Author Topic: The California Effect  (Read 3785 times)

ender

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The California Effect
« on: December 12, 2022, 08:56:06 AM »
So I'll preface this saying - I've been mega disappointed with much of MMM's content over the last years.

But this blog was 10/10 overall and makes me miss the early days.

As someone in tech (who does not live in the SF Bay Area) I see this all the time in people too.

I was reading something just the other day too about how kids super early start being aware and acting appropriately in light of perceived social class/etc. I think it was something crazy like 3 or 4 year olds start acting in a pretty meaningful way based on this.

It goes to show just how socially conditioned we are as humans to be aware of what MMM calls bubbles in our respective social circles/life.

FINate

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2022, 09:57:54 AM »
Great blog post. Sounds like it was good for Pete to get out of his bubble. Hope this means he'll become more active on the blog again.

As a former Bay Area resident and worker for most of my life, I'll say he barely scraped the surface of the phenomenon. A lot of families are dual income just to make ends meet, but in reality this is often funding a lifestyle that is seen as "normal." Traveling sports teams, spendy vacations, very expensive bikes, luxury vehicles, tech gadgets, high end clothing, and other silliness. Then many families end up spending more on childcare than housing because VHCOL means all services are significantly more expensive. This again is understood as normal.

When it comes to issues like homelessness (which is really an issue of lack of affordable housing), it's shocking to hear Bay Area folks claim that it's the same everywhere else. In other words, this is fine, it's normal. Actually, it's not. Many cities with much higher rates of poverty, such as in the Midwest, have significantly lower rates of homelessness because they have an abundance of affordable housing. The actual solution to homelessness -- building a lot more densely -- is unacceptable so people have become fatalistic, believing nothing can really be done about it.

RE the car thing: Most CA cities are designed around the car. Parking minimums are/were a big component of this. In most places it was (until very recently) impossible to build housing without also providing parking spaces, which is nuts. So in a dense city like SF you couldn't build apartments w/o assuming that all residents also had cars. This jacks up the cost of housing and perpetuates car culture. SF finally dropped parking minimums a few years ago, and other cities are starting to follow their example, but the effects will linger for many years.

erp

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2022, 01:10:56 PM »
Agree - both that this was a surprisingly good article and that a lot of the more recent stuff lacks the punch of his earliest work.

To the first point, I think it was definitely good for him to get out of his bubble and to share that experience. This was a real value add for me, it's an opportunity for me to think about the fact that I spend a borderline intolerable amount of time in a car because I'm making that choice every day.

To the second point, I like to think that MMM doesn't write as much because he's off doing the things that add to his life - friends/parenting/doing stuff/lifting heavy things and putting them back down/etc. Good for him. There's a finite amount of stuff to say in any particular voice on FI/RE and if he's mostly run out of things to say then it's great that he's spending his time in ways that have value to him and the folks he cares about. I often see this thing in finance blogs where the authour is putting out content even though they've run out of things to say. I'm much happier looking through the archives then trying to parse an ever increasing amount of content, and I appreciate MMM very much for keeping the site & forums up even as he drifts away from producing content.

Fru-Gal

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2022, 01:19:36 PM »
I posted this in another thread:

MMMís latest post is so good, classic MMM. Erudite with an undertone of exasperation. Loved the line about how Canadians would cry tears of joy seeing winter streets shimmering with water instead of snow. Really a great message ó that, like all Internet manifestos, may get misconstrued due to the use of ďCaliforniaĒ in the title 😜

Fru-Gal

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2022, 01:20:49 PM »
Quote
I appreciate MMM very much for keeping the site & forums up even as he drifts away from producing content.

Yep

cats

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2022, 12:38:53 PM »
Great blog post. Sounds like it was good for Pete to get out of his bubble. Hope this means he'll become more active on the blog again.

As a former Bay Area resident and worker for most of my life, I'll say he barely scraped the surface of the phenomenon. A lot of families are dual income just to make ends meet, but in reality this is often funding a lifestyle that is seen as "normal." Traveling sports teams, spendy vacations, very expensive bikes, luxury vehicles, tech gadgets, high end clothing, and other silliness. Then many families end up spending more on childcare than housing because VHCOL means all services are significantly more expensive. This again is understood as normal.

When it comes to issues like homelessness (which is really an issue of lack of affordable housing), it's shocking to hear Bay Area folks claim that it's the same everywhere else. In other words, this is fine, it's normal. Actually, it's not. Many cities with much higher rates of poverty, such as in the Midwest, have significantly lower rates of homelessness because they have an abundance of affordable housing. The actual solution to homelessness -- building a lot more densely -- is unacceptable so people have become fatalistic, believing nothing can really be done about it.

