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May 17, 2012


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Hell has no fury equal to asphalt Phoenix

I live at 7th Ave and McDowell. I have also asked who would go to Chipotle with so many great non-chain Mexican places nearby. If you want an answer, go ask the ever-present line at that Chipotle. I have no idea why, but people love that place. It is always full. It is the one business at the intersection that will be there long term.

maybe it's the food with integrity situation type deal.

Goggle consumer guide for Chipotle for the answer.

Food with integrity isn't "Food with integrity" -- the latter is just another corporate marketing line, rather like "It just isn't a holiday without Mrs. Cubbison's".

I ate at a Chipotle exactly once, when they offered a free burrito in connection with something or other. It had a kind of moldy taste to it.

As for lines, McDonalds is proof that patronage and revenues are not evidence of quality, taste, authenticity, or anything relevant to a dining experience or even good take-out.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"Heavy commuter rail should be a priority to all the outlying suburbs, with a hub at Union Station, where passengers could connect with buses and eventually a light-rail spur as was done in San Jose. Commuter trains would provide fast service to Glendale, Peoria, Tolleson, Goodyear, Buckeye, Chandler, Gilbert, etc. The rail right-of-way is there and would require public money to expand capacity, as well as negotiations with the private railroads. But this has been done successfully around the country."

Sounds good. Perhaps someone will bring a copy of this to the next regional planning meeting.

"I'm not sure I understand the so-called West Link line. Is it really intended to go to Tolleson?"

No. It's planned to run down Jefferson to just past the Capitol, up to Van Buren, then run in freeway right of way to the park and ride facility at 79th Ave. and McDowell - eventually traveling north to Thomas, connect Banner Estrella Medical Center, and Westgate in Glendale.

This was just sloppy reporting a t the "Information Center"

Permit me to add a question about another facet of "hotter/drier": to what degree is the annual summer exodus accelerating by starting earlier, lasting longer and involving more people? Somebody must have numbers that would indicate whether the scope and duration are increasing. Small example . . sewage studies in Fountain Hills show a 40% decline from summer to "the season". Our church attendance drops by 50% or more, beginning after April 1. And each summer seems to get worse. If this information were available, chances are that the Booster Club would seek to suppress it, but such a story could only be swept under the rug for so long before The News Center stumbles over it!

Dallas is toast:

Los Angeles however has a chance to make transit work.

Dallas gets tons of federal money thanks to Texas delegation. At least residents will have rail options. DART is successful on most lines. Where is Phoenix's 75-mile system?

Side note: a new reply in the previous thread to AZRebel re housing prices.

Where's Mick?

"Buses have been gutted"

There are plenty of buses hauling septuagenarians out to the casinos.


Average annual number of days with maximum temperatures of 100 of higher 1896-2006: 92

Average annual number of days with maximum temperatures of 100 °F of higher 1981-2010: 110

Average annual number of days with maximum temperatures of 110 of higher 1896-2010: 11

Average annual number of days with maximum temperatures of 110 of higher 1981-2010: 19


Well, this looks nasty, but you have to consider the fact that an average taken from 1896 includes a lot of days (years) when the city was far smaller and less urbanized. A whole lot of concrete and asphalt and a whole lot less trees and groves means a bigger "heat-island" effect.

Let's compare some other figures:

Average annual number of days with maximum temperatures of 100 of higher 1971-2000: 106

Average annual number of days with maximum temperatures of 110 of higher 1971-2000: 17


When compared to the above, this seems to indicate that moving the start of the "average" window forward ten years, from 1971 to 1981, increases the number of over-100 days by 4 and increases the number of over-110 days by 2.

That isn't the end of it, however, because we can ask about moving the "average" window forward further. So far I haven't been able to locate such data. We might have to find data year by year for the last ten years or so, then count the 100 plus and/or the 110 plus days up and average them, to compare with longer-term historical averages.

