Communism and your condo co-op

  • #1
russ_watters
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I was reading that China/Gas thread - the OP mentioned conservation. Conservation for the sake of conservation does not work in the real world, but it got me thinking about specific examples of this.

I live in a condo and I deal with them often in my job as an HVAC engineer. How to split-up energy bills is a huge issue that is generally not dealt with well. In my condo, its just water, but in a lot of condos, the heat and air conditioning are paid for by the cooperative and the cost is divided evenly between the tenants. Sounds good in principle, but the problem is that the tenants all know that if they waste energy, the cost gets distributed among the other tenants (and why should I conserve if my neighbor won't?). As a result, energy usage/costs in condos are often double what they should be.

The point is, solutions for a pretty wide variety of problems, from energy/pollution to economics, to politics need to appeal to the self-interests of the parties involved. For the example above, its as simple as giving everyone a meter.

Now, that said, pollution is a toughie because it is impossible to make someone directly responsible for/affected by their own pollution. There has to be a cooperative agreement between countries, and resuting laws imposed in each nation to solve that problem.

[/random thoughts]
 

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  • #2
misskitty
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This is interesting.
 
  • #3
Pengwuino
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You should seen the forum im from. Wacko commies in there. They say in communism, you can have whatever you desire. Oh and one says "in communism, we wont have evil capitalist destructive inventions such as slavery, empirialism, the internal combustion engine, destroyed forests, etc". There was a huge list. Funny how we can have whatever we want but it wouldnt hurt the enviornment at all :-/
 
  • #4
selfAdjoint
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russ_waters said:
I live in a condo and I deal with them often in my job as an HVAC engineer. How to split-up energy bills is a huge issue that is generally not dealt with well. In my condo, its just water, but in a lot of condos, the heat and air conditioning are paid for by the cooperative and the cost is divided evenly between the tenants. Sounds good in principle, but the problem is that the tenants all know that if they waste energy, the cost gets distributed among the other tenants (and why should I conserve if my neighbor won't?). As a result, energy usage/costs in condos are often double what they should be.

Technical term: Tragedy of the Commons. And to think, some economists claim it never actually existed!
 
  • #5
hitssquad
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selfAdjoint said:
Technical term: Tragedy of the Commons.
Garrett Hardin. He was a Stalker:
http://www.lrainc.com/swtaboo/stalkers/hardin.html [Broken]
 
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  • #6
russ_watters
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selfAdjoint said:
Technical term: Tragedy of the Commons.
Thanks - I didn't know there was a term for it.
 
  • #7
Smurf
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This scenario reminds me of the hypothetical situation "If you were in a prison with your sister and if you both pushed a button you'd both die.. ect" I don't need to explain the whole thing.
 
  • #8
hitssquad
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  • #9
misskitty
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Pengwuino said:
You should seen the forum im from. Wacko commies in there. They say in communism, you can have whatever you desire. Oh and one says "in communism, we wont have evil capitalist destructive inventions such as slavery, empirialism, the internal combustion engine, destroyed forests, etc". There was a huge list. Funny how we can have whatever we want but it wouldnt hurt the enviornment at all :-/

You've got a point. Little bit beyond radical is what the people from your other forum sound like. I had no idea communism is anything we wanted...sounds similar to anarchy... :rolleyes:
 
  • #10
misskitty
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SelfAdjoint, I had no idea there even was a term for that. How could economists claim it never exsisted? Its right there infront of their face.
 
  • #11
Pengwuino
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misskitty said:
You've got a point. Little bit beyond radical is what the people from your other forum sound like. I had no idea communism is anything we wanted...sounds similar to anarchy... :rolleyes:

Pff, they say anarchy is even better! "No government or higher authority to tell you what you can and cant do". And for some reason the more liberal people on the forum seem to approve of them adn tell them they are right.

Oh and , according to them, "the soviet union was communist when they won teh space race... but the soviet union was never communist... but the soviets wre communist when they were the military jugernaut... but the soviets were never communist". I think there finally sticking to "the soviet union was never true communists" viewpoint.
 
  • #12
misskitty
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Uh-huh. Where are most of these people from? Because I doubt if they have experienced anarchy they would still support it the way that they do.
 