RE the car thing: Most CA cities are designed around the car. Parking minimums are/were a big component of this. In most places it was (until very recently) impossible to build housing without also providing parking spaces, which is nuts. So in a dense city like SF you couldn't build apartments w/o assuming that all residents also had cars. This jacks up the cost of housing and perpetuates car culture. SF finally dropped parking minimums a few years ago, and other cities are starting to follow their example, but the effects will linger for many years.

Another former Bay Area resident here.  Yes, people spend ridiculous sums of money there.  I recall one time realizing that the family of one of my son's classmates owned not one but two Teslas (and not the entry-level models).  Meanwhile my son was riding a secondhand bike to school.  The pickup/dropoff line for cars at the school was insane, so even though we did own a car, there was no way I was going to drive it to school unless we had to haul something very large and unwieldy.  I felt the same way about driving most places--it was a huge pain and usually easier to walk/bike/transit.  My son got used to this from a pretty young age and people were always marveling that he would walk/bike to various locations.  He also loved taking the bus or BART and while public transit with a kid at rush hour is not exactly fun, it's WAY better than a highway with a kid at rush hour.  Overall, while a lot of our lifestyle decisions there were driven by a desire to save money, over time we came to regard the spendier and "easier" alternatives as just not that great.  e.g. other families we knew would eat out a lot, go out for coffee, go out for date nights, etc. After the first couple of years, we realized our own cooking was as good as most restaurants (which says as much about restaurant mediocrity as our culinary talents), so aside from the cost, we began to view eating out as a massive time sink.  Instead we prioritized batch cooking so there is always some sort of easy meal in the freezer. Instead of hiring a babysitter and going out, we have "date night at home" once a week where we put our kid to bed a bit early and my husband makes some sort of fun meal.  I figured out how to make coffee I really liked at home, got some nice coffee cups (from the local Buy Nothing group) and now I have no desire to go out for coffee.  I remember one time we decided to take Lyft to the airport instead of getting sweaty walking to BART and then the Lyft driver turned onto the wrong freeway, in rush hour traffic.  We had him get off ASAP and just take us to the BART station instead as BART was more predictable than traffic. It's just sort of stupid the things people spend money on in the belief that it will make life "easier" somehow. 

All that said, in our current MCOL area I am still kind of shocked sometimes at the capacity some people have to spend money.  I recently went to a happy hour and spent probably $10 total ($4 on transit fare, and then a half pint of beer).  Others were easily spending $50+ between multiple drinks, food, and Uber/Lyft to and from the event.  Multiple people there had also made comments to me in the past few months about having a certain level of financial stress going on.  I'm not completely immune to spending kind of stupid money at times myself but it's still sort of eye-opening to go to these kinds of things and realize what other people consider "normal" (which I guess is kind of the point of the blog post).

caleb

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2022, 09:34:30 AM »
Yup, this is the good stuff.  This tidbit needs an underline/highlight/bold:

Quote
lives far away from work and signs up for activities that are far away from home. Which means that despite the areaís nation-leading salaries, the average person is no further ahead than the rest of us.

Makes me think of a guy I know in Orange County who owns a house in one area for the school, then drives hours around southern California most days for his kids' club soccer.  He admitted that he sometimes feels a bit foolish driving past all manner of soccer fields in use to get to the one game that's good enough for his kids.

Him:"Things would be simpler if kids just played soccer in their own neighborhoods against local kids."

Me: Nodding, saying nothing, but remembering the good times we had as kids riding our bikes to the baseball field in the summer.

Fru-Gal

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2022, 12:23:42 PM »
In my VHCOL area, when my kids were in elementary school I could not believe how many of their friends not only had one iPhone but several. Every member of the family had one or two of the latest iPhones!?! Oh and 10 year old kids with Apple watches?!

And God forbid you should discuss cell phone ownership with a parent, they all considered it to be a safety requirement. Literally one parent told me that if you did not supply your child with the latest iPhone you were setting them up to be bullied.

Also though our kids became very adept at public transportation, we occasionally did do the drop off thing. Because of our old car, one time parents thought my husband was the janitor, not a parent.

