Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News & Opinions #44 (My Official Boycott List 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…

Man, I tell ya, I was so fired up over this Arizona illegal immigration law brouhaha I almost boycotted my own blog this week.  More on the boycotts in just a bit but first let me highlight some of my favorite posts.

Consumerism Commentary – It’s bad enough that men spend five months of their lives shaving.  But for many guys, the financial cost of shaving can be an even worse curse, which leads me to this riddle: What do ink jet printers and multiple-blade razors have in common?  While you are pondering that thought, be sure to check out Flexo’s post on how to get a cheaper and better shave.   Don’t worry if you can’t figure out the answer, because Flexo’s got it.

The Onion – By the way, speaking of razors, when you’re done reading that check out this Pattonesque commentary from the visionary “CEO” of Gillette announcing his intention in 2004 to invent what would become the five-blade Fusion razor – which I use daily.  (Caution: The extremely, um, colorful language peppered throughout his announcement may be offensive to some of you.)

Money Funk - Is private school worth your money?  In this guest post from Simple In France‘s Trish she ponders the pros and cons.  I think private grade school is a colossal waste of money.  I mean, come on people.  Let’s face it, we’re talking the basics here – the kids are not learning rocket science or brain surgery.  Think about it.  Paying tuitions of up to ten thousand dollars a year (or perhaps more) just so your kid can learn all about adverbs and arithmetic?  That’s really crazy if you ask me.

PF Firewall -  What has 100 legs and one tooth?  Answer: The front row at a Willie Nelson concert.  Heh.  Speaking of bad teeth, Jesse just had a dentist check-up and the diagnosis wasn’t pretty.  You know you’ve got problems when the dentist looks in your mouth, like he did when he was checking Jesse, and says “Whoa!”  I’ll let Jesse tell you the rest of the story, along with some tips on how you can save money at the dentist.

Rabbit Funds - Adam put together an article entitled 6 More Ways to Stop Overspending that included a recommendation from yours truly.  My recommendation: duct tape.  You think I’m joking?  I’m not going to expound on how that works here.  Just be sure to check out Adam’s post for why that is so – not to mention five other helpful ideas that I guarantee will be even more helpful than my off-beat suggestion.

Enemy of Debt – Brad, who is my fellow champion of personal responsibility, had a great post today asking if taking advice from experts somehow absolves us from being responsible for any ensuing negative outcomes.   Of course, my answer to that is a resounding no.   As I get older I have learned that the majority of so-called experts in anything are actually complete idiots.  Really.  (And yes, this personal finance blogger does see the delicious irony that occurs by making such a statement.)

The Digerati Life - One area of personal finance that demands personal responsibility is the world of credit cards.  To help keep you on the straight and narrow, the Silicon Valley Blogger shares a five big tips for easily managing your plastic.

Monevator – My favorite Brit in the whole world (well, right behind my Aunt Doris and Catherine Zeta Jones) is the Investor, God bless him.  When it comes to the world of finance, he is typically very bullish on the United States of America, which is more than I can say for myself lately.  It’s pretty bad when I need to look to somebody from across the pond for reassurance that everything is going to be just fine.  For example, the Investor recently opined that it is wrong to assume that the fiscally undisciplined U.S. is headed for the same financial mess that Greece currently finds itself in because (among other reasons) the US can print money.  Agreed.  But that only brings a whole other set of problems – like a greatly reduced standard of living for everybody living here.  What is most frustrating to me is that most Americans really are ignorant as to what a reduced standard of living is going to mean for all of us.  I suspect they won’t like it much when it finally hits, but by then it will be too late to undo the damage.

Money Crush – In another guest post my friend, Mr. Credit Card, gives some invaluable career advice to those of you looking to ditch your job working for “the man” in favor of something you can do at home with little or no effort at all  – and get fabulously wealthy to boot – like blogging!  And if you don’t believe me, just ask billionaire personal finance blogger Miranda Marquit who is most likely sipping a mai tai right now while vacationing on her own private island.  (That would be Jamaica.)