Note that there are statistical perils to be encountered by making the window too short: the average over a fairly short period of time may reflect short-term fluctuations rather than long-term changes in the average.

That said, nine of the top 10 all-time hottest days in Phoenix occurred since 1989:

10 All-Time Hottest Weather Temperature Days in Phoenix

1. June 26, 1990 - 122
2. July 28, 1995 - 121
3. June 25, 1990 - 120
Tie-4th. July 2, 2011 - 118
T-4. July 21, 2006 - 118
T-4. July 27, 1995 - 118
T-4. June 28, 1990 - 118
T-4. June 27, 1990 - 118
T-4.July 4, 1989 - 118
T-4. July 11, 1958 - 118


The greatest number of 100 degree days in a year in Phoenix history is 143, which occurred in 1989.


P.S. The top-ten hottest Phoenix days article was "originally published on Aug 4, 2011" according to the web-page.

I mention this because there may have been hotter days since then, but more interestingly because six of the ten record years occur in the six year span from 1989 to 1995, with four of them occurring in the single year 1990, not during the last decade at all.

So again, be careful of drawing conclusions from statistics heavily reliant on short-term variations in weather.

Arizona's 'C's: Citrus, Copper, Cotton, Climate, Cattle, Coal, Cesium, Corrections, Crackpots.

I don't see 'Choo-choos'.

I really like the idea Mr. Talton presented of commuter rail from half a dozen or more surrounding exurbs leading to and from a hub in the downtown or center of a central city.

Are there other U.S. cities which do this?

San Jose is serviced by Calrail but unless I misread the map it doesn't have any such arrangement. Trinity Railway connects Fort Worth and Dallas but this isn't a hub and spoke system.

Los Angeles' Metrolink seems better connected, but it doesn't seem to conform to this model either, where a central city serves to concentrate commuters brought in by rail from exurbs surrounding it on all sides (geometric hub and spoke).


Map hyperlinks to such systems, please.

Also, how much would the system as envisioned for Phoenix and surrounding areas cost? How would it be paid for? Who would pay for it (i.e., which political entity or entities)?

What would you offer as the rationale to convince bottom-line oriented legislatures that such a system would make Phoenix stand out ahead of its competitors (regional or otherwise)? (It might, too, but I'd like to hear it.)

This made me think: if you were going to design a city from the ground up, how would you go about it?

Where would it be located and why (e.g., resources)?

What would the street grid system look like? What would exist in the way of rail and buses? Freeways?

What kind of housing would dominate, and what would the average population density be?

What sort of industries would power the economy, and how would you get them to locate there in preference to other cities?

What would the annual budget be, and what would per capita public expenditures be once the city was established (assume immediate establishment)?

This is a tall order, of course. I just thought I would throw it out there and see what if any responses there are, now or in future. This might take some consideration, but whereas the end result would be a mere fantasy, the process could serve to clarify the dynamics of existing urban settings and problems, and their long-term solutions.

"First Watch is closed"

But, Cartel Coffe Lab, which is just a few doors down is taking over that space. It is a locally owned shop and the breakfast delicious. I'll take their Big Ben any day over what First Watch had - though they had good stuff too.

Few are talking about the heat, possibly because so many of the residents are recent. It's normal for them. I've been here since 1982 and I clearly remember being able to open up a window at night to let some cool air in or going on a bike ride in the morning and feeling invigorated. Those days are long gone. It's mid May and my A/C turns on before I get up in the morning.

Chicago/Metra does it that way:

Then of course NYC with multiple hubs in Manhattan with NJT/MetroNorth/LIRR...

I wouldn't design a city top-down. Such attempts have mostly led to 'planning' disasters. Some principles: let it grow bottom-up, no urban freeways, a spectrum of streets from thoroughfares, boulevards to quiet side streets, likewise a spectrum of rail services from intercity to subway.

Also, I prefer the medieval style of public infrastructure spending: outside city walls you're on your own.

