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Scared Straight

Thursday, September 24th, 2009, by

First…a confession. I collect random statistics the way some hobbyists collect stamps or coins. I find them irresistible. Glancing through the InvestmentNews issue of September 7th, 2009, I immediately flipped to the inside back page, going directly to the column labeled “Go Figure.” Always good for a half dozen statistical oddities. This one absolutely floored […]

The Economics of “Stuff”

Friday, September 11th, 2009, by

The late comic George Carlin was posthumously awarded the Mark Twain prize for humor….a presentation that was broadcast earlier this year. Carlin was one of the most inventive and insightful of the stand up comedy fraternity..and I well remember his comic riff on all the stuff we accumulate…and what happens when we travel and must […]

The Death of the Paycheck

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009, by

Younger workers may never have experienced the thrill of receiving an actual paycheck. It’s an anachronism now, just as prior generations used to line up at the paymaster’s window to receive cash compensation. I’ve long favored direct deposit, as the essential first step in gaining control of your personal finances. From there, the income stream […]

Cash for Clunkers…the Case Against

Monday, August 10th, 2009, by

You have to be a real grouch these days to advocate against the flood of free money. I don’t mind the job.  Someone has to be the skunk at this picnic. Where to start? 1.  This is not $4,500 of free money. Your trade-in clunker is valued at its scrap value only, minus a $50 […]

Tax Reform You Can Believe In, Part II

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009, by

Now that we’ve solved the dilemma of funding universal health care, let’s move on to remedy another gaping hole in the tax collecting bucket. The real estate lobby has enshrined residential real estate as the most sacred and untouchable of all exemptions and deductions. Some actually make sense to me.  Of course, real estate taxes […]

Falling into the VAT, Part III

Thursday, May 28th, 2009, by

The question about the VAT (Value Added Tax) is not if…but when. This is a no brainer.  Indirect taxation is always an easier mode of plunder for governments…going  back four hundred years at least. Jean Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683), legendary finance minister to Louis XIV, famously said.. “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the […]

This Gun is Not for Hire

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009, by

Our nanny state government is ever vigilant in its never ending defense of clueless consumers. Latest case in point….The FTC is now examining whether they should police bloggers. (See the Wall Street Journal’s article, “Product Reviews by Bloggers Draw Scrutiny”, from 4/23/09). It’s about time. Now that we are mired in the deepest recession in […]

Prognostications for 2009

Monday, January 5th, 2009, by

“Life isn’t fair. It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.” William Goldman, famed screenwriter 2009 promises to be yet another challenging year, but in no way a carbon copy of 2008. That’s at the core of my disconnect with all the expert talking heads who have internalized the wreckage of the past year and project […]