The Unceremonious Fall from Entitlement

Many cling to lifestyles of the Great Housing Bubble unable to accept reality of living within the confines of their wage income. Today we examine the inevitable and ignominious fall from entitlement.

Irvine Home Address ... 80 FAIRLAKE 21 Irvine, CA 92614
Resale Home Price ...... $1,200,000


Frozen in a timeless gaze
Nothing left, you fall from grace
What's the point in killing time
Waiting for your time to die
Leave the lies for yesterday

Sick - sick - fall from grace


Venom - Fall From Grace

The Great Housing Bubble cultivated a gentility of entitlement, a sordid societal residue, a system of reliance, a conviction among people that they may possess anything they wish just because; deserving without earning; Grace.

Divine acceptance is given; whereas, worldly possessions are earned -- a basic truth lost through possessory entitlement. Few construct and contribute to the greater good, and many expect easy money from lenders, Governments, housing and stock markets or free-money Ponzi Schemes. We are impaired by our lender's failure and our Government's response to the crisis our lenders created; a wound that lingers as a festering sore no bailout balm can remedy.

The emotional fall from Grace has barely begun. The amend-pretend-extend dance will continue until lenders tire of paying the piper. Shadow Inventory contains the new entitlement class; while unemployed renters sleep in shelters, unemployed homeowners squat in luxury, sustain false lives on lender largess, and exalt their status in preparation for the unceremonious fall from entitlement.

The Unceremonious Fall from Entitlement

When famous people fall, it makes news, but when plebs fall, no notice is given; no ritual is performed. The silent souls quietly abandon their perceived privilege while the raucous proles forcefully defend their binding birthright through procedural delays and faithlessly modified promises. In the end, all fall to the support of their own resources and suffer to the degree they resist reshaping their lives to reflect reality.

We witness this fall as HELOC abuse posts, short sales and Trustee Sales. Like forensic examiners, we follow clues in the property records looking for what methods were used and what motivated homeowners to borrow and spend their family homes. This work is consequential because unless we see conditions for what they are, unless we see people's defective reasoning and overriding emotional gambits for what they are, we may fall victim to the same Siren's Song.

Who will fall, and how much will they suffer?

Suffering is a spiritual concept; suffering is a negative judgment of experience exacerbated by attachment, delusion and aversion. Suffering and attachment directly relate; each soul suffers in proportion to the attachments formed to objects, people, beliefs and ideas, or anything the mind's grasping can't bear to lose or give up. Are you aware of your own suffering?

Homedebtor suffering directly relates to their over-indebtedness and HELOC dependency; each suffers in direct proportion to (1) their debt-to-income ratio, (2) the magnitude to which they consistently outspend their wage income, (3) and the extent to which they must have that which they must lose. Rapid appreciation and HELOC spending to supplement lifestyle is not coming back, and all who hold their breath will give up, pass out or walk away. In the interim, they suffer. Quietly and anonymously they hatch fantasies of golden geese and high-flying home prices not to be.

Profiles in Entitlement

Prosaic descriptions of entitlement provides a skeletal structure, but to put meat on the bones we must examine the stories of individuals and families caught up in the compulsion for kool aid. I have profiled dozens of HELOC abuse posts over the years, and each one tells a story of greed and foolishness. If you want a deeper understanding of the motivations of various profiles in HELOC abuse, I recently encapsulated this phenomenon in the post HELOC Abuse Grading System

The profiles selected each illustrate an aspect of consumer entitlement directly opposed to (1) wealth creation and accumulation or (2) personal responsibility and strength. The names and details have been changed or omitted to spare the guilty gratuitous embarrassment; I seek not to punish but to enlighten and inform.

Borrowing is weak

Dependency is weak, and borrowing is dependency; therefore, borrowing is weak. This simple deductive argument speaks to an oft-ignored truth; borrowing is weak. Saving and borrowing are dualistic opposites like strength and weakness, slavery and freedom. 

The inescapable truth greets each debtor the moment their lender says "no." If a saver and a borrower each want something, the saver is in complete control of a purchase decision, whereas the borrower is utterly dependent upon lender approval. Have you ever been standing in line and watched someone's credit card be denied payment? Did the wouldbe purchaser seem strong and powerful to you? Did you cringe with embarrassment? I have -- from both sides of the interaction.

The aging socialite

A reader emailed me about the property that became the post HELOC abuse Hollywood Style. The property was purchased in the early 70s in Hollywood for about $150,000. The property was owned by a frugal couple that paid down their debts. The husband died in the late 90s leaving the wife with a beautiful and historic property with millions in equity.

I can imagine the husband's state-of-mind and heart on his deathbed; he knew he provided well for his family, and although his wife might outlive him for quite some time, he was leaving her comfortably and securely set up for life. The inner peace he felt is something I covet for my own death. So should we all.

