The Business Rent Is Too Damn High: The Bike Store Edition

I know I hit this theme a lot, but an underemphasized problem many booming cities are facing is skyrocketing business rents. If residents want affordable prices, along with more interesting options–and those interesting options often not the businesses that make money hand over fist–then business rents need to decrease. Today’s edition–bike shops (boldface mine):

Local officials and developers seek to encourage bicycle use in D.C. with new bike lanes and larger storage facilities, but many retail bike shops have been forced to shut their doors as the market becomes more challenging for independent businesses….

“It’s a very difficult and changed market for bike shops right now,” The Bike Rack owner Chuck Harney tells Bisnow. “People aren’t buying as many bikes as they used to, and if they are, they’re buying them online. The days of an urban shop with a large floor and a lot of inventory are gone. That’s done.”

Harney opened The Bike Rack’s second location at Brookland’s Monroe Street Market development in 2015. Within one year, he had already begun receiving rent abatements from the landlord because the shop was not meeting sales targets, a problem he partially attributed to underwhelming foot traffic due to the lack of an anchor grocery store at the development…

WABA Communications Director Colin Browne said he was disappointed to see the recent closings because it could make it harder for some residents to access bike shops. He thinks the issue is more attributable to retail rents in D.C. and doesn’t see an overall decrease in bike ownership.

“My sense is that the problem, at its core, is a real estate problem,” Browne said. “Bike shops are a hard small business to run, and real estate in the region is just getting more and more expensive. People like the idea of having a bike shop in the neighborhood, but the reality of how much it costs to maintain a space and a staff is a lot.”

Many businesses are being pushed to brink by rents. It’s all the more galling because, in many neighborhoods (not just lower-income ones), storefronts are left vacant because businesses don’t want to pay the rent–walk through Adams-Morgan sometime. I know of many businesses that were doing fine, but the landlord–often one not based in D.C.–got greedy, jacked up the rent, and the current tenant had no choice but to move. And then the same storefront sits empty.

If a landlord proposed a significant rent hike, causing a business to move, and the property then sits vacant for more than six months, the owner should be fined an amount equal to the proposed rent hike every month thereafter, until a tenant is found (at any rental price). We need to stop ‘land banking’ and start keeping the businesses that make cities interesting.

Posted in Bidness, DC, Economics, Taxes, Urban Planning | 5 Comments

Links 9/17/19

Links for you. Science:

NOAA leaders backed Trump’s hallucinations over their own forecasters. They should resign
The USDA relocation to Kansas City is ripping apart the lives of its employees. Here are some of their stories. (science is done by living, breathing scientists)
Coral reefs: breakdown in iconic spawning puts species at risk of extinction – new research
Famous Viking Warrior Was a Woman, DNA Reveals
I now publish #MeToo stories on my blog, for free. Here’s why.


Trump Has Figured Out How to Corrupt the Entire Government
US extracted top spy from inside Russia in 2017 (heckuva job, Donnie!)
The region urgently needs more homes. Why not adopt housing targets—with teeth?
I Have No Idea What “Hard Work” Means. And probably neither do you…
De Blasio flies his ‘car guy’ flag and enrages safe streets advocates (Green New Deal something something…)
The Decommodified Life
The Lost Promise of Reconstruction
Taking the credit: can universities tackle academic fraud?
CalPERS’ Blatant Election and Mail Fraud: See-Through Envelopes for Completed Ballots; Illegal Electioneering by Treasurer Fiona Ma, Board Members David Miller and Theresa Taylor; Huge and Illegally Opaque Spending Against Challenger JJ Jelincic (inspiring Republicans?)
Are Hong Kong protests a preview of China’s uncertain future?
Facing Restrictions At Home, Droves Of Desperate Women Seek Abortions Out Of State
As plantations talk more honestly about slavery, some visitors are pushing back (if we referred to the master’s house as the kommandant’s house…)
Fox News, GOP media now warn of bloodshed if Democrats win in 2020
Is Trump killing the Obama boom in bellwether Elkhart?
Once Elizabeth Warren Rose in the Polls, You Knew the Nonsense Was Coming
China Experiments with a New Kind of Megalopolis
Progressives Can’t Play Nice With Democrats Anymore
Naughty by NATO
Biden is labeled a moderate. But his agenda is far more liberal than Hillary Clinton’s.
Strike with the Band

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

Caregiving and Income

As you get older, you inevitably end up having to take care of elderly relatives. Sometimes, the conditions are so severe, people have to drop out of the workforce or take tremendous salary cuts–and “people” are disproportionately women. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a plan for that (boldface mine):

In part because of work and pay discrimination and time out of the workforce to provide care for children and elderly relatives, women receive an average monthly Social Security benefit that’s only 78% of the average monthly benefit for men. That’s one reason women over the age of 65 are 80% more likely to live in poverty than men. My plan includes several changes that primarily affect women and help reduce these disparities.