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

From June 2009:

The Top 5 Worst Jobs for Teenagers -  Every June, the National Consumers League (NCL) selects their Five Worst Teen Jobs that teenagers are advised to avoid at all possible costs, basing its rankings on government statistics, reports from state labor officials and news accounts of injuries and deaths.  This post highlights their latest selections.  Of course, I couldn’t help but add a few “bonus jobs” of my own to the list.  ;-)

Credits and Debits

Credit: Arizona passed a new immigration law that makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally, a law that 60 percent of Americans support on a national basis according to a recent Rasmussen poll. The complete text of the Arizona law can be downloaded here.   A quick reading of section 2, paragraphs A and B should be more than enough to dispel the hysteria and hyperbole coming from those who haven’t read the law.

Debit: Meanwhile, activists and supporters of illegal immigration have decided to try and inflict economic pain on all things Arizona as punishment for trying to regain control of its porous southern border.  City councilmen from San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities such as New York City, St. Paul and Washington are now all calling for boycotts on the Grand Canyon State.  From their statements it’s pretty obvious that they didn’t read the law.

Debit: Not to be outdone, Congressman Jose Serrano (D-New York) is calling for Major League Baseball to move the 2011 All-Star Game from Phoenix, Arizona.  Said Serrano:  “I think Major League Baseball, with 40 percent Latino ballplayers at all levels, should make a statement that it will not hold its All-Star Game in a state that discriminates against 40 percent of their people.”  Apparently Serrano hasn’t read the law either.  Does anybody know what team this Serrano guy actually plays for?   As a Congressman you would think he plays for the home team, but his actions suggest he proudly sits in the visitors’ dugout.  Talk about screwballs.

Credit: Some misguided illegal immigration supporters have also decided to boycott Arizona Iced Tea – never mind that it is brewed in New York.  I guess they didn’t read the law either.

Credit: Enough!  Today I’ve decided I’m going to start fighting fire with fire.  Today I’m starting my own crusade to impose an economic boycott of those cities and the businesses of individuals who support illegal immigration and are against America trying to protect its national sovereignty.  That means you Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, St.Paul, and Washington, D.C.

Credit: I promise to boycott any radio station that dares to play any songs by Shakira or Linda Ronstadt.  (But to be honest, I guess I have had a de facto boycott in place for those two space cadets long before they professed their support for the rights of illegal aliens over those of legal American citizens.)

Credit: I am also boycotting the illegal immigration supporters at Boycott-Arizona.com and any lawyers who belong to the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Credit: Furthermore,  I vow to go out of my way to support the following businesses with Arizona-based headquarters: University of Phoenix, the Arizona Diamondbacks (as long as they are not playing the Dodgers, that is), Best Western International, Inc., Cold Stone Creamery, CSK Auto (Checker Auto Parts, Schucks Auto Supply, Kragen Auto Parts, Murray’s Discount Auto Stores), Dial Corporation, Discount Tire Company (America’s Tire Company), Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, Go Daddy, Mesa Air Group (Mesa Airlines, Go!, Freedom Airlines), P. F. Chang’s China Bistro, PetSmart, Sky Mall, Taser International, U-Haul, and US Airways.

Credit: Finally, even though it is made in New York I also plan to drink lots of Arizona Iced Tea this weekend and watch Raising Arizona.  Twice.

Credit: Oh, and I think this summer I’ll finally take that trip to the Grand Canyon that I’ve been talking about for the past six years.

By the Numbers

Illegal immigration facts and figures:

11,800,000 The illegal immigration population in America as of October 2008.

$50,000,000 The amount of money per month illegal aliens in Los Angeles County currently collect in food stamps and welfare.

29% The percentage of the US prison population that is illegal aliens.

$1,600,000,000 The annual cost of incarcerating those illegal aliens.

Letters, I Get Letters

This week’s letter comes from Henry:

“I notice you haven’t got a letter in two weeks so I just wanted to see if you would print this one (assuming you don’t get any others. ha ha).”

Yes.  Ha ha!  That was a truly lame letter, Henry.  But I am a man of my word, so there you go – you are my featured writing ar- teest o’ the week!  (Next time, at least make it interesting and call me a name or something.)