If there is an afterlife, and if we have the ability to look in on loved ones after we pass, I hope for this man's spirit that he resisted the temptation and rests in peace. Watching his wife either through foolish choices or bad advice spend the family fortune and be forced to abandon the family home -- a home that had millions in equity at the moment of death -- watching that from afar with no ability to intervene is more akin to hell than to heaven.

For the widow, she must move out of her stately mansion, destitute and alone with only memories of her life of entitlement and glamour to comfort her, or torture her, as she lives out her life in relative obscurity after her unceremonious fall from entitlement. Hopefully for her, California's social entitlement will survive to provide a minimal level of support.

The spendthrift landlord

Entitlement isn't always over the top, sometimes it is just flippant; a thoughtless attitude toward spending where people just obtain any object of desire at any time for any cost -- and doing it like a big shot who is above it all.

A friend of mine (whom I am overdue to meet for coffee) told me this story of his now former landlord, a flippant spender quickly approaching his day of reckoning.

The owner had three properties; the one my friend rented was his original property purchased in the mid 90s for about $150,000, and a few months after my friend moved in, the owner received a Notice of Default on his $650,000 Option ARM. It turns out the owner used that money to buy another investment property and a $2,000,000+ Coto mansion at the peak in 2006. Based on the property records, we surmised he was facing about a $40,000 monthly nut on properties deeply underwater and precipitously declining in value.

What always struck my frugal friend was the cavalier attitude the owner had toward spending. The landlord would stop buy by in his pimped out truck, brag about decadent spending, and promise to fix items and fail to follow through. It was obvious that discretionary consumer spending took priority over other financial obligations including mortgages. Where is this guy's next cash infusion going to come from? What lender wants to pour grease down that gutter?

Outspending the Joneses

Truly successful and abundant people are unconcerned with impressing the neighbors or keeping-up-with-the-Joneses. Most inwardly flourishing people live joyous lives and keep a low profile because real wealth prefers anonymity to ostentation. However, the spiritually impoverished elevate themselves above others and seek to elicit jealousy. The jealous procure a fleeting power; addicted to the soul-drain of another, the jealous seek an endless charade of consumerism and comparison, and they pine for those ephemeral emotional payoffs when the jealous believe other people want what they have.

The compulsion toward jealousy leads some to recklessness as we witnessed in Ashes to Ashes; Dust to Dust where one family took out and spent $865,500, or in The Ultimate Post where the family absconded with $1,090,000 in lender money. Somebody has to be the trend setter, someone has to be the Joneses everyone else is keeping up with. When the Joneses are freebasing on lender crack, they set a very, very high bar. With no truly wealthy people spending such prodigious amounts, the Joneses actually surpass the spending of the wealthy they ostensibly emulate.

Is this wise behavior we should all imitate? Is the pleasure of spending and jealousy worth losing the family home? Carpe Diem?

The inconceivable owner

I remember a comment years ago from a married woman in her early 30s who could not conceive a scenario where she would not be owning a house in two years at most. WTF? Entitlement demanded she be housed in the property of her choosing in 18 to 24 months, and no matter the means or the outcome, it was going to happen. Let me provide images of her -- absent a home -- for her deficient imagination:

  1. She could realize she cannot afford a home -- not likely, but at least possible. Kudos if she does.
  2. Her husband may realize she cannot afford the home and say no -- not likely, unless he has a spine. Ditto above if he does.
  3. Her family may not be given access to sufficient lender funds to obtain the property she feels entitled to, which means a lender has determined she cannot afford a home -- a very likely outcome in the aftermath of the bubble. And wisely so as lenders just lost a trillion dollars lending too much.

It never occurred to this woman that the enablers of her entitlement may choose not to enable it further. Some lender may reveal her entitlement to be an illusion created in her own mind. Also, it never occurred to her that having the object she is entitled to could cause so much pain. Nobody who purchased in 2006 who has a rational understanding of the situation is rejoicing their good fortune.

The sophisticated financial manager

In the heyday of securitization, paper-pushers were tieing up any available, consistent cashflow and providing the owners with a huge, one-time infusion of cash. It was Enron accounting applied on an unprecedented scale. Emulating corporate titans, individuals embarked on personal Ponzi-Style finance  and sought ways to liberate their equity for more productive and more indulgent pursuits. The money-changers eagerly embraced this new sophistication among the proletariat, which has come to view debt as something serviced rather than retired, something maximized rather than minimized, something chic rather than shunned.

The most egregious example I found was HELOC Abuse Laguna Beach Style where the owner took out over $5,000,000 in mortgage equity withdrawal. What did he do with that money? Was he saving a business? Was he partying and having a good time? Several not-so-astutely observed nothing wrong with the owner's behavior, as it was between the borrower and the lender. That sounds very reasonable until the lender looks to you and me to pay the loss.

