profile Homepage #434
quote:
Originally written by Drew:

What has happened is that as demand for university spaces has increased
... which doesn't have anything to do with the parents of the applicants both working. (In case this is the point that is unclear, women actually went to college long before they could respectably work.)

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
By Committee
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Profile #435
It does, because increased demand has driven up the price of a university education, especially when a lack of spaces at more affordable state institutions forces denied applicants to attend much more expensive private institutions. I'm not saying that it is the case for all parents (many are d-bags and don't assist their children with college education, even though the FAFSA and most colleges require that their incomes be included in need-based aid determinations), but most parents want to help their children be able to afford college, and increasingly it is the case that both parents need an income to fulfill this desire as well as attempt to maintain some sort of decent standard of living. Also, consider what comes before this - the test prep classes, owning a home in a good, safe school district so they can get good grades and have a good college application, etc.

You are very bright, and so you were able to get into an affordable UC school. But what about all the other slow kiddies whose parents want them to attend college, because it's the only way to get ahead, but couldn't get into one of the good UC schools and so have to attend, say, one of the Pomonas? How about the rest of us who don't live in California? It's crazy expensive, and parents are expected to shoulder a large part of the burden. That's why my wife and I are going to be starting our children's college funds after I hammer off the law debt, even though we won't start having them until probably three or four years after. :(

[ Tuesday, June 19, 2007 10:29: Message edited by: Drew ]
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
Agent
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Most recently I have been reading the Myst Reader: Book of Atrus

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"I'm happy I'm the mentally disturbed person I am." -Nioca
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Posts: 1186 | Registered: Friday, June 18 2004 07:00
Off With Their Heads
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Are you trying to say that families having two incomes increases demand for university educations? If so, please explain (as I've been asking for a while) how.

If not, then isn't the two-income issue not the root cause of the problem that you've identified?

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #438
quote:
Originally written by Drew:

... Also, consider what comes before this - the test prep classes, owning a home in a good, safe school district so they can get good grades and have a good college application, etc.
...

People keep bringing up this point, so I just wanted to address it.

1. You don't need a multi-million dollar home to send you children to a good public school. The parents who get district maps before moving can find places where cheap apartments fall into districts of good schools. (I was going to one of the best schools in SF Bay Area even when my mother was unemployed and my father was working as a technician.) If people want 3000 square foot homes, they can take out huge mortgages, but for practical purposes, an apartment (or relatively cheap house) is enough.

2. A 25$ book can raise your test scores just as much as any expensive class. You just need the discipline to study yourself. (I know plenty of examples of both people who greatly benefited from studying from a book and people who got little use from expensive classes their parents sent them to.)

3. You can get a good education from a public school for a fraction of the cost of a private school. Private schools offer a lot more hand-holding, but I haven't seen any evidence of actual education being better than in comparable public institutions. (The only exception is that business schools enable you to join their alumni networks, which are important for getting your foot in the door, but if you are going to a business school, you can afford to pay off the debt later.)

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Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
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However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Electric Sheep One
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Profile #439
I think the idea is that it raises what the market will bear, by giving more money to people for whom children's education is an overriding financial goal. That's probably indistinguishable from more intuitive ways of raising demand, such as making more customers or making them want the thing more.

That argument assumes that the pool of education-keen parents exists independently of their income levels — that these people were always going to give their last dime to school their kids, and now they have more dimes. While it's true that a lot of American parents have always been keen on education, the strong desire to send kids to college and the motivation to have two careers are probably correlated, making the double income effect as much a symptom as a cause.

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Listen carefully because some of your options may have changed.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Off With Their Heads
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Zeviz: Eh... while #2 is, strictly speaking, true, it is rather misleading. #3 is also true, but misleading. What one can do and what it is practical for one to do are two entirely different things. My local public school could have only given me about two years of high school — two bad years of high school — before it would have had to send me somewhere else (probably junior college) due to a lack of classes. I couldn't really go there. My parents could've moved, but that wasn't practical for various reasons.

[ Tuesday, June 19, 2007 11:29: Message edited by: Kelandon ]

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #441
How is #2 misleading? I know several people who improved their scores as much as possible by studying from a book.

For #3, Berkeley's education is at least as good as Stanford's, as you should enthusiastically agree. :P

PS If you were referring to high schools in that point, you have to compare apples to apples. Compare top public high schools to top private high schools, rather than comparing an average public high school to a good private school. (I agree that an average public high school is worse than an average private school, but it would still take less money to move into district of best public high school in the area than to send your children to a private school.)

[ Tuesday, June 19, 2007 11:40: Message edited by: Zeviz ]

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Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
For it too has the power to kill.
However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Too Sexy for my Title
Member # 5654
Profile #442
quote:
If you were referring to high schools in that point, you have to compare apples to apples. Compare top public high schools to top private high schools, rather than comparing an average public high school to a good private school.
Not necessarily. For example, in NYC there are about only 9 good top high schools. All of which are divided into 5 boroughs. Now if we take the Bronx, we’ll have to reduce those nine to only two top high schools from which to apply (unless you’re okay with your 14 year old taking the subway at 5:30am to spend an hour an a half to get to school). And said high schools have a limited number of students they can accept. So you are forced to compare the average public high school since that’s where most of the students will end up.

You also have to be aware that not all states have a Berkeley (a public college who offers an education just as good as, if not better than, any private college). I can’t think of any good public college in NYC that can even attempt to match Columbia or NYU’s education. I know CUNY and SUNY schools offer a somewhat good education, at somewhat of an affordable price. But it is still not cheap, and it is still not Columbia.