Dicey

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2022, 02:58:11 PM »
Hey @ender, thanks for posting this. I totally missed it. I made a brief tongue-in-cheek comment from the comfort of my sunny California home and lol'd when I got the "Your comment is awaiting moderation." response.

ender

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2022, 03:42:14 PM »
Hey @ender, thanks for posting this. I totally missed it. I made a brief tongue-in-cheek comment from the comfort of my sunny California home and lol'd when I got the "Your comment is awaiting moderation." response.

I only saw it because it was linked in an email list I read :)

I stopped reading the MMM blog many years ago... nice to see new gems still with hopefully more in the future.

Dicey

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2022, 11:52:59 PM »
Hey @ender, thanks for posting this. I totally missed it. I made a brief tongue-in-cheek comment from the comfort of my sunny California home and lol'd when I got the "Your comment is awaiting moderation." response.
So apparently my comment did not get approved. I figured I'd made an error like not affirming my non-robot statue, so I tried again. Got a duplicate post error message. I've combed through the comments twice and I do not see it. WTF???

If it matters, it was humorous, not particularly critical or inflammatory, so I have no idea why it was blocked. Boo.

Metalcat

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2022, 05:37:25 AM »
Hey @ender, thanks for posting this. I totally missed it. I made a brief tongue-in-cheek comment from the comfort of my sunny California home and lol'd when I got the "Your comment is awaiting moderation." response.
So apparently my comment did not get approved. I figured I'd made an error like not affirming my non-robot statue, so I tried again. Got a duplicate post error message. I've combed through the comments twice and I do not see it. WTF???

If it matters, it was humorous, not particularly critical or inflammatory, so I have no idea why it was blocked. Boo.

Post it here!

Dicey

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2022, 02:58:39 PM »
Hey @ender, thanks for posting this. I totally missed it. I made a brief tongue-in-cheek comment from the comfort of my sunny California home and lol'd when I got the "Your comment is awaiting moderation." response.
So apparently my comment did not get approved. I figured I'd made an error like not affirming my non-robot statue, so I tried again. Got a duplicate post error message. I've combed through the comments twice and I do not see it. WTF???

If it matters, it was humorous, not particularly critical or inflammatory, so I have no idea why it was blocked. Boo.

Post it here!
I've thought about it and have decided I don't care enough. I've received so much value from the community Pete created that I think I'll just let it go. However, I've had plenty of time to think about the blog post. It contains a photo of a large bowl filled with salad (looks like Costco's Mediterranean, sans dressing, as he has advocated for in the past) and a hand with fistful of greens in it. Who wastes food like that? Why? What point is he trying to make? Wasting food isn't eco-friendly.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2023, 06:51:00 PM by Dicey »

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2023, 01:28:50 PM »
Hey @ender, thanks for posting this. I totally missed it. I made a brief tongue-in-cheek comment from the comfort of my sunny California home and lol'd when I got the "Your comment is awaiting moderation." response.
So apparently my comment did not get approved. I figured I'd made an error like not affirming my non-robot statue, so I tried again. Got a duplicate post error message. I've combed through the comments twice and I do not see it. WTF???

If it matters, it was humorous, not particularly critical or inflammatory, so I have no idea why it was blocked. Boo.

Post it here!
I've thought about it and have decided I don't care enough. I've received so much value from the community Pete created that I think I'll just let it go. However, I've had plenty of time to think about the blog post. It contains a photo of a large bowl filled with salad (looks like Costco's Mediterranean, sas dressing, as he has advocated for in the past) and a hand with fistful of greens in it. Who wastes food like that? Why? What point is he trying to make? Wasting food isn't eco-friendly.

It's also a massive bowl of salad, definitely more than one person should eat in a sitting!  So he's wasting a whole table's worth of beautiful looking food!!  Maybe utensils are un-Mustachian??

FrugalShrew

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2023, 01:49:34 PM »
I really enjoyed this latest post, too!

I especially liked the photo of taking the stairs vs. the escalator. One of my favorite parts of mustachianism is taking advantage of "free exercise," like taking the stairs.

sixwings

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2023, 10:19:00 AM »
The line ups at escalators are always crazy to me. I get using an escalated for people with mobility issues, but most people standing in line for them are definitely not. Sometimes those lines can be 5-10 mins! Then they get to work late and are stressed AF because of it.

DadJokes

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2023, 11:28:55 AM »
The line ups at escalators are always crazy to me. I get using an escalated for people with mobility issues, but most people standing in line for them are definitely not. Sometimes those lines can be 5-10 mins! Then they get to work late and are stressed AF because of it.