In the recent post, Will Government Exit the Mortgage Market on Schedule? The property owner relayed the following open message:

“This gentleman makes a lot of assumptions - some of which are correct, and some of which are not. My business is largely about buying low, selling high, and utilizing equity to drive cash flow. The property has been a rental for 11 years. There are better opportunities, so I am selling to purchase some all cash deals. Good investors will use HELOC’s, but in this case there is nothing utilized on the 2nd. The other important aspect is to drive the total cost of your debt down among all the investments that you own - that is why this has been refinanced. Other properties are held all cash. Just funny how he interprets without all the data.”

I replied to the intermediary:

As for his statements about financial management, I think he is crazy, but if he feels good about it, good for him. He implies he took great care with the management of his cost of debt, but appears he was not as successful in managing the total amount of debt since the amount obviously ballooned out of control. Based on what he owes he is not going to net much cash out of this deal, and the only thing he really accomplishes is getting out from under the debt, which is a good thing. He extracted his cash and now he moves on. I don’t see where this improves his wealth much.

Why do people borrow themselves to oblivion? Because they can! Lenders enable this foolishness because they are siphoning borrower cashflow; lenders would prefer lifelong addiction, but if a few flame out, so be it. As long as wouldbe borrowers view this foolishness as reasonable, responsible and refined, it will continue. Crazy!

California's social entitlements and obligations

No discussion of entitlement is complete without discussing Our HELOC Economy. California's debt rating is among the worst of sovereign entities. Lenders simply don't believe in our willingness to raise taxes or cut spending to balance our budget. We are borrowing in the belief that tax revenues will return to bubble levels, and they won't. We are broke, and we are over borrowing because we want to maintain our entitlements. 

I don't know what form it will take and who will get cut, but we will come crashing down to the level of support our economy sustains. It may be bond vigilantes making our debt so expensive we are cut off from borrowing. It may be a wise and concerted efforts among politicians to reign in our budget through thoughtful cuts and painful but necessary tax increases... (giggles to self). Or it may be that the economy replaces mortgage equity withdrawal with real productive output and State revenues improve... (not likely, but such denial is current status quo). Start watching California bond yields for signs of our upcoming political crisis.

Status and Entitlement

In the post The Grand Illusion, I discussed the pursuit of status:

Status is an internal perception about what people believe other people think about them. It has nothing to do with what other people actually do think about them (as if that mattered anyway).

For instance, I think the women on the The Real Housewives of Orange County are soulless gold-diggers. My derision is only eclipsed by my disrespect for the way they live, what they believe, and what they represent. However, they think I, and everyone else who knows them through the show, believes they are something special, something to envy as if they really have it "going on." They have status. Not because people regard them highly, but because they think people do. But I digress...

For people who don't have the internal strength to base their self worth on what they believe about themselves, they end up basing their self worth on their perceptions of what other people think about them. Once they have given their power away to others in this manner, people will expend tremendous amounts of time, energy and money in a vain attempt to influence other people -- hence we have fancy cars, opulent houses, designer clothing, and all the other trappings of conspicuous consumption. In my opinion, this is a sickness (their mind control fails on me.) It is a consuming disease which fed on the borrowed money made available during the housing/credit bubble.

The Real Housewives of Orange County  as form of entertainment sickens me as it appeals either to pure schadenfreude or ignorant emulation. Most watch and feel superior -- how could you not -- but some actually watch looking for role models or a how-to manual for being pretentious  -- a ghastly side effect our sons and daughters pay with their souls.  

As you might imagine, I don't watch much TV, and I will probably not watch Thursday night's episode; however, if you feel like an overdose of schadenfreude, you can tune in and watch one pretending family endure the unceremonious fall from entitlement. Apparently, one family has been moving from one entitled situation to another, failing to pay any of their bills, and now they are facing eviction with cameras voyeuristically capturing the ceremonious, theatrical and educational fall.

Irvine Home Address ... 80 FAIRLAKE 21 Irvine, CA 92614

Resale Home Price ... $1,200,000

Income Requirement ....... $249,888
Downpayment Needed ... $240,000
20% Down Conventional

Home Purchase Price … $460,000
Home Purchase Date .... 4/29/1994

Net Gain (Loss) .......... $668,000
Percent Change .......... 160.9%
Annual Appreciation … 6.2%


Mortgage Interest Rate ………. 5.05%
Monthly Mortgage Payment … $5,183
Monthly Cash Outlays …..….… $7,100
Monthly Cost of Ownership ... $5,160

Property Details for 80 FAIRLAKE 21 Irvine, CA 92614


Beds 3
Baths 2 full 1 part baths
Home Size 2,320 sq ft
($517 / sq ft)
Lot Size n/a
Year Built 1984
Days on Market 12
Listing Updated 2/4/2010
MLS Number S603569
Property Type Condominium, Residential
Community Woodbridge
Tract Lk

One of a kind! Exquisite lakefront home with breathtaking 180 degree lakeview! Lakeview from almost everywhere. Owner spent $150K for numerous upgrades: Travertine flooring, Marble faced fireplace, Wood shutters, Custom paint,Custom leaded glass windows, Granite kitchen countertop, Beautiful kitchen cabinets, Stainless steel appliances, Granite tops in all bathrooms, Spa/tub in master bath, Recessed lightings, Mirrored closet doors & much more. Vaulted ceilings, Large masterbed with area for office, Breakfast nook, Inside laundry room, Large patio to enjoy the living on the lake.

