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…
Since it has been all over the news this week, I’m sure most of you have already heard the surprising announcement. To be sure, it caught almost everyone off guard, even though it will surely affect all of us for the rest of our lives.
Frankly, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the complex decision that finally came down and shocked us all.
I mean, come on … think about the magnitude of what just happened: Tom Cruise and Katy Holmes are actually getting divorced!
I know. Moving on …
In case you’re wondering, I’m skipping my witless commentary on the featured articles this week because my “Credits and Debits” section ran a bit longer than usual. (Please hold your sarcastic applause until the end of the show.)
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
The Finance Buff – Payment Flexibility Insurance: Pay a 30 Year Loan on a 15 Year Schedule
Money Beagle – I’ll Take No Icky Water for 90 Cents, Please!
Fabulously Broke in the City – 10 Money Lessons
Personal Finance Success – Do Not Depend on One Source for Retirement
Prairie EcoThrifter – Delayed Gratification: A Strategy to Curb Overspending and a Sound Financial Future
PT Money – The Single Most Important Money Saving Tip
Financial Samurai – Winners and Losers of Obamacare. Hooray!
Your Finances Simplified – How to Productively Use Failure
Millionaire Nurse Blog – Teaser Headlines: Don’t Fall for Them!
Beating Broke – Growing Potatoes in Containers
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From July 2009:
Is the Payback Period on Energy Efficient CFL Bulbs Too Long? – This post is famous if only because a portion of it was excerpted and used as a problem for an accounting textbook published by John Wiley and Sons. Somebody pinch me. I still can’t get over that I’m a published author! (And in case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t get paid a single dime.)
Credits and Debits
Credit: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 2 percent on Friday, soaring 277 points, resulting in its best June since 1997. Hooray! Normally June is second only to September as the worst month for stocks.
Debit: Don’t get too excited though; for the quarter, the Dow still finished down 2.51 percent. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 finished the second quarter lower too; 5.06 and 3.29 percent, respectively.
Debit: So what caused Friday’s surge in the markets? Germany caved in and agreed to facilitate yet another bailout that, essentially, results in the “printing” of more euros.
Credit: Of course, European leaders warned that any future euro bailouts will be reserved for … wait for it … countries that behave financially. I know. But this time, folks, they really really really mean it!
Debit: Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime. No? Then kindly explain how the US could spend $16 trillion since 1964 on welfare programs yet fail to decrease the poverty rate after 48 years.
Debit: That hasn’t stopped Washington D.C. from continuing to fight Lyndon Johnson’s woefully misguided War on Poverty. In fact, since January 2009, welfare spending has increased 41 percent — that’s more than $193 billion annually.
Debit: From the Wall Street Journal: “The average Stockton, California firefighter costs the city about $157,000 a year in pay and benefits and can retire at age 50 with a pension equal to 90% of his highest year’s salary plus nearly free lifetime health benefits.” Unbelievable.
Credit: Absurd union deals like that is a very big reason why Stockton filed for bankruptcy this week. It’s not just the fire department that is plundering city coffers either — other city employees have similar sweetheart pay and pension deals.
Debit: Meanwhile, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the US Supreme Court’s four liberal judges and upheld Obamacare, essentially concluding that Congress can’t regulate inactivity, but they can tax it. Huh?
Debit: In other words, Congress can now tax its citizens for NOT buying something. That includes millions of young — and currently uninsured — folks who weighed the risks and decided not to buy health insurance. They’ll be paying now.
Debit: Speaking of new taxes, Obamacare leaves in place 21 tax increases that will cost citizens more than $675 billion over the next decade. Over half of those tax hikes will affect families earning less than $250,000 per year.
Debit: By the way, what’s to stop the same Congressmen who unleashed this law from now trying to tax us for not buying hybrid cars, rooftop solar panels, and union-made products? I’m not sayin’. I’m just sayin’.
Credit: I think most folks have forgotten that the Constitution is a document of enumerated powers. At least it’s supposed to be. In theory, the federal government can only do what the Constitution says it can do. Everything else is reserved for the states — including universal healthcare.
Credit: That also includes Social Security, Medicare, and all the other welfare and entitlement programs that the federal government is now on the hook for.
Credit: So what’s done is done, and the fight to pull the plug on Obamacare becomes another political battle, making the November elections the final referendum on a law which is still opposed by a solid majority of Americans. It ain’t over yet, folks.
Credit: Finally … the business climate may be rotten overall, but don’t tell that to so-called “breastaurants” — you know, places like Hooters. That’s because the top three chains behind Hooters saw sales increase 30 percent last year.
Credit: According to one “breastaurant” CEO, even though his customer base is 75 percent male, the patrons insist their experience is about far more than, well … the mammaries. Right.
Debit: I mean, really, folks — even I don’t buy that. I’ve been to Hooters several times; I can assure you it wasn’t because I had a hankerin’ for fine cuisine.
Credit: Obviously, that CEO must think he’s talking to a bunch of boobs.
By the Numbers
A little more on the Hooters restaurant chain:
1983 Year the first Hooters opened. (Clearwater, Florida)
430 Restaurants, worldwide, in 27 countries.
32 Percentage of management team and corporate staff that are female.
68 Percentage of revenue derived from food sales.
28 Percentage of revenue from beer, wine and spirit sales.
2003 Year Hooters launched their own airline: Hooters Air. (Before folding in 2006, it served 15 cities including Las Vegas and Nassau.)
696 Number of rooms at the Hooters Casino Hotel in Las Vegas.
0 Since it was first opened in 2006, the number of years that the Hooters Casino Hotel has turned a profit.
Sources: Hooters; Wikipedia
The Question of the Week
Other Useless News
I’ll be heading out to Hawaii for a little vacation next weekend, but I’ll be sure to send an update or two while I’m out there! I’ve also lined up some fine bloggers who were kind enough to fill in for me while I’m away including:
Oh, yes … of course, Aunt Doris will also be making another guest appearance. This time she’ll be sharing the secrets that have enabled her to reach 91-years young.
One last thing: Whether or not you enjoy what you’re reading — please don’t forget to:
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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!
Willie Nelson Fan took umbrage with my joke making fun of the dental shortcomings of Willie’s fans:
Hey now Len! That wasn’t nice! I love Willie Nelson and I’ve got ALL my teeth!
Good for you! And I hope you’re taking good care of both of them.
(Okay. You can applaud now.)
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.