Black Coffee: Your Lying Eyes … and the Fear of Flying

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.

If you take the whole preflight security dog and pony show that we’re subjected to out of the equation, I have no qualms with flying — as long as it’s in a modern jet airplane, that is. Helicopters are another story altogether though; this aerospace engineer will never get in one of those contraptions — at least not voluntarily.

Anyway, with that in mind, if you’re the type who is afraid of flying — regardless of whether it’s in an airplane or a helicopter — I’ve got a joke and a story to share with you today. First the quick joke:

Two caterpillars are sitting on a leaf and notice a big beautiful butterfly soaring high in the sky above them. The first caterpillar shakes his head, then looks at his friend and says, “You’ll never get me up in one of those.”


Okay, now the story … I’m not sure where we were, but I was with my dad one day when he struck up a conversation with a lady who was deathly afraid of flying. “Trust me. You have nothing to worry about,” my dad said, “Flying is the safest form of transportation, bar none!”

When the lady asked my dad how he could be so sure, he looked her straight in the eye and said, “Because they’ve never left one up there yet.”

Hey, how can you argue with that?

By the Numbers

Despite my dad’s specious logic, flying really is the safest way to travel. Here are a few facts to prove it:

0.05 The fatality rate for commercial buses per 100 million passenger miles.

0.003 The fatality rate for scheduled airlines per 100 million passenger miles.

7229:1 Your lifetime odds of dying as an air traveler. (This number includes more dangerous non-commercial air travel.)

4982:1 The odds you’ll kick the bucket as a pedal cyclist over your lifetime.

907:1 The chance of meeting your maker while riding on a motorcycle.

749:1 Your lifetime risk of buying the farm while walking.

415:1 The odds of you giving up the ghost while driving during your lifetime.

85 The fatality rate risk multiplier for helicopters compared to driving.

Sources: Business Insider; Slate

The Question of the Week

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Last Week’s Poll Result

How many trick-or-treaters came to your door this Halloween?

  • 0 (43%)
  • 1 – 25 (23%)
  • 26 – 50 (13%)
  • 51 – 100 (11%)
  • More than 100 (10%)

With more than 300 people responding last week, it looks like most folks got to keep all of the Halloween candy they bought for themselves. Lucky dogs.

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

From June 2009:

Extended Warranties: 4 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Commit — After countless cookouts and parties guys like me end up getting attached to our barbecues the same way we get attached to our dogs. Um, okay, Len. But what’s that got to do with extended warranties? Oh, you’ll see…

And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …

Joseph Anthony Writes – How to Give Yourself a Fighting Financial Chance

The Wealth Gospel – The Twitter IPO: A Big Disappointment for the Little Guy

L Bee and the Money Tree – Forgiving Myself for My Money Mistakes

Rockstar Finance – What Is Money?

Cash Cow Couple – 10 Reasons to Get a Credit Card Today

Podcast News

On this week’s Stacking Benjamins podcast, my roundtable partners and I discuss my post on 8 Misleading Claims People Make to Close a Deal.

Credits and Debits

Credit: In 1999, Venezuela’s socialist revolution brought “free” healthcare to all of its citizens — but now their government healthcare system is collapsing. As a result, the few remaining more-efficient private hospitals there now treat 53% of the nation’s patients despite having only 16% of the beds. Forward!

Debit: In fact, Venezuela’s centrally-planned single-payer healthcare system is so broken that hospitals are forced to operate without critical medical supplies and facility repairs. The situation is so dire that just 1 in 4 cancer patients there receive treatment because most of the nation’s radiology machines are broken.

Debit: Meanwhile, severely underpaid doctors have had enough. Since the advent of “free” healthcare for all, 50% of Venezuela’s doctors have quit in order to escape the resulting wage oppression. Nurses and support staff are leaving in droves too.

Debit: Sadly, the Associated Press quotes one ardent supporter of Venezuela’s socialist revolution — who now has the misfortune of being unable to get the “free” cancer treatment she was promised — as saying she has “nowhere else to turn.”

Credit: Thankfully, that’s only true for those who naively believe that government is the best answer for every problem — despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

Debit: Hey! In case you missed it, America just had its own healthcare revolution. The US government now not only dictates that everyone must buy health insurance — whether they want it or not — but also the type of coverage its citizens can and cannot buy. Yes, THAT America.

Debit: By the way, it’s been just two months since the Obamacare exchanges officially opened for business on October 1st, and more than 4.2 million people have now seen their insurance policies canceled. Yes, even though the President promised — at least 36 times — that the revolution would let folks keep their existing policies if they liked them. Period. End of story.

Debit: Despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary, the President is now revising history and claiming that he said folks could keep their plan onlyif it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” You can’t make this up, folks. Well, on second thought … the President just did.

Debit: America’s healthcare revolution is plagued with crony capitalism too. According to the New York Post: “A tech firm linked to a campaign-donor crony of President Obama not only got the job to help build the federal health-insurance Web site – but also is getting paid to fix it.” Unbelievable.

Debit: Meanwhile, defenders of the revolution are shamelessly peddling the canard that it’s the insurance companies that are to blame for the dropped policies, when in fact it’s the government’s own Obamacare regulations that eviscerated the grandfather loophole.

Credit: The good news is, the longer this goes on, the sooner Obamacare advocates will finally realize that the counter-revolutionaries are correct in their assessment that Obamacare is doomed to fail and, therefore, must be repealed. Then again, if this couple is any indication, maybe not.

Debit: In other news, the stock market is still soaring, but warning signs are everywhere. Twitter saw its stock soar 73% in its market debut — despite evidence that suggest that its current lofty price level is not realistic when considering future earnings.

Credit: The Dow remains on a tear too, as the market index ended the week at yet another all-time high — undoubtedly buoyed by the Fed’s continuing quantitative easing (QE) program, which pumps $85 billion of fresh money into the economy every month.

Debit: Of course, in the real world, a soaring stock market typically signals that an economy is running on all cylinders — so why does the Fed insist on continuing its QE program? The answer is simple … assuming you’re wide awake.

Other Useless News

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

1. Montana (2.12 pages/visit)
2. North Dakota (2.02)
3. Wyoming (2.01)
4. Utah (1.99)
5. Wisconsin (1.96)

46. Kentucky (1.59)
47. Rhode Island (1.58)
48. Delaware (1.57)
49. Iowa (1.56)
50. Nevada (1.54)

Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like my friends in the great state of Montana) — or not (ahem, Nevada) — 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! You can reach out to me at:

After learning that I’ve had the misfortune of being a victim of not one, but two armed robberies, Kurt from Money Counselor said this:

Two armed robberies! Where do you hang out, Len?”

Apparently, a place where criminals are incapable of reading those “Gun Free Zone” signs.

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.


  1. 3

    Paul N says

    Not sure if anyone watches Bill Mahar’s show…

    Apparently the left is allowed to make “little white lies” if it’s for the greater good… That’s how these morons tried to pass off the “minor” issues with Obamacare.

    Great show – they invite the weakest guests from the right and ambush them every week. Be nice to actually have intelligent people from both sides sit down with hard facts and lay actual factual truth on the table once in a while.

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