A look at how cool it gets might be more telling


MAG completed a commuter rail system study a couple years ago that answers most of your questions:


by the way cal hit the nail on the head, as usual.

nighttime lows are the key.

Emil, thanks for your good research. You ask "What would you offer as the rationale to convince bottom-line oriented legislatures that such a system would make Phoenix stand out ahead of its competitors (regional or otherwise)?"

Assume you mean LEGISLATORS and I reckon they'd be pleased with your gentle description of their being bottom-line oriented. This crop of whack-a-doodles pretty much lacks either balance or insight or any enlightened view of the future. So if a forward-looking transit plan is to have legs, seems to me it will have to come from some sort of consortium of outside entities . . like MAG and the Commerce Authority and the Chamber of Commerce . . and on and on.
Oh . . then maybe the intrepid information center will pick up on it but right now they may be too busy facilitating early retirements in the newsroom.

West Link Map:


Morecleanair --
Your question about part-year residents is one of many demographic issues that the local-yokels don't really want to know. Another is population churn -- we read about people arriving, but not about those leaving.

Some part-year residents are good stewards beyond their property lines. Most are not. Thus there is a huge deficit in commitment and for many "home" is somewhere else. The phenomenon of a disposable community and the resort mentality. And these people have the ability to really improve things.

Ow! My head!


I keep thinking about that reptile-brain repeat-and-rinse-retort: "Trains require a subsidy". Even as 70 million gets spent not far away from me to widen a major auto artery. And as the rest of Tucson town goes to potholes because no one wants to pay their backfill-subsidy.

How stupid is that?

There was a study done once that showed the damage from potholes exceeds the cost of the subsidy to repair the streets for automobiles. You'd think that would be enough to encourage folks to "subsidize" up some more for the automobile.

Oh well, like they say: When you throw a stone into a pack of dogs only the one that gets hit complains. So quit your whining Fido, lower the tail between your legs, and go get your front-end realigned. Good boy.

I came across this in a history book on education I am reading:

"The first railroad tracks were laid in 1830. Within three decades at least thirty-thousand miles of railroad tracks fanned out across the nation from leading commercial centers."

Dang. Iron men and wooden ships that...
Especially when compared to the car-fat Republicans shouting "subsidy" at Rail advocates today. Back then Americans could build stuff. Hell it is taking a year to do the 70 million of subsidized improvements to the roadway noted above...

And as far as subsidies go...
And their carrying costs...

I had a brainstorm realization on an early morning walk the other day. You can quote me: Global warming is the subsidy all have to pay for 300 years of poorly-managed Capitalism.

Yep. You don't get something for nothing. And all that CO2 industrialization is "throwing-up" into the commons for free, amounts to the grandfather of all subsidies. Someone is going to have to pay big time for that.

And as someone who hasn't any children, it won't be me. I got mine. Anybody under 30s will get theirs whether they want it or not. So I can sit back and watch with wry humor, as this great big-brained species (the noblest, grandest bacteria with language and tools and all) eats it way out to the edge of the petri dish like there's no tomorrow...

"cal Lash" wrote:

"A look at how cool it gets might be more telling."

Unless, of course, you're out during the day. But here you are, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, when they moved their 30-year window for calculating averages from 1970-2000 to 1981-2010, and referring to the Phoenix area:

"The biggest increases once again were most evident during the spring and fall months. The average low temperature for April increased by 2.6 degrees when records for the 2000s replaced those from the 1970s. The average low for October increased by 2.7 degrees. The average annual minimum temperature increased by 1.6 degrees."

Nancy Selover, a state climatologist and researchers at ASU, had this to say about that:

" 'The trend toward urbanizing the whole Valley has been very rapid,' Selover said. 'In the mid-'70s, Chandler was mostly farms, Gilbert and east Mesa were as far as you went, and even a lot of those areas were agricultural. Now, none of it is. The change in the '70s versus the 2000s was big.' "


Artur Ciesielski wrote:

"I've been here since 1982 and I clearly remember being able to open up a window at night to let some cool air in or going on a bike ride in the morning and feeling invigorated. Those days are long gone. It's mid May and my A/C turns on before I get up in the morning."

