July 28, 2007

Front Yards : A Suburban Requisite

A few days ago our hired lawn crew arrived on schedule and hurriedly whisked through the chores associated with keeping our lawn manicured. They mowed, they edged, they swept ... and I wept. Okay, okay ... I didn't truly weep, but every time they arrive, I do feel a little sick knowing that I'm paying for a resource that, when considered objectively, is a complete and total waste.

Some of you might be thinking, "Hey ... stop whining about paying to have the lawn mowed and save that money by mowing it yourself." For those who are thinking along those lines, I present the economic concept of "opportunity cost." Because I value opportunities that I'd be forced to forgo if I were to take care of my own lawn, I choose to pay someone else to do it instead. Don't you just love economics? Back to lawns, though.

I actually don't mind my backyard, even though it doesn't get the regular use that it should. You can blame that on the Texas heat. It's the front yard, though, that I really despise. To put it bluntly, front yards are dumb. I would submit that front yards are a waste for so many reasons. For example, in most in suburban neighborhoods, you will rarely see people actually enjoying their front yards. Instead, most people typically choose to hide behind privacy fences in their backyards ... closing off their world to neighbors and potential friends.

The fact that people don't really use front yards, though, doesn't stop people from maintaining them. My relationship with my front yard actually resembles a dependent type of host/parasite relationship. I water it, fertilize it, weed it, and mow it ... but it honestly gives me nothing of value in return. So, why do I continue to maintain it? Because it's there, I guess. Isn't that the reason we all deal with our front yards?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It amazing how you can spend 40 hours a week with someone and never know they have a blog!

August 28, 2007 10:38 PM  

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July 14, 2007

Too GOOD to be TRUE

I've been thinking about one of those "warnings" that most of us learn in our youth. Unlike The Five P's, this one wasn't taught to me by my father; instead, my mother gets the credit for this one:

If it sounds too good to be true ... it probably is.

Some learn to follow this statement early in life while others never learn to follow it. Let me be honest by saying that my learning and abiding to this maxim has created a monster of sorts. I tend to be hyper-critical of "opportunities," but I would rather be critical and safe than overly-trusting and unsafe. How about you?

I suppose I could relate this to finances or, in particular, those "golden investments" that are pitched as "once in a lifetime opportunities." For example, if someone waltzes into your life and promises easy returns that beat some of the smartest investors alive (e.g., Buffet, Icahn, and Soros), then your warning flags should probably shoot sky high.

I could also apply this to the shallow promises associated with living the suburban dream. For example, Realtors never pitch the arduously long commutes or the inherent isolation associated with living in the outer rings of sprawl; instead, they always talk about how perfect life can be in subdivisions with romanticized, phony-sounding names like Pheasant Mill Crossing.

Instead of associating this life lesson to a particular topic, I'll simply leave it be and let you, the reader, figure out how you can apply it to your own life. I don't necessarily subscribe to the "defense wins championships" mantra in every situation; however, I do believe that a good defense is a practical requirement before a strong offense can be assembled. Some might call this living life under the guidance of, "Better safe than sorry." I just call it smart.

Thanks, mom, for teaching me this.



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June 29, 2007

Economics 101

I find it rather amazing that so many of our nation's problems could be solved by strict attention to the principles taught in Economics 101. It's the rather elementary concepts like "Supply and Demand" that seem to allude our bureaucratic leaders. A recent example follows ...

Our representatives in the Senate were recently debating an immigration bill that ultimately (and thankfully) failed. This lame bill did all the right things that most bills in the Congress do: (1) place band-aids on festering wounds, (2) spend lots of money, and (3) avoid the real root of the problem. Politicians ... why, why, why are you so silly?

You see, illegal aliens aren't here in America (illegally) to loiter and relax; they'd starve to death if that's all they did. To the contrary, they're here to work and send a sizable portion of their earning back to their families in Mexico, Honduras, etc. via Western Union. Here's the deal though ... illegal aliens would not come to America if employers were required to unequivocally verify the legal working status of each prospective employee.

The demand for illegal alien labor is obviously large, so it seems obvious that the supply of illegal alien labor will follow. With that in mind, perhaps we shouldn't be worrying about all of these ill-placed band-aids. Instead, to counter the effects of this economic principle, we should focus on eliminating the demand for illegal labor. If the demand is effectively eliminated, the supply will dry up -- guaranteed. It's elementary my dear American.



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