Are there any rules of capitalization that realtors follow? It just seems random to me. "Wood shutters, Custom paint,Custom leaded glass windows" Why are any of those words capitalized? Is the writer treating commas like periods and capitalizing the first word after each one?

The British know how to joke about entitlement:


Astute Observations

Astute Observation by Aceman
2010-02-10 06:01 AM

Hello irvinerenter great post today well said! As me and my wife sit here on the beach in st Thomas in usvi I am contemplating how society has made people come into being such slaves to debt. Both of us come from Europe and live in irvine we have no debt, still rent, both have our own businesses and are having a great time on our honeymoon which is one year after our wedding, decided to save a little after out wedding…we are at peace here and in paradise and your post today has me reflecting would we be here today if we had bought into the kool aid?? Thankyou for helping us steer us away from being debt slaves!!

Astute Observation by IrvineRenter
2010-02-10 07:38 AM

Thank you for sharing your story and experience. We live in a world that glorifies pretense and consumerism and provides no role models like yourself for others to emulate. I hope more stories like yours emerge in the comments.

Astute Observation by AZDavidPhx
2010-02-10 07:48 AM

The banks have turned us into slaves via their clever little ‘Fractional Reserve’ Institution in which money literally is debt.

If everybody were debt free - there would be no money in circulation.  It is impossible for everybody to be out of debt.

Think about it…..

Astute Observation by Goatse
Astute Observation by Art Student in Atlanta
2010-02-10 09:33 AM

AZDavidPhx,

That is the “Money Multiplier Effect”. It is a fun concept. It is why there is a strong Federal Reserve in the first place. It is why banks are such a critical part of the economy.

It was really the initial collapse of the banks after the stock market crash in the 1920’s that had the real devestating impact on the economy. The Fed was strengthened to reign in “Wildcat Banks.” (Banks with little or no reserves to back up their loans or pay back their depositers.)

It is the main reason I see this economic disaster lasting for far longer than the Dot-Com Bust. When you “break the bank”, you have to spend a long time and a lot of resources to put it back together again. Deflation is a given in those circumstances.

We had initial deflation, but the Fed has only been able to modestly inflate the currency.

Astute Observation by david
2010-02-10 10:34 AM

An honest, 100% bank reserve system would prevent debt bubbles, but would not mean the end of loans/debt. 

In an honest system, an increase in lending would require an increase in savings, whereas now, banks are authorized to fraudulently increase lending by creating multiple dollars in loans for every dollar of savings.

Astute Observation by winstongator
2010-02-10 11:13 AM

Consider a system where the money supply is fixed.  The supply of goods (and services) in that country is not fixed, and should be continuously increasing.  Fixed amount of money chasing increasing amount of goods, creates perpetually falling prices.  Is that what we want?

Astute Observation by Sean
2010-02-10 01:09 PM

If the money supply is printed / increased at the FED at about the rate of GDP growth then the value of each dollar should be stable.  The aim of a money supply should be liquidity, stable value, and tamping down on bubbles by restricting the ability of immense speculative purchases with fake money.

Astute Observation by Major Schadenfreude
2010-02-10 01:44 PM

“The aim of a money supply should be liquidity, stable value, and tamping down on bubbles by restricting the ability of immense speculative purchases with fake money.”

Fake money, such as that produced by a government which attempts to print money at the rate of GDP growth.

Astute Observation by HydroCabron
2010-02-10 01:40 PM

You could do this - it’s what a strict adherence to the gold standard would bring about. Long-term contracts today are written with some adjustment for inflation baked in; under a fixed money supply, one would have to write contracts with a negative interest rate understood by both parties.

Of course, there has never been such a thing as a fixed money supply. Either, say, gold will become more or less plentiful as money due to its other uses, or people will lend one another money, officially or not.

Fractional reserve lending is several thousand years old.

Astute Observation by matt138
2010-02-10 08:28 PM

Why are falling prices a bad thing?  It’s not.

The winstongator argument is one of perpetual inflation.  I don’t think inflation is necessary.

Astute Observation by Swiller
2010-02-10 03:53 PM

In America (Irvine, CA), when you get divorced you split everything in half. If you are married for more than 10 years, you could end up paying spousal support for as long as the ex-spouse lives.
Enjoy your honeymoon!

