I’ve no answer

Harry Drabik

In the community and real estate I talk with a fair number of people, more now that I’ve stepped into taking public positions for equitable but restrained government. I used to think buying real estate prompted mild delusion in otherwise rational folk. I mean, I could be fairly sure a couple each with a professional or business career would understand market and value a little better than to set their sights on what I’ve come to call “the quaint little lake cabin with little maintenance and lots of privacy” for half the cost of the too-expensive places they see advertised.
Is it human nature that can put a personal dream at such a leap from reality? I want to tell them, Dear People, if we had wonderful lake cabins at the price you want, don’t you think they’d all be sold by now because those prices were only good in 1950? It’s like looking at a new vehicle with a sticker of $35,000 and saying you want to pay $15,000. If they got it at that price, they’d be thrilled until discovering that for that price a car comes without engine and drive train and two tires. How popular will an agent or salesperson be if the first thing they do is burst the dream bubble? Where do you start working with someone who might be brilliant at medicine but amounts to a gangly seventh grader when it comes to cabin and lake shore savvy? I’ve never figured that out.
I don’t understand, either, why perfectly sane people with otherwise sound judgment will pay twice the value of a diseased property because it is priced low. These are the people who buy the half a car the couple above “stole” for $15,000 and have now sold for $16,000 (losing only $1,000 in towing and taxes, etc.). There is value in half a car, but the value depends on what half you have. If the car is sliced into two parts and one is missing, it has a lot less value than an intact car minus half its parts. Will you need two weeks or two years to put it together? Will it cost $2,000 or $20,000 to complete it?
A funny thing is that people will describe losing propositions in the most glowing and generous terms, as if barely surviving disaster in a money-sucking pit were a desired goal in life. The story of how they defeated the river running through the basement is an engineering feat and monetary quagmire. Did they want to make their lives more complicated and impoverished? Would you or I look with satisfaction, saying now the basement gets wet “only a little if it rains hard”? Big or little, a swamp downstairs is not a good thing unless you like frogs a lot, which I do, though I much prefer them outdoors to in. Along with other forms of wildlife, life in the great outdoors is where I want to see them.
You (as I do) may have a friend you much admire and don’t wish to criticize, but you know they are making smoke aplenty with certain tales of efficient problem-solving that have all the solid truth of people who claim they’re always coming out ahead at a casino. Does probability suspend for some? I doubt it. If this were so, then casinos (which know the odds very well) would not be able to survive long without at-the-door DNA testing to cull out the genetic odds-busting anomalies. If you want my slant (not that I’m giving you a choice), talking logic to folks wedded to fanciful reality is a losing battle. They don’t seem to get it when you say, “So if I give you $1,000 to gamble, you guarantee you’ll bring me back $2,000?”
If you ask people for their honest opinions, you’ll sometimes get far more than you ever expected. I, for one, had NO idea there were so many dark and devious conspiracies in the nation and on the planet. I can agree there are surely things government or businesses or our mates do not tell us, but I am going to bet some of what they don’t tell is not said because it never happened or does not exist, so how could they? A person can make a fine argument or case on paper for which there is precious little basis on the ground.
I suspect we people are this way because we want answers and certainties that suit our personal needs. A Pollyanna looks at things differently than does someone suspicious. We get optimism from the optimistic and paranoia from the paranoid. There seems to be a lot more of that than of people who follow factual trails, double checking and backtracking to confirm. It is easier and more attention-getting to paint broad, attention-getting assertions than to do the slow legwork or investigation. My father took a dim view of people who said something couldn’t be done, because when he was very young wise people said the human body could not withstand speeds over 60 miles an hour. Dad was pretty rough on that bunch of dummies for not having more faith and gumption about what people could do. On the other hand, Dad was pretty sure that computers were a fad and that certain types of people didn’t measure up. A person can be progressive up to a point and quite socially regressive all at the same time. Humanity is very good at contradiction.
Some weeks ago I was talking with an old friend who brought up a favored environmental topic. This friend has expounded on this before, so I know the timing needed. When the crescendo begins to fall off, I know I can insert the ender question. “So when are you throwing away your cell phone and stopping driving to help save the planet from environmental ruin?” My friend won’t talk to me for a month or so. I’m OK with that and hope my friend is, too.