Black Coffee: The Fed’s Disgraceful War on Average Americans

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…

Better check your clocks, people!   In the United States, the time is pushed back one hour on Sunday, November 7, at 2 a.m.

For those of you counting at home, that means a glorious extra hour of sleep for everyone.   Hooray!   Well, at least it does for those who remember.

Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week

Well Heeled BlogThe $10,000 Dating Budget.   In this post, Well Heeled tells the story of a single woman named Anna whose annual dating expenses totaled over $9000.   One expense that caught my eye was, of course, $600 for Brazilian waxes.   Hold on while I ponder that for a second.   Okay, where was I?   Oh yes, $9000 ain’t cheap when it comes to dating.   Still, I’m not sure why Anna was complaining.   Marriage is definitely more expensive – even without the Brazilian wax jobs which, believe me, eventually go the way of the dodo once the wife says “I do.”     What?     I’m just sayin’.

Inexpensively – I first heard about Heather’s site when I read her introductory post at   According to her website, “Inexpensively is a national network of frugal bloggers whose goal is to share their knowledge of living inexpensively. From dining, to travel, to grocery shopping, the Inexpensively network shares their ideas…” Hey!   I bet Anna never checked out Heather’s site.   Maybe she should, huh?   I bet she could find a really great deal on a Brazilian wax job.   Hold on while I ponder that again.   I know, I’m bad.

My Personal Finance Journey – Who Can Be A Life Insurance Beneficiary? A tarot card reader once told me Warren Buffett was going to leave me a lot of money in his will.   So imagine my disappointment when I read last year that Buffett decided to give his vast fortune away to charity.   I guess he doesn’t believe in fate.   So what’s this story got to do with life insurance, you ask?   Nothing.

KiplingerYoung Millionaires.   It’s no secret that Buffett is a very old rich guy.   But if you want to feel like a real loser, make sure you check out this slide show of people who all became millionaires at a very young age.   Very depressing.

MSN: Smart SpendingShould You Trust Leaked Black Friday Ads? The first Black Friday ads are already being leaked to the masses.   The question is:   are the incredible deals being advertised the real deal?   I wonder if there are Black Friday specials on Brazilian wax jobs.

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

Darwin’s MoneyBlack Swan Investing — Making a Fortune off Rare Events

Oblivious InvestorSimple Investing is Better Investing

Couple MoneyBuying a Car with Cash- Crazy or Crazy Smart?

Budgets Are SexySide Hustle Series: I’m a Restaurant Server

Canadian Finance Blog Tips to Prevent Running Out of Money in Retirement

Fiscal Fizzle Understanding Compound Interest

MomvestingHidden Money: How to Find Miscellaneous Fees

Yes, I Am Cheap – One Disaster Away

WisebreadHow to Build Wealth in a Depressed Economy

Green Panda Tree House – Don’t Be Intimidated By Money Management

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

From September 2009:

Notes From a Car Mechanic: 6 Simple Money Saving Tips – In this guest post the Honeybee’s dad – who just so happens to be a retired car mechanic – shares several simple but very important tips to help minimize your car operating and maintenance costs.

Credits and Debits

Debit: On Wednesday the Federal Reserve announced it is implementing another round of quantitative easing, as it will buy $600 billion in long-term Treasuries through June of next year.

Credit: Instead of quantitative easing, Congress should be enacting massive spending cuts that will reduce the size and scope of the Federal government behemoth, and cut taxes to put more money into the pockets of businesses and consumers.   This is crucial for an economy that depends on consumers for 70 percent of its activity.

Debit: I’m not the only armchair quarterback questioning the wisdom – if not the motive – of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing decision.   Even real experts are now warning that the already-devalued dollar is now at a significantly increased risk of collapse.

Debit: One thing is certain, a further weakening of the dollar will most certainly push the prices of oil, food, and other commodities up – perhaps dramatically.

Debit: Americans should be up in arms over the continued unrestrained money printing. For every additional dollar the Fed creates out of thin air, it makes every dollar we have worth less. This can be a real problem for people who have spent most of their lives sacrificing and diligently saving money for their retirement. The purchasing power of thirty or forty years of savings can easily be wiped out in less than a year.

Debit: Meanwhile, those who have spent like drunken sailors and are awash in a sea of debt – including, for example, the Federal government – may eventually find themselves blissfully bailed out by the effects of hyperinflation.

Debit: This latest act by the Fed is nothing less than an attack on the American citizens themselves; they are stealing from each and every one of us! If this outrage is not addressed soon, millions of Americans’ retirement savings will soon be wiped out, not unlike the fate of Germans’ savings during the early 1920s in the Wiemar Republic.

Debit: If nothing else, I find the Fed’s latest policy move to be an utter disgrace.   Essentially, Ben Bernanke has just taken his middle finger and stuck it in the eye of every average hard-working American.

Debit: Why would the Fed do such a thing? It’s simple, really.   Say what you will about such a move helping Wall St. – it’s true, at least in the short term – but in the end it ultimately comes down to this: quantitative easing allows our massive bloated government to continue its unrestrained spending spree.

Credit: For his part, Ron Paul (R – Texas), a long-time critic of the Federal Reserve, has vowed to investigate the Fed’s reckless monetary policies when the new Congress convenes in January 2011.   That’s nice, but I doubt it will result in any real reforms.

