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Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
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…
Fiscal Fizzle - I love Fiscal Fizzle! I love that little pepper in the blog header. Oddly, I also feel a special kinship with its proprietor, Wojciech, although I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because Wojciech (Darn it! Note to self: find out Wojciech’s nickname ASAP – I feel like I’m taking a typing test here) is an architect, which I always wanted to be when I was growing up. Anyway, Wojciech tackled an ethical dilemma regarding whether it is appropriate to walk away from a home that is worth less than is owed on it.
Here’s my two cents: Having been in such a position for seven long years during the southern California housing slump of the 1990s, I don’t feel guilty saying it’s absolutely unethical to walk away from a mortgage if you have the means to pay it. Besides, if enough people behaved that way, the entire housing market would eventually break down and collapse because lenders would simply stop loaning money for homes.
Mighty Bargain Hunter – The Bargain Hunter was asking the other day “What do you do when someone prices an item way too low?” At first I thought this might be a trick question, but as I continued to read the article, I realized the Bargain Hunter was serious. Personally, I always snap-up grossly under-priced items and promptly say “thank you very much!” Then I call my friends and tell them about the bargain so they can take advantage of it too.
Here’s my two cents: Caveat emptor is Latin for “let the buyer beware.” But the free market is a two-way street and for that reason caveat venditor, “let the seller beware,” is another warning that is just as legitimate. At least it is in my book.
Bargain Brianna – Since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to drop in on Bargain Hunter’s twin cousin – Bargain Brianna. I love visiting Brianna because she’s always highlighting some really great offers. Check out her site sometime – you won’t be disappointed. This week I noticed she had a post alerting readers that A&W Restaurants are offering a printable coupon for a free limeade through October 3.
Here’s my two cents: Now call me crazy, but isn’t A&W famous for their root beer? Uh-huh, that’s what I thought. So why, dear God, are they offering a coupon for limeade? Who is the marketing genius who thought of this offer? That’s like KFC offering coupons for hamburgers.
The Digerati Life - Earlier this week I hopped on over to SVB’s site to check out this excellent post on the best credit card reward programs. Unfortunately I’m still infatuated with that blog’s beautiful header image I call Logo Girl. Yesterday I found myself in a meeting at work and my mind started to wander off track and before I knew it I was picturing me and Logo Girl strolling hand in hand down a sandy Hawaiian beach. I know that’s a stretch – after all, I’m sub-human and Logo Girl is just a j-peg. But it doesn’t matter – in fact, I actually picked up a little something for her today. I hope she likes them! And please, nobody tell the Honeybee.
Credits and Debits
Debit: The taxpayer rip-off better known as Cash for Clunkers generated nearly 700,000 new car sales during the past month. This government handout program, which ended late Monday, gave the U.S. auto industry a badly needed jolt of activity during the deepest decline in auto sales in over twenty years. The government, releasing final data on the car incentives, said Wednesday that our children will be paying $2.88 billion for the subsidized car sales, long after those cars are eventually relegated to the junk yard. Pathetic.
Debit: While we’re on the subject of automobiles… a man contemplating suicide caused a traffic jam last Sunday when he threw more than $1000 onto a Los Angeles-area freeway and people dashed into the lanes to grab the cash. A police spokesman said at least ten people risked their lives to collect the fluttering money and he’s asking the daredevils that pocketed it to turn the cash in so it can be returned to the man, who is now hospitalized and undergoing psychiatric evaluations. Heh. I’m sure they’ll get right on that, officer.
Credit: Better-than-expected durable goods and housing data followed positive readings Tuesday about consumer sentiment and home prices. Orders for durable goods rose last month by the largest amount in two years, and new U.S. home sales jumped 9.6 percent in July, a fourth straight monthly gain that beat analysts’ expectations.
Credit: Tell me if you’ve heard this before. There’s another socialist country currently suffering from a shortage of toilet paper. This time it’s Cuba and the shortage is expected to last through the end of the year. “But, Len, Cuba is a communist country.” Communism, socialism. You say tomato, I say tom-ah-to. One of the few differences I can see between the two is that socialist countries seem to put a priority on ensuring their citizens have adequate supplies of toilet paper; communist countries don’t.
Credit: As if a lack of toilet paper in his country wasn’t bad enough, in a recent speech President Raul Castro also complained that Cuba’s productivity is too low. Raul shouldn’t be surprised; that’s what happens when a country forcibly redistributes most of the wealth from its productive citizens to those who can’t/won’t/don’t work. To remedy the problem, Castro is putting more state-owned land in private hands and pushing for salaries to be, get this, based on productivity! Hey, wait a minute… that smells a lot like – capitalism! But seriously, you really have to give Raul some credit – our president would have appointed “productivity” and “toilet paper” czars followed by increasing the country’s current level of government intervention.
Credit: By the way, the word on the street is that, after patiently waiting for almost six months, Raul finally got an appointment with his government-run health care physician for an unspecified ailment. Rumor has it that the purpose of Castro’s doctor visit was to take care of an itchy butt.
Other Useless News:
This week I posted my three largest consecutive days in terms of unique visitors. On both Monday and Tuesday I had a modest total of slightly over 170 unique visitors, and Wednesday was almost that good, thanks largely to my article comparing costs of the 10 most common brown-bag sandwiches. Hooray! Now those can’t all be my relatives, can they?
Last month I noted that Jesus Christ was now following me on Twitter. Well, I got a notice the other day saying the late Jimmy Stewart has also decided to follow me too! Thanks, Jesus, for passing the word! Hey Jesus and Jimmy, don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too!
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts You May Have Missed
From February 2009:
Don’t Get Caught Paying “The Stupid Tax” – What’s “The Stupid Tax?” Here’s a hint: most of us have paid it at least once or twice in our lifetimes, but a few pay it almost every day.
Update: My Shameless RSS Experiment — Week 11
This is week 11 of My Shameless RSS Experiment. I am very excited now that I’m over the hump toward my very modest goal of reaching 100 subscribers. This week I got three more new subscribers. Not as many as I hoped for, but we’re marching forward!
As always, if you like what you’re reading please take a moment to subscribe. I’d really appreciate it! And, as always, thanks to all of you who have already chosen to follow me here at Len Penzo dot Com!
Last week I had articles featured in the following carnivals and podcasts:
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