Prep Your Guest Room

Because if Mr. Obama gets his way, your parents will eventually have no choice but to move in with you.

CNN/Money describes Chained CPI as “The Geeky Debt Fix That Might Work.” It will do no such thing. The assumption is that “CPI overmeasures inflation” when in fact, inflation has been systematically undermeasured for many years. So the answer — according to people who don’t have to balance their own checkbooks — is to adjust inflation yet again so we don’t have to pay more going forward.

That means lower cost of living raises for Congressmen, sure. It also means lower raises for mail carriers, IRS auditors, soldiers and sailors (support our troops, right), and everybody on Social Security. So relative to real inflation, all their paychecks will feel smaller and buy less. In general, wages in this nation haven’t kept up with inflation for most of the last 50 years, so that’s going to hurt even more.

And it’s not going to cut deficits. Even if it works as planned, it will only reduce the rate at which the deficit gets bigger. That’s like going on a weight loss plan and bragging that you’re only gaining 2 pounds a month instead of 5.

Never mind that Social Security does not contribute to the national deficit in any way. Never mind that if the eggheads in Washington were really worried about the idea that at some hazy date in the future, Social Security will pay out more than it pays in, they would suggest raising the maximum contribution.

So go ahead and write or call your Representative and Senators. Send email to the White House too. Ask them point blank:

If Chained CPI is enacted, can my mom come live with you? Because I don’t think I can afford it.

Maybe if they get enough calls, they will notice that this is a bad idea.

In Closing: If this were a math test, they’d fail; Judge cuts political gordian knot; Too Big To Fail is Too Big To Exist; his little outburst earned him a $75k fine and a $100k bonus (explain again how sports makes money for colleges??); Kim, even Castro thinks you’re going too far; and huffing bears.

Follow Up: The Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners at Walgreens are a poor substitute for a Doctor. Some are so dangerous, they don’t even know what they don’t know.

I think I have a better idea….

So Clark County School District — the 5th largest school district in the nation — has a “successful” pilot of a program to keep track of students on school busses. Parents can theoretically find out whether their kids got on the bus, and where the bus is. Roughly 700 of the 110,000 students who daily ride the bus got special ID cards and were tracked for 4 whole weeks. Clearly something short of a representative sample. However, “because of financial problems, the district has shelved any large-scale program.”

Good for administrators for realizing that there were concerns about losing passes, and concerns about the costs of the system.

However, here’s the thing. There’s already a great technology in the hands of many middle school students and virtually all high school students that parents can use to keep track of their kids. Better yet, there is absolutely zero cost to the school district for this technology; most parents willingly — nay, eagerly — pay for implementation and all necessary equipment. I personally tested it for 4 years within the Clark County School District Transportation Department, and I feel certain that other parents here and elsewhere have similar experiences. In one case, I was even alerted to a wreck involving the school bus. This of course not only delayed pickup, but changed the pickup location. Use of this amazing technology saved the school district the time and expense of individual notifications to parents in most cases.

It’s called a cell phone.

Stop trying to reinvent the wheel, and stop pretending that a child’s RFID tag is necessarily in the same location as the child.

In closing: good call; inconvenient truth for anti-porn crusaders; Heinlein; I guess none of the researchers ever played the “telephone game”, or they could have saved a lot of research; so some busybody docs and pharmacists think they know more about women’s reproductive health than gynecologists; support a political cartoonist; hackers, crackers, and black swans; Expert Ezra; what could possibly go wrong; income inequality; the Buffett Rule; sure, there’s no such thing as inflation; and Cat Heaven Island. Enjoy an early Caturday.

Beneath the Shorties

LOL: Enjoy this meme while you can, I figure it’s dead in 3 weeks.

They just keep coming: Remember, the plot to kill Big Bird is still in play. There’s a Million Muppet March planned.

Twelve! Meeeeelion! Jobs!!!: Yeah, so?

