Monday, January 12, 2009

The Daily Dozen

  1. Is government spending too easy an answer? I think so.
  2. The incredible shrinking inauguration crowd. It started off at 5 million and estimates are now closer to 1 million. I'm still trying to figure out if I'm going to go into DC that day. (I live less than 5 miles away -- walking distance if it's good weather.)
  3. My Genome, My Self -- Learn more about Steven Pinker.
  4. Top 10 CES and Macworld announcements.
  5. With interest rates a 37-year low, should you refinance your mortgage? In a word -- yes.
  6. 7 reasons to try snowshoeing this winter.
  7. Super Boy Scout -- he earned all 121 merit badges before his 18th birthday.
  8. 10 hot photography tips and tutorials.
  9. A commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace on life and work. Sadly, Mr. Wallace committed suicide last year making what he said particularly sobering.
  10. Zen, jazz, and creativity.
  11. Home ownership should not be subsidized. I've been saying this for a while now. If the government had not been subsidizing housing through mortgage tax breaks for so long, the housing crisis would not have been as severe. I would prefer for no tax breaks for housing at all. A more more politically feasible alternative would be to at least give an equivalent break to renters. The current system subsidizes housing for the rich and does nothing for the poor. It also causes an overconsumption of housing which may also lead to higher levels of unemployment.
  12. Declinging Rents? During the housing boom, lots of people bought homes to rent to others. This has led to an increase in rental supply. With the economy in recession, there is now less demand leading to falling rents. Tenants with low rents now feel little urgency to buy a home, leading to a further depression of housing prices. For the record, I have been talking about the advantages of renting for years. Among other reasons, it gives you much greater flexibility during lean economic times -- both in terms of being able to move easily and in terms of adjusting to variations in income level. This same logic applies towards keeping debt to a minimum and living beneath your means.

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