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: Len@LenPenzo.com

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

As Henry so aptly demonstrated this week, 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

It is now time for me to give props to the Top 10 Referring Blogs (excluding aggregators) to Len Penzo dot Com for the entire month of April.

1. The Consumerist
2. Time Magazine: It’s Your Money
3. Frugal Dad
4. Wisebread
5. MSN: Smart Spending
6. Punch Debt in the Face
7. Political Calculations
8. Canadian Finance Blog
9. Fiscal Geek
10. (tie) Monevator
10. (tie) Financial Samurai

Thank you to everybody who has referred their readers to my site over the past month!

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:

- Carnival of Personal Finance at Studenomics

That’s all I’ve got.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to P.F.C Chang’s.  I’m going to have some lettuce wraps and down a few Arizona Iced Teas while watching the Diamondbacks on the big screen.   Then I’m off to Cold Stone Creamery for a little ice cream.

18 comments to Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News & Opinions #44 (My Official Boycott List Edition)

  • Len, I have to tell you I sure love how creatively you put everything together, you sure are a spirited one.

    Bravo :)

    Thanks for including me in your rounded as well, have a good weekend!
    .-= Jesse´s last blog ..Linkworthy: Simplicity, Ignorance, and Stay at home Moms =-.

  • I agree with Jesse, love these roundups. Been getting a lot of reading done recently managed to read many of the posts you featured.
    .-= Forest´s last blog ..Condom Soccer Balls, Not Just For Hard Times =-.

  • ….. Just went and read that article from the Onion… I am in pain from laughing :)
    .-= Forest´s last blog ..Condom Soccer Balls, Not Just For Hard Times =-.

  • When Shakira stated “that I am pretty much undocumented” is absolutely ridiculous. She came to our country with documents. When entering into the United States legitimately you must show your passport, which Shakira certainly did. By challenging Arpaio to come and get her because she left her passport at her 5 star hotel clearly indicates Shakira does not understand the Arizona Senate Bill 1070. By Shakria not carrying her passport or identification does not mean she will be arrested. One must engage in illegal activity to be arrested and asked for identification, which most likely Shakira will not be engaging in illegal activity. For someone to rally other individuals without fully understanding the SB 1070 is irresponsible. People (including Shakira) need to take the time to fully understand the law before grand standing to an audience who expects her to be informed. Shakira should respect the United State’s freedom of speech and should be fully educated on the law before leading an emotional charged crowd. This law is not new, it is enforcing what is already in place by the Federal Government. It is a Federal crime to be an illegal alien thus the term “illegal alien.” Crime has become an increasing problem in Arizona. The law is designed to punish criminals for being criminals not for being illegal immigrants. Which all members of our community should embrace. If the Federal Government would take illegal immigration seriously there could be alternatives for this law. But the Federal Government ignored Arizona’s immigration problem and decided they could not rely on the Federal Government for help. Arizona’s actions are directed against the members of the immigrant community that are criminals. Anyone, citizen or non-citizen, should agree that the increased violence around our boarders needs to be addressed. Immigrants and citizens need to work together to reduce crime. Shame on you Shakria for further inflaming a passionate subject that should be addressed rationally. Shame on you everyone else for not educating yourself on the SB 1070. For those of you that want to be educated you can read the full law here

  • Happy to provide a pep talk for you guys (Financial Samurai claims I want to be American…!) and they do say they grass is always greener. Particularly if you’re a sheep with mobility issues, I bet.

    To be clear, I don’t think the US can be complacent about the size of its deficit, nor the increasing burden of taxes on the private sector. Same situation here in the UK. I want smaller Government, and more entrepreneurship, and more personal responsibility, too.

    But both economies are infinitely stronger than the Greek situation, where 1/3 of the economy doesn’t even show up in the tax system, where jobs for life mean state employees simply stop showing up for work for the Government and get a second job – and get paid for both! – etc etc.

    Also, devaluation is bad in the long run, but good in the short term as it’s making your exporters (like Apple, whose latest MacBook Pro I am typing on) much more competitive.

    Indeed, half the US wants China to revaluate the Yuan upwards, for this reason. By definition that devalues the dollar. Swings and roundabouts.

