It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joe…
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…
According to that paragon of truth, Wikipedia, there are three prevalent types of American clowns:
- The Hobo - Migratory and finds work where he travels. Down on his luck but maintains a positive attitude.
- The Tramp - Migratory and does not work where he travels. Down on his luck and depressed about his situation.
- The Bum – Non-migratory and non-working.
Unfortunately for Wikipedia, they got this one wrong. Everybody knows there are actually four types of American clowns – not three. They forgot:
- The Washington Politician - Pro illegal-immigrant. Non-working and out of touch with the real world. Believes that government is the answer for everything because you’re too dumb to make your own decisions in life.
Yet more proof that you can’t believe everything you read in Wikipedia, people. We’ll hear more from these clowns a bit later in the Credits and Debits…
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Frugal Dad – Beyond the Emergency Fund: The Frugal Pantry Project. Anyone who has seen “The Road” will want to carefully follow Dad’s advice on this one.
Faithful With a Few – Wyclef Jean for President – Publicity Hound or Political Inspiration? President of Haiti, that is. Khaleef points out that Sean Penn has spoken out against the singer as being a puppet of big corporations. When Sean Penn speaks I sit up and take notice; I’m officially endorsing Wyclef Jean for president of Haiti.
Canadian Finance Blog – How Do I Keep Children Entertained on a Budget? Two words: cough syrup.
Man vs. Debt – Screw Robin Hood: New Study Claims Credit Card Rewards Take From the Poor and Give to the Rich. The curious demonization of credit cards continues. The study Baker references makes specious assumptions to come to a very dubious conclusion. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you are financially responsible and pay off the balance every month, there is nothing to fear from credit cards. Nothing. Credit cards provide convenience, rewards and valuable services for consumers that cash simply can’t match.
Credit Card Chaser – Why the “Reverse Robin Hood” Study Is a Load of Crock. Never mind that Joel perfectly exposes the reasons why the Reverse Robin Hood study is fatally flawed; I want to focus for just a second on the title of his article. Don’t you just love the term “Load of crock?” I know I do. Has anybody actually ever seen a load of crock? Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral? Beats me. Anyway, that fun phrase is a quasi-malapropism – a hybrid of “load of bull” and “crock of $hit” – that, some have noticed, seems to be gaining more and more popularity over time.
Wisebread – 5 Ways to Live Like a Celebrity on a Budget. Unfortunately, this article comes a bit too late for Stephen Baldwin, Sinbad and Ed McMahon. I guess in Ed’s case, it’s too late in more ways than one. (I know. That was bad.)
Green Panda Tree House - I Got My First Paycheck. Now What? What do you mean, “Now what?” The drinks are on you!
…And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
Bible Money Matters – Will You Pay for Your Kids to Go to College?
Consumerism Commentary – Paid Insufficient, My Old Friend.
JoeTaxpayer – Bad Paper, and Lots of It.
Money Help for Christians – 20 Reasons to Start A Budget. (Including a brief special guest appearance from yours truly.)
The Digerati Life – Where Are All the High Paying Jobs?
Car Insurance Comparison - Car Insurance Reform.
Saving Money Today – Does Anyone Know These Activities are Illegal?
The Millionaire Nurse Blog – Good Debt vs. Bad Debt: Revisited!
Frugal Zeitgeist - How to Simplify Your Life.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From July 2009:
The Approximate Energy Costs of Your Home Appliances – What costs more to run, your personal computer or a window fan on medium speed? To help you find out the answer – and do your own comparisons – I put together a couple of simple handy dandy spreadsheets that approximate the hourly and monthly energy consumption of lots of common household appliances and electronics.
