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  #51  
Old 08-08-2019, 08:04 PM
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I've lived in Japan on and off for over 30 years and have never been rejected by any place I was looking to rent.

That is amazing. Do you look Asian? How many places have you rented? When I was renting 25 or so years ago I got turned down because I was not Japanese about 70% of the time I made inquiries.
  #52  
Old 08-08-2019, 08:23 PM
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There is nothing whatsoever implicitly meritocratic about capitalism. To whit : look upon the cratic-havers in America today, ye powerless, and despair.
Businessmen aren't economists. You might as well compare a soldier to a game theorist, it's an entirely different field.

Before Smith, people thought that you needed to be able to do everything yourself, since everyone was a competitor and you're just losing if others can compete successfully.

Smith made the argument that you could give up entire industries and simply trade for what you need, allowing others who are more inclined to the work and more capable of the work to do that, and produce a superior product.

Now, he was talking about nations not individuals but it's the same thing. Economies, products, and the welfare of people are all improved by allowing the market to find the most effective entity to do the desired work.

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And the French Revolution was not really about classism. It started off, and for a long time kept being, an economic crisis first and foremost. If anything, the overwhelming majority of the people were absolutely fine with classes as they were and the King being the King ; so long as the rich paid taxes and didn't starve the poor in stupid schemes and speculations on grain. The only people who had a problem with the class system were the rising bourgeoisie, who chafed at being looked down upon even when they reached the highest spheres of power. That class did not represent the majority of the revolutionaries (let alone the French population), although it did manage to thoroughly betray its purported ideals soon enough...
Economic hardship or no, France was still flirting with the early stages of Capitalist thought and that was completely peripheral to the revolution. At the time, the central economy was mercantilist (i.e. state managed), the middle class were largely practicing feudalist economics (joining guilds, paying guild dues, inheriting their profession, etc.), and the lowest classes were probably mostly villeins or some equivalent.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 08-08-2019 at 08:24 PM.
  #53  
Old 08-08-2019, 09:29 PM
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That is amazing. Do you look Asian? How many places have you rented? When I was renting 25 or so years ago I got turned down because I was not Japanese about 70% of the time I made inquiries.
I'm 100% French in terms of ancestry. Caucasian, blond hair, blue eyes.

Let's see - I've rented around a dozen apartments ('mansions' as they call them here) and detached houses in Japan over the years, in rural Mie prefecture, the suburbs of Osaka and all around Tokyo.
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  #54  
Old 08-08-2019, 09:42 PM
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Smith made the argument that you could give up entire industries and simply trade for what you need, allowing others who are more inclined to the work and more capable of the work to do that
You left out a key word here: they have to be *relatively* more capable (ie, lower opportunity cost). A person (or country) can be 'more capable' in absolute terms in all goods, but still be better off trading with a country 'less capable' in absolute terms, as long one side as a 'relative' advantage.

Otherwise no developed nation would want or need to trade with a developing nation.
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  #55  
Old 08-08-2019, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by DragonAsh View Post
I'm 100% French in terms of ancestry. Caucasian, blond hair, blue eyes.

Let's see - I've rented around a dozen apartments ('mansions' as they call them here) and detached houses in Japan over the years, in rural Mie prefecture, the suburbs of Osaka and all around Tokyo.
Did you use agents specifically for gaijin, or just normal agents?
Oh wait, I think I get it - you didn't peruse the ads then find one you liked and walked in to ask about it. You just walked in and said show me some places?

Last edited by Isamu; 08-08-2019 at 09:48 PM.
  #56  
Old 08-08-2019, 09:49 PM
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Did you use agents specifically for gaijin, or just normal agents?
I've usually just walked into the local real estate place near where I'm looking to rent.
They've shown me the full listings, not the 'here are the gaijin-friendly' places. I know because I've usually asked about notices in the window.

A few times I've called about ads about places (newspaper flyers etc).
Always got a viewing right away, and there was never 'oh, sorry you're a gaijin'.
Not saying it never happens in Japan. But if it was that common, I'd think I would have run into it at some point given my sample size.

Never heard of agents 'specifically for gaijin'; sounds like a rip-off if you're simply paying for the language service?
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  #57  
Old 08-08-2019, 10:17 PM
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You were going into the shops by yourself? You've seen the ads with the "gaijin OK" box right? Your experience is out of the ordinary for me and every gaijin long-termer I know.

Last edited by Isamu; 08-08-2019 at 10:17 PM.
  #58  
Old 08-08-2019, 10:36 PM
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Now, he was talking about nations not individuals but it's the same thing. Economies, products, and the welfare of people are all improved by allowing the market to find the most effective entity to do the desired work.
Counterpoint : insulin prices in the US. Or the subprime mortgage crisis. Or, to bring us back on topic, rents in Paris (which have been steadily climbing over the past 5 years despite repeated attempts by city hall to both build or subsidize new housing, control rents and discourage both slumlord-ing and overly air-bnbing). Which leads to people being forced to live ever further, commute ever longer and overtax public transportation. Like, rush hour had always been a thing as far as I've been alive, but these days you can easily have to wait 30 minutes for any subway you could possibly squish yourself into on some lines. We'd probably need pushers like they have in Japan at this point. People regularly faint, and woe to the claustrophobes.