Do you live in the same neighborhood or area that you did then? Just specify major cross streets and municipality.

I notice wide variants in local temperature. Last night outside Paradise Valley Mall I felt uncomfortably warm. Thirty minutes later and in a different part of town, I was comfortable again.

Thanks, AWinter, for that map link and comments.

Thanks PhxPlanner for the study link.

Morecleanair, I agree about the political environment at the state and county level. I was, however, curious to know what funding mechanisms Mr. Talton proposed for his idea, and also what his general economic arguments were for such a system. I actually like the idea.

The Kookocracry is alive and well - re secy of state Bennett and another in the endless round of silly Birther stories! See www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/2012/05/18/20120518arizona-secretary-of-state-obama-citizenship.html. Arizona warming temps have clearly fried a few brain cells!

I told U all they were f=going to cheat.
Off an running.

This is a nighttime heatmap from 2001. Hot:

@Emil, I forgot to mention MBTA, SEPTA and the like. The commuter rail systems with the highest riderships (>100,000) serve cities that were big cities before the advent of the car. The systems with ok ridership (<50,000) serve cities that had discontinued their rail services. That just shows the chicken-egg problem of land-use and transit infrastructure, and how only densified settlement (and reversing pro-car incentives) can make densified transportation truly successful. This is a dilemma for cities like Phoenix. You can't expect people to upend the basic settlement structure (pack up, bulldoze, move in closer). Likewise, counting on newcomers to create the requisite density is not so feasible either, since we agree that more and more people in the desert is not a good idea. Therefore the transit potential doesn't look good. With a lot of work there are chances for maybe 10-20% mode share. Beyond that hmm. But there are differing opinions:

If it didn't sound so dumb, I'd introduce the subject of adaptive behavior for those who desire to modify their circumstances and adjust to the "new normal" in our desert environment. Example: earlier residents understood SHADE. Nowadays, we don't do so well unless we plant water-guzzler trees to provide it. Shade screens on all the windows are pretty reasonable. Parking in the shade is do-able in some locations. Building canopies and lanais also helps. Example: clustering errands and shopping to minimize drive time. Example: using indoor air purifiers to help cushion us against the bad air. Better to light a candle rather than curse the darkness, verdad?

Awinter:Transport suburbia beyond the automobile. For some good nostalgic reading "Waiting on a Train" by James McCommons with a nice introduction by Kuntsler.

Back from Austin, C some of U all tonite at Talton at Urban Bean

This from one of my good sources:

"You identified the confusing nature of the facile Republic reporting about light rail 'to Tolleson.' Their reporters don't even know simple geography. The West Line (we're going to start calling it the Capitol line) goes from Downtown Phoenix to 79th Avenue Park and Ride IN PHOENIX!!! Tolleson city limits are at 83rd Avenue, but regardless what does identifying it with Tolleson gain anyone?

"The Republic is so desperate to get 'The Valley' incorporated in everything, and even more specifically 'The West Valley' that they thought that saying Tolleson would make more people interested.

"God forbid the people of Phoenix who will have invested over $800 million in Phoenix sales taxes in light rail (WBIYB) should get any credit for that in the Republic.

"The line never leaves Phoenix!! 79th Avenue and I-10 is Phoenix! We can't get anyone's attention at the information center, so thank you for seeing through this little problem in their reporting.