  • #13
Pengwuino
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US universities of course. Well, one supposedly "graduated" last semester (chico state? Lol). Maybe foreigners do have a point when they say "ignorant americans" lol. But actually, 1/2 of them are from Britain come to think of it.
 
  • #14
misskitty
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Hmm, why would someone from the US advocate such an idea?
 
  • #15
misskitty
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EDIT: that was not meant sarcastically or mean or anything. Its a serious question.
 
  • #16
Pengwuino
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misskitty said:
Hmm, why would someone from the US advocate such an idea?

I dunno... but give me a few pamphlets and 1-sided stories and i can convince a college student of anything.
 
  • #17
misskitty
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Lol. I believe you. The same could be said for some people I go to school with. Why would you only settle for one side of the story? Seriously, someone with half a brain and an ounce of common sense would try to get the other half before they make a decision about anything.
 
  • #18
Pengwuino
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Well these people only have 1/4 of a brain and 2grams of common sense i suppose :-/. Hell a bunch of them were going "capitalism is crap because you can sell a product that costs $4 to produce and sell it for $40 bucks and make $36 profit while poor people starve". I asked them what sort of insane unrealistic capitalist country this was and they said the US... I really wanna know what product exists that you can sell for 10x the production/labor/distribution costs...
 
  • #19
misskitty
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Its just ludicrous. I tend to ignore people like that after a while. My general responce to that is something along the lines of capitalism is what allowed you to invest in those high quality clothes and leather shoes you enjoy while people in NY freeze to death in single digit temperatures because they were turned away from a shelter due to over occupancy...go put your money where your mouth is.
 
  • #20
Pengwuino
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Oh yah and this one guy... ugh this guys on a computer obviously... no charity money there.... on a government scholarship (i suppose pell grant or fafsa-qualified financial aid) which is paid for by rich people (majority that is). And whenever someone shows off their sweet ass stuff (like one guy with a... multi-$10,000 entertainment system), he goes "man that is sweet! i wish i had that!".
 
  • #21
russ_watters
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misskitty said:
SelfAdjoint, I had no idea there even was a term for that. How could economists claim it never exsisted? Its right there infront of their face.
I'm not positive that this was SA's point, but a lot of advocates of communism claim that it has never been tried. In fact, it or certain aspects of it exist all over the place. The condo association example is precisely the problem that communism faces on the national level. I only wish I had realized the connection sooner. :redface:
 
  • #22
Pengwuino
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And think of how worse it would be if they didnt have to pay anything at all (thast the view the communists in that other forum take). Funny hwo these people that call themselves "the greatest liberals" would pretty much ruin the earth faster then 50 China's :D.

Whats even funnier is this guy (also claims communism has never existed... quickly contradicted a few times a month) claims theres a group of communists in mexico and he calls them a succes. Well, there basically on the technological order of backwoods farmers in China. Im not really sure what "success" means to him i guess...
 
  • #23
selfAdjoint
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misskitty said:
SelfAdjoint, I had no idea there even was a term for that. How could economists claim it never exsisted? Its right there infront of their face.

The original name, Tragedy of the Commons, was introduced in a book of that name by Garret Harden (sp?). It referred to a alleged situation from British history where villagers would share a common field for grazing cattle or sheep. Individual villagers had no reason to restrain themselves from overgrazing, and so the common was destroyed and its advantage to all was lost.

It is this particular situation that some historical economists have denied, and they might be right. But then some people use that to assert that Harden's case that this is a general problem of mankind has been refuted. And it is THAT argument that is shot down by the existence of situations like that condo one.
 
  • #24
Moonbear
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The issues brought up in this thread are the reason I won't live in a condo or any place with a homeowners' association. Fees just keep increasing as people rationalize that "Oh, this will only cost $5 or $10 per household if we all share the cost," when nobody would have even bothered or cared if they were expected to foot the entire bill themselves. That's not even including the bizarre rules that they make that you have to go along with even if you're the only one who doesn't agree. I have friends who live in a community with a homeowners' association, and they even have rules about what kind of mailbox you can have! Someone new to the neighborhood got one of those cute, unique mailboxes; it was by no means unsightly, and the homeowners' association was practically ready to rip it out of the ground for them if they didn't replace it immediately. How many sane people worry about the type of mailbox someone else has?
 
