Black Coffee: Who’s In the Mood for Some Sour Grapes?

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…

This week I’ve got another abbreviated “espresso edition” of Black Coffee. My work and personal schedule has forced me to skip the snarky commentary on my favorite posts of the week. I’m sure you’re all devastated — although probably not as bad as I was after this past Tuesday’s elections.

Especially, after my fellow Californians voted to raise my taxes yet again.

I know, but it’s for the children. Right.

Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week

Darwin’s MoneyGenerator Ethics

Afford AnythingThe Best Thing Money Can Buy: Time

Canadian Finance BlogIs Dividend Investing a Bad Bet Because It’s So Popular?

Money Help for ChristiansShould You Support People In Ministry Who Live More Extravagantly Than Yourself?

Bible Money MattersHotels Too Expensive? Try These 6 Alternatives.

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

From February 2011:

It’s Not Magic: You Too Can Trade Up a Paper Clip to a House – This is the very true story of a clever Canadian who took a red paperclip and, through a series of 14 savvy trades of steadily increasing value, eventually bartered his way to a two-story farmhouse.

Credits and Debits

Debit: On Tuesday a majority of Americans decided they had lost interest in individualism and self-reliance. Rather, the majority felt it would be wiser to follow in the footsteps of Europe and embrace socialism.

Debit: Apparently the majority is not concerned about subscribing to an ideology where the collective trumps the individual and where government is the solution to our problems.

Debit: The trouble is, socialism forces society’s innovators and producers to sacrifice a portion of their earnings to the collective for “the greater good.” But that ignores human nature, which is strongly biased towards self-interest.

Debit: Socialism stifles innovation and reduces productivity because people naturally lose the incentive to work hard when an increasing portion of the fruits of their labor end up being confiscated and redistributed to those who don’t produce.

Debit: Economically, socialism ends up becoming a slow, painful race to the bottom where, at best, society ends up at some unsatisfying level of mediocrity that only the ruling elite are able to escape.

Credit: Forbes summed it up this way: Within a free economy, societal equality means everyone starts the same. Within socialism, societal equality means everyone finishes the same.”  

Debit: Whether they want to admit it or not, on Tuesday the majority tacitly traded away their Constitutionally-protected liberty in exchange for the promise of more entitlements — in essence making themselves subjects to their government.

Debit: Looting the Treasury in order to pay for endless government entitlements and support crony capitalism is immoral and unsustainable. If we don’t reverse course — and soon — there will be very ugly economic consequences coming for everyone.

Debit: Here’s a preview of what’s coming to our shores: Greece was peppered with another round of riots and national strikes protesting entitlement cutbacks that the nearly-bankrupt nation is implementing in an effort to try and avoid a financial collapse.

Debit: The per-person debt in Greece — the amount owned by every man, woman, and child — is currently $39,400. In case you’re wondering, per-person debt in America is currently far worse: $53,400.

Debit: Of course, Greece is trying — in the midst of stiff resistance — to save its economy by implementing an austerity program. The United States will soon be doubling down on the spending spree it’s been on for the past four years. I know.

Debit: Remember a dollar collapse punishes responsible people. Savers who dutifully live within their means end up being hurt the most because their IRAs, 401(k)s and savings accounts end up being devalued to mere pennies on the dollar.

Debit: On the other hand, society’s debtors will make out like bandits because they had nothing to lose. It is the ultimate — and final — redistribution of wealth.

Credit: There is really only one way out of this: cut taxes immediately, significantly reduce entitlements for everyone and aggressively slash the size of our federal government.

Credit:  Despite what the president says, raising taxes will do nothing to stop the bleeding. In fact, higher taxes often end up reducing revenues because businesses scale back.

Debit: The problem is, self-interest — the benevolent engine that drives capitalism — is a double-edged sword. It becomes destructive in the hands of an electorate that discovers politicians who are willing to raid the Treasury in exchange for votes.

By the Numbers

One last look at the 2012 United States Presidential Election:

57 Number of presidential elections held since the birth of the nation.

25 States carried by President Obama. (He also carried the District of Columbia.)

24 States carried by Mitt Romney. (As of Friday evening, Florida was still too close to call.)

61.4 Millions of votes cast for President Obama (That’s about 8 million fewer votes than in he received in 2008.)

58.3 Millions of votes cast for Mitt Romney. (That’s roughly 1 million fewer votes than John McCain received in 2008.)

40,000 Voters who cast their ballot for Roseanne Barr, who ran for president as a member of the Peace and Freedom Party.

