Black Coffee: Baseball, Donkeys, Morons, and Oxymorons

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…

I’m off to Phoenix, Arizona, this weekend to see my second-to-last-place Dodgers play the last-place Diamondbacks in a completely meaningless game for both teams.     This is not what I had in mind when I got these tickets at the start of the season.

My family has made this annual trip for the last five years, and so far we have been fortunate enough to see the Dodgers win all five times – which makes the trip a lot more enjoyable, of course.

Dang.   I wonder if I just jinxed myself?

Oh well, here’s hoping I can at least salvage a small part of the Dodgers miserable season by coming back home with a still-unblemished record.

Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week

Bible Money Matters5 Ways to Successfully Fail at Personal Finance.     Isn’t “successfully fail” an oxymoron?   Good grief.   To be almost exact, although a well-placed oxymoron is usually greeted by most girly men with deafening silence   – if not a dull roar – wise fools like me often get swept up in a sad joy every time we encounter one.   If you’ll pardon me now, it’s time for dinner – and, yes, we’re having jumbo shrimp.

Hope to Prosper – Memo to Government: Cut Spending.   I hear ya, Bret.   Never mind that asking the government to stop spending is kind of like asking Chef Gordon Ramsay to stop calling everyone, well,   what he likes to call everyone, of course.

Frugal DadShould Each Partner Have a Little “My” Money? If the partners are three lawyers named Dewey, Cheetham & Howe, then they’re going to take what they want anyway.   Which reminds me:   Three partners in a law firm were having lunch when one of them suddenly jumped to his feet and said, “I need to get back to the office – I forgot to lock the safe!”   His partner replied, “Why are you so worried? We’re all here.” (Rim shot, please!   I’m here all week, people.   Don’t forget to tip your waitress!)

The Simple DollarRunning In Place? 14 Ways to Break Free. I found Trent’s article on how to keep yourself going when you find yourself in the middle of a long excruciating project to be very enlightening.   For example, one of his suggestions is to use… You know what.   I’ve been working on this column for more than a few hours now.   I think I’m just going to move on.

…And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Personal Finance By the BookFinancial Tips for Life After Divorce

The Millionaire Nurse Blog – Poverty Level at 14 Percent.   What Say You?

Control Your Cash – Charity is for Suckers.

Wisebread – When Deals Matter

Fiscal Fizzle – 8 Reasons I Want a Home

Redeeming Riches 6 Shocking Frugal Lessons from the World’s Richest People

Investor JunkieAsset Allocation for Retirement

Barbara Friedberg Personal FinanceWho Wants a Free MP3 Player?

Wealth Pilgrim IRS Tax Relief – Do It Yourself

Free From Broke5 Simple Steps to Save on Food Shopping

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

From August 2009:

How Much Would You Pay to Save Your Pets Life? – What do you do if your pet gets hit by an car and the vet says it’s going to cost you $4000 to save him?   Even worse, what if you don’t have the money?   Where would you draw the line?

Credits and Debits

Debit: On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Congress has decided to delay any decision regarding the potential extension of the Obama Bush tax cuts until after the November elections.

Debit: Why would Congress decide to hold off on a decision to keep the tax cuts in place, regardless of income, considering the economic malaise we’re in?

Credit: A big reason is that one party in Congress – which shall remain nameless, but whose party symbol is a Chef Gordon Ramsay term of endearment – fails to understand that tax cuts actually increase federal revenues.   For example, annual federal revenues received after Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts were enacted in 1981 exceeded those received in 1980 for all but two years between 1981 and 1990 – and the economy flourished.

Debit: Similar results occurred with the 2003 Bush tax cuts, although you’d never know it listening to the folks currently running Washington.   House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) was urging a repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the “wealthy” in 2009, proclaiming that they were “the biggest contributor to the budget deficit.”   Really?

Credit: But federal tax revenues increased by $785 billion between 2004 and 2007.   That just so happened to be the largest four-year increase in American history.     Sorry, Nancy.

Credit: The truth is, deficits are not caused by tax cuts.   Deficits are caused by uncontrolled government spending – like the $800,000 in “stimulus” money that was spent last year on an African genital washing program.   I know.

Debit: So back to the question; why is Congress not extending the Bush tax cuts?   And I mean all of the tax cuts – not just the ones for folks earning under $250,000 per year.

Debit: The Wall Street Journal reported that a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said it was because, “Unfortunately, to this point, we have received no cooperation from Republicans to do so.”

Debit: They also quoted White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki who said, “”Republicans in Congress have made it clear they would rather stall and obstruct, instead of giving working families the assistance they need.”   Whatever.

Credit: Finally, the Associated Press reported this week that a Florida man settled a $2 million lawsuit against McDonald’s for allegedly serving him a chicken sandwich that exploded with hot grease.   Heh.   An “exploding” chicken sandwich.   In other news, McDonald’s today also announced they were discontinuing plans to test market their new “Amazon Sushi Style” Filet O’ Fish sandwich made with live piranhas.

