Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News & Opinions #48 (The How’s It Feel to be Rich? 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…

I can’t believe we’re almost through five whole months of 2010 already!  For those of you that are interested, the Honeybee and I had a great time last weekend at the beach.  I had, without a doubt, one of the ten best meals of my life at a very fine restaurant.  What is most amazing is that the prices were extremely reasonable considering the high quality of the establishment and its cuisine.

If you live in the Southern California area and are looking for a fantabulous place to take your honey for dinner that is within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean, drop me a line at and I’ll tell you all about it.

Now, on to this week’s picks o’ the, er, week:

MonevatorTen Things I Don’t Want to Pay Tax for Anymore.  I tried writing on this topic once but I reluctantly had to scrap it because I figured nobody would want – nor have the time – to read “698,665 Things I Don’t Want to Pay Taxes for Anymore.”

Hope to Prosper - A Purpose for Wealth.  Bret makes a great observation that it is not enough to simply have wealth.  Wealth needs a purpose.  Why, you ask?  Well, as Bret notes, “The only thing worse than starting out poor is ending up poor.”

Couple Money - Fixing Money Leaks: ATM Fees.  Heh.  ATM fees?  When the Honeybee and I were just starting out, we considered ATM withdrawals a money leak.  Speaking of leaks, I’ll be right back…

Money Help for ChristiansHow to Pay Off a Mortgage Early.  Ah, that’s better.  Where was I?  Oh yes, Craig gives some great advice to those of you who are looking for ways to retire that mortgage.

JoeTaxpayer -  A Huge Money Mistake That NOBODY Caught.  That’s my own title.  I figured some folks might make the mistake of passing on this excellent read if I used its real title: “Money Merge Account Analysis, Part 34.”  That title is so boring I almost passed on it.  And are you kidding me, Joe?  Part 34??  (And you thought The Simpson’s was a long-running series.)

Enemy of DebtExtreme Circumstances Call for Extreme Measures.  A passionate post from the personal finance world’s latest comic book character.

Suburban Dollar - What is Your Investing Mindset? Kyle is seconding-guessing himself a bit.  No he’s not.  Yes he is.  No he’s… Oh never mind.

Balance JunkiePassive Investing and the Ostrich Effect.   I don’t think this post by 2 Cents will ruffle any feathers.  Okay, okay, I gnu that was a bit of ostrich.  Oh, stop grousin’.  I’m just having some fun.  Quit acting like someone put a heron your soup.  (I know.  I’ll stop now before I lose any more of you.)

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

From June 2009:

Tired of “Money?”  Here’s 101 Alternatives. – This was the 101st article I ever wrote.  So in honor of that off-beat milestone I decided to try and come up with 101 slang terms for money.  Well, I did it.  Since then some of my readers have come up with a few more of their own.  What’s really amazing is this has quietly become the eighth most popular post of all time here at Len Penzo dot Com.  Ironically, this was one of my “throw-away” posts; I never ever dreamed it would be so popular.

Credits and Debits

Debit: On Friday, Ben Smith reported in Politico that Hillary Clinton thought “rich” Americans were not paying their fair share of taxes.   Smith quoted Clinton as saying, “The rich are not paying their fair share in any nation that is facing the kind of employment issues [America currently does].”  Huh?

Credit: The problem with a provocative statement like that is Ms. Clinton didn’t bother to quantify “rich,” nor did she define what constitutes a “fair share.”   So before I go open-loop and pillory Hillary, let’s try a bit of deductive reasoning to see if we can’t figure out what she really meant.

Debit: According to the National Taxpayer’s Union the top one percent of American tax payers pay over 40 percent of all federal income taxes.  In 2007, that was those who had an adjusted gross income of slightly more than $400,000.  That level of contribution is obviously more than fair, so we can deduce that Hillary isn’t talking about the top one percent of earners.

Debit: The top ten percent of taxpayers pay over 71 percent of all federal income taxes.   In 2007, that was households with an adjusted gross income of slightly more than $113,000.  That sounds like those folks are paying their fair share too, so Hillary obviously can’t be talking about the top ten percent of earners.

