Sunday, January 13, 2019

Recovery is not painless

I begin the road to the journey's end and that was on Thursday when all of the remaining teeth in my lower jaw were removed.   I never felt so much rage and sadness in my life and this is through many things that have been in contest for years with regards to those emotions but this was perhaps the ultimate candle on that cake.

My wonderful surgeon who entered late into the process reminded me that it was okay to meltdown over this loss, I had fought a long time to keep them, they took me through college, through my travels and through it all and they were all a part of that so it is normal to grieve their loss.  Truly that was it as odd as it seems they were just another part of me that in the last few years that now represented tremendous loss.

This year I will be selling off antiques and things collected over the years that were a part of my marriage, my divorce and my re-invention.  I am not sure how I will feel as they go but I have been doing some of that the last few years and I have little joy from them so Marie Kondo is right about that one, unless it brings you joy in a memory or in a place get rid of it.  I have a lot to get rid of that is not just about things.

And to come home after this was draining enough and I found a message from the local property management firm about auditing questions.  I am sure they did as they have not cashed/deposited any rent checks for the last three months. The last two I had returned as I wondered what they were up to since announcing the building is going condo it was a coincidence that I could not ignore.  Then came the call from a real estate agent asking to show my apartment.  Really?  I called a local council rep to try to further glean landlord tenant law which is non-existent here but there is one clear law and that is that official notice must be given and in turn the tenant has 60 days past that expiration of their lease in which to vacate.  That led him to call the same company that never returns calls and answers any questions and with his call they suddenly decided  to call me - one person the day before my surgery - the other the day of.   On thing that I have learned is that here in Nashville few  communicate with one another regardless.  I have found that consistent and when I did return the call,with my drooling slobbering speech impediment was answered by a woman whom I would describe as "very Nashville" rude in every way.  I tried to tell her what I knew and that have this woman call me but that I am speech impaired so email is best.  I have never heard from them again.  This is Nashville, it is a city that is so badly mismanaged that I cannot stress enough that "it" means overrated.

And the reality is that most of the migrants here are not highly paid tech executives with numerous degrees and skills, but are workers without said skills and the reality is not pretty as Nashville is not an urban center by any stretch that the largest industry here is hospitality with some medical but for many moving here there are economic issues here at play that don't bode well.  So turning my place into a condo was not only premature it was stupid.  But then this is Nashville.  The ones with money go to Franklin and add to the increasing commute and drive frustration that exists despite all the fancy apartments they build here the wage to rent income ratio kills that but don't tell anyone that it will destroy the myth.

 In a twist of market dynamics, the cost of renting a three-bedroom apartment is currently cheaper than owning an average-priced single-family home in Nashville.
This is also true for big cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston, according to real-estate analysis firm ATTOM Data Solutions.
"This is just looking purely at if you wanted to purchase a home at this moment," said Jennifer von Pohlmann, spokeswoman for ATTOM. "Of course, (with home ownership) you'll also have home equity and will get that back at some point, hopefully. But, because of rising mortgage rates and appreciating home prices, it's more feasible to rent than to buy."
Here's the breakdown for Nashville:
  • The average monthly rent for a 3-bedroom apartment is $1,550.
  • An average-priced home for $260,000, with 3 percent down, costs $1,798 per month with property tax, and homeowners' and mortgage insurance payments included. 

Wage increases lag behind housing costs

In less surprising news, neither home mortgages or apartment rents are affordable – or less than 30 percent of average wages. 
Davidson County wages increased just 2.7 percent in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average weekly wage was $1,081 in 2018. 
Meanwhile, home prices went up 9.7 percent and apartment rents jumped 9.9 percent. 
Current average rents eat up 33.1 percent of paychecks while mortgage costs take 38.4 percent, according to the analysis. 
Williamson County rents are also more affordable than the area's high housing costs, which take 59.8 percent of average wages there. The average $1,550 monthly rent requires just 30 percent wages.
Walk Bike Nashville group held a stand in to remind the residents that over 30 pedestrians have been killed trying to walk and cross streets here, a city with few sidewalks nor crosswalks to ensure safety.  Even an elementary school is raising funds to build safe passage to their school.  (Sadly this same school was featured in the news only later to find that one of the Principal's profiled had some issues of his own. it never ends here.)  The local news did a story on how the tax breaks given to the big businesses here include free parking to enable workers to drive to work alone.  This contributes to much of the congestion and traffic problems that exist here in a city that never found a business that did not deserve an incentive in which to relocate here.   And big owners get big credits and that contributes to further declines in revenue and in turn city improvements.  Those millions could do wonders to fund street and infrastructure improvement, let alone fund the dump bucket schools here.  Just ask Amazon about those  or not.

And that becomes another story that marked the week making me actually relieved I was doing all this dental work as I cannot deal with their schools and the problems that are more than just financial.  The last board meeting descended into crazy racial allegations and other insanity that did nothing to address the problems of under-funding and under enrollment.  The same problems that are facing the Los Angeles School district leading the Teachers to strike.  Here they just roll over play dead.  Nashville is good at faking it in every sense of the word.