By the Numbers

The calculus on claims that Republicans are not only primarily to blame for these massive deficits, but also are preventing the Democrats from passing bills in Congress that will get the economy back on track, just doesn’t add up:

41 The percentage of Republican lawmakers currently in the Senate.

178 The number of Republican representatives currently in the House of Representatives.   There are 255 Democrats.

$1.25 trillion The total deficit run up by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for the fiscal years 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.   The House, of course, controls the national purse strings.

$104 billion The average annual deficit over those 12 years under the Republicans.

$3.2 trillion The total deficit run up by the Democrat-controlled Congress for the fiscal years 2008, 2009, and 2010.

$1.1 trillion The average annual deficit over just three years under the Democrats.   That is almost ten times the annual deficits under the Republicans.

Letters, I Get Letters

Dhardin wrote in to comment on my claim that people have only themselves to blame if they can’t live on $40,0000 per year:

“I think you are a bit too cocky for your own good.   Just because YOU can live on 40 grand a year doesn’t mean EVERYBODY could.”

I disagree.   If people really wanted to, they certainly could.   (I know, Dhardin. There I go again.)

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

This week, I”m celebrating the Top 10 towns in the great state of Kentucky whose visitors spent the most time per visit (on average) at Len Penzo dot Com over the past 30 days:

1. Eminence (91 minutes 23 seconds)
2. Cumberland (34:19)
3. Ft. Knox (30:19)
4. Whitesburg (29:07)
5. Louisville (12:34)
6. Fisherville (10:48)
7. Danville (8:53)
8. Maysville (7:43)
9. Pikesville (7:33)
10. Russell (6:19)

As I have mentioned here before, I have driven through 45 of the 50 states. So you can believe me when I say Kentucky is – without a doubt – one of the most beautiful of them all! Thank you, Kentuckians, for spending a little time here at my little ol’ blog – especially you folks in Eminence. Over an hour per visit! Wow! Even I don’t usually spend that much time here.

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! :-)

Carnival News

This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:

The Yakezie Carnival @ The Millionaire Nurse Blog

The Carnival of Personal Finance @ Investor Junkie


  1. 1


    Len, thanks for the mention. Love your oxymoronic riff.

    Do you think “frugal congress” will ever not be an oxymoron again? I could do better but it is too early on Sat morning, and I haven’t finished my first cup of Black Coffee

  2. 5


    I hope your Dodgers do win and keep the Rockies out of the wild card race.

    The Padres play SF next weekend away. I had a momentarily daydream about buying a ticket and flying up but it would be a budget breaker so TV will work!

  3. 6



    Thanks a million for the link.

    I know how you feel about the Dodgers this year. We went to Spring Training in AZ to see the Angels this year and they lost every game. At the time, I didn’t realize it was a precursor to the whole season.

    Keep your chin up and have fun.

  4. 7

    Michelle says

    I am unsubscribing from this blog today due to the political figure pointing highlighted in this post as well as others. I personally think one of the major contributors of America’s current economic malaise is due to the unrelenting finger pointing & responsibility dodging BOTH parties partake in more often than not and that everyone in government is to blame for overspending. My viewpoint may be overly pessimistic but I feel that all politicos look out for his/her best interest before the best interest of the people they supposedly represent, no matter the price tag of that interest. What we need now is to focus as one on solving our multitude of fiscal problems and not one configuring which said is more to blame than the other. I am deeply disturbed at the unproductive divisions politics cause in our great country and refuse to participate in any forum that contributes to such distructive divisions.

  5. 9


    @Dr. Dean: Hopefully it ceases to be an oxymoron one day.
    @sewingirl: I hope your lips are still intact. LOL
    @Kay Lynn: Well, the Dodgers were cruising, up 4-1 with one out in the 8th. Then Torre brought in Sherill – for no good reason, I might add. Walk. Home Run. Single. In comes Broxton. Home Run. Game essentially over. :-(
    @Bret: Both our seasons have been a disgrace.
    @Michelle: It’s not so much R’s vs. D’s as it is liberals vs. Constitutional conservatives. It just turns out that right now, there are zero conservative D’s in the Senate (as evidenced by the recent voting records) and barely a handful in the House.

    That being said, I’m sorry to see you go – but I understand. This column is not for the faint-hearted – that’s why I try my best to keep the politics limited to this weekend column. The thought is those who are uncomfortable with politics can simply skip these Black Coffee articles.

    My hope is that most readers not shy away from my opinions if they disagree, and debate the issues. I have readers that do that – either in the comments or privately by email – and I appreciate the dialog! This is a blog, afterall, and I refuse to take a middle road so as not to offend some people. There are plenty of those blogs around already.

  6. 10

    Charlie says

    if you have been in fifty states then according to

    Our president, you have ten yet to visit. He stated
    that he had been in 57 states with one to go, and they would not allow him to go to Hawaii or Alaska.
    To my count that makes sixty. I have visited 45 states, and I don’t know where the extra ten are.
    Where are they mr. President? I know that he is the smartest man on the planet. So tell me where.

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