Credit: Finally, a Minneapolis woman is refusing to pay $1.5 million in damages awarded to several large record companies for illegally downloading 24 tunes in 2005.   I don’t think I have to tell you that copyright violations are essentially a form of theft.   Apparently stealing is only legal when it’s done by the Federal Reserve.

By the Numbers

A statistical recap of my daughter Nina’s recent Halloween excursion:

203 Her total take (in terms of items collected).

$2 The total amount of cash she received (all of it from one house).

120 Minutes spent walking the neighborhood.

444 Houses in my neighborhood.   (No, Nina didn’t hit them all.)

16 Whoppers mini-packs she received, the most of any candy.

4 Bags of pretzels received.

2 Halloween pencils.

1 Goodie bags.

1 Glow sticks.

0 Candy apples, caramel apples, and popcorn balls.

For the complete breakdown of everything in her bag, along with some additional candy commentary from yours truly, click here.

Other Useless News

Here are the top 25 referring blogs for the month of October. Thank you to everybody who was kind enough to link to Len Penzo dot Com! :-)

1. MSN: Smart Spending
2. The Simple Dollar
3. Kiplinger
4. Wisebread
5. Get Rich Slowly
6. Time Magazine: It’s Your Money
7. Oblivious Investor
8. Frugal Hacks
9. Frugal Dad
10. Green Panda Tree House
11. Punch Debt in the Face
12. Mint
13. JoeTaxpayer
14. Lifehacker
15. Money Help for Christians
16. Consumerist
17. Wealth Pilgrim
18. Everyday Tips and Thoughts
19. Swagbucks
20. Provident Planning
21. The Canadian Finance Blog
22. Enemy of Debt
23. Monevator
24. The Millionaire Nurse Blog
25. Personal Finance by the Book

Here’s a 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

Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff wrote in to ask:

“Do you think a $1.5 million penalty for 24 illegal song downloads is fair?”

I don’t know if it’s fair, Crystal, but it’s big enough to ensure that I’ll keep on paying $1.29 per song on iTunes!

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 mailbag I’ll highlight your letter, whether it’s interesting or not. 😉

Carnival News

This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:

Carnival of Personal Finance @ Consumerism Commentary

The Yakezie Carnival @ The Saved Quarter

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.


  1. 3


    Even the thought of Brazilian waxes is ouch. :( Razor blades are much cheaper.

    I am totally with you on the insanity of more QE. The government is already too big and bloated. Jim Sinclair is calling for the dollar index to fall to 56. I’m stocking up on non-perishable food because the spikes in the futures markets are trickling down to supermarkets now. I don’t know that Ron Paul can change things by himself, but his hearings with Bernanke will definitely be amusing.

    If y’all get tired of Governor Moonbeam, come on down to Texas! We have to balance the budget every year due to the state constitution and there’s no state income tax. :)

  2. 5


    I also think QE2 is a disgrace. Somebody needs to audit the Fed and make their financial moves trandsparent. I hope the latest election and the upcoming 2012 election can finally return some fiscal responsibility to our government.

    The choice of candidates in California was deplorable. Two career politiicans with the worst spending records possible vs. two failed CEOs with personal agendas. Even though he couldn’t get anything done with congress, I am going to miss Arnold.

  3. 7


    @Rachel: My pleasure. I enjoyed the article!
    @Everyday: I’ll catch you next week. Thanks for the referrals! Number 18 ain’t too shabby – there’s a lot of high-octane fire power in that list!
    @Jennifer: I’m already tired of Moonbeam. He was governor here for 8 years 30 years ago. What a disaster. He actually fought against Prop 13 (limiting property tax increases) and unionized the state employees, which has not worked out well for anybody in California except, well, the state employees.
    @Kay Lynn: You’re absolutely right! Meg Whitman was a poor candidate too to be sure – she was a RINO. It was the lesser of two evils, in my opinion. Brown is so extreme he openly campaigned for making our state university system open to everyone – including illegal aliens. Say what you will about her trying to buy the election, but at least she was using her own money, unlike Mr. Brown who used union money. Just sayin.
    @Bret: You are right about the candidates. Our choices were pitiful. I won’t miss Arnold – I’m glad to see him go. He turned out to be just another RINO.

  4. 8


    Lots of debits this week. :( But I guess that’s reality. Have you read any of Doug Kass’ stuff on “quantitative wheezing” and “screwflation”? It’s funny, but sad.

    As I wrote on Friday regarding Thursday’s giddy QE rally, “It’s a good day for the bulls, and a sad day for free market capitalism.”

  5. 10


    Enjoyed the Debit write-ups. Led me to your hyperinflation article.

    Imagining your facial expressions as the java courses your veins & you get riled up on these QE events.

  6. 11


    The only good thing about all this QE is that it brings light to the federal reserve. 5 years ago, if a person had said something like, “Hey, ya know, currency is just paper with no actual value,” that person would have been assumed crazy. Now such statements are mainstream.

    Hopefully people will get feed up while the McDouble is still under $20.00

  7. 12


    @Darwin: I hate politicians. LOL
    @FinEng: Oh, my blood is boiling alright. That is an understatement!
    @Aaron: You’re right. I think more and more people are coming to the conclusion that the Fed is a sham too. Who knows; maybe one day there will be enough pressure exerted by the public to do away with it entirely! I know, dream on…

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