Astute Observation by Anonymous
2010-02-10 06:27 AM

One-Fifth of U.S. Homeowners Owe More Than Properties Are Worth

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20603037&sid=at6VKvccpCzs

Astute Observation by AZDavidPhx
2010-02-10 08:01 AM

And I’ll bet you that many of that 1/5 are living in a state of denial making themselves to believe the propaganda being distributed to the mainstream for-profit media to be passed off as objective news suggesting that all is well and improving.

Astute Observation by AZDavidPhx
2010-02-10 08:06 AM

As a followup on the for-profit media, we had an interesting glimpse under the covers this week when some Toyota dealers pulled their ads from an ABC station that was peddling “Excessive stories” regarding those pesky gas pedals that have been sticking.

I wonder if “Excessive stories” regarding falling house prices would have a similar blowback from certain organizations…

Astute Observation by thrifty
2010-02-10 12:54 PM

It is estimated that by the end of 2011 about 50% of homeowners will be underwater; yep, 50%!

Astute Observation by Swiller
2010-02-10 03:55 PM

Can’t wait. Will be nice watching the people who are moral and ethical crusaders swallow being underwater. Maybe they can lose their job at the same time so other people can call them fools, bums, freeloaders, etc.

Astute Observation by mike23w
2010-02-10 06:37 AM

IR,

I know you’re practicing your writing but I liked it better when you used simpler words. It was easier to read and your ideas were clearer as a result.

It kind of reads like you went through a thesaurus to pick a bunch of words that aren’t commonly used and because you stuffed that sentence with so many words it lost some of it’s impact.

“The Great Housing Bubble cultivated a gentility of entitlement, a sordid societal residue, a system of reliance, a conviction among people that they may possess anything they wish just because; deserving without earning; Grace.”

Increasing the number of syllables per word doesn’t necessarily translate to a better reading experience. Sometimes it’s quite the contrary (one of the reasons reading some academic papers is a pain).  Might I suggest (re)reading John Steinbeck? He had a way of using simple everyday words to describe vivid pictures. It’s a deceptively simple but elegant writing style.

Of course I’m not suggesting you stop using ten dollar words.  It’s just feedback on how I read this post.  I’m sure many readers will appreciate your new style. Keep up the good work. It’s great that you’re working on your writing (and open to the barbs and criticisms of readers like me:).

Astute Observation by IrvineRenter
2010-02-10 07:17 AM

You have hit on the difficult balance in style that only comes through time and greater experience. I will improve.

I hear what you are saying, and I am fully cognizant of the problem. Word choice as an element of style is important, and I certainly don’t wish to raise the grade level and become the paragon of pretense I disdain, but then again, sometimes uncommon words look and sound better and convey meaning better than more common counterparts.

A post like this one lends itself to more abstract writing because I need to illustrate concepts that often cannot be reduced to simple, concrete terms. If you contrast this to the posts earlier this week were such writing was not called for and would have been a distraction.

Whenever I selected an uncommon word, it was because I believed it to be the most apt word. Unfortunately, when I put more than one or two of such words into a single sentence, rather than clarify, it slows down reading and muddies the water. I recently had this reader experience with a book on clear writing!

Thank you for your input, and for alerting me that I am crossing that invisible threshold between clarity and confusion. Only reader feedback will tell me where this line is.

Astute Observation by IrvineRenter
2010-02-10 08:32 AM

How do you feel about unusual uses of common words?

In the sentence below, I used the word “pine” as a verb when it is usually a simple noun:

“The jealous procure a fleeting power; addicted to the soul-drain of another, the jealous seek an endless charade of consumerism and comparison, and they pine for those ephemeral emotional payoffs when the jealous believe other people want what they have”

Here are two definitions of the verb pine:

1. to yearn intensely and persistently especially for something unattainable
2. suffer a mental and physical decline, especially because of sorrow

Doesn’t the verb “pine” perfectly capture the emotional drive behind jealousy?

I went to my dictionary to verify the aptness of pine as I would for a word I found in a thesaurus. I think it was the correct word for this sentence.

Astute Observation by Swiller
2010-02-10 08:47 AM

Can you be using simple words man, these hard to understand and unusual words like “sordid” and “societal” just make things much too difficult.

Is it any wonder the representatives think the common man a fool and easily duped. I shudder to think of what the poster would say of our Constitution and Bill of Rights say. “Man, dats just too difficult, can ya make it ez?”

Astute Observation by garrison
2010-02-10 09:40 AM

IR,

Personally, I enjoy your writing style - even as you venture into vocabulary befitting a college-level reader (gasp!).

