Early this April I was invited by the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture to give a talk to discuss the politics and economics of housing affordability. In the following talk I discuss my personal experience with housing affordability, talk about factors that impact housing prices on the demand and supply sides, and then talk about some of the political history of housing economics! Enjoy and let me know what you think!
In 2008, I was a couple years out of college and searching for answers. Up to that point, I had known what it was to be successful: you study hard, get good grades, earn awards and honors, and keep on progressing upward and onward – from high school to college, from college to graduate school. Having now completed my education and gotten my start at the bottom of the corporate ladder, I struggled with how to evaluate my self-worth and measure my success or lack thereof. Money, a girlfriend, influence, prestige – with any of these as a benchmark I objectively could not be considered successful. But I also had a deep-seated sense that these were not the right benchmarks anyway. I knew success had to be based on something bigger, and therefore different measures of success were needed. Continue reading
Two months ago, Paula and I welcomed our third child into the world. As with the birth of our other two, it never ceases to amaze me how we enter the world at a particular moment in time, blissfully unaware of all that has happened and is happening around us. Before you can talk, walk, or be in any substantial way independent, you spend your first years just observing. Where am I? What is this world, this environment, I am entering into? Given this ignorance, it puts into perspective the awesome responsibility of parents as first educators to explain what it all is, how it works, and the purpose, reason, and meaning behind it all. And in addition to this enormous task, we face too the reality of life in the economic and financial world and the need to provide the material goods – the food, clothing, shelter, etc. – that our children assume as a given. Just as we guide them through the more philosophical questions of life, we teach our children that as they grow in independence they too will be entering this practical world and will be, in due time, responsible for providing for themselves and others Continue reading
Before diving into this blog post, I ask you to take a minute to sit with these two images and ask yourself: Which place has greater value?
Did you feel any sense of inner conflict? Continue reading
This past Labor Day, Paula and I did what so many Americans do over a sunny three-day weekend – we took a road trip. We had a wedding to attend in Austin and we thought we would make the most of it by dropping our kids off with the grandparents in San Antonio first. We had heard a few rumors floating around about a gas shortage following the devastation of Houston by Hurricane Harvey, but we noticed nothing unusual as we filled up the tank here in College Station and hit the road Friday evening for San Antonio. Now kid-free, we started out for Austin the following morning with half a tank of gas. We were surprised to see that the two gas stations on the corner were indeed out of gas but figured we would just stop further along the way instead. But the next station was out of gas too. And so was the next. And the next! After about an hour of this we started feeling a little panicky. If this continued on would we even be able to make it to the wedding? And what about the kids? Continue reading
Over the last few days, I’ve enjoyed the conversation between Johnny Sanphillippo and Chuck Marohn about whether or not it’s possible for the Strong Towns paradigm to be effective in making real change happen in our country. With that said, I personally walked away from this conversation unsatisfied. I think it’s very easy for us to feel smart criticizing what is wrong with the world around us. This is especially true when we are able to articulate problems no one else notices in a way that draws attention. And while articulating the problem is the first step to solving it, it has to be just that, the first step, not the only step. Otherwise we merely become the critic that Teddy Roosevelt warned us about in 1910, Continue reading
February has not quite come to a close and yet 2017 has already been interesting and exciting for the Golbabai family. Over the past few months, Paula and I have spent considerable time working on out next project – finding a house here in College Station. Not just any house, mind you, but the right place for us to raise our kids and put down roots. This search was especially difficult for the two of us because of our seemingly divergent tastes. As a new urbanist and city planner, I advocate for density, connectivity and walkability. Paula, on the other hand, regularly re-reads the Little House on the Prairie series, loves wide open spaces and has been researching the maintenance of backyard chickens. Continue reading
If you have had the pleasure of recently shopping for a mattress you don’t need me to tell you how overwhelming the experience is. Mattresses are difficult to test sufficiently prior to purchase and all the guarantees and warranties are confusing. But it is the shear number of options that is staggering. Do you want firm or plush? Foam or coil? Organic? Low chemical content? Well it is what is missing in this world of choices that hints at a disturbing truth embedded in our economic system. I’m excited to share with you today a post that has been percolating in the back of my brain for a few years now; a story that I simply walked into when I innocently walked into a mattress store. Continue reading
Three hundred and sixty four days a year I am a proud New Urbanist and apostle of the Strong Towns movement. I love talking about the value of mixed-use, traditional neighborhoods. When friends are over for dinner, I often find myself taking my copy of Suburban Nation off the shelf much like an evangelist spreading the gospel. Yet despite all of this, despite knowing better, there is one day, the three hundred and sixty fifth day of the year that I can’t help but feel guilty that my kids don’t live in a suburban subdivision. That day is Halloween. Continue reading
Paula and I are both readers. Except in the case of a movie night or some other exceptions the TV doesn’t get a lot of play time in the Golbabai house. One of those exceptions however is our favorite Friday night tradition: putting the kids to bed and watching Shark Tank over a bowl of ice cream. As an economics blogger, I find the show fascinating because in just a few short minutes it is a perfect microcosm of how our modern economy thinks and rewards. Continue reading