      Valuing the work of caregivers. My plan creates a new credit for caregiving for people who qualify for Social Security benefits. This credit raises Social Security benefits for people who take time out of the workforce to care for a family member — and recognizes caregiving for the valuable work it is.

The government calculates Social Security benefits based on average lifetime earnings, with years spent out of the workforce counted as a zero for the purpose of the average. When people spend time out of the workforce to provide care for a relative, their average lifetime earnings are smaller and so are their Social Security benefits.

That particularly harms lower-income women, people of color, and recent immigrants. There are more than 43 million informal family caregivers in the country, and 60% of them are women. A 2011 study found that women over fifty forgo an average of $274,000 in lifetime wages and Social Security benefits when they leave the workforce to take care of an aging parent. Caregivers who also work are more likely to be low-income and incur out-of-pocket costs for providing care. Because access to paid or partially paid family leave is particularly limited for workers of color — and first-generation immigrant workers are less likely to have jobs with flexible schedules or paid sick days — these workers are more likely to have to take unpaid leave to provide care and thus suffer reductions in their Social Security benefits.

My plan will give credit toward the Social Security average lifetime earnings calculation to people who provide 80 hours a month of unpaid care to a child under the age of 6, a dependent with a disability (including a veteran family member), or an elderly relative. For every month of caregiving that meets these requirements, the caregiver will be credited for Social Security purposes with a month of income equal to the monthly average of that year’s median annual wage. People can receive an unlimited amount of caregiving credits and can claim these credits retroactively if they have done this kind of caregiving work in the last five years. By giving caregivers credits equal to the median wage that year, this credit will provide a particular boost in benefits to lower-income workers.

This is not only good policy, but it also will put conservatives in a pickle. Caregiving is what ‘women are supposed to do’ traditionally. Surely, conservatives can’t be against that? (Of course they can). Still, voters will like this, especially those who are low-attachment Democratic leaners (to the extent that Warren could draw attention to this plan).

The other thing to note is that caregiving isn’t assigned the minimum wage, but the median wage. This plan recognizes the importance of this work and prices it appropriately. Hopefully, if Warren isn’t the nominee, the nominee will adopt this plan.

Posted in Democrats, Feminism, Social Security | 1 Comment

Links 9/16/19

Links for you. Science:

The Anthropologist of Artificial Intelligence
We Dug Up Jeffrey Epstein’s Old Science Blog. It’s as Weird as You Think.
A Robot With Noodle-like Fingers Helps Handle Soft Jellyfish
A Republican Firm Is Targeting EPA Staff Who Have Donated to Democrats
NOAA’s chief scientist will investigate why agency backed Trump over its experts on Dorian, email shows (guessing he won’t be long for his job…)


For the first time in my life, I’m frightened to be Jewish
The Looser a State’s Gun Laws, the More Mass Shootings It Has
What Even Is Spotify?
Judge refuses to dismiss charges against protesters at Straight Pride Parade (we have to start thinking of judges as unaccountable bureaucrats)
‘I Think We Need to Just Impeach the Guy’
When the State Enforces “Straight Pride”
$1,000 a month, no strings attached
Andrew Luck and the NFL’s Looming Crisis of Race and Class
College is starting again, and with it the threat of campus sexual assault. A lawyer offers advice.
Diet Eman, Dutch resistance hero who saved Jews during World War II, dies at 99
Trump’s Comments on the ‘Disloyalty’ of Jews Have a Sordid History
China’s Twitter Disinformation Ops Have Been Going on for Years
The Problem With Our Climate Debate Is That Only Democrats Are Showing Up
Cheating, Inc.: How Writing Papers for American College Students Has Become a Lucrative Profession Overseas
Who Are The Good Republicans?
‘Someone’s Gotta Tell the Freakin’ Truth’: Jerry Falwell’s Aides Break Their Silence
So, I worked one summer at Harvard’s freshman dean’s office, under the legendary Elizabeth Studley Nathans. (must-read)
Guy Says African Architecture Isn’t Showcased Compared To European And Asian, Posts 44 Of Its Gorgeous Examples
Yes, Democrats Should Impeach Trump—and Make Mitch McConnell Defend His Acquittal
Sen. Ed Markey’s Reelection Bid Gets Key Backing From Progressive Rep. Ro Khanna

