Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News & Opinions #35 (National Health Summit Edition)

It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joe…

Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week

Welcome to another rousing edition of Black Coffee, your off-beat weekly round-up of what’s been going on in the world of money and personal finance. Here’s what caught my attention over the past week…

Hey, I’ve been nominated for a Plutus Award.  WTF are the Plutus Awards?  I never heard of them before this year either, but apparently it is like the Oscars for personal finance bloggers.

Unfortunately, the only category where I would win in a landslide – Worst Personal Finance Blogger – is not on the ballot this year.

Instead, I am a finalist in the category of Most Humorous Personal Finance Blog.

Too bad the category wasn’t for the Most Humorous LOOKING Personal Finance Blogger, or I would have that one comfortably wrapped up too, but that’s what we have to work with this year folks.

In the mean time, I’ll try and get those other categories on the ballot for next year.

Although I hate to promote the competition, I do want to send my send a sincere and hearty congratulations to my fellow finalists: Budgets Are Sexy, Punch Debt In the Face, Punny Money and Weakonomics!  (I think I got those links correct.)

If you are so inclined, you can vote for your favorite bloggers in tons of categories over at the Plutus Awards voting page.  Go check it out!

Million Dollar Journey – We’ll start off today’s edition of Black Coffee with Million Dollar Journey, who I notice was nominated for a “Platus” Award in the Best Canadian Personal Finance Blog category.  First off, congratulations to my friends over at MDJ!  However, I have to mention the elephant in the room here: Talk about blatant trademark infringement!  To be quite frank with all of you, I find this total disrespect for international law appalling.  I don’t know who is running the “Platus” Awards, but they better be careful or else they just might end up getting a cease and desist letter from the lawyers representing the Plutus Awards.  That was a typo, Len – don’t be such an idiot. Being as idiot is my job here, folks.  To tell you the truth, I kind of like “Platus” better than “Plutus” anyway.  Platus reminds me of platypusses-es (or is it platypi?), and who doesn’t love egg-laying mammals?  I’ll take an action to talk to the event organizers and see what I can do about getting the name changed next year.

Balance In Me – At least Anastasiya doesn’t think I’m an idiot.  Nope.  In fact, she was kind enough to include two articles of mine in a post on balanced living in all aspects of your life entitled The Book of Wisdom – 101 Posts for the All-Around Balanced Life.

Debt Free Adventure – Over at Matt’s site,  Robert Espe asks about the value of our life energy.   You can find out precisely how much life energy you have left by checking out something called your “Death Clock,” an on-line calculator that asks a few questions and then calculates the precise day you are expected to die.  I’m not making this up, folks.  Robert Espe, ran his numbers and the death clock said he would die on June, 21st, 2050.  Cool!  So I went to the Death Clock site and entered my numbers.  Guess what?  It said I’m going to die tomorrow.  Maybe I should have been a vegetarian after all.

Financial Samurai – According to Sam, the luckiest people on earth are those who don’t make a lot of money because they can pursue their childhood dreams with reckless abandon.  While I disagree that those who make little money are the luckiest people on earth, I do agree they have the freedom to change jobs that many of us don’t have.

Five Cent Nickel – Ever wonder why your credit card number is so darn long?  I’ve always been a big proponent of short credit card numbers that are easy to remember – like 6.   Most cards today have 16 digits, which is bordering on the ridiculous, don’t you think?  Think about it – 16 digits permits ten quadrillion combinations.  Maybe that was necessary in the heady days leading up to the Great Recession when even the family dog had four or five credit cards, but surely not anymore.  If you’re curious like I am about this type of useless trivia, Nickel put together a short but sweet little post explaining the science behind your credit card number.

Monevator – Are you one of those people who are over-worked and underpaid?  Somebody told me once that you know you’re underpaid when you empty out your piggy bank and then cook it and serve it for the Easter ham.  Well, the Investor has put together a list of 10 solid tips that should go a long way towards helping you get more pay without having to resort to a change of employer.

