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.
Let’s get right to it today.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From February 2009:
Don’t Get Caught Paying the “Stupid Tax” – Are you one of the millions of people out there who pay this voluntary tax? If so, you’ll stop after reading this article.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …
Frugal Guru Guide – A Dollar Is a Dollar Is a Dollar
Retire by 40 – Can You Retire with a Million Dollars?
Budgets are Sexy – “Afraid of Money”
Afford Anything – We Bought House #4. Check It Out!
Reach Financial Independence – Budgeting for a New Home
Credits and Debits
Debit: Have you noticed the final number on the gasoline pump after you fill your tank? Blame it on oil, which finished the week at $108.05; that’s the highest it’s been since March 2012. Over the past three weeks, the price of oil has climbed almost 17%.
Debit: In the US, the average price of gasoline is now $3.67 per gallon. In California it’s even worse; the average pump price is pushing $4.17 per gallon. Yesterday, my neighborhood station was selling petrol for $4.23 per gallon.
Credit: Although gasoline prices are continuing to rise, the general consensus seems to be that the average American won’t feel any significant pain until oil prices approach $115 or $120 per barrel. We’ll see.
Debit: In California, the average gasoline price is now pushing towards $4.17 per gallon. Yesterday, my neighborhood station was selling petrol for $4.23 per gallon.
Debit: Of course, just this week, Ben Bernanke told Congress that the miniscule inflation figures provided by the US Labor Bureau for things like food, rent and gasoline are actually overstated. In fact, according to Ben, “They’re not much different from where they were a year ago.”
Credit: Obviously, you should take whatever the Fed chairman says with a
grain heaping tablespoon of salt. Bernanke also told Congress that he’s keeping interest rates low because the US economy is weak. Never mind that he also testified that stock prices are at record highs because … wait for it … the economy is strong. I know.
Debit: Mr. Bernanke isn’t the only one who has some explaining to do. The US Treasury has been reporting the National Debt to be exactly $16,699,396,000,000.00 since May 17 — even though the net value of Treasury Securities circulating in the public has increased by more than $51 billion since then. Must be new math.
Credit: I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the debt figure being reported by the Treasury stalled at a mere $25 million below the legal limit. It’s just one more sign that our government is becoming more corrupt with each passing day.
Credit: On a somewhat related note, after 60 years of gross fiscal mismanagement and destructive policies, Detroit finally threw in the towel and declared bankruptcy. The city is currently saddled with an astounding 78,000 abandoned buildings and $18 billion in debt.
Debit: Despite the dire financial straits Detroit finds itself in, two of Detroit’s pension funds, including one represented by Detroit police and firefighters, filed a lawsuit to block the city’s bankruptcy filing.
Credit: Hopefully, their suit falls on deaf ears: Without bankruptcy protection, Detroit will be stuck allocating a staggering 65 cents of every tax dollar on city retiree pensions and healthcare by 2017.
Debit: Speaking of government-provided healthcare, according to a survey conducted by the US Chamber of Commerce, 74% of small businesses plan to either fire workers or cut employee hours to avoid Obamacare taxes.
Credit: No matter how long we’ll soon be waiting for treatment, or how high our premiums rise, at least we can all take solace in knowing that Obamacare will still allow us to keep our own doctors — just like the president promised.
Debit: Oh wait … According to the Department of Health and Human Services, you may NOT be able to keep your doctor under Obamacare after all. It figures.
Debit: And you thought our Congressmen were the only politicians who didn’t read the Obamacare bill before it was signed into law.
By the Numbers
Here is a little more info on Detroit’s bankruptcy:
5 Detroit’s rank among the most populous US cities in 1950, when 1.8 million people lived there.
700,000 Population of Detroit today.
30,000 Number of current and retired city workers.
$18.5 billion Detroit’s total debt and liabilities.
$26,428 Current liability for every resident of Detroit.
$9.2 billion Unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities claimed by Detroit’s two pension funds.
$306,666 Current pension liability on the books, on average, for every current and retired city employee.
The Question of the Week
Last Week’s Poll Result
Is money the root of all evil?
- No (69%)
- Yes (23%)
- I’m not sure. (8%)
Other Useless News
Here are the top — and bottom — five Canadian provinces and territories in terms of the average number of pages viewed per visit here at Len Penzo dot Com over the past 30 days:
1. Prince Edward Island (2.73 pages/visit)
2. Manitoba (2.17)
3. Saskatchewan (2.07)
4. Nova Scotia (1.95)
5. British Columbia (1.74)
9. Quebec (1.49)
10. Newfoundland (1.26)
11. New Brunswick (1.21)
12. Yukon Territory (1.00)
13. Northwest Territories & Nunavut (1.00)
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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! You can reach me at: Len@LenPenzo.com
Earlier this week Jay wrote to share had observation he had:
I’ve just spent about an hour on your site. You seem to be incredibly cheep [sic].
Whatever. By the way, Jay … Do you know why it’s easy for baby chicks to talk? Because talk is cheep.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.