I was at a hockey game a couple weeks ago, and one of the escalators was broken. The first thing that came to my mind was the Mitch Hedberg joke about escalators being "temporarily stairs" rather than "broken." While the temporary stairs were actually roped off, preventing their use, there are many other flights of stairs in the arena. But people would rather wait in line for a single escalator than climb some stairs. At least my friend and I had a whole stairwell to ourselves...

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2023, 11:47:00 AM »
I live in a VHCOL (bay area) & some of this definitely resonates, but ... really, the same principles of MMM apply regardless of where you live. Some people in the area earn very high salaries, but face a super high cost of living. Make tradeoffs, spend on the things you care the most about. The amount of waste happening in California doesn't strike me as any more outlandish than anywhere else. (Most) people spend more than their salaries, regardless of where they live.

Metalcat

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2023, 12:24:21 PM »
The line ups at escalators are always crazy to me. I get using an escalated for people with mobility issues, but most people standing in line for them are definitely not. Sometimes those lines can be 5-10 mins! Then they get to work late and are stressed AF because of it.

Try being the person with mobility issues who has to line up because it's my only option. Meanwhile I'm looking at folks thinking "WTF?? Do you know what I would give for legs that could climb those empty stairs right over there???!!"

Dicey

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2023, 03:07:25 PM »
I really enjoyed this latest post, too!

I especially liked the photo of taking the stairs vs. the escalator. One of my favorite parts of mustachianism is taking advantage of "free exercise," like taking the stairs.
I used to ride BART to and from SF daily. The number of people moving through the stations ebbs and flows as trains arrive and depart. Sometimes there are significant lags between trains and the stairs and escalators empty completely, unlike say, NYC, where there is a real transit system. This is especially true during the pandemic, as ridership is significantly lower than normal. Many people do use the stairs, moreso in the morning when they're not exhausted. Oh, and when the train is arriving and the escalators are crowded, people fly down those stairs!

Pete got a tiny glimpse of something and painted it with his biggest brush. Hyperbole for the win.

FrugalShrew

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #20 on: January 27, 2023, 05:06:19 PM »
@Dicey, I definitely don't think Cali is any worse than other places in this respect. It's a general trend almost everywhere in this country, at airports and train stations and even Target, that where there are escalators a supermajority of people will choose the escalators over the stairs.

MMM acknowledged that the problems he pointed out are really the "Everywhere Effect":

Quote
So yeah, thatís the California effect. But lest you think Iím beating up unfairly on the people of this fine state, itís really just a magnified version of the Everywhere Effect. It is an astonishing wasted opportunity for the growing billions of people who are trapped in and perpetuating the illogical and self-defeating systems of our modern rich world.


Abe

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #21 on: January 29, 2023, 09:13:09 PM »
@Dicey, I definitely don't think Cali is any worse than other places in this respect. It's a general trend almost everywhere in this country, at airports and train stations and even Target, that where there are escalators a supermajority of people will choose the escalators over the stairs.

MMM acknowledged that the problems he pointed out are really the "Everywhere Effect":

Quote
So yeah, thatís the California effect. But lest you think Iím beating up unfairly on the people of this fine state, itís really just a magnified version of the Everywhere Effect. It is an astonishing wasted opportunity for the growing billions of people who are trapped in and perpetuating the illogical and self-defeating systems of our modern rich world.

I try to take the stairs wherever I am for this reason. Also pretty sure I'll get caught in the escalator's maw at some point.
@Dicey - you may appreciate that I went for a walk in SF recently during a conference (post-COVID). It is a lot hillier than I remembered and where I am! Strong work for anyone who walks around mostly in that area. I do get about 100 feet elevation every time I take the stairs in the hospital...

Dicey

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #22 on: January 29, 2023, 11:35:03 PM »
@Dicey, I definitely don't think Cali is any worse than other places in this respect. It's a general trend almost everywhere in this country, at airports and train stations and even Target, that where there are escalators a supermajority of people will choose the escalators over the stairs.

MMM acknowledged that the problems he pointed out are really the "Everywhere Effect":

Quote
So yeah, thatís the California effect. But lest you think Iím beating up unfairly on the people of this fine state, itís really just a magnified version of the Everywhere Effect. It is an astonishing wasted opportunity for the growing billions of people who are trapped in and perpetuating the illogical and self-defeating systems of our modern rich world.
It felt to me that he acted like he started something by taking the stairs. Yawn.

Fomerly known as something

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Re: The California Effect
« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2023, 07:58:23 PM »
I take escalators (if there is no wait), I also hike up the Hills around SF.  The hills are much prettier than stairs although some hills have stairs.

My feeling on the article was stereotyping much?

 

Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!