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

If Kavanaugh Had Happened to Republicans

I know after two plus years of Il Trumpe, the device of “If Democrats did X…” is trite, but I’ll use it anyway. If the weekend revelations substantiating Kavanaugh’s shoving his penis into a female student’s hand were about a Democratic nominee, who, let’s say, also had some explaining to do about credit debt, impeaching Kavanaugh would be a rallying cry for the next quarter century. Candidates, including those running for dog catcher, would have to make it clear where they stood on Kavanaugh’s perjury–and regardless of the veracity of the latest allegations, he did commit perjury.

Fortunately for Kavanaugh (for many of us, not so fortuate), the opposition party he faces is the Democratic Party, the most gormless and hapless opposition in recorded history. So, after a few sternly worded pieties followed by Democratic moderates getting upset about how this is distracting people from their important work of protecting TurboTax, nothing will happen, and, in a few years, he will be respectable.

We need fiercer Democrats who are willing to wield power.

Posted in Conservatives, Democrats, Fucking Morons | Leave a comment

Links 9/15/19

Links for you. Science:

Pre-Columbian mycobacterial genomes reveal seals as a source of New World human tuberculosis
Wild horses will ride out the hurricane as they have for centuries, with ‘butts to the wind’
How a newly identified bacterium saps corals of their energy
How Fungi Can Transform Waste Into Useful Materials
The Patient Who Finally Knows Why Her UTIs Won’t Go Away


Democrats Have Reached A Crossroads
America’s slow-motion coup keeps grinding forward: But is Donald Trump really the one to blame?
It’s time to rethink our ‘democracies’
Hey Cyclists: Be Nice to Pedestrians
A Decade of Music Is Lost on Your iPod. These Are The Deleted Years. Now Let Us Praise Them.
Cancelling Student Debt Reduces the Racial Wealth Gap
The Scale Of What We’re Up Against
They Didn’t Kneel For This
On Climate, Sanders and Warren Must Go Nuclear
D.C. Mayor Argues for Statehood Ahead of Congressional Hearing
ThinkProgress, a Top Progressive News Site, Has Shut Down
Joe Biden, MIA
How Apple uses its App Store to copy the best ideas
Pennsylvania township shuts down entire firefighting company over Proud Boys connection
That Beloved Hospital? It’s Driving Up Health Care Costs
How Charter Schools Won D.C. Politics
Complicating The Issue
Democrats are not only itching to break up Big Tech. Big Ag is also a focus of antitrust plans
Muslim women ‘sterilised’ in China detention camps, say former detainees
Battle of the D.C. underpass: Art parks vs. tent cities
College Football Season Is Here. Will Universities Continue To Ignore The Risk Of Brain Damage?

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

Narcissists Gonna Narcissist

While one’s own psychological dysfunctions are interesting to you, most other people’s aren’t. That goes for Trump too, who is just a textbook narcissist–no deep mystery, he. But it’s important to understand his dysfunction because it provides a very reliable guide to how he will react. A while ago, I noted:

I would add two other observations about the narcissist. First, he is essentially a full-tilt diva, with the rest of us either as bit, cameo players, or else the audience (or both). One day the script might be ‘hard-charging businessman’, the next ‘compassionate philanthropist’, followed by ‘competent manager’ and so on. Regardless, the show must go on. Ideally, his entire life is a fantasy, unmoored from reality. Anyone who challenges this fantasy causes extreme psychological distress.

Apparently, some Republican apparatchiks are starting to figure this out (boldface mine):

“You’re there more as an annoyance to him because he has to fill some of these jobs, but you’re not there to do anything other than be backlighting,” said Anthony Scaramucci, a former White House communications director who is now critical of Trump. “He wants, like, a catatonic loyalty, and he wants you to be behind the backlights. There’s one spotlight on the stage, it’s shining on Trump, and you’re a prop in the back with dim lights.”

…“There is no person that is part of the daily Trump decision-making process that can survive long term,” said a former senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “The president doesn’t like people to get good press. He doesn’t like people to get bad press. Yet he expects everyone to be relevant and important and supportive at all times. Even if a person could do all those things, the president would grow tired of anyone in his immediate orbit.”

I would feel for these assholes, except that they would be fine with a President Pence–who would still be doing all the awful things. If you see a narcissist, run in the other direction.

Posted in Resistance Rebellion And Death | Leave a comment