The escalating violence here is largely committed by teenagers. Then we have Teachers who also seem to have no problem being nuts, which again having been in many classrooms this one is obvious as we have endless lawsuits largely stemmed from sexual abuse by Teachers, Students and Administrators.  It is as if we could film Cathouse in our district.   And again largely faces of color towards faces of color so yes we are racists for pointing that one out.  Again if a white man was directing a school district of largely faces of color in this manner the race card played would be very different.    Maybe this Judge could be the mediator.  Or not.  And we have elected officials who have a history of fucking kids appointed chair of (wait for it) the Education Committee! Gee was Roy Moore busy?   This is the South where boundaries and decency are ignored.  I am exhausted from it and want no part of a discussion or debate in this issue. I am a a carpetbagger and getting on my flying carpet before years end to get the fuck out of here.

Nashville should and will always be a second tier city and little will be done to change that.  This is not a Seattle, a Portland, an Atlanta.  It could be Portland, Austin or Charlotte but it is delusional to think anything else in a state red as a fire and Nashville is not blue but pink and not in a fun gay way.  The myth of southern hospitality is just that - a myth.    Recovering truth is not painless it is a process few are willing to undergo.  This is not the land of opportunity it is the land of survival of the fittest. 

What if Cities Are No Longer the Land of Opportunity for Low-Skilled Workers?

Dense cities like New York have long promised higher wages, but now that is primarily true for workers with more education, a new analysis finds.

By Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui
The New York Times
Jan. 11, 2019

For decades, workers migrated to big cities in America that promised abundant jobs and decent wages — in clerical offices in New York, at shipbuilding yards in Oakland, on auto assembly lines around Detroit.

Big, dense cities offered not just better pay for lower-skilled workers; cities offered them better kinds of jobs.

This is much less true today, as workers hurt by the decline in manufacturing know. Because of this, cities no longer offer low-skilled workers the economic advantages they once did, according to new analysis by the M.I.T. economist David Autor.

Workers, whether with a college degree or not, could long count on earning more in denser urban areas than in rural ones. Today, that pattern holds for highly educated workers — and has in fact grown much stronger. For workers without any college education, the added wage benefits of dense cities have mostly disappeared in Mr. Autor’s data:

What’s startling about that conclusion is that many economists and policymakers have suggested that workers migrate to prosperous metros to find opportunity. We don’t have many proven strategies for how to revive communities battered by changes in the economy. But we have decades of history that show that Americans have been able to lift themselves up by leaving struggling places for thriving cities.

What happens if that’s no longer true for low-skilled workers?

“People have lamented, ‘Well, all these areas that lost manufacturing, why don’t those workers just get up and go somewhere else?’” said Mr. Autor, who looked at wage data from the census and American Community Survey and recently presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association. “It’s just not at all obvious what that place is. It’s less obvious to me now than it was a month ago.”

Mr. Autor attributes the declining urban wage premium in this chart to the disappearance of “middle-skill jobs” in production but also in clerical, administrative and sales work. Many of these jobs have gone overseas. Others have been automated out of existence.

This kind of work, he argues, was historically clustered in cities (meaning the entire labor market around cities, within commuting zones). And because of that, workers with limited skills could find better opportunities by moving there.

Now, the urban jobs available to people with no college education — as servers, cleaners, security guards, home health aides — are basically the same kind as those available in smaller towns and rural communities.

The flip side of all of this is that moving to the densest urban areas remains a good bet for college-educated workers. Cities offer them very different kinds of jobs than small towns do. They can enjoy much higher wages for their skills there (in addition to all the amenities big cities provide).

Other research Mr. Autor is conducting with Juliette Fournier, an M.I.T. doctoral student, suggests that the densest urban counties have become so appealing to prime-age workers that they’re now less likely to move away at life stages when previous generations have retreated to the suburbs, like when children arrive.

Policymakers have suggested that low-skilled workers head to the same places where college-educated workers are growing wealthy, like New York and the Bay Area (although many have argued that high housing costs and strict land-use regulation in these places block lower-income workers from opportunity).

The Harvard economist Ed Glaeser, whose work has long championed the benefits of cities, argues that they could still offer advantages to low-skilled workers because of high unemployment in many rural communities. Perhaps the kinds of low-skilled jobs that major metros offer are the same as those in smaller towns — but such jobs are a lot easier to find in big cities.

Low-skilled workers may also find opportunities in cities that don’t come in the form of higher wages. They could come from the availability of nonprofits and social services, or of training programs, or from better access to health care and public transit. And there are other ways to measure opportunity in a community, like whether it enables poor children to get ahead.

The wage pattern Mr. Autor describes looks startling to many economists in part because he has taken a well-recognized divergence in the labor market — between the boom in highly paid jobs for college graduates and the growth of low-paid service-sector work — and mapped it onto the country, by population density.

But other scholars have been studying pieces of this picture for some time. The sociologist William Julius Wilson has documented the disappearance of precisely the kinds of urban jobs Mr. Autor describes.

Mr. Wilson said in an email that he was not surprised by the pattern in Mr. Autor’s analysis, adding that these middle-skilled jobs once offered not just higher wages but also union benefits, retirement, paid vacation and some sense of stability. Low-skilled jobs in the service industry and retail that have replaced that work seldom offer those benefits.

Today, as housing has grown much more expensive in many of the cities that once held out the hope of higher wages for them, low-skilled workers face both low incomes and steep costs. Mr. Autor can’t say how much of the small urban wage premium that remains in his data today is eaten up by these higher housing costs.

But it is clear to him, he said, that the urban advantage that once existed for low-skilled workers is vanishing.

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