3 States where Barr was on the ballot. (California, Colorado, and Florida.)

417 People who filed a Statement of Candidacy with the Federal Election Commission to run for President in 2012.

Source: Wikipedia

The Question of the Week

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Other Useless News

Here are the top — and bottom — five states in terms of the average number of pages viewed per visit here at Len Penzo dot Com over the past 30 days:

1. New Mexico (3.06 pages/visit)
2. Wyoming (2.51)
3. Arizona (2.17)
4. Arkansas (2.16)
5. Idaho (2.15)

46. New Jersey (1.73)
47. Hawaii (1.71)
48. Iowa (1.69)
49. Montana (1.59)
50. South Dakota (1.54)

Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like my amigos in New Mexico) — or not (ahem, South Dakota) — please don’t forget to:

1. Click on that “Like” button in the sidebar to your right and become a fan of Len Penzo dot Com on Facebook!

2. Make sure you follow me on Twitter!

And last, but not least…

3. Don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! Thank you. :-)

Letters, I Get Letters

Every week I feature the most interesting question or comment — assuming I get one, that is. And folks who are lucky enough to have the only question in the mailbag get their letter highlighted here whether it’s interesting or not!

Somebody named Fairy (no, really) passed along this little note to me last week:

I can’t believe you’re not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

No kidding, Fairy. Now tell that to the Honeybee — I’ve been trying to convince her that I’ve had “the gift” for over 16 years now.

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.


  1. 6

    joe pfautz says

    You find the time to mention your dissapointment with the results of the election but no mention of Veteans day

    • 7

      Len Penzo says

      True, Joe. And I should have … Unfortunately, I wrote most of this on Thursday and the fact that this piece was going to post on Veterans Day didn’t cross my mind at the time.

  2. 8

    Leasi says

    Len, I am here applauding you. You put in words what I heard and felt myself and from MANY people this week. About the entitlements, they are absurd. The frustration is everywhere. People that work hard and fight to have finnancial balance can see where we are going. I am just saying. I know!

    • 10

      Len Penzo says

      Sales taxes. Yes, we all pay sales taxes … but those who promoted the proposition would only advertise it as a tax on “the rich” earning $250,000 or more annually — they failed to mention the part about the higher sales taxes, which everybody pays!

  3. 11

    Nikkki says

    Thank you Eurobubba, apparently individualism means “selfishness” and “quoting talking points without understanding a single damn thing about what’s going on.” As much as I love the finance tips from this blog, I sometimes forget that knowing how to pick stocks or balance a budget doesn’t mean one actually knows anything about political science, what socialism actually IS, or why wanting to live in some reprint of Industrial Victoriana is NOT a good thing.

    Maybe these people miss TB and not having clean water. Who knows? But they need to put the Charles Dickens novels down and stop thinking THEY’D be one of those robber barons, because they wouldn’t be.

    Finally, I am HIGHLY insulted to be told that I’m against self-reliance when I’m one of those people who pays both income and property tax and have no problems making sure my community is beautiful, well taken care of, and productive. This is a macrocosm, not some acquisitions firm, you can’t run a civilization like a business; perhaps Americans are too immature to get that point…must be all the transfats.

    These “entitlements” that people love to rail about don’t even make up 20% of the federal budget and the Medicaid, Medicare, and SS is something every American pays into because at some point we may all need it; you just never know and since when did being a completely self-serving douche become “the American spirit?” I guess that happened around the same time that “minorities, gays, and women” started destroying “traditional America.”

    You have NO grasp of behavioral finance, economic history beyond your little Hayek talking points, social reality, the actual budget and what money goes where, or anything else that doesn’t fit into your little neat box of “makers” and “takers”, when I can guarantee you that many of the people who are takers voted against their own interests, while a lot of the people who are makers thought about them while they were voting to maintain our civilization and standard of living.

    Seriously Lenzo, if you want to insult your reader base by all means speak your mind, it’s a free country; but to sit up here and act like my vote for Obama stands for me being a freeloader, a slacker, or some welfare queen is fricking disgusting.