Unfortunately, in our IM, text-driven world, we’re losing our ability to articulate cogent points with fluidity, eloquence and grace. While I am a Republican - much to my dismay, I fear America is becoming too “Palinized”. Say it ain’t so, Joe…

I might have/had philosophical disagreements with the closing of the IHB forums, but I’ll always appreciate your breadth of real estate knowledge and your artful way of translating dry analytical data into an entertaining and informative morning must-read.  Keep up the good work.

Astute Observation by Sean
2010-02-10 01:14 PM

Reading full and complete sentences is always a joy.  Reading a sentence that conveys meaning through precise word choice is also a joy.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t edit our words to convey our meaning in a simple and direct manner, just that we choose the proper words.  As simple as it can be without being oversimple seems like a nice and difficult balance, the work of a lifetime - especially when you deal with a complex and technical subject like finance and macro economics.

Astute Observation by tonyE
2010-02-10 01:47 PM

Me likes your newfound style.

The recemt column’s cognitive semantic expansion indicates a chronic endeavor to achieve a gestalt awareness that drives directly to the subject matter.

Moreover, the canonical utilization in the critique of large denomination words (vide the ten dollar moniker) fails to recognize the current rapid devaluationary period wherein the monetary value of the language is undergoing an accelerated loss of perceived value with a concomitant price inflation.

In conclusion, I pine for those days gone past when we realized, in fits of agony, in fast reflexes to the plenum maximus and never ending Gordian vicissitudes the monotonic positive capacity for the persistent cognition of valid avenues of wealth distribution.

Phew…. I reckon dat’s it for today.


Nice post… I guess I look ridiculous driving my Honda with a Mercedes logo?  wink

Astute Observation by Anonymous
2010-02-10 01:47 PM

I seem to recall reading that Jonathan Swift (Gullivers Travels) used to read his stories aloud to his illiterate servants - and if they didn’t get it, he revised it until they did.

Astute Observation by Swiller
2010-02-10 03:57 PM

Was that Jonathan Swift’s writing or is that Obama’s speeches?

Astute Observation by Soapboxpolitico
2010-02-10 04:14 PM

Bravo. Truly one of your better and more informative pieces!

I wouldn’t worry too much about whether or not your point is obscured by your choice of vocabulary. I believe most here get it and look forward to it. There are times when the use of a seemingly uncommon word is unavoidable as it most clearly conveys the proper tone and idea. Although “mike23w” has a marginal point, which I read to be more about brevity than clarity.

Brevity is the soul of wit. In my humble opinion the best writers are those who can convey complex ideas or images as succinctly as possible. I applaud and admire your desire to improve. It’s a worthy goal!

Astute Observation by ME
2010-02-10 07:21 AM

Thicker words paint a better picture.  I applaud IR writing journey.  These kind of exercises will only improve his writing.  I can’t write at all.  So what he did with this post was great imop.

Astute Observation by A.W. Chuck
2010-02-10 08:19 AM

I understand what mike23w is trying to say and he cited a good example. One thing has happened to me that might explain some of it, maybe others have experienced it…

I used to read a couple books a year. Not much. Since 2004, with the housing bubble going on, I started reading dozens of books…I guess I found a subject matter that wouldn’t let me put the book down. And unlike my favorite submarine warfare books, these books were a little more technical and scholarly.

I noticed that the more I read them, the larger my words were when I wrote. I was reading so many new or not often used words, so often, that my mind started adopting them for its own use. It’s to the point now while I write that I stop sometimes and think, “Where did I pick up that word?”

Sidenote…one reason I am in love with my Kindle. I can push a button and drop the cursor next to an unfamiliar word and it will give me the definition.

Case in point. I’m reading The Grapes of Wrath…I figured it was appropriate. The regional dialect is demanding to read, so I have to slow down and say it in my mind phonetically as it’s written…so much so, that I can hear the southern drawl in my mind.

Last night, my family asked me a question about something and I responded, “It don’t do no good that way.” It was not completely an unconscious response, but my mind certainly tossed it up as an option and I just went with it, half-realizing.

My point is, the mind being the sponge that it is will devour anything you focus on…and it will feed much of it back to you at a later date.

Astute Observation by phil
2010-02-10 09:59 AM

I have to agree.  The writing is great, but I found myself skipping over a lot of it :(

The sad reality is our lives are very busy and with all the choices of articles to read out there I’m guessing people gravitate towards those that provide a lot of bang for the buck.  Personally between Lifehacker, patrick.net, and this site, I’m full up.

I know you put a lot of effort into this site especially with the burden of creating unique articles daily, but a significant part of the challenge is to remain accessible to your audience.

Thanks again for the great work.

Astute Observation by freedomCM
2010-02-10 12:19 PM

I can better understand the complex concepts when the appropriate language is used.  I would guess that IR is writing at about the 10th grade level, above.  And conveying his intent well.

Just because USAToday is written at the 4th grade level doesn’t mean that the rest of our information sources should follow suit.