The Invisible Hand does not work when actors are not moral and don't give a solitary shit how many people are harmed by their unrestricted greed. Superior product my sweet Aunt Fanny.

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Economic hardship or no, France was still flirting with the early stages of Capitalist thought and that was completely peripheral to the revolution. At the time, the central economy was mercantilist (i.e. state managed), the middle class were largely practicing feudalist economics (joining guilds, paying guild dues, inheriting their profession, etc.), and the lowest classes were probably mostly villeins or some equivalent.
Yes, but this tableau misses a key part : the population of France was 91% peasants. "The middle class" was, like, 5 guys shooting the shit at a café terrace .

Mercantilism wasn't really a thing any more by the 18th century - the big economic crisis was in fact caused by an attempt at deregulation. Previously grains of various types were heavily controlled either directly by the State, or by local nobles/town councils/bishoprics/whathaveyou, you could only sell grain here if you had produced it there, couldn't sell it higher than X or lower than Y, there were official stockpiles to be opened in various very specific cases which varied from place to place ; it was a huge complex patchwork system of local laws and special privileges and so forth established over the centuries to try and fix the whole "recurrent famines" thing. The physiocrats convinced the King that it would be a much better idea to just abolish all those trade barriers and, essentially, let overproducing regions feed any underproducing on the fly. Supply, demand, yadda yadda, Invisible handing before Adam Smith, in essence.

Which might have worked in the long run. In the short run, the nobles and middle class all rubbed their hands in glee at the prospect of so much newly possible speculation, started buying all the grain of overproducing regions to store it, hoping to sell it whenever prices got highest, in effect almost deliberately producing food shortages. For all the moneys. Soooo exactly what had been happening throughout the feudal era, which had led to those very regulations to be put in place to begin with. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. This was compounded by a long series of very bad years agriculturally speaking.

So that didn't work out very well, and bread started growing very expensive in Paris, and then the King tried to stamp out the looming revolt before it had started, which of course directly caused a revolt. Cue pitchforks up the King's palace.

That's the "real" Revolution, and the datapoint that the overwhelming majority of the population really gave a shit about (well, that and their often absurd fears of getting invaded by entire armies of brigands. Also a recurrent demand was for peasants to be allowed to hunt - because, again, famines).
All the ideals, and the heads rolling, and the King trying to leg it, the proposals for more sensible and rationalized this and that and the heady speeches were basically just window dressing. It's what we put in the history books and write like they were deathly important events because by and large the guys writing the history books were those 5 guys at the café ; but none of it concerned the greater French population in the slightest.
What did, same as it ever was, was "what's for dinner ?". And fucking with that economic reality is what caused the Revolution. It wasn't peripheral, but absolutely central. To caricature a bit, the hungry proles riotted first, the bourgeoisie then asked where they were going, for they needed to know where to "lead" them
  #59  
Old 08-09-2019, 01:25 AM
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You were going into the shops by yourself? You've seen the ads with the "gaijin OK" box right? Your experience is out of the ordinary for me and every gaijin long-termer I know.
Sometimes I went into shops or called the shops on my own. Sometimes my girlfriend was with me.

"I was rejected trying to rent a place" is something I've seen on a lot of forums. Oddly enough none of the dozens - if not hundreds - of gaijin I'm friends with or work(ed) with have ever experienced it directly. *shrug*

There are reasons why you might be rejected to rent a place that are only indirectly related to being a gaijin. For example, if you don't have a credit history, or don't have a guarantor, or don't have high enough salary etc.
But those are reasons why you may well not be able to rent a place in the US or UK; when I was living in NY places I rented out had salary requirements (annual salary of xxx times the annual rent or something).

But some people will insist on claiming 'racism!' anyway.
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Last edited by DragonAsh; 08-09-2019 at 01:29 AM.
  #60  
Old 08-09-2019, 01:48 AM
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Arguing over a restricted paywall article is kinda like pissing in the wind. It wasn't that long ago at the peak bubble, that families were taking out 2 generation home loans (50 year terms that kids inherited). I lived in Tokyo in 1991-94, and my rokojo apartment of 17.69 sq meters cost IIRC ~$1500 per month at the time. I was in a decent area (Yutenji on the Ginza line)
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Old 08-09-2019, 02:10 AM
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Sometimes my girlfriend was with me. .
Yep. You were managed around the problem. I phoned up directly about properties I was interested in, first question was if gaijin were OK, they would ask to check and call me back, often with a "no sorry".
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Old 08-09-2019, 02:25 AM
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It's not like it's some conspiracy theory. You were just managed or very lucky.

From https://apts.jp/tokyo-life/2017/11/3...at-you-can-do/

"Why won’t Japanese landlords rent to foreign tenants?

First off, please know there are plenty of property owners in Tokyo and other parts of Japan who are more than happy to accept applications from non-Japanese residents. We love working with these landlords and are dedicated to seeking them out and listing their properties.

Property owners who reject applications from foreign residents tend to fall into one of two camps. First, there are the landlords who are risk-averse but not fundamentally opposed to renting to non-Japanese. Then, there are the landlords who cannot be persuaded to rent to someone from another country (or a particular country) at any cost."
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Old 08-09-2019, 03:23 AM
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An article from a website offering their service to help foreigners find a place to rent in Japan. Yes, I'm totally convinced.