    Cheers for hitting me up, and honoured to be your favourite Brit.

    Unless you come within 500 yards of my house. At that point I’ll take out a restraining order.

    • “Cheers for hitting me up, and honoured to be your favourite Brit. Unless you come within 500 yards of my house. At that point I’ll take out a restraining order.”

      (sigh) What is it with the British and restraining orders? That’s exactly what Catherine Zeta Jones told me. LOL

      On another note, Investor, we both know devaluation is *always* happening to some degree with fiat currencies – well almost. In reference to devaluation being good in the short run, I guess that begs the question how long is acceptable? The current administration’s budget plan is showing God-awful deficit spending like the US has never seen over the next decade.

      • True, but as Buffett said yesterday he’s seen 95% devaluation in his lifetime and it didn’t do him any harm.

        A benefit of devaluation is that it encourages people to put money to productive use.

        Otherwise financial rocks like you and I could sit around on our 2% savings all day and no money would go into risky wealth building enterprise.

        Anyway, I agree with you on the whole. Just presenting the other side for fun.

        Stay away from my house. I mean it!

        ( ;) )
        .-= Monevator´s last blog ..Weekend reading: Opportunity knocks =-.

        • Regarding Buffett’s comment: It helps when your net worth is 10 figures! :-) For those of us with net worths in the five, six and even seven figure ranges it gets a bit more tenuous, don’t you think?

  • Uh, Len? Linda Ronstadt was born in Tucson, AZ.

    Whether or not you agree with immigration policy, you should be against the new law passed because it amounts to unreasonable search and seizure. You know, fourth amendment?

    It essentially means that anyone who looks Hispanic is going to have constant requests by the police for papers. It amounts to being pulled over for DWB (driving while black) in a nice neighborhood.

    I’m against the law because it’s overly vague and impinges on the fourth amendment. It essentially amounts to unlawful search and seizure.

    As for those numbers you pull out… I’d really love to see some actual, ya know, citations. There are references to reports but not who made the reports, etc.

    You know what they say, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Here’s an article that can point to most claims about illegal alien welfare being a myth: http://blogs.chron.com/immigration/archives/2008/01/post_80.html

    I just would really love to see more assertions (on both sides) backed by… oh what’s that word…. EVIDENCE.
    .-= Abigail´s last blog ..Want three gift cards a month? =-.

    • I was wondering if you were going to chime in, Abigail! :-)

      It doesn’t matter to me if Linda was from Timbuktu! It is irrelevant. :-)

      You make quite a leap in interpreting the text of the law to permit cops having the ability to pull people over for any reason (like driving while Black, hispanic, gay, or purple), don’t you think?

      Cops that pull such a thing would be in clear violation of the law.

      Can you point out which part of the law leads you to believe it will amount to “unreasonable” search and seizure? Or that anyone who looks Hispanic is going to have constant requests by police “for papers?” I love the “for papers” line that opponents keep using! :-) Is that trying to tie this law to something straight out of Nazi Germany? I think most people see right through that tired rhetoric. The opponents use the term “papers” but in reality the law asks for people to show their drivers license or state identification card – or a green card, which the holder is required to carry at all times anyway by Federal law.

      The law uses the word “reasonable” twice in the first two paragraphs – not “unreasonable.” Even so it was modified this weekend to appease those who have been making the same claims you have been making to ensure that any request for verification of citizenship be made only in the course of an actual law enforcement stop. Do you still object?

      I really would like to somebody from the opposition to cite the passage in the law that validates the hysterical claims they continue to make and tell me why. The law is only 18 pages long and can be read in about 10 minutes.

      Here are the first few paragraphs of the law: (I don’t mean to shout here, but I’m cutting and pasting and I’m too lazy to fix it…. LOL)

      NO OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR
      OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE MAY LIMIT OR RESTRICT THE
      ENFORCEMENT OF FEDERAL IMMIGRATION LAWS TO LESS THAN THE FULL EXTENT
      PERMITTED BY FEDERAL LAW.