The Consumerist – It’s time for another blatant attempt at currying favor with one of the largest money blogs out there.  Hopefully, they’ll return the favor and give me a little link love in return.  To see just how much juice and influence The Consumerist actually has, check out this very clever 52-word opinion piece on Tiger Woods getting fired from his job as a spokesman for Gatorade.  I’ve seen grocery store receipts with more words on it.  No matter; the post had received 29 comments, many longer than the original article.  In comparison, I average about seven comments for these 2500 word Black Coffee monstrosities.  Perhaps, Len, that means you just aren’t that interesting. Perhaps?  Perhaps? Don’t rub it in.

20s Money – Over at 20s money, Kevin’s Financial Plan Writing Contest is still going on.  You can find out more about the contest and take at look at some of the competition while you’re reading Jim’s 10-year financial plan.  You’ve got until March 15th to submit your plan for a chance to win $250.

The Simple Dollar – Hey, I just discovered this new kid on the block named Trent who started up a pretty good financial blog called The Simple Dollar!  This week he wrote this no-nonsense article on a guaranteed way to maximize your investment returns that I think you may be interested in.  You’ve got a good thing going there, kid.  If you stick with it, you just may end up being pretty popular one day.

The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts You May Have Missed

From May 2009:

Inflation: Your Four Best Defenses For Preserving Your Wealth -  This was part two of my popular inflation week series.  The most devastating effect of hyperinflation is the annihilation of wealth built up over long periods of time in saving and investment accounts.  This particular article focuses on how to best defend yourself against the pernicious effects of inflation and, especially, hyperinflation.

Credits and Debits

Credit: This week, in the United States, President Obama led a health care summit that he had hoped would lead to some kind of consensus on reforming health care.  Just how bad is the current state of the American health care system?  Well, if you listen to representative Louise Slaughter (D-New York), things are so bad that Americans are now resorting to wearing the dentures of their dead relatives.  Okay.  But does that really justify throwing the Constitution out the window and nationalizing one-sixth of the nation’s GDP?  Well, Rep. Slaughter also noted that by passing a bill promoting government-run health care, we will go a long way toward increasing exports, regaining our manufacturing dominance and restoring “our technological edge.”  Sounds too good to be true but, hey, I am admittedly wary of government involvement in anything.

Debit: Apparently, if the politicians are to be believed, that’s not all that national health care will do for us.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Obamacare: “It’s about jobs. In it’s life, it will create 4 million jobs — 400,000 jobs almost immediately.”  Hmmm.  If she is correct I can only assume that most of those jobs are unionized government bureaucracy jobs which, of course, will require either taxes or more deficit spending to cover their salaries and bloated guaranteed pensions.

Debit: I wonder if her figures also account for the lost insurance industry jobs from the private sector that will eventually occur as Obamacare tries to “starve the beast“?  Somehow I doubt it.

Credit: Then again maybe she just, um, “misspoke.”   Kind of like the time in 2009 when she said we’d continue to lose 500 million jobs per month if we didn’t pass the now-infamous $787 billion pork stimulus plan.

Debit: Perhaps I shouldn’t be quite so hard on Madam Speaker.  What really scares me is that Pelosi’s four million new (government) jobs estimate actually makes some sense.  Are you crazy, Len? Yes, crazy like a fox.  The United Kingdom has a population of roughly 60 million people.  Their national health care system is run by the National Health Service (NHS).  With over 1.4 million employees that bloated government bureaucracy is officially the fifth largest organization in the world behind such monstrous groups as the Chinese Red Army and Indian Railways.   The United States’ population is roughly five times Britain’s – so perhaps Pelosi’s four million new jobs estimate is actually too low.  I can see how it would take four or five million additional government workers to track and regulate our government health care system.  That is truly a scary thought.

Debit: Despite polls showing that 51% of Americans fear the government more than the private insurance industry to handle health care (while 39% fear the private insurers more), the current administration remains fixated on passing a government-run Obamacare bill before the 2010 elections effectively neuter Congress.   If we do move to government-run health care, could we ever really go back?  Could we put the genie back in the bottle?  And, once established, do you really expect over four million unionized government health service workers to vote for politicians that would ever vote to eliminate their jobs and guaranteed pensions?