The article notes reasons why foreigners may find it harder to rent in Japan - salary consideration, do they have a guarantor etc. Those are factors applicable to anyone, foreigner or otherwise, and are also reasons why your rent application would be rejected in London or New York. I had to provide proof of my annual salary when I was living in New York.

If you're rejected because your salary wasn't high enough or didn't have a guarantor, you weren't rejected because you were a foreigner.

Quote:
First, there are the landlords who are risk-averse but not fundamentally opposed to renting to non-Japanese.
Then, there are the landlords who cannot be persuaded to rent to someone from another country (or a particular country) at any cost."
I suppose they exist - every country has racists - but I, and no gaijin I've worked with etc, have ever met anyone in the latter camp.

When I die, I've made it clear that the 'he loved Japan' bullshit will not be part of my eulogy. I live here and work here, I like lots of things about it.
But I also love New York and London and Hong Kong. Lots of things about Japan drive me crazy, but 'they wont' rent to foreigners' seems wildly overblown as a problem.
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  #64  
Old 08-09-2019, 08:39 AM
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I have personally found it to be especially helpful when I want to talk about a book, to first open its cover and carefully read the contents before I started talking about it. But I suppose there are other philosophies on this matter.
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Oh, trust me, I know. As I said, Adam Smith was a moral philosopher first, an observer of commerce second.... All of his economic theories are predicated on actors being both moral, rational and intelligent, if primarily driven by self-interest.
To say that this is incorrect is an understatement. This is directly contrary to the content of Adam Smith's books. Not slightly, but 180 degrees opposite of what he actually, and repeatedly, says. The fallacies of foibles of man are not a digression, not a side point, not a brief footnote, but rather a special point of emphasis that is continually returned to. This is true in both of his books.





Adam Smith goes on in numerous passages pointing out the ways in which people tend to be short-sighted, unaware of likely outcomes, and insensitive to the rational choices in front of them. He describes people, most especially people with inherited influence and wealth, as vain, stupid, and incapable of understanding the results of their actions. For the most vivid example of this, the entire point of the invisible hand, which he uses once in his first book The Theory of Moral Sentiments and once again in The Wealth of Nations (two times total in his collected work) is that people are simply not aware of the likely results of their actions.
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Originally Posted by Wealth of Nations
...he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.
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Originally Posted by Theory of Moral Sentiments
They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society, and afford means to the multiplication of the species.
Emphasis added.

The entire point of this metaphor is that short-sighted, vain, immoral, rapacious people sometimes end up effecting systemic results that were contrary to their original greedy intentions. A person cannot genuinely read the book (not just mindlessly flipping pages, and trying to mouth out the unfamiliar polysyllabic words, but actually reading and understanding what is written) and believe that Smith's economic and moral systems depended exclusively on moral, reasonable people. Such an interpretation is absurdly contrary to what's actually in the books. His most famous metaphor is a description of a system that works despite the "rapacity" and "caprice" etc. (his words!) of the upper classes, by creating an outcome which was not rationally foreseen or intended by them. His point might be summarized as: People can be selfish and short-sighted, but the system works anyway, occasionally even benefiting from their deficiencies.

This isn't a side point in Smith's thinking. It is a primary driver of history. It's a theme that is hammered, again and again and again, in his books. We might phrase it today as: "The logic of the system is contrary to the logic of the individuals inside the system." When describing the loss of feudal aristocratic power, he describes the same sorts of irrational and immoral people:
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Originally Posted by Wealth of Nations
All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. As soon, therefore, as they could find a method of consuming the whole value of their rents themselves, they had no disposition to share them with any other persons. For a pair of diamond buckles, perhaps, or for something as frivolous and useless, they exchanged the maintenance, or, what is the same thing, the price of the maintenance of 1000 men for a year, and with it the whole weight and authority which it could give them.
Centralization of government power, and the removal of baronial authority and caprice, came as an unintended side-effect of those barons and other feudal lords frittering away the source of their authority for superficial baubles. This meant that rather than local barons ruling capriciously and variously in their sundry demesnes, a more centralized, uniform, and fair rule of law could extend from the developing merchant powers of the city into the country, in order to relieve the serfish dependency that permeated that countryside. (When Marx talked about class struggle in the progression of history, he was actually trying to fill in, and then extend, a framework that Smith had already begun. Marx cites Smith literally hundreds of times.)

Adam Smith simply did not believe in the general sensibility of people. The books are both absolutely brimming full of examples of foibles.
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Originally Posted by Wealth of Nations
The over-weening conceit which the greater part of men have of their own abilities, is an ancient evil remarked by the philosophers and moralists of all ages. Their absurd presumption in their own good fortune has been less taken notice of. It is, however, if possible, still more universal. There is no man living, who, when in tolerable health and spirits, has not some share of it. The chance of gain is by every man more or less over-valued, and the chance of loss is by most men under-valued, and by scarce any man, who is in tolerable health and spirits, valued more than it is worth.
Economics took its turn to "rational" agents well after the Wealth of Nations. Smith consistently made observations that we might today call "behavioral economics". He made a special focus on errors in judgment, mistakes, fallacies, short-sightedness. The results of his economic system were not the intention of its fallible actors, but quite often the reverse, a happy result that was entirely intended.