  • #25
Pengwuino
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Ah yes... and thats why i want to live on a big 3 acre plot in texas. No ones going to tell me what mailbox i can have lest i fire my 12 gauge at them :D lol jk
 
  • #26
brewnog
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Pengwuino said:
I really wanna know what product exists that you can sell for 10x the production/labor/distribution costs...

I couldn't tell if you were being sarcastic, but Coca Cola works. Large restaurant chains can currently get Coca Cola into their taps for something in the region of 1p (~2 US cents) per serving. Just an example, but you'd be surprised by the overall mark-up on many items, especially branded food and drinks.
 
  • #27
Pengwuino
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lol oh yah... well sodas a pretty bad example cause it doesnt follow alot of the ideas of economics. For one you can dilute it like crazy. Two you usually buy a soda and can drink 50 if the mood suits you and only pay for 1 at restaurants. Got any other examples that really follow the correct suite of economic necessities? Oh and you forgot that you would need a real world situation where you have to pay for rent, equipment, staffing, taxes, etc.

What would really be more accurate is a whole building that sells only 1 or 2 products. Then you could say "incoming inventory costs..." and then add in staff, taxes, equipment, rent, utilities, advertising, etc and then figure an outgoing inventory cost (selling) and the profits arent exactly huge. 75% of small business go belly up in a year for a reason :D.

And of course... its pretty easy to get a big payoff on soda because i dont nkow about you, but if coca cola at a restaurant cost $1.25 compared to $.99 in a meal that costs $10+tip, im not really gonna take much notice. I mean how many of you actually look at the cost of your soda when you buy it.

Computers are a good example. You make a $30 memory chip that sells for about $90. You have to build it... then add packaging.. then distribution... then re-distribution, then send it to stores/builders who then dispense to the general public at $90 (or u know... in case of buildiers, whatever the system costs using the same method for all components). Then of course people forget to add manufactorers costs/utilties/staff/taxes/profit margin along with the same set of costs for each distributor and hten the same costs for the retailers. By then you should realize that you can only really scrape off a small profit for each company because according to the highly used rules of capitalism, all someoen else needs to do is take less of a profit and he'll take your customers away.
 
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  • #28
brewnog
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Pengwuino said:
lol oh yah... well sodas a pretty bad example cause it doesnt follow alot of the ideas of economics. For one you can dilute it like crazy. Two you usually buy a soda and can drink 50 if the mood suits you and only pay for 1 at restaurants. Got any other examples that really follow the correct suite of economic necessities? Oh and you forgot that you would need a real world situation where you have to pay for rent, equipment, staffing, taxes, etc.

What would really be more accurate is a whole building that sells only 1 or 2 products. Then you could say "incoming inventory costs..." and then add in staff, taxes, equipment, rent, utilities, advertising, etc and then figure an outgoing inventory cost (selling) and the profits arent exactly huge. 75% of small business go belly up in a year for a reason :D.

I think you're wrong here Pengwuino. The drink gets sold to restaurants at that fractional price. That's already accounted for manufacture, advertising, branding, bottling, logistics etc. Even when the end retailer has paid for its vending equipment, staff and tax there's an awful lot of pure profit there.
Take a look round your average supermarket. In particular, compare branded goods with no-name goods. Can you account for the price difference?

I don't know where you're from and what products you'll be familiar with, but compare (say) a bottle of Fairy Liquid with a bottle of Asda washing up liquid. Shouldn't the Fairy be cheaper due to economies of scale?

Your supermarket will fleece you on bananas and brocolli so that it can be competitive on the goods which you are likely to know the value of (mobile phones, CDs, petrol, etc).

You are correct that with many products (and here I'm talking about cars, dishwashers, aeroplanes, just general big things) the difference between what it costs to make, and what is costs to buy may not be very large. But when you start thinking about Mars bars, you'll realise that the profit margins are absolutely gigantic.

The reason 75% (two thirds in the UK!) of businesses go belly up in the first year is largely due to poor management, which encompases a whole range of things. It has nothing to do with low profit margins.
 
  • #29
hitssquad
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selfAdjoint said:
The original name, Tragedy of the Commons, was introduced in a book of that name by Garret Harden (sp?).
Garrett Hardin.
 
  • #30
Pengwuino
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brewnog said:
The reason 75% (two thirds in the UK!) of businesses go belly up in the first year is largely due to poor management, which encompases a whole range of things. It has nothing to do with low profit margins.