    Still love your blog though.

    • 12

      Len Penzo says

      Nikki, first off, I don’t mean to insult anyone. I only try to inform. If you want to shoot the messenger, I can’t stop you. :-)

      Obviously, there are millions of self-reliant people out there, like yourself, who voted for policies that are contrary to that. My point was that they had to have lost interest in maintaining self-reliance and individualism to vote against it — that is just my opinion.

      And with all due respect, I hear this all the time from folks who disagree with me so, please, enlighten me regarding the definition of “socialism.” They say it all the time, but nobody ever follows through and explains to me the real definition. :-)

      Secondly, for what it’s worth, I am a social liberal. My argument was from a fiscal conservative’s POV.

      And let’s be fair, nowhere up above did I call the majority freeloaders, slackers or welfare queens. Not even close. In fact, when I wrote this I was very careful to not do that.

      It’s also unfair to put up strawman arguments such as the one you made suggesting that fiscal conservatives want dirty water, TB, and (whatever dastardly things we’re accused of by the left) to try and prove your point. Again, with all due respect, that is patently absurd.

      And despite your claims, I am also very well-versed in political science and economic history. :-)

      As you know, the US Constitution was created to protect the citizens from tyranny by expressly limiting the power of the federal government. In other words, any powers not specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution are supposed to be reserved for the states.

      The US was never meant to be, if you’ll excuse the expression, a “nanny” to the people. And for the most part it wasn’t — until FDR came along. Although, before him, Teddy Roosevelt and then Woodrow Wilson did their part too.

      Keep in mind, the US and its citizens got along just fine without these federal entitlements for about 160 years.

      That’s not to say that entitlements can’t exist in the US. They can! My argument is this: Entitlements like SS, Medicare, and socialized medicine, should be administered, implemented and paid for at the state level — NOT the federal level. (As per the Constitution.) The beauty of this is two-fold: 1) since states can’t print their own money, they have to maintain fiscally sound programs; 2) citizens of states who enact these entitlements still have “an out” if they don’t like it — they can always move to a different state. (Right now, all Americans who dislike paying for these entitlements have nowhere to escape.)

      Unfortunately, these federal entitlements (that account for 60% of the budget, not 20% as you claim) are now bankrupting us. Our debt-to-GDP ratio is now over 100%.

      Do you really believe we can continue to run up trillion dollar deficits to continue paying for all these goodies forever? If you’re a student of economic history as I am, you’ll know the answer to that is absolutely not — there are plenty of examples from the recent and not-so-recent past to prove it.

      Do you realize what will happen to our economy — and society as a whole — if the dollar collapses? It won’t be pretty.

      Like you, I want what’s best for my family. I have two kids growing up. But I am worried for their futures and I see the ever-growing debt as a terrible threat to our nation’s currency and outright survival.

      P.S. I’m glad you enjoy my blog, Nikki. I don’t mean to be inflammatory. I truly want to inform, teach, and hopefully convert a few people along the way.

  4. 13

    Nikkki says

    And I just wanted to add, to avoid confusion that part of all three main programs are “off budget” and part of them are actually tabulated with the rest of the outlays.

    Also, most “entitlement programs” that I see attacked are welfare, food stamps, section 8 housing, and unemployment insurance; so I did omit the big 3 from that category. However I do agree that the big 3 and Defense spending do need to be curtailed/reformed as soon as possible as well as raising revenues.

    • 14

      Len Penzo says

      Fair enough.

      I may be a bit biased, Nikki, but of all those items you listed, only defense is authorized in the Constitution as being a federal responsibility.

      Everything else, rightfully, should be handled by the states.

  5. 15

    Ann says

    What a bunch of drivel to wake up to on a Saturday morning. I’ve been following your blog for years , WTH Len. Time to hit the unsubscribe link, I’ve got better things to do with my time than read the unfounded rants of a pissed Republican. The GOP has huge ideological issues, and until they get rid of the tea baggers and religious zealots they will never get back to power. But I digress; the main point I want to make is that your assertion that the US is now a socialist country is false. I have lived in a socialist country for most of my life and it is nothing like what I have here in the US. So stop whining and remember that a Republican was the one who created the massive debt we now have to shoulder with taxes and inflation. End of story.