Get it off me! Get it get it get it….: Is it just me, or does Mr. Romney look uncomfortable in this picture? You don’t suppose it could be that he’s being touched by a black man, do you?

Beating the dead dressage horse: What Romney’s tax “plan” could do to housing.

If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it: Scientists found a planet twice the size of Earth, largely made of diamond. Good thing it’s far enough away that DeBeers can’t get hold of it!

Like you needed an economist to tell you that: Your paycheck is being outstripped by inflation. So if low interest rates are supposedly the cure for inflation, what the heck is the Fed going to do now??

But apparently some people do need an economist to tell you this: Here’s why cutting taxes never has and never will create jobs.

Gee, maybe saying “no” wasn’t such a good strategy: Failing to pass a Big Agriculture Giveaway  Farm Bill before leaving Washington gave some Democrats an upper hand.

Judges judge things: An Appeals Court has ruled part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

Unexpected Excitement: Passengers on a Canadian airliner helped save a boater’s life. That beats most in-flight movies.

Wheat Ain’t What It Was: On modern wheat.

Not sure how to get out of this mess: Two out of three new college grads has college loan debt, and the average amount is $26,600. The scary part is that many of them won’t be getting jobs anytime soon. Just a reminder, it would take 3668 hours at minimum wage to pay that off. That’s 152 days of nonstop 24/7 labor. And it won’t be wiped out by bankruptcy.

Newsweek: will stop printing a paper edition.

But what about the economy?: Here’s an outline of the risks.

“The other 1%”: 2/3 of the bottom 1% of Americans are in prison.

Turns out it won’t turn good girls into sluts: Girls who get the HPV vaccine are not more likely to have sex.

Carbs: “People 70 and older who eat food high in carbohydrates have nearly four times the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, and the danger also rises with a diet heavy in sugar, Mayo Clinic researchers have found. Those who consume a lot of protein and fat relative to carbohydrates are less likely to become cognitively impaired, the study found.”

And it turns out that Doing Good might Make More Money: At least that’s Coca-Cola’s theory.

Music Monday: Inspiration, Part 1

When I was first losing weight and trying to get fit, there were two music videos that I found inspiring. This is the positive one:


 

Madonna was 40 years old when this was shot, and a new mom. Ok, I couldn’t afford personal trainers and dietitians, but I could watch what I ate and work out.

In Closing: scandal; what about S-Mart?; depressing graphic; some people need to grow up; this could be a problem; history we don’t talk about; and Nipplegate .

The Cabin in the Shorties

Gee, no kidding: When young people pay all their money on student loans, they don’t have money to take out mortgages.

Separate but Equal?: On women’s workouts.

I hate agreeing with Kip: I’ve said a lot of things about former TSA director Kip Hawley over the years, but the Kipster is making sense these days. Among other things he says that there cannot and will not ever be a get out of the security line free card, even though he wanted to make it happen. Turns out that he’s starting to agree with Bruce Schneier at times.

They can only get away with it because mostly poor people ride the bus: Houston is going to put undercover cops and TSA officers on buses to paw through bags, report suspicious activity, and “interrogate” passengers. Where are they getting the money to pay somebody to ride the bus all day?

On the standard of living and the dual income family: Making twice the money but barely having the same standard of living means we are half as well off. Tricks of counting inflation are partly to blame. Of course, some moms (and a small number of dads but CNN doesn’t mention them) are finding that the costs of working can completely devour a paycheck. This is particularly true when the pay gap between men and women is taken into account. Oh, and when the minimum wage is worth less than in the Johnson Administration (when, by the way, the highest tax bracket was much more than it is today).

How nice for them: Bank of America is making money hand over fist again.

Peeing in a Jar: It turns out that Florida‘s drug screening program for welfare applicants was a big waste of money and found drug use rates roughly a third what they are in the general population. Funny, when you barely have money for food you can’t afford weed.

Don’t panic: Yeah, chicken sometimes has E.Coli in it. That’s why you don’t see Chicken Sashimi at your local sushi bar.