This might be the single most significant theme of his work. We can keep going, digging into more and more examples:
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Originally Posted by Theory of Moral Sentiments
We frequently see the respectful attentions of the world more strongly directed towards the rich and the great, than towards the wise and the virtuous. We see frequently the vices and follies of the powerful much less despised than the poverty and weakness of the innocent.

....

They are the wise and the virtuous chiefly, a select, though, I am afraid, but a small party, who are the real and steady admirers of wisdom and virtue. The great mob of mankind are the admirers and worshippers, and, what may seem more extraordinary, most frequently the disinterested admirers and worshippers, of wealth and greatness.
To believe that Smith is describing ethical and economic systems upon which depend high reasonable, rational, and moral agents, is to be comprehensively unaware of the content of both his books. But it's worth pointing out, too, that the system itself is not infallible. In the right circumstances, human blindness might lead to good outcomes, but in the wrong circumstances, injustice can prevail.
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Originally Posted by Wealth of Nations
The commodities of Europe were almost all new to America, and many of those of America were new to Europe. A new set of exchanges, therefore, began..and which should naturally have proved as advantageous to the new, as it certainly did to the old continent. The savage injustice of the Europeans rendered an event, which ought to have been beneficial to all, ruinous and destructive to several of those unfortunate countries.
It doesn't always work. Being able to tell the difference between a good system and a bad, when the judgment of so many of us is so flawed, is a key question for a civilization.
  #65  
Old 08-09-2019, 09:53 AM
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I have personally found it to be especially helpful when I want to talk about a book, to first open its cover and carefully read the contents before I started talking about it. But I suppose there are other philosophies on this matter.

To say that this is incorrect is an understatement. This is directly contrary to the content of Adam Smith's books. Not slightly, but 180 degrees opposite of what he actually, and repeatedly, says. The fallacies of foibles of man are not a digression, not a side point, not a brief footnote, but rather a special point of emphasis that is continually returned to. This is true in both of his books.
You misunderstand my point in your haste to mock.
Adams, I'm reasonably sure, never explicitly lays out a recommended scheme or system in Wealth (that being said I may be wrong on this, for one thing I never did read it in its entirety, just the bits with all the pictures, for another what I did read was millions of years ago) which is why I called him an "observer of commerce". He contented himself with laying out "this is how things work in the world at present and how these systems interact as I understand them", and notes that the foibles of man sometimes converge with actual good outcomes even if that's wholly unintended. As your last quote notes however, the foibles of man are just as apt to fuck it all up.
A system that produces good results by accident but sometimes causes the minor continental genocide or enormous political upheaval is not a system that works, by my admittedly idiosynchratic acception of the word. If my operating system ran as I wanted it to 75% of the time but made my computer explode the other 25%, I would not describe that piece of software as "working".

Which is why the folks who came later, claiming that laissez faire everywhere all the time is clearly the best possible thing to do because The Market will somehow fix everything because idiots are guided by an invisible hand and capital is totally meritocratic you guys are, well, misguided shall we say. The Magic Market would only lead to a majority of (or even exclusively) positive outcomes for all involved if actors were led by what Adams qualifies as "wisdom and virtue" rather than "worship of wealth". Because you don't write entire books first describind then shitting on people's inadequacies at length if you don't implicitly set out to correct them, or at least edumacate them. S'called subtext, that is.

Better now ? Not too monosyllabic for you ?

Last edited by Kobal2; 08-09-2019 at 09:53 AM.
  #66  
Old 08-09-2019, 09:57 AM
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(by the way, that "We see frequently the vices and follies of the powerful much less despised than the poverty and weakness of the innocent." ? That's a good quote, that is)
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Old 08-09-2019, 10:31 AM
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How many times do we have to explain this to your types : absent strong moral imperatives and social consequences for breaking them, the Invisible Hand does. Not. Work.
I'd say that with respect to American housing issues, the Invisible Hand's obstacles are a host of regulatory requirements: zoning, parking minimums, setback requirements, height limitations, lot size requirements, you name it.

Take the Vienna, VA Metro station. You could have a town built around this Metro stop, there's surely thousands more people who'd like to live on that side of the DC area and be within walking distance of the Metro than can actually do so. It's not the invisible hand that preserves all that single-family housing there, or prioritizes parking spaces within walking distance of the Metro over apartments within walking distance of the Metro. It's zoning in the former case, and probably a mix of politics and zoning in the latter case.