    • 16

      Len Penzo says

      Hey now, Ann … I warned you in the title that I was going to be handing our sour grapes! :-)

      As a long time reader, you of all people should know I’ve been spouting my opinions here on Black Coffee for over three years now — they haven’t changed. So I’m not sure how this could be a surprise to you. And for over three years I’ve limited my sharpest opinions to my weekly Black Coffee column so that my regular readers who come here primarily for personal finance advice can easily avoid them if they choose to.

      Of course the US is not like full-blown socialist countries — but we are clearly sliding in that direction. Which socialist country did you live in?

      You can’t keep blaming Bush either. Fact check: George W Bush racked up $4.9T in debt in 8 years (and roughly $2T of that was during the last two years of his presidency when the Congress was controlled by the opposition party). President Obama has racked up $6T in debt in just four years. I’m not excusing either, but President Obama ran in 2008 on a promise to cut the Bush deficits in half — he actually multiplied them by 150%. By the time he leaves office in 2016, the total debt under Obama’s watch will be somewhere between $10T and $12T, which makes Bush’s $4.9T figure actually look thrifty.

      Finally, I take offense to the “teabagger” reference — although I’m used to it now. :-)

  6. 17

    Olivia says

    To the two ladies in the previous posts. Just so you know, I’m not a died in the wool Rebublican, Democrat or Tea Partyist.

    Several years ago while waiting on the phone for Social Security to clear up something for my mom, I heard some messages. One explained how current social security payments were not kept for the individual payee’s future needs, but went entirely to current recipients. (That’s why current people can get $9000 Hoverounds and $1000 a month when they paid far less into the system during their lifetimes.) It went on the say at this rate Social Security will be fully funded until a certain year. It did not present a comforting scenario to those of us retiring later.

    Two. Socailism takes many forms. “Redistribution of wealth” was Mr. Obama’s mantra during his first campaign, not Mr. Bush’s. And though we might not send landowners off to Siberia so that collective farms are put into place, we are punishing initiative. Have you ever tried starting a small business legally?

    Three. You can’t keep on spending what you don’t have indefinately. You run out of food, you get hungry. You run out of water, you get thirsty. You run out of money, people will stop taking “good faith in the United States government” as legit collateral.

    Four. During my idealistic socialist past, I was told by a SWP organizer, “We won’t have a revolution here, people will vote us in.”

    Five. All this ranting will not accomplish anything. Yelling at Len and calling him names won’t change the country’s direction. We have put our faith in people, no better than ourselves, and they have failed us. You’re angry because you expected them to fix everything.

  7. 18

    Nikkki says

    @Olivia- Yes, I actually do run a small business as a side hustle for my main flow on income, hence why I don’t whine for paying taxes. I make mine and pay my way for being a part of society.

    2. Sharing the wealth? You mean like how I pay for people’s children to attend school even though I don’t have children? But I attended public school, even an underfunded one, and I would hate for ANYONE’S child to receive the paltry fecal matter that passes for “education” these days.

    3.You obviously don’t understand what sovereign currency actually means so going into global currency with you would be like explaining biochemistry to my cat. While you are correct about spending you CANNOT run a country the way you run a household, one of the main things economist Hyman Minsky faulted classical economists for attempting to do. Also, taxation and spending cuts are a necessity to re-balance the budget, as stated by the CBO, so I don’t know what fantasy land you’re living in where you think Obama is just trying to spend spend spend his way out, when he’s made it VERY plain that defense spending needs to be pared down (something Republicans are loathe to do, cuz’ OMG there are MUSLIMS OUT THERE! *eye roll*) and revenues need to be increased; whether by higher taxes on higher income brackets or closing tax loopholes or, what’s better, a combination of both. Ultimately we’re beholden to congress.

    4. What the heck does that have to do with anything?

    5. No one is “yelling” about anything. We’re saying that we disagree with his talking points and why. That’s called “dialogue.”

    I’m an American citizen, I don’t expect anyone to fix anything for me, I expect to be able to be a part of the solution and to pay my part in helping my fellow countrymen reach their potential or just plain die comfortably, be it the SBA, Federal Student Loans, charity, giving a homeless dude a 6 pack, funding a kick starter, or investing in great companies.

    Sorry…being a selfish dick isn’t really one of those qualities for me. But if it works for you love; it’s a free country.