Personally, I find the USAT to be annoying and uninformative.  I want information well conveyed, and so read the NYTimes.

Similarly, I continue to read IR at IHB *because* he conveys his interpretation of the housing situation well, partly because he uses the $5 words where appropriate.

Astute Observation by zubs
2010-02-10 06:24 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBM6CBtuHS4

Astute Observation by Journeyman
2010-02-10 07:13 AM

How about practicing your reading?

When you encounter (is three syllables too many?) a word with which you are unfamiliar you can reach for a dictionary.

Astute Observation by Walter
2010-02-10 09:19 AM

I know what all the words meant the first time I read the sentence, but I agree that it was not as graceful as it could be.

I think IR is doing a great job. I also feel the advice given above may help him become even greater.

Astute Observation by Soylent Green Is People
2010-02-10 10:46 AM

Me ain’t founding it rough when I underread his vocabularizations. That is became I haz a State edumication.


IR’s wordsmithing might seem toppy to some, but the points are crystal clear.

For some reason this thread reminded me of one of the new “others” on LOST who, after talking to his subordinates in Japanese is asked why he does that. His reply “I hate the taste of English on my tongue” A great line.

My .02c

Soylent Green Is People.

Astute Observation by Planet Reality
2010-02-10 07:28 AM

“Truly successful and abundant people are unconcerned with impressing the neighbors or keeping-up-with-the-Joneses. Most inwardly flourishing people live joyous lives and keep a low profile because real wealth prefers anonymity to ostentation. However, the spiritually impoverished elevate themselves above others and seek to elicit jealousy.”

AMEN

I get a kick out of people making one third my income parking their luxury car next to my solid, reliable, comfortable beater car that was paid for with cash.  My car is a nice car, relatively new, but it didn’t come with the act like you are a pimp feature.

Astute Observation by AZDavidPhx
2010-02-10 07:37 AM

One of IrvineRenter’s best posts yet - He’s found his MOJO on this one!

Astute Observation by Geoffrey Chaucer
2010-02-10 08:38 PM

I agree with AZ.  Follow your muse, IR.  This site is your garden party, and as Mr. Nelson concluded, “You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”

Astute Observation by Sue in Irvine
2010-02-10 07:42 AM

You don’t have the newest version of Heidi. In the new 2010 version she looks nothing like her old self. You need to visit TMZ more often IR smile

And on today’s condo…geez or like you all say WTF! I do like the bathtub though.

Astute Observation by movingaround
2010-02-10 08:12 AM

I need to start my morning with Ab Fab every day - thanks!!

Astute Observation by wheresthebeef
2010-02-10 08:18 AM

Great post IR.  The keeping up with the Joneses around here runs rampant.  When I was married, I told my ex-wife that it would be great to have everybody in OC wear a nametag with their net worth on it just for one day.  I told her she would be amazed at the amount of pretenders here compared to normal, live within your means types.  Some of these people have been exposed the last few years; however, there are still plenty of people “hanging on”, their day will come.

Astute Observation by matt138
2010-02-10 08:40 PM

Net worth nametag, hat, or even a sign on the back window of the car.  Classic.

It would be a bullshit filter for life.

People might actually feel embarrassed driving that Mercedes with a neon negative net worth sign.

LMFAO

Astute Observation by irsx02
2010-02-10 08:52 PM

Here’s another one to ponder.

Imagine seeing a beat up Honda Civic with a lot of zeros in their net worth name tag.  I’m wondering how most SoCal people would react.

Astute Observation by Geotpf
2010-02-10 08:29 AM

It’s a one-of-a-kind…condo.  LOL.  Condos, by definition, are not one-of-a-kind.

It’s also overpriced by 40% or so vs. sold comps.

Astute Observation by Yummyhatorade
2010-02-10 08:32 AM

Schadenfreude sickens you?

How wonderful it must be to speak the language of the angels, with no words
for hate and a million words for love!  ~Quoted in The Angels’ Little
Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

There is a story of an Oxford student who once remarked, “I despise all
Americans, but have never met one I didn’t like.”  ~Gordon Allport

We hate some persons because we do not know them; and will not know them
because we hate them.  ~Charles Caleb Colton

Take care that no one hates you justly.  ~Publilius Syrus

Hatred is one long wait.  ~René Maran

Just sayin’

Astute Observation by AZDavidPhx
2010-02-10 08:45 AM

Schadenfreude is not hatred.  You are making a bit of a stretch today.

Astute Observation by IrvineRenter
2010-02-10 08:35 AM

awgee, If you are reading today, I am unable to respond to your email as your server is rejecting my attempts. Can you contact me from a different email address? Thanks.

Astute Observation by awgee
2010-02-10 12:05 PM

I can not find an email address for you.  Mine is cdcrez@cox.net.