It’s back from the dead: Bowles-Simpson. I have a better idea: repeal the tax cuts that gave us a budget problem in the first place, and bring troops home from places they don’t belong.

More than 100 to 1 against: Corn producers want to change labeling of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to the more benign sounding “corn sugar.” They can’t change the fact that some scientists consider it “unsafe for human consumption.” Consumers don’t like the idea.

Let’s Go!: The literal translation of this blog’s title, Ikimashoo.

Right, cause there’s no discrimination any more: Romney thinks it might be time to get rid of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Never mind the other things HUD does. Never mind the portfolio of FHA foreclosures.

Money Quote:First, if suburbanites with above-median incomes are big fans of a program aimed at helping minorities and the poor, it’s a safe bet that it’s not actually helping minorities and the poor.”

And finally: Crime must not pay.

Getting Organized

Like many people, I’ve got stuff that must be done: bills to pay, people to see, floors to clean, you know the drill. And like many people, I find it’s easy to let things slip away if I don’t stay organized. I’m a big believer in “to do lists,” because it’s easy to see what you’ve done and what needs to be done. However, it’s easy to let the chaos of your everyday life spill over into your list.

I’ve got two main methods for keeping a to do list. The first is the “4 boxes” method. I take a piece of notebook paper and divide it into quarters. The first box is labeled Personal, and here’s where I write stuff I have to do for myself:

  • Take vitamins
  • Make hair appointment
  • Finish reading “Diary of a Mad Fat Girl”
  • Call Jane to set up lunch for next week

Box two is for things I do for my family:

  • Defrost meat for dinner
  • Pay bills
  • Clean floors
  • Confirm weekend plans

Box 3 and 4 are flexible, and you can do with them what you like. Perhaps yours are Work and School or Charity. If your job is pretty much the same thing every day,  you probably won’t need a box for it. I’m my own business, so I need two! My third box is Client Service, things I do for my existing clients:

  • Schedule home inspection on Crescent Canyon
  • Get purchase offer to Johnstons
  • Where are signed docs on La Palma Pkwy?
  • Update automated search for Williams

That leaves box 4 for Lead Generation/Follow-Up:

  • Get mailer out
  • Call Goldbergs
  • First meeting w Hendersons at 11
  • Floor duty 12-2

Go ahead and write it all down, but pay particular attention to stuff you don’t do everyday — unless you’re trying to build a new good habit or it’s something you tend to forget. Happily put small things down for the express purpose of crossing it off and feeling good about it.

On the other hand, if you get overwhelmed by a large list like this, I’ve got a new trick that seems to be working well. A motivational speaker came to my office and suggested writing down only the top 5 things that absolutely have to be done today. Well, it occurred to me that not much more than 5 items will fit on a sticky-note. You can stick it to your phone, inside your date book, to the sun visor of your car, to your desk, or pretty much any other place you’ll see it a dozen times a day. Ok, sometimes I cram 6 or even 7 items onto that note. They get done, and that’s the important part.

Ok, ready for In Closing?: resume; clear your search history; and we pay the bill; fat is not the enemy; inflation; the agenda; if they’re following the rules, they have nothing to worry about; and Occupy is still out there.

I Saw the Shorties

I have got to get into the habit of little posts throughout the week. Today’s items are a little mind-blowing.

On Taxes and Debt: Two graphs.

On Inflation: Core rate is crazy.

Explains the Popularity of Certain People: Most people just don’t read books.

I wonder if they’ll remember this come fall: Americans want to nearly double fuel efficiency standards.

Danger, Mistress: Alert the Doctor, Sarah Jane has been traveling solo.

Sadly, probably not a world record: One man eats 25,000 Bic Macs over 13,800 days. I feel bloated just thinking about it.

Speaking of bloating: 513 illegal immigrants in 2 trucks.

