Saturday, March 22, 2008

Is Beachfront Property Really Worth Having?

Well, we came back from Hilton Head, South Carolina the other day where we spent some time looking at how the real estate market was doing there with the housing slump fully underway. I must say that I have always wondered why people buy oceanfront property or even off-beach housing as an investment as it seems so risky and expensive.

What we saw were a lot of rental signs with price tags that still seemed too high (to me anyway). For example, the condo we stayed in at the beach would sell for around 1.65 million -- even though the rent on it was pretty low, nowhere near enough to cover the mortgage even if it rented steadily. Apparently, some investors don't think that prices are too high. According to one real estate paper, Palmetto Previews, baby boomers are looking to buy second homes, vacation properties and retirement venues in the "red-hot South."

In addition to the boomers, big corporations, the paper says, are starting to buy properties in bulk and these corporations include a recent influx of buyers from Canada and Europe, including Eastern Europe. A real estate veteran in Hilton Head, Billy Baldwin, attributes the trend in foreign sales to greater buying power. "The softening US prices combined with favorable exchange rates makes homes here big bargains for many Canadian and European buyers."

But are these properties really going to stay good investments? Potentially not, according to the book Cash-Rich Retirement, that I am reading for an upcoming podcast.

The author, Jim Schlagheck, says that the recent boom in real estate prices are not "business as usual:"

It is the result of an unprecedented surge of people looking for homes and "quick flip" investment opportunities as never before.... Boomers have so far had a resounding impact on consumer spending, investing, and asset prices. They have been a powerful locomotive, contributing to strong economic growth and substantially higher investment valuations.

That, of course, brings us to the million-dollar question: What is going to happen when this same mass of people enters retirement and begins selling off assets to raise cash? How will mass boomer retirements impact asset values?

I sure don't know the answer to that question. But regardless of what happens, I think I'll just stick with renting a beachhouse--it seems cheaper and safer than investing in this market.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Bloggers on the Road

It's amazing how many bloggers come through Knoxville--today it was Dr. Wes, the blogging electrophysiologist and his wife, Diane, a clinical psychologist who both run

We met up for appetizers and talked about blogging, commenters and whether someone could hack an ICD. The answer was "yes" but it would be hard. Anyway, it was terrific meeting another blogger, especially a fellow health service provider who loves writing and posting. By the time it's all said and done, maybe I'll meet almost all of them at some point. I sure hope so.


The Lone Libertarian

I read with interest a short question and answer session with John Stossel in TownHall magazine on how he became the lone libertarian in broadcast news. One question posed by Mary Katharine Ham asked "Is the media as hostile to conservative ideas as a lot of conservatives seem to think, or does your success belie that idea?"

Stossel replies, "I would say it's as hostile as most believe it is. Remember, I came in as a liberal, and I was trying to be what I thought was objective. I certainly did not do the point-of-view reporting as I do now. I'm the, to my knowledge, lone libertarian in the mainstream media, and I take some heat for that. To my knowledge there are zero conservatives...on the networks."

Wow, zero, that's unbelievable. Imagine what would happen if there were zero women or minorities in broadcast news, what a ruckus that would be. There is already an uproar that there are so few but what if there There is no excuse for zero conservatives except censorship and discrimination. There is no other explanation. If you are conservative or libertarian and want to go into broadcast news-- what are your chances? Zero or possibly a tiny percentage being that there is one libertarian. So why bother--but then, isn't that the idea?


Thursday, March 20, 2008

I can Quit Anytime I Want....

Do you have Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) (Hat tip: Mecurior)?:

If you’re a blogger, you could soon find yourself labeled with the newest mental disorder: Internet Addiction Disorder.

IAD has actually been proposed for inclusion as a psychiatric diagnosis in the next issue of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

Shouldn't The New York Times be notified that rather than successes, these bloggers are sick addicts?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

John Hawkins at Right Wing News posts on Blogging While Female-Part 2.

Do Bloggers Ever Take a Break?

Well, sometimes they do. Glenn and I are on a working "vacation" in Hilton Head, South Carolina and when I get a break, I go fly a kite on the beach:

Glenn on the other hand, doesn't take much of a break, here he is being photographed for an upcoming story by a New York Times freelance photographer on the beach--about blogging of course. Well, I did work as the grip for this shoot but didn't get paid, does that count as work or stupidity?

Women who kill get light sentences in Tennessee. Read this and decide if it's becoming a trend.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Ask Dr. Helen: Are Hybrid Owners All That?

My PJM column is up:
Do our choices in cars really reflect our true personality traits? That’s what they say, but Dr. Helen Smith isn’t sure.

Does your car reflect your personality? Do you drive a hybrid and have a mindset like this?

You can read the column and respond there or here.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Jewish/Israeli Carnival is up--go take a look.


Is There Really Such a Thing As "Positive Discrimination?"

Apparently, the Equalities Minister, Harriet Harman in the UK thinks so (Hat tip: Mecurior):

White men could be legally blocked from jobs or promotions under controversial government plans to help women and black employees achieve equality.

Employers would be allowed to give jobs to qualified minority candidates in preference to other candidates under a change in discrimination law being drawn up by the Equalities Minister, Harriet Harman. The 'positive action' tactic, already used in the United States, has been a legal minefield in the UK and Harman's plans are likely to upset MPs who believe that merit alone should determine who is hired.

However, she believes radical changes are needed to help talented black and female candidates break through barriers in business and public life. The positive discrimination plan [my emphasis] would apply only in cases where two equally qualified candidates were after the same post, allowing the employer to tip the balance in favour of the minority candidate on grounds of race or gender.

And I love this:

Employers can currently specify that they welcome applications from minority candidates, and promote themselves to specific groups. However, Avon Fire Service, whose firefighters are 97 per cent white and male, triggered a storm of protest this year when it barred white applicants from an open day.

White applicants were barred? Is there really such a thing as "positive discrimination?" I say absolutely not. What goes around comes around. When I get thoroughly disgusted and think there is no justice in the world, I try to remember what Thomas Jefferson (or someone since Wikipedia says this quote was misattributed to Jefferson) said many years ago that still rings true:

Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have ... The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.

At some point, the very laws that are supposed to promote "equality" by discriminating against certain people are usually the very ones that end up harming those they intended to help in the end--it's just a matter of time. I will not be so eloquent here as the above quote is regarding government "intervention," but I hope that laws like the above will come back to bite the very people who make them in the ass.