"The key to the Capitol line is the Capitol. The state complex is the motherlode of employment and so getting light rail to 19th and Van Buren is really important to growing the service to the next level. Beyond that, the St. Matthews neighborhood west of the Capitol is a solid transit neighborhood. From there, a quick ride to the Desert Sky Mall area of west Phoenix (with a park and ride at the future intersection of I-10 and South Mountain freeway, plus a couple of neighborhood stops in between) will attract more riders with a commuter-type ride that is in its own right of way in the 1=10 corridor. This will be the most versatile light rail extension yet, as it accomplishes commuter trips from 10 miles out of city center as well as linking closer in neighborhoods and the Capitol employment center to the rest of Phoenix/Tempe/Mesa.

"It also starts creating a light rail SYSTEM with crossing lines branching out from the single long mega-line we have right now. We need to conceptualize the system as Desert Sky to Mesa as one line and Metrocenter to South Mountain as another line. Anyway, it's an exciting extension that the Republic can't seem to figure out."

I believe the auto wars will rage on for at least four more generations.

Wow - nice update on the light rail info, Jon. Thanks for posting that!

(I'm rather fond of that train.)

Excuse the detour, but I thought that Rogue readers might find this of interest: a few skeptical questions regarding the mythical "10 percent" return of the stock market. If anyone here knows enough to answer these questions, do chime in.

* * *

Dear Mr. Krantz,

Thank you for your recent column, "Is a 10% return too good to be true?"


Nice column, but I have a few nagging doubts.

First, how many stocks extant in 1928 remain today? Postum Incorporated? Victor Talking Machine? Here's a list of the original 30 Dow Jones stocks as of 1928:


This year, 1928, was just before the big stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression. Visions of men in grey suits diving from the 14th floor. Does this "10%" stat take into account failing companies and busted stocks over the decades, or does it just assume that all goes well for the hypothetical investor?

Second, what about fees (transaction and administrative)? The magic of compound interest requires that annual returns gains (including dividends) be plowed back into investments. Portfolios must be altered over time, as times change. And somebody, somewhere, must be managing it all. Or are we to suppose that someone bought $1,000 worth of General Motors stock in 1928 in paper certificates, whose only maintenance over the decades has been a little light dusting?

Third, wasn't the U.S. GDP growth rate significantly higher in earlier decades, and wouldn't this be reflected in stock values, capital gains and dividend gains? Can this long-term growth average be extrapolated, in good faith, to the future? If not, isn't "10%" misleading?

Also, on a related question, what is the weighting given to capital gains versus dividends to obtain the 9.6 percent annual nominal return? Was it more dividend-heavy than the typical portfolio? Were dividend stocks more common during earlier decades of the market? Were average dividends higher or lower?

Fourth, 84 years is far too long as a realistic investment scenario for someone planning to retire tomorrow. I'm not sure why 1928 was picked, though it seems to be the first year that the Dow Jones contained 30 stocks.

My compound interest calculator shows that $1,000 invested at 9.6 percent (annually) over 84 years yields $2,208,445 in nominal dollars; and my inflation calculator shows that this amount in 2012 dollars is worth $164,132 in inflation-adjusted (1928) dollars. Plugging 6.25% into the compound interest calculator yields approximately this amount, so the 6.2% "real yield" value given seems correct.



However, if the same calculations are performed using a more realistic 50 or 40 year investment period, the real yield ranges from 5.1% to 5.25%, not 6.2 percent.

I also wonder if the stat can be biased by choosing the right start and/or end years, with market highs and lows considered, though that doesn't seem to be the case here.

By the time administrative and transaction fees are subtracted from the lower real-yield, what would the fee-adjusted real-yield be?

Fifth, taxes might be an issue also: not all investments are taxed alike. What counts at the end of the day, aside from how safe invested money is, is the actual return in real dollars collected by the investor: how much buying power actually goes back into his wallet.