If I were the Housing God, I'd get rid of all the zoning, parking, setback requirements within a quarter-mile of any permanently constructed mass transit stop. Just build, baby!
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:29 AM
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If I were the Housing God, I'd get rid of all the zoning, parking, setback requirements within a quarter-mile of any permanently constructed mass transit stop. Just build, baby!
Well, concrete jungles have their own downside(s), and what's possible in Japan due to their strong cultural community values of is not necessarily workable elsewhere. So I wouldn't call for an absolutely unrestricted license to build. Unless you really like Mumbai for some reason.
But I agree there's a more sensible middle to be reached than preserving residential suburbia. I'm not sure I could articulate what the "correct" population density would be where the comfort of each is high enough, the alienation of the individual is kept to a minimum, infrastructure requirements/solutions are neither problematic nor overtaxed and housing supply is plentiful enough that rents don't make your eyes explode. What we could call an "harmonious and balanced order of things", at the risk of sounding a bit Mysteriously Auriental about it .
However, since such an ideal population density level must perforce exist, and is presumably actively sought out by wonks and be-spectacled eggheads of various stripes, you bet it should be strongly encouraged by laws and regs, and abuses in either direction (too much nimby vs too much skyscraping) prevented. This over the will of both suburbanites clutching their pearls and developpers dreaming of having to find a new bank because they've filled up the first one.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:05 PM
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Because you don't write entire books first describind then shitting on people's inadequacies at length if you don't implicitly set out to correct them, or at least edumacate them. S'called subtext, that is.
I find it generally works out better if I read a book before I tell other what its subtext is. YMMV.
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The Magic Market would only lead to a majority of (or even exclusively) positive outcomes for all involved if actors were led by what Adams qualifies as "wisdom and virtue" rather than "worship of wealth"
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As your last quote notes however, the foibles of man are just as apt to fuck it all up.
As Smith correctly notes, the foibles of man are indeed just as apt to fuck it all up. And since those who wish to intervene are equally likely to be subject to motives other than wisdom and virtue, they are, as you say, equally likely to fuck up.
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I'm not sure I could articulate what the "correct" population density would be where the comfort of each is high enough, the alienation of the individual is kept to a minimum, infrastructure requirements/solutions are neither problematic nor overtaxed and housing supply is plentiful enough that rents don't make your eyes explode.
Which is very much the problem. You want a system where everybody gets everything they want. Economics is predicated on the notion that resources are limited - everyone can't always get everything they want. People want high property values, low housing costs, conveniently located close to amenities, not too densely populated, no urban sprawl, and low taxes. People in hell want ice water, too. They don't necessarily get it.

Regards,
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:35 PM
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I've usually just walked into the local real estate place near where I'm looking to rent.
They've shown me the full listings, not the 'here are the gaijin-friendly' places. I know because I've usually asked about notices in the window.

A few times I've called about ads about places (newspaper flyers etc).
Always got a viewing right away, and there was never 'oh, sorry you're a gaijin'.
Not saying it never happens in Japan. But if it was that common, I'd think I would have run into it at some point given my sample size.
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Yep. You were managed around the problem. I phoned up directly about properties I was interested in, first question was if gaijin were OK, they would ask to check and call me back, often with a "no sorry".
I know that I was shown a place or two that I liked and then, later, the agent called and the owner said that they don't take gaijin.

If DragonAsh saw no hint of it - no notice on apartment listings, no rejections after his showings, etc. - I'd venture to guess that it's a combination of sheer luck and/or living someplace like Yokohama or Nagasaki, with a history of being a gaijin area.
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Old 08-09-2019, 06:24 PM
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I know that I was shown a place or two that I liked and then, later, the agent called and the owner said that they don't take gaijin.

If DragonAsh saw no hint of it - no notice on apartment listings, no rejections after his showings, etc. - I'd venture to guess that it's a combination of sheer luck and/or living someplace like Yokohama or Nagasaki, with a history of being a gaijin area.
70% of the time, I've found places on my own. Somehow I don't think having a girlfriend with me qualifies as 'being managed around the problem'; not all of the girlfriends were Japanese, you know.

Haven't lived in Yokohama or Nagasaki. Actually none of the places I've lived would be considered to have a history of 'lots of gaijin in the area'. I've lived in rural Mie Prefecture, several places in and around Osaka, and several places in and around central Tokyo. Lived in these places on and off since the mid 1980s, across all price points.

I've been asked about visa status, work/salary, ability to pay a deposit/key money (thankfully less common now). Some places required a guarantor, some places didn't. Early on my Japanese was pretty rubbish, but I could get by. My Japanese is...er, better now.

Again - not saying it never happens. I'm saying that it's odd that I - and the non-Japanese people I've worked with etc - have literally never once had the 'sorry no gaijin can rent here' door shut in their face. You can go read Debito if you want to read about people complaining about stuff like that, if you don't mind shaving 30% off your IQ for a bit.
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:14 PM
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70% of the time, I've found places on my own. Somehow I don't think having a girlfriend with me qualifies as 'being managed around the problem'; not all of the girlfriends were Japanese, you know.

Haven't lived in Yokohama or Nagasaki. Actually none of the places I've lived would be considered to have a history of 'lots of gaijin in the area'. I've lived in rural Mie Prefecture, several places in and around Osaka, and several places in and around central Tokyo. Lived in these places on and off since the mid 1980s, across all price points.

I've been asked about visa status, work/salary, ability to pay a deposit/key money (thankfully less common now). Some places required a guarantor, some places didn't. Early on my Japanese was pretty rubbish, but I could get by. My Japanese is...er, better now.