Edit: I've been reading Sourcery by Terry Pratchett. Following Mort by the same author.

[ Tuesday, June 19, 2007 13:33: Message edited by: M. ]
Posts: 1035 | Registered: Friday, April 1 2005 08:00
By Committee
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Profile #443
Kel - I'm not doing justice to the book - Warren explains it much better than I have (it's also worth the read). It's basically what SoT said. In the book, the author notes that over the last 30 years or so, while discretionary spending (clothes, food, vacations, tvs, things like that) has remained relatively static when controlled for inflation, there have been significant increases in the cost of housing, healthcare and education. Of course at first when families started sending both parents to work, those families enjoyed a marked increase in income. But then the "keeping up with the Joneses" factor kicks in, and the status quo now is for families to have two income earners; if you're a single income family, statistically you're at a significant disadvantage. Housing costs are way up because families all of the sudden had more to bid with while supply remains relatively static. Cost of education isn't quite as elastic, but it has nevertheless responded to similar forces, because supply remains relatively static, while demand has increased.

A large amount of the ick of all this has been contributed by the deregulation of the financial industry too, through their extension of bad loans to people who wouldn't used to qualify for them, which (probably for ill) increases the number of bidders.

EDIT: Maybe we should move this discussion to a new thread...

EDIT 2: Also, I've been reading "Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman, which is pretty fun so far, though I still prefer China Mieville.

EDIT 3:

quote:
Originally written by Zeviz:

(I agree that an average public high school is worse than an average private school, but it would still take less money to move into district of best public high school in the area than to send your children to a private school.)
Not if admission to the best public high school is dictated by district. There's a pretty strong correlation between housing prices in an area and the quality of the public school. And at the other end of the spectrum, many private schools provide scholarships these days, and because admission to them is not dictated by location, you could live in any hole and still have your children accepted to them.

[ Tuesday, June 19, 2007 13:17: Message edited by: Drew ]
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
Law Bringer
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Usually your location choices are limited by jobs you can get, which gives you a limited range of public school districts and in-state colleges. You really can get screwed, or rather your children can.

—Alorael, who has recently read Theo's Odyssey, which tries to be to religion what Sophie's World is to philosophy and only manages to be mediocre. He's now reading the Runelords books, which are very close to the epitome of schlock fantasy and not in an entertaining R. A. Salvatore way.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Law Bringer
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Profile Homepage #445
quote:
Originally written by Sidle On:

—Alorael, who has recently read Theo's Odyssey
I kind of liked it. Although it didn't match up to Sophie's World in any sense.

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The Myst trilogy was wonderful, by the way. I've always had a soft spot for the D'ni universe, but this is really fantasy at its finest.

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The Noble and Ancient Order of Polaris - We're Not Yet Dead.
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Did-chat thentagoespyet jumund fori is jus, hat onlime gly nertan ne gethen Firyoubbit 'obio.'
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Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
Guardian
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By Zeviz:
quote:
2. A 25$ book can raise your test scores just as much as any expensive class. You just need the discipline to study yourself. (I know plenty of examples of both people who greatly benefited from studying from a book and people who got little use from expensive classes their parents sent them to.)
To clarify for people not from the States, are you talking about that acronym test, or just high school marks in general?

By Aran:
quote:
The Myst trilogy was wonderful, by the way. I've always had a soft spot for the D'ni universe, but this is really fantasy at its finest.
Meh, though I've only read the Book of Atrus. It was okay, but maybe you've gotta be a Myst diehard or something to enjoy 'em. :P

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My grandmother was a very tough woman. She buried three husbands. Two of them were just napping.
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Posts: 1509 | Registered: Tuesday, January 10 2006 08:00
Apprentice
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Jeez,
I jumped to the last page of this topic and really would have no clue what the question is...
Books...
aaaahhhh...
Favorite all-time Fantasy... George RR Martin, amazing stuff!!!
RA Salvator's stuff is top notch as well...
right now I'm reading David Gemmell's books which are a good find for me cause he has quite a few out and I like his style...

And as for the school topic...
American school system is by far the worst in any "developed" country... It was designed by a German guy "back in the day" to create perfect soldiers and factory workers. Take away individuality, keep one person in control with all of the answers and study from a text book. Keeps creativity out of the brain... Breaks down the human... Add florescent lighting which damages the eyes and causes the brain to slow down and whammo, numb the children and our future...
And as far as the curriculum, please, everything is so outdated it is a joke... And all college is really good for is to get you connected... Once you get out in the "real world" nobody really gives a hoot about what you've done in school. "Show me what you can do, don't tell me what you've done"...
Posts: 34 | Registered: Tuesday, February 15 2005 08:00
Agent
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Profile #448
quote:
Originally written by Dintiradan:

Meh, though I've only read the Book of Atrus. It was okay, but maybe you've gotta be a Myst diehard or something to enjoy 'em. :P
I don't think so, as I read the Myst trilogy before playing any of the games.

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"I'm happy I'm the mentally disturbed person I am." -Nioca
"Yes, Iffy is a demon." -Iffy
Posts: 1186 | Registered: Friday, June 18 2004 07:00
Agent
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<Sighs> I have spent too much time lately reading non-fiction books of the mathematical or applied mathematical variety.

In my non-copious free time, I read a lot of Harlan Coben lately, and I am currently reading Against a Dark Background by Iain M Banks.

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Geneforge 4 stuff. Also, everything I know about Avernum | Avernum 2 | Avernum 3 | Avernum 4
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