Credits and Debits
Debit: President Obama this week at a recent fund raising event: In fact, I’ve been traveling around the country trying to use an analogy here, and it’s as if (the Republicans) took the car, drove it into the ditch…so we put our boots on, we walked down into the ditch, into the mud. And finally we get this car up on level ground. Finally we get it back on the road. And these guys turn to us and say, ‘Give us the keys back.’ Well, no, you can’t have the keys back because you don’t know how to drive. If you have a car and you want to go forward, what do you do? You put it in ‘D.’ When you want to go backwards, what do you do? You put it in ‘R.’ I’m just saying — that’s no coincidence. We are not going to give them the keys back… Live, from New York, it’s Saturday Night!
Debit: While the president was yucking it up on Monday, it was announced that in July, the US government spent more money than it collected. Again. The $165 billion was the second biggest monthly deficit ever recorded. It was also the 22nd consecutive month expenditures eclipsed revenues. What you takin’ bout Willis?
Debit: Meanwhile, it was announced on Thursday that lenders repossessed almost 100,000 homes last month, up 9 percent from June and an increase of 6 percent from July 2009.
Debit: If you think that’s funny, you’ll love this: the Labor Department announced the official unemployment rate was unchanged during the month of July, hovering at 9.5 percent. Overall, the economy lost over 130,000 jobs last month.
Debit: But wait, there’s more… In late July, Congress and President Obama decided it was prudent to spend another $34 billion to expand the number of people who qualify for 99-weeks of unemployment benefits. Hey, here’s a cigar for ya.
Debit: See, according to Nancy Pelosi, unemployment benefits “create jobs faster than almost any other initiative you can name.” So that explains why she won’t cut taxes or disavow restrictive environmental regulations like cap-and-trade in order to help the economy expand and create jobs. Nancy is a real riot.
Credit: Since Madam Speaker is a big proponent of cap-and-trade and would never dream of lowering taxes either, it’s obvious extending unemployment benefits is her preferred “solution” for putting America back to work. How many lumps do you want?
Debit: Here’s a good one for you. A reporter for the Los Angeles Times writes (presumably, with a straight face): In an effort coordinated with the White House, congressional leaders are urging Democrats to focus less on bragging about what they have done and more on efforts to fix the economy and on the perils of Republican control of Congress. Oh, go ahead; brag away.
Debit: Here’s more funny stuff from the same LA Times editorial article: To bulk up their record on job creation, Democratic leaders have gone to great lengths to pass a $26-billion bill to avert public employee layoffs. Huh? How does saving existing public employee jobs via a taxpayer bailout equate to job creation? Maybe the Times’ reporter and Nancy Pelosi went to the same school of economics.
Credit: These clowns are a laugh a minute, aren’t they?
By the Numbers
$123,049 The average total compensation of government workers in 2009 according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
$61,051 The average total compensation of workers in the private sector.
7,837,000 The number of private sector jobs eliminated during the current recession.
198,100 The number of Federal employees hired over the same period.
114 The number of private sector jobs that are lost for every 100 government jobs that are created.
Other Useless News
According to Google Analytics, here are some interesting Google search terms that led to visitors finding Len Penzo dot Com in July:
- carnival sex (9 searches – don’t ask)
- sex for money (5)
- sex on Len (3)
- what do Lithuanians pet peeves (2)
- can you get two parking tickets in a row in New York City
- broken down luxury cars on road
- book beware of the man on a pale white horse
- any places in Holiday Utah willing to let me have a car wash for charity
- does the tooth fairy come when you’re 9?
- do men care if a woman doesn’t drive a luxury car?
- can you name your kid x?
- how to get out of paying for neighbors fence
- how do you say “filing fees” in spanish
- how do my parents know the ingredients in a big mac?
(Note to self: write more articles about sex.)
Oh yes, and here’s another friendly reminder for ya: if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading – or not – please make sure you follow me on Twitter. And, if you’ll be so kind, don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too!
Letters, I Get Letters
Julie from Iowa took time to express amazement that I had seven television channels to watch when I was growing up in the 1970s:
“Wha??? You had seven channels? We only had three. Four after Fox debuted. I feel so cheated.”
You feel cheated, Julie? At least you had Fox.
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.
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.
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
The Carnival of Personal Finance @ Miss Thrifty