Wanna bet? Im starting a computer business and if i chose to go retail store-front as opposed to in home, id be dead in the water. In my market, some people get as low as 1 sale a week. Considering my profit marget in 10% more hten what other shops in my city do, i can pretty much say they are making $200 profit per computer. Now... if you get a business going 1 a week, thats $1000 profit a month. Now business space around here... for a small lil shop to sell computers, that'll run you $2000-$5000 a month. Then of course you have staff that probably costs $3000 a month for basically 2 people on average at around 50 hours a week (and thats short business hours) so your costs are $5000-$8000 a week and some of these people are selling 1 a week. Say its an actual decent time and you get 1 every day. Thats about $7000 profit (oh and when i say profit, if ur fo llowing, thats not including rent or emplooyes or anything). So $7000 and then you gotta pay off the $5000-$8000 for rent and employees so you might very well go bankrupt. Then of course, theres annoying taxes, utilities, insurance, security... if you even survive, its not gonna be by much. But then again this is a simple case study that may not reflect upon other industries. And when it comes down to it... managing a business is not very difficult at all... but then again people seem to amaze me on a daily basis by how incompetant they are so who knows, maybe it is difficult for most people.
 
  • #31
Pengwuino
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brewnog said:
I don't know where you're from and what products you'll be familiar with, but compare (say) a bottle of Fairy Liquid with a bottle of Asda washing up liquid. Shouldn't the Fairy be cheaper due to economies of scale?

Your supermarket will fleece you on bananas and brocolli so that it can be competitive on the goods which you are likely to know the value of (mobile phones, CDs, petrol, etc).

And im from the US so ... i have no idea what the comparison will be lol. But if ya look at the super market example, again, bananas are a fairly unnoticable balance in your budget that dont get much attention. But if you do compare cars or televisions or spas or something, your talking about large-sticker items where people actually care to research and look at whats cheaper. Thats where capitalism actually has a big effect. No one cares if your bananas are $.50 instead of $.40, but you do care if your 52" tv is $5000 compared to $5500.
 
  • #32
brewnog
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But Pengwuino, this is all stuff you can consider before setting up a business. If you did choose to go "retail store-front" and went bust, that would be because of a poor management decision.

You'd be surprised at the level of ineptitude a good deal of people in management have! As an aside, the only really successful computer retailer around me buys in absolutely massive quantities, and can afford to price its competition out of the water.

Good luck anyway! :smile:
 
  • #33
russ_watters
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misskitty said:
Uh-huh. Where are most of these people from? Because I doubt if they have experienced anarchy they would still support it the way that they do.
What an "anarchist" considers "anarchy" doesn't fit the definition - it looks a lot more like communism.
 
  • #34
brewnog
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Pengwuino said:
And im from the US so ... i have no idea what the comparison will be lol. But if ya look at the super market example, again, bananas are a fairly unnoticable balance in your budget that dont get much attention. But if you do compare cars or televisions or spas or something, your talking about large-sticker items where people actually care to research and look at whats cheaper. Thats where capitalism actually has a big effect. No one cares if your bananas are $.50 instead of $.40, but you do care if your 52" tv is $5000 compared to $5500.

Haha, that's exactly what I was talking about. However, consider that your bananas might be $.50 instead of $.05, (rather than the $.50/$.40 you suggested) and then you can appreciate that the only reason people don't notice that they're being charged enormous amounts for their vegetables, is because they genuinely don't know what they cost, or what they're worth.
 
  • #35
Pengwuino
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I thought you meant management on a day to day scale. If you know your going into a market where all signs point to getting tossed around like a ragdoll.. then yes, that is rather poor management. But then again how many companies do we know that saw a crowded market place and went in guns blazing and ended up being multi-national corporations. The computer businesss had its fair share of companies all competing for the same thing but in teh end, the , as we know em now, big names were able to survive and turn into Dell or HP or Gateway. But then again they were all competing for a new market... my markets pretty much taken up... by those same jerks :D.

And yah... the successful american corporations buy in insane quantities. THey'll buy a million copies of windows XP at a time and just price other people out of the water. Problem is they leave themselves vulnerable in some areas that allow small businesses to come in and take away some of their market (what im doing :D).
 
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