Emil Pulsifer

* * *

Last evening, while Jon was signing autographs nearby, our family gathered in a lovely back yard with trees, grass and flowers. It actually got cool! This was at a 1200 s.f. house in one of the old historical districts that are being progressively gentrified. We all know that some folks realize the error of their decision to locate in the puckerbrush. Appears this trend may turn into a ground-swell among the younger/savvier.
(ref: "adaptive behavior")

In an Arizona Republic article dated May 15th of this year, ASU economist Lee McPheters was cited in noting that Arizona lost about 314,000 jobs between October 2007 and September 2010. (It has regained about 78,000 of those jobs.)


In today's Sunday edition (May 20, 2012) on page D5 of the Business section, the print edition has an "Arizona Snapshot" graphic charting "Arizona construction jobs, by month". (The online edition doesn't seem to include this.)

The chart shows that in March, 2007 Arizona had 231,400 construction jobs. The caption for March of 2011 (at or near the chart's lowest point) shows 111,100 construction jobs. The difference is about 120,000 lost construction jobs.

Put the two together, and these latest figures show that construction accounted for 38.2 percent of lost Arizona jobs.

(Note: The recession officially began in December, 2007 and construction jobs had already declined a little by December; as a result, this percentage may not be precise: but March 2007 is a fair base from which to calculate loss of jobs in the sector.)

As of March 2012, a year later, Arizona construction jobs had "rebounded" to just 117,200 according to the chart, an increase of about 6,000 year over year for the month of March.

Jahna Berry's typically boosterish accompanying article overlooks the fact that the increase in construction jobs is mostly due to construction of the $5 billion fabrication plant being built by Intel in Chandler: this according to Buzz Murphy, president of the Arizona State Construction and Trades Council, who was cited in a recent story by a different business journalist:


"morecleanair" wrote:

"Last evening, while Jon was signing autographs nearby, our family gathered in a lovely back yard with trees, grass and flowers. It actually got cool!"

Hashem Akbari, Dan M. Kurn, Sarah E. Bretz and James W. Watford of the Heat Island Project at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory wrote the following:

"In summer of 1992, we monitored peak power and cooling energy savings from shade trees in two houses in Sacramento, CA. . . . Shade trees at the two monitored houses yielded seasonal cooling energy savings of 30%, corresponding to an average daily savings of 3.6 and 4.8 kWh/d. Peak demand savings for the same houses were 0.6 and 0.8 kW (about 27% savings in one house and 42% in the other)."

Note that "The collected data include air-conditioning electricity use, indoor and outdoor dry bulb temperatures and humidities, roof and ceiling surface temperatures, inside and outside wall temperatures, insulation, and wind speed and direction."

Also note that in addition to taking actual measurements, they ran simulation software meant to model the effect. Their simulator software underestimated actual "cooling energy savings and peak power reductions by as much as twofold".


The article, despite claiming to explain how trees cool, doesn't mention the term "endothermic reaction", but as far as I can tell, trees function like very sophisticated misting systems, releasing microscopic water droplets which, in evaporating, absorb heat from the surrounding air (to power the evaporation process). This reduces ambient air temperature, which in turn means your house air-conditioner runs less because the heat differential between inside and outside air is less. The trees are very efficient in their use of water to perform this.

Water is used in cooling and in electricity generation. I'd like to be able to say that the cooling effect of trees saves water in cooling and generating applications to the extent of offseting the additional water needed to grow and maintain the trees, but I can't quantify that. However, I did come across this recent research:

"The air-conditioner raises the temperature surrounding the home, and it also consumes energy that requires water to produce. That means the water saved by replacing grass with rocks and cactuses could be used up in the energy needed to offset the warmer neighborhood conditions.

"The findings could lead residents to rethink ideas about which landscape is best for Phoenix, said Ruddell. Perhaps a grass yard, with its cooling effects, would make more sense in the long run than the drier landscapes, favored for their supposed low-water use.

" 'Using water to cool and support some more vegetation has certain benefits,' he said. 'Just converting to xeric may not be the best option. It's something we need to conduct further investigations on.' "



The second link is to supporting graphics (urban heat maps for Phoenix neighborhoods, both for the city over time, and for different neighborhoods now).