Credit: How’s this for a challenge: Bollywood filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma has issued a $10,000 reward for anyone who can watch his latest supernatural thriller, alone, in a cinema until the closing credits.  Meanwhile Len Penzo dot Com is considering offering Mr. Varpa a similar reward if he can stomach watching this gruesome horror flick, alone, in its entirety.

Debit: Tell me again how this country went from a being a nation of separate states ruled by a Federal government with limited and clearly enumerated powers, to a nation that is now ruled by a strong central Federal government that increasingly has its hands in every aspect of our lives with each passing day?  What ever happened to the tenth amendment of the US Constitution?   Can somebody tell me where it says in the Constitution that the Federal government is responsible for health care?  Anyone?  Anyone?

By the Numbers:

Here are some excerpts from this excellent article at the website Hot Air regarding nationalized health care…

14 The percentage of all patients in Britain who wait more than one year to receive treatment after a referral by a general practitioner. Half of all National Health Care patients in Britain wait between 18 and 52 weeks for treatment.

60 Average cancer survival rate (all types) for patients in the United States. Canada’s survival rate is significantly lower at 55%, while Europe’s is a dismal 48%.

90 Number of days, on average, each Canadian patient must wait for an MRI under the Canadian government-run health care system.

750 The estimated number of people waiting in line (in the pouring rain) at Britain’s Bury Office attempting to register for dental care.

12,000,000 (12 million) The number of illegal immigrants who would qualify for free health care and — in all likelihood — additional health care rights for relatives under the Democrats’ universal health care plan, according to a reported statement by the office of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and spokespeople for the racial separatist group La Raza.

107,000,000,000,000 ($107 trillion) The estimated shortfall of the Medicare and Social Security programs, which are utterly and completely bankrupt; they can be legitimately called an “enormous version of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.”

Letters, I Get Letters

James wrote in this week to share a news report with me regarding the reason why Danny Williams, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, decided to undergo heart surgery in the U.S.  James summed up the news report by saying:

“Seems to me like he went (to the US for surgery) because: a) he could afford it, and; b) he has a nice condo in Sarasota to recover at after the surgery.  I get the impression he could have easily had this done within Canada free of charge, but chose to spend his own money and get the surgery done and combine it with a nice vacation.  I don’t think this really is an indictment of our health care system, maybe just an indictment of our weather.”

Don’t be so hard on the Canadian winters, James.  I have a trucker friend who told me he prefers Canadian winters because at least all the potholes there are filled with snow.

If you have a question you’d like to ask, or a comment you’d like to make regarding some of my irritating opinions, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at:

I’ll feature the most interesting question or comment I get each week here on Black Coffee – assuming I get one, that is.

If you’re lucky enough to be the only question in the mail bag I’ll highlight your letter, whether it’s interesting or not. ;-)

Other Useless News

Here are the Top 5 referring blogs (excluding aggregators) to Len Penzo dot Com so far during the month of February…

1. Frugal Dad
2. Get Rich Slowly
3. Wisebread
4. Balance In Me
5. Budgets Are Sexy

I really appreciate the links, folks! :-)

Here’s another interesting tidbit I wanted to share with you.  Among the top 25 referring blogs that linked to Len Penzo dot Com in February, here are the Top 5 in terms of “stickiness.”  That is, people coming from these blogs tend to view more pages – which usually means they tend to visit for a longer period of time.

1. The Consumerist
2. Financial Samurai
3. No Credit Needed
4. Darwin’s Finance
(tie) 5. Ask Mr. Credit Card
(tie) 5. Monevator

I assume the “stickiness” should apply in reverse case, as well, so if you haven’t checked out those blogs, I strongly suggest you do so!

As a reminder, if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading – or not – please feel free to follow me on Twitter. And don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! :-)

Carnival News

This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:

- The Carnival of Personal Finance at Budgets Are Sexy  (Editor’s Pick – Hooray!)

