Tag Archives: money

What’s Wrong With Everything…Still?

4 Jul

I wrote this post 2 years ago and it seems to me that…Here’s what’s wrong with everything…still.

Banks can borrow money from the federal government at less than 1% interest. 0.75% to be exact.

Can you? Nope. You can borrow it from the banks at about 5 times that rate, if you’re lucky, wealthy or not a student looking to get an education.

Banks already have your money and pay you less than 1% interest to do whatever they want with it…including putting it in places that it doesn’t belong…and then losing it!

As if that should even be possible. And banks only have to keep 3% of our money on hand in case we ask for some of it back.

And why do banks who have our money to play with… basically for free… need to borrow money from the feds anyway?

How much does the bank charge you to: write a check? Make a withdrawal at an ATM? Take out a home loan? Take out a student loan? Take out an equity loan? Pay interest on credit cards? Close an account? Receive a paper statement? Use a human teller??? …and all at a place that has your money to begin with?

This is not how it used to be and Can anyone explain why this is how it is now… and how these policies will lead to a better future for you or your children or your communities? (I am assuming you don’t own a bank)

I…continue to… welcome all thoughts, insights and explanations.

Live to Eat

22 Apr

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Sun Trust bank has revealed that many Americans can’t save money these days because…they eat it! Not literally of course…it’s just that they spend it all at restaurants in exchange for eating food.
The poll found that as many as 44% of American households that earn 75,000 dollars or more a year, describe their households as “living paycheck to paycheck”  because they dine out too much.

And A full 71% of Millennials with the same household income, say that entertainment and dining out expenses devour most of their extra income, making it almost impossible for them to save money for that possible future “rainy day” or other important living expenses that one might encounter in the future, such as weddings, vacations, children etc…

The bank commissioned the study to try to find out why folks and families aren’t saving more money. Similar studies on spending habits have uncovered that Americans now even spend more at restaurants than grocery stores. In January alone the country spent 50.4 billion dollars…eating and entertaining themselves at restaurants! Together, at home and in those restaurants, Americans spend over 100 billion dollars each month on food. That’s over 1 trillion dollars spent on food each year in the USA!

Yow! That’s a lot of eats! And wouldn’t you know it, that as of 2013 there were also 108 million American dieters, making 4-5 dieting attempts per year and spending close to 70 billion dollars on dieting and weight loss! That’s a whole lot of money spent on attempted weight loss after eating and gaining weight…when you figure that you could have just not eaten the food in the first place. Imagine the savings then?! I’m sure that Sun Trust Bank can…but we Americans would rather bight our tongues and eat them… rather than save money…or at least that’s sure how it seems.

But get this! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, when it comes to consumer food purchases, Americans spend the least on food consumed at home compared with just about every other country in the world…and our spending on food — proportional to our income — has actually declined since 1960!  In fact, the average share of per capita income spent on food fell from 17.5 percent in 1960 to 9.9 percent in 2013.

So we, the richest citizens in the richest country in the world, could really be rich…if we’d just stop eating all of the profits…at bars and restaurants!

However, even in America, the less you make, the bigger your food spending will be relative to your income. For example: In 2013, people in the lowest income bracket spent an average of 3,655 dollars annually on food, which was 36 percent of their total income, while people in the highest income bracket, spent about 11,000 dollars annually on food, which was only about 8 percent of their earnings. So rich folks can spend 3 times as much on food as poor folks do but at 4 times the savings…so to speak. Go figure!

Which begs my final thought on the matter. Why do all of the wealthiest Americans get so bent out of shape about providing food stamps for the poorest and hungriest Americans, When it’s already 4 times more costly for the poor in America to eat, as a percentage of their income? Especially when eating seems to be our country’s national past time, with over-eating a close second?!…and besides, if we all really needed more money for ourselves, then, rather than taking food stamps out of hungry parent’s and children’s mouths…we could just as simply stop putting extra food…AKA our extra cash…in ours!

Let’s face it, rich Americans have more food to eat than anyone else in the world, and also love to show off about how fancy and extravagant they can be about eating it…But give a hungry guy a food stamp and watch him try to buy steak or lobster or even a cold soda so he can get in on the national orgy and enjoy a little fancy eating too, and we all want to burn him at the stake!