Again - not saying it never happens. I'm saying that it's odd that I - and the non-Japanese people I've worked with etc - have literally never once had the 'sorry no gaijin can rent here' door shut in their face. You can go read Debito if you want to read about people complaining about stuff like that, if you don't mind shaving 30% off your IQ for a bit.
I just told you that I have, so there you go. It wasn't a giant big deal, the real estate agent just relayed that the one place was a no-go.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 08-09-2019 at 11:16 PM.
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:25 PM
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Also, numbers from landlords surveyed by the Japanese government:

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/communi.../#.XU5F6Y5Kh4U

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Masayuki Yokote, manager of the land ministry’s Housing Support Division, says that in a recent survey of Japan Property Management Association members, 60 percent of respondents said they were reluctant to accept foreign tenants. The association represented 1,321 companies handling some 5 million properties as of April 2016. Just over 16 percent of respondents refused to accept foreigners, period.
This literally took about 5 seconds to Google.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 08-09-2019 at 11:25 PM.
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:32 PM
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Again - not saying it never happens. I'm saying that it's odd that I - and the non-Japanese people I've worked with etc - have literally never once had the 'sorry no gaijin can rent here' door shut in their face. You can go read Debito if you want to read about people complaining about stuff like that, if you don't mind shaving 30% off your IQ for a bit.
Did you ever get, "Sorry, we're full"?
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:34 PM
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That is amazing. Do you look Asian? How many places have you rented? When I was renting 25 or so years ago I got turned down because I was not Japanese about 70% of the time I made inquiries.
I hear you. Tokyo made me emotionally preview what living while black in American might mean. I landed my first profession job in the early 1990's for a Swiss Investment Bank making about $80k/year. I didn't have a gaijin package but I could easily afford a $1500/month 6-mat apartment. My Japanese was not great, but I could cover the basics.

One place just freaked when I tried to walk in "no, no, no gaijin". Other's put up with me but knew it was a waste of time. One that found me a place would start out saying "I've got a special situation here. Works for a Swiss Investment Bank, has a guarantee from the bank, speaks some Japanese, nice guy, has the deposit ready, by the way is a gaijin (white guy). He landed my place and I was thankful.

Rental agency #1 also got a rock thru the window. Fuckin' A, I don't think I have ever been so pissed off in my life. Here I am with a professional job, cash and you won't even give me the time of day. And I did realize it was just a small taste of what many people of color live every day in the US. YMMV.
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Old 08-10-2019, 11:23 AM
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I hear you. Tokyo made me emotionally preview what living while black in American might mean.
My favorite was to walk by the Nationalists yelling that they need to kick out the foreigners. It reminds you that you might always bump into one of them in a dark alley some day. I'm doubtful that they would be so kind as to simply suggest in passing that you pack your bags.

(Though, to be fair, most of their animosity was directed towards Southeast Asians not Americans.)

Last edited by Sage Rat; 08-10-2019 at 11:24 AM.
  #77  
Old 08-10-2019, 12:38 PM
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Do you think rent control "works?"
Mild rent control, like the sort they have in San Jose, certainly does. SJ limits rent increases to 8% a year, thus protecting the renter (and the landlord) from rapid swings in the marketplace and economy.
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Old 08-10-2019, 02:46 PM
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Mild rent control, like the sort they have in San Jose, certainly does. SJ limits rent increases to 8% a year, thus protecting the renter (and the landlord) from rapid swings in the marketplace and economy.
San Jose has the lowest rental vacancy rate in the nation. That doesn’t speak well for being a well-functioning housing market.
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Old 08-10-2019, 07:40 PM
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You misunderstand my point in your haste to mock.
Your "point" was wrong in the way you stated it.

You are free to clarify your point, as you have now tried to do, but I would suggest that a more reasonable technique in the future is to admit candidly when a statement is incorrect, rather than fecklessly shifting the blame to others for "misunderstanding" your "point", when your statements were flatly false as written.

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...for one thing I never did read it in its entirety, just the bits with all the pictures, for another what I did read was millions of years ago....

<snip>

Better now ? Not too monosyllabic for you ?
Yes, that's much better.

You have now clearly admitted that you didn't read the whole book, and what you read was an extremely long time ago. I'm fine with that. That makes perfect sense. That's a great explanation for why you wrote false things about it.
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Old 08-10-2019, 07:53 PM
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You must make so many friends wherever you go.
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Old 08-10-2019, 07:58 PM
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San Jose has the lowest rental vacancy rate in the nation. That doesn’t speak well for being a well-functioning housing market.
Huh ? How does that follow ? Why would a low vacancy rate be a bad thing ? More people get housed, more people get paid than anywhere else, isn't this the ideal ?

(real question - I'm not trying to be a bitch or nothing)
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Old 08-10-2019, 09:19 PM
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Huh ? How does that follow ? Why would a low vacancy rate be a bad thing ? More people get housed, more people get paid than anywhere else, isn't this the ideal ?
In a free market, without arbitrary restrictions by local zoning boards, the following would happen:

a. Rents are high
b. Developers would purchase land with low density, old structures on it.
c. Developers would demolish the old, low density structures
d. Developers would construct a higher density building with lots of units to collect that high rent

The vacancies...I think a healthy market will have a certain percentage of units being vacant at any given time. Vacancies tend to bring prices downwards - the landlords owning vacant units are going to gradually reduce the rent demanded over time in order to find a tenant. Then, this prevents other landlords from charging too much, because if they do, tenants will just move into the vacant units instead.

The invisible hand is extremely coercive. Everyone is being maximally greedy. The landlords would charge infinite rent if they could, the tenants would pay nothing if they could. But market dynamics limit what prices either party can actually charge.

Last edited by SamuelA; 08-10-2019 at 09:20 PM.
  #83  
Old 08-10-2019, 09:25 PM
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...

The invisible hand is extremely coercive. ....
The invisible hand is extremely imaginary.
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Old 08-10-2019, 09:44 PM
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The invisible hand is extremely imaginary.
Is it? Technically, gravitational fields are imaginary, there's no way to see one directly, yet they have a strong effect regardless. Evolution doesn't even have a tangible expression of it's existence like gravity does, it's just a series of mathematical rules that end up working out to net information and complexity gains.