10 comments to Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News & Opinions #35 (National Health Summit Edition)

  • carole

    Been reading your blog for a few weeks now, and since you seem desperate for comments, just thought you’d like to know that I think your articles are pretty damn funny.

  • No one has yet explained why the federal government, or a state or municipal government for that matter, needs to be involved in something as inherently personal as a health decision.

    Government’s job is to, for instance, build roads – something it’s impractical if not impossible for an individual (or group of freely associating individuals) to do. Same deal with national defense, and very few other things.

    But health care? What’s more personal than one’s own body and its maintenance? How can the community as a whole – or the nation at large – have a greater interest in my health care than I do? Or ANY interest beyond mine, for that matter? And how can a self-respecting citizen willingly let bureaucrats intervene in his health care decisions?

    To quote Premier Williams, “It’s my health. It’s my choice.” I’m sure it wasn’t his intent, but that makes a pithy motto for anyone who doesn’t think socialized medicine will solve America’s perceived health care crisis.

    I have a few questions for Congresswoman Slaughter, in the unlikely event she’s reading something as challenging as this blog. Sure, every representative has a story about an unfortunate constituent. How much does the denture lady spend on cigarettes and alcohol? How about lottery tickets? Has she saved a nickel in her life, or spent every dollar she’s ever earned?

    And why is it insensitive to ask these questions?
    In my 20s, I slept in a truck more times than I care to remember. It could have made a great story for a grandstanding politician: “Healthy young man with a college degree rendered homeless by an unforgiving economy, reduced to scraping together change, amassing credit card debt and eating at 7-Elevens.” But I wasn’t a statistic, not a problem in need of fixing. I was just experiencing a temporary setback en route to ultimately getting by. Maybe I could have worn my dead brother’s eyeglasses to make myself sound even more pathetic, but it wouldn’t have served any purpose.

    Sure, patients die by the score under the U.K.’s National Health Service, and Canadians can wait months for surgery for no better reason than there’s an inevitable shortage of care thanks to artificially low prices. But socialism works. We just have to give it a chance (and ignore every real-world example we see.)

    (26 comments to go.)

    • You make some great points, Greg. I think you perfectly accentuate the point I was trying to make that those of us here in America really need to reevaluate precisely what we want our federal government to be responsible for. If you look at the US Constitution, the government is clearly responsible for providing for the defense of the nation. The bloated role of the US Government has been greatly aided and abetted by the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 and its ability to create money out of thin air.

  • Bob

    Great site, Len. I just discovered it about a week ago. Like the breadth of information you include here.

    And I agree with you on the bloatational device the federal government has become (state governments, too). Unfortunately, I meet a lot of people who don’t seem to feel that each individual/family should provide for their own needs; instead, they feel it’s the government’s job to provide for citizens. Don’t know how that view became so pervasive.

    Anyway — keep up the good work. Really enjoying what I’ve been reading here.

  • Those who don’t make a lot of money is different from writing those who make little money Len! I’m talking about average non-golden handcuff money.

    Thanks for the highlight!

    Best, Sam
    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..An Opportunity To Speak With Consumerism Commentary =-.

    • @Bob: I am glad you enjoy the site! I think we have had it so good for so long that this country has simply forgotten that the US was built on self-reliance and industriousness.
      @Sam: Touche, my friend! :-)

  • Eh, I need to refer more people to you over here. :) Congrats on the humorous nomination! I am supposed to bequeath the prize money to someone from this category! :)
    .-= Digerati Deals´s last blog ..High Yield CD & Online Savings Products From Sallie Mae =-.

  • Force Factor

    The federal government ought to start doing the proper thing. A fantastic beginning can be taking their noses from the health care trade. They could not even cope with the work load they have. How are they likely to make this any more effective?

  • Hi, I need to say thanks to you these autor using the online business. The majority of is obvious and also usable. The form can even be striking for my situation. Might you make sure to phon me and my friends is there a web theme on earth would you benefit from? say thank you as soon as and keep on the operate.

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