    • 19

      Len Penzo says

      2. “You mean like how I pay for people’s children to attend school even though I don’t have children?”

      You sound like a Constitutionalist but don’t know it, Nicki! There may be hope for you yet! :-)

      Actually, that is a bad analogy, since public schools are an issue for the states. (That being said, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 that was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson essentially opened the floodgates of federal government control over public schools.)

      3. Come on, Nikki. I’ll tolerate insults at me (okay, some insults), but please be respectful to my readers. The best way to increase revenues is to unleash the economy. Unfortunately, I believe the current regulations and government spending enforced by the current president is acting as a severe economic drag.

      You seem to be unaware of the fact that, on four separate occasions, the economy boomed and Treasury revenues rose significantly after taxes were lowered by John F Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. This is especially true with respect to capital gains taxes. Raising taxes to try and reduce our current deficits, let alone lower our monster debt, is economically counter-productive. In fact, it’s as futile as hoping the ocean will rise by spitting in it. :-)

      By referencing Minsky — a Keynesian economist — if you’re intimating that governments should be able to continuously run modest deficits and operate at debt levels that are reasonable compared to GDP, then I’d agree with you. However, you seem to be arguing that Minsky was a believer in the government spending with relative impunity — as it is now with trillion-dollar deficits — and driving up the debt to the absurd levels that we are now facing. I sincerely doubt Minsky would have advocated that — and if he did, I’d call him an economic quack! (Just like Paul Krugman.)

      And again, defense spending is one of the few items the federal government IS actually Constitutionally responsible for, so it should be the LAST thing to be cut.

      4. It means that the SWP realized that their agenda would eventually be achieved through the ballot box — which is exactly what my thesis was in my article regarding what happened this past election day!

      5. I appreciate dissenting dialog, Nikki. I really really do. My hope is I can use the two-way conversation to get others on the fence to see that my position is the correct one. But here’s a little advice for you: Using highly emotional and inflammatory phrases like “being a selfish dick” isn’t doing a lot to make your case. Just sayin’! :-)

  8. 20

    Ashley says

    I have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in income tax in the last few years, and am a staunch fiscal conservative (though I do believe in governmental healthcare – works just fine where I’m from, Canada). And Len – I would have voted for Obama if I were able to vote in the US election.

    I disagree with a LARGE part of Obama’s economic policies. I agree – there are way too many entitlements. But the idea of voting for a party that is anti-woman, anti-choice, and anti-gay rights… it makes me borderline nauseous.

    My money is not more important than other people’s civil rights. Rights to love and marry as they choose, protections under the law relating to their marriage (inheritance, visitation rights, power of attorney), and a woman’s right to choose. For someone to say otherwise is monstrous.

    The Republican party needs to get the hell out of the civil rights squabbles and start campaigning on FISCAL REFORM, not bigotry. Until then, the party will remain a fossil.

    • 21

      Len Penzo says

      Hi Ashley, thanks for taking the time to give your take on this!

      I am a social liberal myself. But I wince every time I hear that the Republican party is anti-women; that meme is part of the left’s demonization campaign of the right, and I refuse to buy their arguments. If that were really true, how can we explain the 28 million or so women who voted R this election? Are they “anti-women”? I have a wife and daughter and I love them both dearly — I can assure you I am not anti-women.

      Although the left tries to paint it as such, I categorically reject the notion that asking women to pay for their own contraception is somehow anti-women.

      Regarding the abortion issue, even if Roe vs. Wade were to be over-turned one day — which is highly unlikely — all that would do is leave the abortion issue up to the individual states to decide for themselves. Today, abortion rights are so entrenched in our society that I am absolutely 100% positive that most (if not all) states would keep it legal anyway. If I thought otherwise, I would agree with you that the issue was an important one.

      As I see it, implementing real economic reform is far more important than focusing on social issues at the moment. After all, if the economy collapses (and possibly society with it) then the other issues won’t matter anyway.

      Then again, maybe I’m just a loon. 😉

      • 22

        Ashley says

        Len, thanks for the response.

        The Vice Presidential candidate the Repubs put forward was staunchly anti-abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, and threat to a mother’s life. The Presidential candidate was also anti-abortion. Those two things, as a woman, would make me incredibly uneasy if I were a voter in your election.