      B. FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR A LAW
      ENFORCEMENT AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR A LAW
      ENFORCEMENT AGENCY OF A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF
      THIS STATE WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO
      IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES, A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE
      MADE, WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON,
      EXCEPT IF THE DETERMINATION MAY HINDER OR OBSTRUCT AN INVESTIGATION. ANY
      PERSON WHO IS ARRESTED SHALL HAVE THE PERSON’S IMMIGRATION STATUS DETERMINED
      BEFORE THE PERSON IS RELEASED. THE PERSON’S IMMIGRATION STATUS SHALL BE
      VERIFIED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PURSUANT TO 8 UNITED STATES CODE SECTION
      1373(c). A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY,
      CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE MAY NOT SOLELY
      CONSIDER RACE, COLOR OR NATIONAL ORIGIN IN IMPLEMENTING THE REQUIREMENTS OF
      THIS SUBSECTION EXCEPT TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY THE UNITED STATES OR
      ARIZONA CONSTITUTION. A PERSON IS PRESUMED TO NOT BE AN ALIEN WHO IS
      UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES IF THE PERSON PROVIDES TO THE LAW
      ENFORCEMENT OFFICER OR AGENCY ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

      1. A VALID ARIZONA DRIVER LICENSE.
      2. A VALID ARIZONA NONOPERATING IDENTIFICATION LICENSE.
      3. A VALID TRIBAL ENROLLMENT CARD OR OTHER FORM OF TRIBAL
      IDENTIFICATION.
      4. IF THE ENTITY REQUIRES PROOF OF LEGAL PRESENCE IN THE UNITED STATES
      BEFORE ISSUANCE, ANY VALID UNITED STATES FEDERAL, STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT
      ISSUED IDENTIFICATION

      That seems pretty reasonable to me. A cop catches you breaking the law, or stops you under reasonable suspicion – and he asks to see a drivers license, id card, or green card.

      If not, I guess this begs the question, why aren’t my civil rights also being violated when I get pulled over for having a broken tail light or run a stop sign and a law enforcement officer asks me to show my drivers license (aka my papers)?

      On stats: Of course I know statistics can be manipulated. One only needs to look at the claims from the Obamacare supporters concerning the the law’s costs to see how badly numbers can be manipulated. ;-) As for my sources, the last two for example were from the Los Angeles Examiner. What more do you want from me? I don’t get paid enough to double check the reporter’s stats and verify his sources; I leave it up to my readers to make up their own minds. I find those numbers to be hardly unreasonable.

      As for the link you provided, check out the comments below the article. Very interesting.

  • I so wanted to partake in your and Monevator’s debate on his site, but I swear, his comments were closed! Oh well… I’m blind, and un tech savvy so I donno. :)
    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..The Dark Side Of Early Retirement =-.

  • “Credit: Some misguided illegal immigration supporters have also decided to boycott Arizona Iced Tea – never mind that it is brewed in New York. I guess they didn’t read the law either.”

    Great! It doesn’t get better than that!
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..Arizona SEO Experts Against Racism =-.

  • I don’t know why I hadn’t seen this list yet. Thanks for the include!

  • I have heard a lot more people discussing that the law is Unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause. The Supremacy Clause forbids state and local laws that contradict federal laws in matters exactly where the federal government has authority to act.
    Once again it only applies in situations exactly where the law contradicts the current law. Arizona’s law requires that State/Local authorities hand over suspect illegals to the proper federal authorities. Maybe you’ve forgetten (since we haven’t enforced these laws) but it is still a crime to enter our country illegally.
    But as long as we are talking about Constitutionality let’s talk about the Commerce Clause in the Constitution (Article I, Section 8). This clause prohibits states and localities from passing laws that burden interstate or foreign commerce by, among other things, creating “discriminations favorable or adverse to commerce with particular foreign nations.”
    Boycotting Arizona is UNCONSTITUTIONAL so knock it off already. Also to the Arizona government, how about we step up and actually file suit against these cities?

    • In my best DeNiro imitation: “Are you talkin’ to me? Are you talkin’ TO ME???” You do realize I’m on your side, sir? Just to be clear, please reread my Debits and Credits section and you’ll see I’m boycotting the boycotters.

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