Funny how some are put off by your new style of writing.  I was captivated.

Astute Observation by Hank
2010-02-10 08:38 AM

Brilliant post!  I really enjoyed it; also turned the light against myself as well.  Introspection is good and articles like these help in keeping me from making more mistakes than I already have.  Keep up the good work!

Astute Observation by alan
2010-02-10 09:02 AM

Don’t know if this will work, but has anyone seen this video?  Could it possibly be true?

<object width=“425” height=“344”><param name=“movie” value=“http://www.youtube.com/v/6sL-zMsRU8Y&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1”></param></param></param><embed src=“http://www.youtube.com/v/6sL-zMsRU8Y&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1” type=“application/x-shockwave-flash” allowfullscreen=“true” allowScriptAccess=“always” width=“425” height=“344”></embed></object>

Astute Observation by alan
2010-02-10 09:04 AM

Didn’t work….

Here’s the address

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sL-zMsRU8Y&feature=player_embedded

Astute Observation by Walter
2010-02-10 09:28 AM

Ask the FDIC, and I am sure they explain that this is the price for saving the financial system.

Astute Observation by Art Student in Atlanta
2010-02-10 09:40 AM

This is soo wrong! I hope and pray, this cannot possibly be right!

If this is true, I now have another reason to hate bankers!

Astute Observation by Soylent Green Is People
2010-02-10 10:40 AM

It’s true. Put yourself back into your DeLorean, push the flux capacitor on, then speed down the Mall parking lot until you get to 88 MPH, and go back to 2008 when the fit was just hitting the shan. IndyMac was saying “We’re fine” as their depositors were lining up at the window to withdraw their funds. The IM bank run was the first many Americans had seen in some time. The FDIC, not known for their negotiating skills, saw the soup IM had in their mortgage portfolio and began to panic. Along come Vampire Squid minions who, already a majority owner of IM, offered to take on the risk of IM’s loans if they were possibly well rewarded. Granted, to those who risk the most, the greater the reward they should get, but this was a travesty. After IM came WAMU and others and eventually the FDIC started to employ cooler heads who are trying not to repeat this fiasco. That was then, and it was hopefully an anomaly. GS will never get another sweetheart deal like this again, but what they did get was EPIC.

My .02c

Soylent Green Is People

Astute Observation by AZDavidPhx
2010-02-10 12:08 PM

FDIC guarantees mortgages now - NICE.  Might as well get rid of FHA then and reduce the duplication of effort.

Astute Observation by nefron
2010-02-10 09:30 AM

Your post today might be insightful and brilliant to some, but it’s only common sense - and common knowledge to a significant portion of the population outside of socal.

Astute Observation by Major Schadenfreude
2010-02-10 11:16 AM

Everyone should watch this video about IndyMac and OneWest Bank. 

Basically explains how taxpayers are giving money to Goldman Sachs via the FDIC.

http://www.thinkbigworksmall.com/mypage/player/tbws/23088/1122384

I apologize if this was posted before.

Astute Observation by AZDavidPhx
2010-02-10 12:11 PM

You have to give it to these crooks - they are damn good at what they do.  I admire that.

Astute Observation by Chris
2010-02-10 07:12 PM

Yep, and frankly, I’m sick and tired of making less than 0.03% on my MM account (you read that percentage correctly).

Thus, I’m resorting to letting FDIC bail me out by buying the evil banks’ long term CDs (you read that right again….LONG TERM) making 4+% per year and holding it until maturity.

You may wonder how long is maturity? Try 2 term presidency.

I have come to my own conclusion that:

1. ZIRP is here to stay. There is no freaking way the Fed will raise the interest rates above 3% (let alone raise the rates at all). Think Japan, folks. We’re going down that path whether you like it or not.

2. Big banks are here to stay. Fed, Treasury, FDIC, and whatever stupid institutions Congress/Prez will create later on (trust me, they will) will make sure that they won’t fail. After all, we still need the foreigners to buy our crappy bonds.

3. Wage arbitration is here to stay. Translation: what inflation? If Chinese goods suddenly become expensive, we can always get other toxic waste from other global source(s). Food prices going up? That’s just taxes and VATs that you’re gonna deal with.

I’m just gonna enjoy that 4+% return while waiting for FDIC to take over the institutions where I have my moola (if it ever will….probably NOT).

Astute Observation by SK
2010-02-11 06:24 PM

Wonderful post. I absoultely don’t agree that its better when you’re using simpler words. What nonsense. I think you’re writing is just fine, and what’s the point if one doesn’t keep improving ones writing/skills? To read well-used language is one of the great pleasures of life.
I was also especially struck by your definition of wealthy people and their preferences, think you got it absolutely right.
Heres a very nice definition of being free, in case you like it as much as I did (unfortunately its not original)

The most precious sort of freedom you will not hear talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important form of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom.

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