        They Repubs also anti gay marriage, which again, makes me feel icky. I myself am not straight (though I’m dating a man right now, my last serious relationship was with a woman), and a large portion of my friends and family aren’t either. Their civil rights mean more to me than my income. Thankfully, I live in Canada where this is a non-issue. Unfortunately, Canada has also gone so far Socialist at this point I’ve started protest voting most of the time when we have elections.

        Do I think all the women that voted Republican are anti woman? Of course not. Do I think some of them are blinded by their religious beliefs? Yep. Do I think when it comes down to it, the large majority of women want access to abortion when it is caused by rape or incest, or threatens their life? Absolutely.

        There need to be more politicians like Gary Johnson – fiscally conservative, socially liberal. I would vote for a candidate like that in a heartbeat. That guy has his head on straight, even though we disagree on some things. Sadly, that’s a pipe dream. Because really, what person that you’d WANT as a politician would ever be considered electable? (Insert collective sighing here!)

        I hope Obama gets his crap together this term. Even if he doesn’t, I hope the Republican party learns from this loss and moves more to the center on social issues that don’t cost anyone money (freedom to choose, gay marriage) so they have a chance next election. I can hope, can’t I?

        • 23

          Volfram says

          Look up what abortion can do to a woman’s body some time. It’s pretty much the only surgical operation where doctors aren’t required to inform the patient of all of the potential negative side-effects(including depression, infertility, and a massive increase in risk of breast cancer)

          Never-mind, of course, that it’s just a sanitized way to talk about butchering the most innocent and helpless of all human beings just for the convenience of irresponsible people.

          As for marriage? Marriage was never about love. Marriage is a religious construct which has historically been coerced into a political tool. Likewise, look up some of the things about homosexual relationships that nobody tells you. It turns out that most violence against the LGBT community is exacted by other members of the LGBT community. Most notably, the victim’s established same-sex partner(s).

          Leading cause of death among lesbians is murder by wife/girlfriend.

  9. 24

    Paul N says

    Sorry Nikki

    Clinton and his changes put the economy in this mess. Republicans just added to it. I suggest you read a book called the great American ripoff. About 3-4 years old now. That explains it a lot better then I ever could.

    What’s the old saying…. Socialism is the greatest thing until you run out of other peoples money….

    There’s nothing wrong with giving to those less fortunate. But not to those that make abusing a generous system a lifestyle choice.

  10. 26

    Marie says

    “As I see it, implementing real economic reform is far more important than focusing on social issues at the moment. After all, if the economy collapses (and possibly society with it) then the other issues won’t matter anyway.”

    Amen! Too bad others couldn’t see that on Tuesday.

  11. 27

    George says

    Can’t run a country like a business… But you can’t sell the farm and expect to grow potatoes. Government is a huge drag, if government programs could be operated with no overhead I’d be all about big government. But for every dollar the gov puts into the economy it takes $2 from someone in taxes, either now or later. Government can’t be run like a business, but if they use the same dollar some limitations apply!! You’d be better served donating money to a soup-kitchen than paying taxes for food stamps. Volunteers don’t buy Mercedes with your money! Being a Repub doesn’t mean ‘being a selfish dick’ it means that you have other ideas about how to support your community! Without paying a bureaucrat to do it for you!!

    • 30

      Volfram says

      Even if the government COULD be run with no overhead(which… it requires a lot more than it the people in it demand of us), I would still prefer a small government. As the saying goes, “A government big enough to give you everything you need is big enough to take it all away.”

      • 31

        Volfram says

        wow that sentence got butchered in translation from thought to text.

        The government could run on significantly less cash than the shakedown artists up in D.C. are fond of extorting from us is what I meant to say.

    • 32

      Joe says

      “But you can’t sell the farm and expect to grow potatoes.” Great analogy George. Looking at the debt clock however, I fear that the deed to the farm no longer resides at Ft. Knox.

  12. 33

    Little Tex says

    All these labels of fiscal conservative, social liberal are pointless until people start living by the philophies they espouse. I know a “fiscal conservative” Romney supporter who is fully capable of working who is 100% dependent on welfare benefits and recently bought video games with her benefits check. I don’t resent that benefits exist I believe that if you are truly in dire straight and are in need of *temporary* assistance, I am more than glad to help out. Key word being temporary. I do resent that some people choose to use benefits as a permament means of support, especially those who are fully capable of working but choose not to.