Sure, that’s your money, but you can’t have it! You’d just spend it on food and shelter: The Senate wants to “save” you from spending your own 401k funds in an emergency.

Record Used Car Prices: and it’s not just “Cash for Clunkers” that got us here, but the recession and Japan’s earthquake/tsunami issues.

“Banks Say Simpler Mortgage Form Could ‘Stifle’ New Products”: by “stifle“, they mean “make it harder to trick you into getting a mortgage that will gradually strangle your finances.”

On living within your means: If it weren’t for credit cards, the American economy would suck even worse.

On Bid Laden’s Security: It involved about 100 flash drives.

Millenials Have No Clue: They think that they are precious snowflakes that deserve jobs, despite reality.

If you’re going to be out of town for a while, make sure somebody is watching your place: you never know when somebody might set up a brothel inside.

Reid Dares Them: Yeah, go ahead and vote to gut Medicare. Do it. I dare you.

Huh?: Obama says Israel needs to go back to its 1967 borders and like it?? Oy, that will put some people in a tizzy.

Here’s a Hint, Janet: Stop treating us all like criminals. Enough with the nudie scanners. Enough with the probulators. Enough with confiscating our water bottles while letting real threats through. Enough with the Do Not Fly list and other shit that doesn’t keep us safe.

That is all.

Tucker and Shorties vs Evil

Inspirational Story of the Day: Teen disappointed that he didn’t make the soccer team, so he loses 60 pounds and deadlifts 308 pounds. There are lots of things you can do if you want to badly enough.

Um, Yeah: I can see where meeting a co-worker in such a place might be bothersome. Just say “but it’s the Wall Street Journal! I thought it was business news!” if you get caught reading that at work.

Hi-Ho Silver! Away!: Now might be a good time to sell?

That’s a Good Point: Charity and God may go well together, but not always.

What Would Your Doctor Do?: Say no to nudie-scanners.

Let’s just put all this economic news in one spot: First, we’ve got payroll numbers, which are “rising” but at too slow a pace. Campaign for America’s Future reminds us that “it’s the economy, stupid” and “Americans want government to play a larger role in economic recovery.” Because big business doesn’t give a damn; after all there’s an entire rest of the world to exploit. Tiger Beatdown has a nice item on the ongoing class war that nobody [wealthy] wants to talk about. Meanwhile, more and more families are feeding their families with help from food stamps. Inflation is going to make things even worse for those of us who aren’t millionaires. Tim Iacono points out that the savings rate is even worse that we think. Teen joblessness may reach record levels this summer — which means expect idle teens to find ways to get into trouble. People are defaulting on their student loans. But hey, at least small businesses are borrowing money; maybe they’ll actually hire people.

How interesting: So with gas prices what they are and our nation importing oil, American oil companies are exporting more oil than they sell here! And best of all they are sucking down American tax dollars at the same time!

Even Shutting It is Controversial: Yucca Mountain. I guess some good padlocks aren’t sufficient, eh?

Fortune is Right: What good is a consumer protection agency that can’t protect? If Congress waters down consumer protections, or Elizabeth Warren doesn’t get to head the CFPB, you will know that our lawmakers have sold our souls to the banksters that ripped us off.

Susan’s Got a Point: It is called “special education” for a reason.

Eric Holder’s Vow is Worthless: Back in 2009 he vowed to stop raids on medical marijuana facilities (yeah, I’m no HuffPo fan, but the only better link was NYT). But I guess whatever forces really control the War On Drugs Used By Poor And/Or Brown People told him how stuff is: his office has warned states that they will prosecute anyone they think they can prosecute for medical marijuana. Never mind what the people think. Their opinion only counts on election day, after all.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Marie Osmond celebrated her wedding to her third husband… who just happened to have been her first husband. She even got to recycle her original wedding gown. Thanks, NutriSystem!

