Laws must change

“I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

-Thomas Jefferson


The Immortal Mark Twain

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”


Mark Twain, Autobiography.

Ben, I think that’s exactly what he said

I’m not a residential property owner, just an armchair economist, but something Ben Brooks said makes me scratch my head:

“It’s easy for Trumbull to say “we need more low-cost rentals”, but what he doesn’t look at is the market forces that are driving rental rates. Get more people to buy homes, and rental rates will come down.”

Here is what Trumball said:

“Meanwhile, the cost of renting has been going steadily up along with the rise in demand for apartment units. So, even as economists talk of now being a great time to buy, low-cost rentals would be even more welcome to many Americans.”

Okay call me crazy, but didn’t Trumball just say the cost of renting has been going steadily up along with the rise in demand for apartment units?  So yes, I think Trumball does get it.  It’s also the truth.  Wouldn’t millions of Americans love low cost rentals?

This is the double edged sword of Economics.  It controls the distribution of limited resources, but it can be downright cruel when it prices goods and services that people deem necessary to live right out of their price range.  Credit is still tight, you need 20% down on a house and that’s $20,000 on meager condo in the suburbs or a decent sized house in the middle of West Bumblefuck.  That’s a lot of money, and people aren’t making enough to save up that much.  Therefore, they have to rent.  Not everyone has a relative they can move in with, and some people don’t even have relatives.

This makes renting a sellers market.  Demand is high and there’s nothing you can do about that unless the zombie apocalypse comes and takes out some of our population.  To lower prices, you have to increase supply.  That means you have to build more complexes for apartments.  This gets into all sorts of problems:

1) The biggest problem is that if you look around, land is finite.  There are only so many places to sit on the planet.

2) People in general are not flexible in moving.  They want to stay near family, or don’t have the money or resources to move cross country, and this limits their choices.

3) Construction is in the tank thanks to the credit crunch.  New Housing was depressed, well apartment complex construction that requires even more money to build was even more depressed.  Supply is constrained until someone builds new buildings.

4) The middle class is getting squeezed, as people have less and less money to spend.  Those who own these complexes have less incentive to rent to the poor and working class because they want the higher margin renters.  But those are getting harder and harder to find so why build a fancy new building if you can’t find a group of people who can put $500 together for an apartment?

5) While I’m all for regulations, regulations do in fact increase costs.  There’s a point where an apartment becomes a slum, and if you want to be a law abiding large property owner, you probably have to abide by the law and pay those costs.  This increases the price you need to make money.

The solution is always of course low cost housing, we just don’t know as a society yet how to get it.  Calling such a statement stupid is like saying that a touch screen phone will never be successful because no one has been able to do it right before.  What we have to do is innovate, we just haven’t figured it out yet.

A lesson for child rearing

“Who does this baby belong to? Who does this little shorty belong to? He just hangin’ around y’all? He just hangin’ around y’all, right? So he see everything you do right? So if this brother right here catch a case, and do a hundred years, who’s fault is it? It’s his fault? Teach him righteous.”

–Nina Matthews, The Interruptors

The Interruptors is a documentary about former gang members becoming “interruptors” and going into gang controlled neighborhoods speaking to locals about stopping the cycle of gang violence. Nina has seen it, she’s live it. She knows what she is talking about.

It takes a village…

Steve Jobs on the media

“When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth.” – Steve Jobs, Interview in WIRED magazine (February 1996)

Neil lays the smackdown on deniers of science

“Every great scientific truth goes through three phases. First, people deny it. Second, they say it conflicts with the Bible. Third, they say they’ve known it all along.” —Neil Degrasse Tyson

Apple doesn’t win by locking down

Harry Marks has an interesting reply up regarding Matt Gemmell’s post regarding piracy of an android app. Harry describes perfectly for me how I felt, that Matt seems to be displaying a double standard. Developers deserve to be compensated and a locked down environment helps with that. However, he posts somehow months earlier that music producers are jerks for doing the same thing. I wanted to go even further than Harry on this.

Matt Gemmell had a great point in his article that I wholeheartedly agreed with:

Piracy isn’t a symptom of social disease. Well, it might be, but your bank manager won’t care about that inconsequential detail. Piracy is a symptom of failure to find an effective business model. “Effective” here means the whole gamut of product quality, availability, platform, marketing, price, delivery, support and so on. It’s not black magic. These are all factors for which we have strategies and metrics.

The problem is the rest of article claims that the success developers have had on iOs is due to Apple’s locked down environment. Far from it. It’s precisely the statement above. Apple found a good business model and executed. What was that model?

Selling devices people want.

Once everyone wanted to be there, developers wanted to be there, too. iOS customers are more likely to be investors in their technology because they want something better.

Locking down the environment, while done on purpose, is not the single lone decider in what makes is customers buy apps. They had to make everything else so much better to make people not care about the walled garden. The app store is incredibly easy. The approval process, while annoying to developers, protects customers from malware better than any spyware app. The app store also doesn’t have tons of tools developers want, but it makes it incredibly easy for customers to find your app and download it instantly. In short the strategy was to make customers want to be here in this environment. When they want to be here, they want to spend money to make the experience even more enjoyable.

iOS was meant to be part of an all encompassing customer experience and are willing to pay someone to build on that. Apple is all about making its customers happy, and iOS developers can benefit from that.

I will have more on this customer angle and how it relates to the app store in the near future.

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