What I am saying it, market dynamics are real. They happen every time there are more than a single competing provider of a good or service and some mechanism for exchanging units of value. (whether it be barter or currency)

Come to think of it, market dynamics apply even without anything resembling commerce at all. If tribe A has 10 attractive women and 20 reasonably attractive men, the way relationships go will be very different than tribe B with 20 women/10 men.

You can easily think of the "good" up for sale being affection and intimacy and even things like emotional support, and in each case, the side with more leverage needs to invest less in their relationships to find a mate while the side with less leverage needs to invest more.

No currency exchanged and technically any individual isn't subject to anyone centrally forcing them to take any given action. (but everyone is acting out of self interest. The "10" group wants the best mates, so they are going to be choosy who they pick from the "20" group. The "20" group just wants to mate at all, so they will work very hard to get the affection from anyone in the "10" group. Assume for the sake of this example that only 1:1 pairings are happening. You can see that the "market price" of the individuals in the "10" group is much higher than the market rate for the 20 - they can demand a lot more. Even though there's no organized currency being exchanged, what they can demand are far less tangible things like their mate being more attractive, having a better voice, singing sweet sonets to them in the morning...)

Last edited by SamuelA; 08-10-2019 at 09:47 PM.
  #85  
Old 08-11-2019, 07:12 AM
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The invisible hand is extremely imaginary.
Yet I've never lived in a rent-controlled apartment in my life. If you're suggesting something else was controlling the price, we're all ears.
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Old 08-11-2019, 07:35 AM
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Huh ? How does that follow ? Why would a low vacancy rate be a bad thing ? More people get housed, more people get paid than anywhere else, isn't this the ideal ?

(real question - I'm not trying to be a bitch or nothing)
It’s indicative of lack of supply of housing. Rent control (among other bad policies) not only dissuades the construction of new units, but generally the longer someone stays in rent controlled housing, the better deal they have on the place, so they are strongly disinclined to move and end up staying for a very long time, reducing the fluidity of the market. (Think about how younger workers complain about old-timers who just will never retire to open up better jobs - it’s exactly like that but with housing.)

A better situation for any market is to have a balance where both those who are looking to buy and looking to sell have more choices on what suits their needs. If supply is tight, buyers will have to settle for things that aren’t really what they want and at a higher price, because sellers aren’t having to compete on price or quality.

Broad surveys of economists of all stripes show a consensus that rent control measures lower the quality and availability of affordable housing.
http://www.igmchicago.org/surveys/rent-control
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Old 08-11-2019, 08:16 AM
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Except with old-timers and jobs, that's the lump of labor fallacy. The difference is that the volume of jobs is far less static than the volume of housing.
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Old 08-11-2019, 08:58 AM
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Is it? Technically, gravitational fields are imaginary, there's no way to see one directly, yet they have a strong effect regardless. Evolution doesn't even have a tangible expression of it's existence like gravity does, it's just a series of mathematical rules that end up working out to net information and complexity gains.

What I am saying it, market dynamics are real. They happen every time there are more than a single competing provider of a good or service and some mechanism for exchanging units of value. (whether it be barter or currency)
I don't think he's saying market forces don't exist. To me (and I expect, to him too, but my crystal ball's in the shop so he'll have to confirm), "the invisible hand" is shorthand for the idea that market forces, in and of themselves, always reach an optimum distribution where everybody's happy, or at least relatively equally unhappy.
And that's bollocks.
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:07 AM
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I don't think he's saying market forces don't exist. To me (and I expect, to him too, but my crystal ball's in the shop so he'll have to confirm), "the invisible hand" is shorthand for the idea that market forces, in and of themselves, always reach an optimum distribution where everybody's happy, or at least relatively equally unhappy.
And that's bollocks.
And we also know that interventions into the market, in and of themselves, do not always reach an optimum distribution where everybody’s happy, or at least relatively equally unhappy.
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:41 AM
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Sure. Is that an argument for total laissez faire ? Or for better interventions ?
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:41 AM
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Yet I've never lived in a rent-controlled apartment in my life. If you're suggesting something else was controlling the price, we're all ears.
I suspect, now this is only a WAG now, dont quote me- the landlord.
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:45 AM
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I don't think he's saying market forces don't exist. To me (and I expect, to him too, but my crystal ball's in the shop so he'll have to confirm), "the invisible hand" is shorthand for the idea that market forces, in and of themselves, always reach an optimum distribution where everybody's happy, or at least relatively equally unhappy.
And that's bollocks.
Exactly. Market forces certainly are there but consumers and producers make stupid decisions.

I was consulting with the rent Control board during one of the great dot-com booms in Silicon Valley. Rents were skyrocketing. Some landlords doubled their rents- and were getting it. The Landlord members of the board (not the tenant members, the landlords) went out to meet with some of them and tell them how foolish that was, that the boom was temporary, and pricing out your good long term tenants in favor or temporarily rich short term tenants was a bad idea. Especially as many of them couldnt afford the new rent once the boom stopped- or bought a house with boom $.
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:54 AM
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I suspect, now this is only a WAG now, dont quote me- the landlord.
And if the landlord charges too much, the unit stays empty. None of them charged infinite rent because they couldn't make money by doing so, not because any law prevented them. That's the invisible hand at work.
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:02 AM
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And if the landlord charges too much, the unit stays empty. None of them charged infinite rent because they couldn't make money by doing so, not because any law prevented them. That's the invisible hand at work.
Not unlimited no, but they can certainly charge over market and still get a tenant.
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:32 AM
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Sure. Is that an argument for total laissez faire ? Or for better interventions ?
My response isn’t actually a policy recommendation. It was meant as a subtle criticism of your strawman that “the other side” is against any and all regulations because the term “invisible hand” was used.