  13. 34

    Volfram says

    Man, nothing like a post on a financial blog espousing fiscal responsibility to bring out all the evangelical Communists, eh?

  14. 35

    Chris says

    Keep it up, Len! Keep calling Democrats socialists! Please, keep it up. I want to keep winning presidential elections, and getting nice Supreme Court justices on the Supreme Court.

    Unsubscribing now.

    • 36

      Volfram says

      How are Democrats NOT Socialists? Most of the Democrats I know or converse with are ardent and outspoken Socialists, and the ones who aren’t still think that the only reason Socialism hasn’t worked before is because it hasn’t been tried hard enough. Your comment is akin to accusing Mr. Penzo of calling Republicans “Capitalists,” calling Christians “Religious,” or calling lawyers “Legalist.”

    • 37

      Len Penzo says

      That’s up to you, Chris.

      First off, I never used the term Democrat in my post. There are still plenty of people who call themselves “Democrats,” but are fiscally conservative and crossed over to the other side during the last election.

      The election battle wasn’t waged between Democrats and Republicans, so much as it was between fiscal conservatives and liberals (who prefer to be called progressives now because “liberal” became a dirty word to them after awhile).

      It’s funny. Maybe we need a new term so some people won’t get all worked up when others use a word in the English language that accurately describes the policies that the American left (liberals/progressives) are not only advocating, but implementing.

      Both you and Nikki seem to think that I am misusing the term “socialism” but you both fail to defend your assertions. I’ve made my case why it is socialism. Legislation that enacted Obamacare, and the government takeover of the GM and Chrysler, for just a few examples, certainly isn’t naked capitalism. (And, to be fair, neither were the bank bailouts.)

      So why the indignation? When folks call me an unabashed capitalist, or a Constitutionalist, or a small government advocate, I don’t run away from those labels. In fact, I embrace them. It’s what I stand for — and I do it proudly.

      I wish that you’d at least have the intellectual honesty, Chris, to admit that if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. It’s okay. Really.

  15. 38


    Can’t one man state his political opinion on his own blog without unleashing a torrent of hate, sarcasm, ad hominem attacks and “unsubscribe” announcements from a subset of his readers?

    Self-governance requires civilized, reasoned dialogue based on facts and reason. I have yet to find a place on the Internet where such a thing takes place.

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      Michael in SoCal says

      Amen Paula!!

      Great post Len. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read of your the last year or so I’ve been reading. Keep it up!!

  16. 40

    George says

    I’ve been reading an interesting essay, titled: ‘Becoming Rich and Powerful: A Primer for Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladesh Citizens’. It’s written by a very intellectual Indian, and officer of the IAS. I didn’t know this before reading but ISA is Indian Administration Service is a beuro within Indian Democracy that is given more or less executive powers, but are independent from elected politicians. Also worth noting is the IAS is one of the most selective organization in the world, with an annual acceptance rate of 0.025 percent.

    Anyway, this Dr Sanjeev came to America to study economics for some time, and of course picked up a pretty good impression of our lifestyles and society. I cannot help but see that the system currently in place in India (mixed economy) very much resembles what an American system could look like if we continue down this road of class discrimination, corporate and individual welfare, and spending. The argument of his essay is that capitatalism is good, and government socialism is bad. And it’s pretty compelling. I am reading it as a college student to see what advice a man who had ‘made it’ was giving to his country of people who are living in poverty or abandoning ship, but am very intrigued with his arguments for a more free economic model and purge of beurocracy and public unions in India.

    It’s fairly short, and very easy to read, he writes in a very matter of fact or chummy type voice. You can find it here:

    I wish I could do it more justice.

  17. 41

    Diane says

    If you want moderate business owners like me – who want to vote for fiscal sanity – to vote for a Republican candidate, then find one who is pragmatic problem-solver who doesn’t act and talk like the Christian Taliban. Oh yeah, and support for free trade and a sensible immigration policy that doesn’t send foreign entrepreneurs to “Chilecon Valley” might help. Plus, some respect for science (I’m an engineer) might be good.

    The only way they are ever getting my vote back is if they get off the crazy train and nominate rational candidates. Fair warning.

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