Just a note for AWinter: your occasional comments about the student loan crisis haven't been ignored. The article in the Detroit Free Press, reprinted in USA Today, had an interesting side graphic that showed average student debt in the top ten states.

Arizona didn't make the top ten (which ran from New Hampshire at $31,048 to New York at $26,271).

However, the graphic also listed the top ten states for loan defaults, and guess what: Arizona was number 1, with a default rate of 16 percent (twice the national average). Puerto Rico followed at 14.5 percent, then Colorado (11.7%), Arkansas, Iowa, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, Nevada, and Kentucky (10.2%).

P.S. Yes, I know that Puerto Rico is not a state. "You people!" (tm, Clay Thompson, all rights reserved.)

"cal Lash" wrote:

"For some good nostalgic reading "Waiting on a Train" by James McCommons with a nice introduction by Kuntsler."

As long as we're making a list of books involving trains:

The Man Who Watched Trains Go By (Georges Simenon)

Ticket to Ride (Dennis Potter)

Not very nostalgic, in point of fact, but if you like peculiar "psychological" mystery/crime novels this is an interesting pair. I can't say that the resolution of Potter's book was satisfying, but the plot development was mind-blowing.

Watching Book TV, some dude named Klare wrote a book about the fight over the remaining resources of the planet. He was asked his opinion on over-population. His answer, "I worry more about the over-population of cars, since they will double in the next decade". He then side-stepped the issue of over-population as too touchy.

Therein lies the modern day environMENTALIST movement. All talk and no guts.


I miss Mick's clarity!

Hot and cool. Desert landscaping or trees and grass? I cant help with the science but my experience in the desert is where the wild creatures exist and asphalt and concrete do not exist it gets cool at nite.

The B and B twins, Ugly inside and out.
Little B gay gun runner
Big B hateful person with a broom.



cal lash: If the model exists for water-efficient trees and grass, I'd like to study it. The old desert rock method is both ugly and heat-generating. Very little is written about the options. Until proven otherwise, I'm convinced that our exterior water usage is due for close review and quite possibly some form of rationing or demand rates. Various estimates peg it at 40% of the total household use.

P.S. The version of "The Man Who Watched Trains Go By" to get:

New York Review Books Classics
A new translation by Marc Romano & D. Thin
Introduction by Luc Sante
trade paperback

A bad translation (original published in French in 1938) can ruin a good book.

Of possible interest to Rogue readers:

"There's a misconception that businesses create jobs. Businesses do not create jobs, only consumers can do that!

-- George Snively, Phoenix "


My comment:

There are two distinct issues here: jobs at an individual business versus total (national) jobs; and demand for a particular product versus total (national) demand.

Certainly, someone might invent a new mousetrap and, with good marketing and other business management skills, attract customers and hire employees to serve them.

The question is whether individual business creation simply redistributes existing consumer disposable income (spending more on product X and less on product Y), or whether it increases total consumer disposable income and therefore increases total demand (potentially, anyway, since increased income may be saved rather than spent).

Hiring the unemployed clearly increases total consumer disposable income, because the individuals hired now have incomes that previously only existed as accumulated capital; and those new workers with their new incomes are also consumers. So, total demand is increased. While the effect on total demand from an individual business is small, the cumulative effect from numerous business creations and hirings may be large.

That said, entrepreneurs (and the banks and other investors who finance them) do not invest capital on the basis of idle speculation that countless other entrepreneurs and businesses will follow, thereby creating new demand through hiring. They develop business plans identifying a specific market niche and projecting promising income streams from an identifiable consumer base. This is even more important in tight times, with low general consumer demand; and under such circumstances they are likely to regard patience as the prudent course, and wait until circumstances improve before setting sail, lest the ship of their new business languish, unmoving, in economic doldrums.