But the fact remains that rent control policies By definition make the housing situation worse for nearly everyone and benefit just a few, as economists from across the spectrum agree.
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:41 AM
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...

But the fact remains that rent control policies By definition make the housing situation worse for nearly everyone and benefit just a few, as economists from across the spectrum agree.
As I said before the mild rent controls of San Jose are universally agreed upon- even by the landlords and owners- to be a good idea.

And raising the rent on a long term great tenant so that they cant afford the unit, so that you get a crappy new tenant- is just bad business.

It costs a lot to fix up a unit for renting and then advertise then go thru the tenants, and then you have a month or two without rents, and then you might get a tenant that looks good, but is a tenant from hell you have to actually hire a lawyer to evict, costing you lawyer fees and usually six months to a year of lost rent.
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:47 AM
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Not unlimited no, but they can certainly charge over market and still get a tenant.
Yes, but on average it will take longer to fill the unit. And landlords also have landlords. Either they own the property outright, and are paying indirectly in the interest they could have gotten on the same capital elsewhere, or they are paying a mortgage. Also, the government with it's property taxes can be also thought of as just another landlord.

This is part of discovery - I've noticed that the large apartment complex near me will price it's vacant units at different prices. Even apartments that have identical descriptions. And if they have more than a certain target number of vacant units, you notice rents begin to diminish for the vacant ones, coming down a few dollars every few days. And vice versa, as the vacants fill you see rates ratchet their way upward.

You can see the "invisible hand" at work in just the pricing of a single complex in a single place.
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Old 08-11-2019, 12:05 PM
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As I said before the mild rent controls of San Jose are universally agreed upon- even by the landlords and owners- to be a good idea.
I doubt this is true. Bay area rent control has opponents on both sides, some thinking it's too little, and others not enough. Most new housing legislation has failed in the state legislature, and while new rent control is still possible, it's facing stiff opposition. Certainly lots of folk are in favor of it, but the support is not universal.
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Old 08-11-2019, 01:08 PM
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I doubt this is true. Bay area rent control has opponents on both sides, some thinking it's too little, and others not enough. Most new housing legislation has failed in the state legislature, and while new rent control is still possible, it's facing stiff opposition. Certainly lots of folk are in favor of it, but the support is not universal.
All the rent control does is slow down the rate which the free market can operate. This might actually be a good thing, in real life control systems it prevents oscillations. But it doesn't solve the fundamental problem.

Each tech company benefits from that location, or they would put their offices anywhere else that is cheaper and offers similar city amenities. But the hyper-specialists who are maximally skilled are all there, and the financiers who provide all the funding for startups are most available there.

So either prices rise until no one can live there who isn't a specialized tech worker, or they rise until even the poorer tech companies have to move. Both of which has probably already happened. All the service workers are going to either have to live in very crowded conditions, on the streets in an RV, or commute in. Which is already true also.

This can be "fixed" - you could relax all the restrictions and make the place look like Hong Kong. Or another competing tech hub (Austin, maybe?) might instead grow to look like Hong Kong instead and silicon valley would lose it's status.
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Old 08-11-2019, 03:28 PM
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As I said before the mild rent controls of San Jose are universally agreed upon- even by the landlords and owners- to be a good idea.
So if the rent control system was working so well, why did San Jose lower the allowable annual rent increase from 8%, which was established in 1979, to 5% as of 2016? Was it maybe because there was both a shortage of rental units and costs were going up? Because everyone was satisfied three years ago that the rent control law was kickin' ass and fixing problems? By the way, it sounds like the city council is starting to question whether its rent control laws are backfiring, as the "mayor said he’s heard of developers not moving forward with housing projects potentially because of" an aspect of the rent control law that may be discouraging building new units to replace/expand units that are currently rent controlled.

I mean, there's no economist in the world who could possibly predict that price caps would result in shortages. I mean, that's just totally crazy talk. It's not like every econ 101 textbook has a graph in it showing supply and demand and what happens if price controls are instituted -- people just don't study this sort of stuff at all. Next someone is going to say that if people don't practice good hygiene, then disease may spread! Can we just agree that science has no place in public policy?

Quote:
And raising the rent on a long term great tenant so that they cant afford the unit, so that you get a crappy new tenant- is just bad business.
That's a decision that ought to be dealt with by landlords and tenants, not public policy. It also has nothing to do with the question here, since nobody is propounding a law that landlords MUST raise rents on good tenants. But consider the reverse: a building that has 50 great tenants and one bad one. A good landlord may try to drive the bad guy away by raising rents steeply. That can't be done in rent controlled cities, so the 50 good tenants have to live with the one guy who is a PITA because the good-hearted landlord in this scenario can do nothing about it.

Last edited by Ravenman; 08-11-2019 at 03:29 PM.
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