Debit: The top 25 percent of taxpayers pay over 86 percent of all federal income taxes.   In 2007, that was households with an adjusted gross income of slightly under $67,000.  With 1 in 4 people paying almost 9 of every 10 tax dollars, Hillary isn’t arguing that the top 25 percent of people aren’t paying their fair share.  That would be ludicrous.

Debit: Let’s see… The bottom 50 percent of American taxpayers pay a minuscule two percent of all federal income taxes.  Now how fair is that?  In 2007, that was households with an adjusted gross income of less than $32,879.  Therefore, unless Hillary has a twisted sense of what constitutes “fair,” we can safely deduce that her definition of “rich” was obviously much less than originally thought.  In fact, it must be somewhere south of $32,879.  (Hey, the money to pay for all this Big Government nirvana has to come from somewhere.)

Credit: That news should add a few more patriots to the Tea Party mailing list!  Shouldn’t it?  Ah, I didn’t really think so either.

Credit: Finally, the Fort Myers News-Press reported earlier this month on a Florida man who was charged with fraud and grand theft after he allegedly confessed to depositing an altered $10 courtesy check he had received from his bank.  But unlike most ingenious forgers, instead of simply appending an extra zero or three to the check amount this guy got caught after he tried to deposit his freshly-altered check… for $269,951.   Heh.

By the Numbers

Numbers from this cool infographic about taxes at Pulse2…

400 The number of pages in the US tax code in 1913.

70,320 The number of pages in the US tax code today.

82 The percentage of early tax filers in the US who receive a refund.

$778,200,000 The potential tax revenue from marijuana production – um, assuming it was legalized.  In other news, the war on drugs cost $14 billion in 2009.

Letters, I Get Letters

No letters this week, but 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 10 referring blogs (excluding aggregators) whose visitors checked out the most pages per visit (minimum of 10 visits) every time they stopped by Len Penzo dot Com during the month of May…

1. Budgets are Sexy (5.18 pages per visit)
2. Money Relationship (4.73)
3. Balance in Me (4.12)
4. Financial Samurai (3.66)
5. Family Balance Sheet (3.38)
6. Fiscal Geek (3.36)
7. (tie) Money Funk (3.00)
7. (tie) Out of Your Rut (3.00)
7. (tie) Watson Inc. (3.00)
10. Oblivious Investor (2.62)

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to refer their readers to my little ol’ blog! :-)   By the way, the odds are, if their readers stuck around long enough to read multiple pages here, odds are that you’ll enjoy the referring blogs too – so go check them out!!!

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 Money Relationship

8 comments to Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News & Opinions #48 (The How’s It Feel to be Rich? Edition )

  • Hi Len,

    Just the opening I was looking for to post this:

    “A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it.”
    Alexis de Tocqueville



  • Thanks for the link Len. Given the debate we’re having over on that post (I just wrote a big reply instead of starting a new article – oops! ;) ) maybe I should host the 4 squintillion things you don’t want to pay taxes for as a guest blog! ;)

  • Thanks for mentioning my post Len. I didn’t mind your fowl language at all! ;)

  • On that statistic of 82% of early tax filers getting a refund, David Burnham wrote a book about the IRS in the late 80s, and one of the things he asserted was that people largely view the fairness of the tax code by whether or not they get refunds.

    So if the majority get refunds, they consider the system to be fair and in no need of reform (or else we might lose our refunds!). He said that this is a deception in the tax code, aided by periodic rebates, credits and other stimuli that sweeten the pot and extend refunds to even more people.

  • Thanks for the link Len. I’m enjoying your black coffee round ups: nice compilation :)

    • @Betty: Great point! A lot of people forget this is exactly why the two-thirds requirement exists in a lot of state legislatures to increase or impose taxes.
      @Balance: I realize toucan play this game, but with all condor, 2 Cents, that one was a real turkey. ;-)
      @Kevin: …and the deception seems to be working just fine (unfortunately).
      @Sam: That is certainly the Ivory soap definition (99% pure). That measuring stick would probably reduce the number of US millionaires by half though, don’t ya think?
      @Early: Very good, Jacob! That’s what makes the world go round. :-)
      @Shawn: Thank you, kind sir! ;-)

  • Len,

    Thanks for including the link to my article. I love the Black Coffee Roundup. I especially enjoyed Monevator’s post, since I found out about Quangos.

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