Furthermore, a great deal of new hiring is done by existing companies, since they make up the bulk of the economy. Existing companies make hiring decisions on the basis of their income streams: they hire new employees when customer spending increases, to the extent that more workers are needed to keep up with increased demand; and when revenues are low or flat (because consumer spending is low or flat), they do not need new employees, because existing employees are sufficient to serve their existing customer base and existing consumer spending.

So, it must be argued that consumer spending drives hiring in such circumstances, not the other way around. Mr. Snively is therefore correct.

In the present instance, economic recovery has been slow because the usual economic channels for increasing consumer demand no longer apply. The housing market crashed in a big way, and rising home values cannot be used to provide additional household income through capital gains (resale), through cash-out refinancing, or through second mortgages or home-loan lines of credit anticipating rising home prices. Levels of household debt remain high, and some of the money that might increase demand through consumption is going instead to pay down debt. A record number of foreclosures and bankruptcies (both personal and business) set back spending. Consumer credit standards have been tightened and the lending rates on them increased substantially, so the credit card is no longer a magic wand through which total demand can be increased in anticipation of future economic growth. Over two decades, as good paying manufacturing jobs went overseas, credit and asset appreciation (homes) played an increasing part in maintaining American consumer lifestyles. Hiring is slow and so are wage increases. All of this eliminates many of the traditional post-recession mechanisms by which total domestic consumer demand can be increased and hiring stimulated thereby.

Increased federal spending (deficit spending) has helped buoy demand, but has been partially offset by decreased state and local spending; and most of the additional federal stimulus has already wound down. Federal deficit spending continues at high levels, but for how long under political pressures to reduce it?

I'm going to pull an Emil. Since I came up with something profound, I'm going to post it on multiple threads in order to increase my readership.

Here goes:

"We don't have housing bubbles, we have fool bubbles"

Feel free to quote me.

""There's a misconception that businesses create jobs. Businesses do not create jobs, only consumers can do that!

-- George Snively, Phoenix "

Did you not see the Ted Talk that got banned for making that exact point? Here is where I found it:


"A bad translation (original published in French in 1938) can ruin a good book."

"While in the United States, Simenon and his son Marc learned to speak English with relative ease"

On se demande. (One wonders.)


"Did you not see the Ted Talk that got banned for making that exact point?"

Occupy TED!

AZRebel wrote:

"I'm going to pull an Emil. Since I came up with something profound, I'm going to post it on multiple threads in order to increase my readership."

I don't have a readership. If I were attempting to establish one I would start a blog; and if mere exposure were my goal, I wouldn't have bothered with a comparatively low-traffic site like Rogue Columnist.

Glad you thought my comment profound. Not the adjective I would have applied, though I do think it well considered and insightful, and carefully written. I actually spent some time thinking about the matter, as well as writing, editing, and polishing the text, instead of spouting the first inane blather to enter my head.

AZRebel wrote:

"We don't have housing bubbles, we have fool bubbles."

Well, you certainly pulled something, there.


Somebody wrote:

"While in the United States, Simenon and his son Marc learned to speak English with relative ease."

There's a big difference between speaking a language "with relative ease" and speaking it fluently; and an even bigger difference between speaking a language "with relative ease" and being able to write eloquently in that language. Effective translations of idiomatic speech require both linguistic mastery and a familiarity with the cultures of both countries.

One should always be wary of prices and real-estate hustles in Arizona. But houses in the historic districts close to light-rail represent the best values. "Driving to qualify" is nuts — the costs of endless driving offset any "American dream." It's just sad the city is not breaking open that banked land and downzoning it for single-family houses to be built.

Jon and all,

This recent report on the economic and environmental impacts of climate change in Arizona should be interesting to you. It should also be noted that Phoenix does NOT have a Climate Change Adaptation Plan, which is sorely needed.


Also, paying attention to elections will be crucial, such as the Central AZ Water Conservation District (CAWCD) Board of Directors, etc. that often get overlooked but are vital to our future.

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