The *New* New Economy is Not Improved

Let me start by pointing out that today alone, the FDIC had takeover teams at 6yes, 6 — different banks in 3 different states. I think that Count Von Count would not be happy to keep track of this. Another number that would fail to please the Count but might make Dr. Evil happy, an anticipated one million foreclosures this year. That situation will get uglier before a healthy market can possibly emerge.

But as Expert Ezra points out, the reason people are so unhappy with the economy right now has a lot to do with the fact that corporate profits are up over 5%, the actual number of available jobs is down over 5% just since 2007. And frankly, I am of the opinion that without the economic shell game the government has been playing with the data, you would probably find that the 2001 recession never ended.

So then, with unemployment what it is, nobody should be particularly shocked that retail sales are down, again, and specifically sales of big ticket items are down. Nobody being able to afford goods leads quite understandably to the possibility of deflation — particularly if you can’t find a way to mask housing prices that are down by half in some parts of the country. Meanwhile, the rich get richer and the poor can, well, do whatever it is they do.

Add to this toxic stew two items: a political party that still thinks you can raise revenues by cutting taxes, but that making sure that “the least of these” can afford groceries is a bad thing; and a financial reform bill that the nicest thing anybody can say about it is that it’s better than nothing, probably. The safety net is being cut just as we need it most despite our protests, and our largest banks may still have the power to ruin us all.

Next time, assuming I am not distracted by something shiny or butterflies or kittens, The Latte Economy.

In Closing: Gee, greater blogosphere, thanks for noticing what I thought I was too late to say yesterday!; this could be bad; Senator Ensign should really give up now; I wonder how much; and two dinosaurs for the price of one.

Shorties Todd

Well, “free” does appear in the title: someone is suing FreeCreditReport.com for charging them a monthly fee for credit monitoring in order to get that “free” credit report.

How can payrolls and the unemployment rate both go down at the same time?“: More than you want to know about how those figures are manipulated and tortured.

Data bears out common sense: Layoffs are often very bad for the companies that make them. Not only are there severance costs and bad morale (duh), it’s harder to hire back good people when market conditions improve.

Speaking of employment: The President is still of the opinion that small business hiring can and must get us out of this recession. Specifically, he said “Government can’t create these businesses, but it can give entrepreneurs the support they need to open their doors, expand, or hire more workers.” And what does he want to do about it? He wants to expand a couple of SBA programs designed to help well established businesses that already have debt. You know what would really help small businesses? Leveling the playing field with large businesses when it comes to taxes. Dave’s point is that only profits get taxed, which benefits large companies rather than small ones; tax cuts benefit big businesses while shafting the government that needs taxes to run. But let’s face it, Joe’s Hardware Shop has no leverage with city hall, but Wal-Mart can threaten to open in the next town over unless it gets tax breaks.

5th Amendment takes a beating: apparently the Obama Administration reserves the right to assassinate Americans overseas with “special permission.”

Makes me wonder why I bother to pay my mortgage: Here’s your real “phantom inventory,” banks refusing to foreclose on homes where the owner is well over a year in arrears. People are paying credit cards ahead of the mortgage now, which makes sense in a way. Financial planners have always said to pay down your high interest rate debts first! And, well, if the mortgage company is unlikely to foreclose, what incentive is there to pay?

Shackleton’s Whiskey: it’s been freed from ice near the south pole, and sent off for analysis and hopefully recreating lost liquor formulas.

Speaking of drinking: did you know that a 7-11 Double gulp is twice the size of what your stomach should reasonably be able to hold? And, at 64 oz, it’s the equivalent of 8 servings of soda.

And speaking of serving sizes: the FDA wants to crack down on misleading serving sizes on nutrition labels. You know, the ones that say a bowl of cereal is 2 servings, or 6 chips is a serving?

Glad to see someone holding the banks accountable: Cuomo has filed a lawsuit against B of A and several of it’s executives, charging that they hid information from shareholders and lied to the Feds to get bailout money.

And last but not least: a lesson about inflation.

Stay warm and dry, wherever you are.