And if you just saw that as a barbecue metaphor…I rest my case.

Double Identity!

14 Apr

Well, it has finally happened! I apparently am suffering from an identity crisis…and all because my bank has just informed me that I can’t withdraw any money from the drive-up or teller window unless I show them 2 forms of identification! Who do they think I am anyway?… Do I know?

They take my money just fine without so much as a how-do-ya-do…but when I ask for some…just some… of it back? They can’t tell me, from Bonnie and Clyde! The Teller was very nice, and I know it’s not her fault nor her policy, and she gave me my money (this time) with only my driver’s license as ID…(you know, the one that I could only get when I proved who I was by showing 7 points of Identification to the State of New Jersey) oh, AND MY FACE! Did I mention I had my face with me? My face??? The same one I’ve been wearing for 60 years… this May!

She said, “I can give you your money this time because we know who you are. But next time you’ll need to have 2 forms of identification. I guess It’s because of all of the bank fraud and fake IDs going around these day.”

Really? How is it possible that people are defrauding their own banks, where they do their banking,  with fake IDs…IN PERSON?!?! Did I mention that I was wearing my face at the time? And did you notice that her sentence had “We know who you are” in it? That’s probably because I have been going to that bank for 30 years, looking like I always have looked…except a little older each time…with the same ID and the same bank account and the same FACE! And…did I mention…THEY KNOW WHO I AM!

It is now easier to go buy a gun, with one ID (or none?) return to the teller window, and then just hold up the bank and get my money that way, than it is to ask for it politely with 1 ID and a bank check and a signature. And I’d probably get away with it too because when the police showed up the teller would be like, “Gee officer, I don’t know who the man was. All I saw was his gun and 1 form of ID! He could have been anybody… I guess?”

I just hope I don’t live to see the day when I show up to the bank with my bag of IDs, personal attorney and birth certificate and hear the words. “Money? What money?”

It’s Priceless

8 Apr

Duke 68, Wisconsin 63: 2015 NCAA Basketball Championship final score

$1.1 million: Duke university president salary

$525,000: U. of Wisconsin System president salary

$9,682,032: Duke U. basketball coach earnings

$2,946,000: Wisconsin U. basketball coach earnings

$1.67 million: amount earned per conference per team in the field of 64

$27 million: Duke basketball revenue

$800 million: annual NCAA tournament Net in licensing deals

$9 billion: Amount bet by fans on the basketball tournament

Priceless: What student/athletes earn yearly and for participating in the NCAA basketball tournament

No seriously… priceless… as in 0, zip, zilch, Nada, nothing. And for the fans in the stands…

$27,711.00: Average UW-Madison student loan debt

$21,884.00: Average Duke U. student loan debt

Here in the USA we love to be entertained, and we love our entertainers.

Education and our students?… Not so much…

Oh yeah, and by the way, The NCAA is a tax-exempt, non-profit association…their chairman earns 1.7 million dollars per year and they just signed a 10.8 billion dollar, fourteen-year, contract with CBS and Turner Broadcasting just to televise college games.

Also Priceless: 501 (c)(3) charitable status…at least it can’t hurt.

What a Pip!

4 Apr

Charles Dickens desk chair

The desk of the late, great Charles Dickens, author of Great Expectations and many other famous English novels, has been found! And purchased for £780,000! That’s 1,156, 591.US dollars…and 80 cents.

The desk where I write is probably worth closer to the 80 cents than any other part of that monetary amount…but more than likely it will end up in a landfill somewhere or as kindling for some local fireplace because, alas, I have not written anything famous…except for that last word.

Dickens’ desk however, and accompanying chair (my apologies to the chair…for which truly has the greatest claim to fame? The desk upon which the paper sat or the chair upon which the author sat?) were purchased by England’s National Heritage Memorial Fund and the furniture will go on display at the Charles ­Dickens Museum, one of the author’s former homes in London, where he lived for two years.

More than 1,200 items and places have been preserved by the fund, which exists to safeguard England’s heritage. My desk should at least be famous to some of the members of my family. It’s where I have spent many a moment in my life… when I wasn’t paying any attention to them, that is, so perhaps infamous, would be a better word.

Still…we humans have a strange penchant for wanting to preserve that which we think or feel has some special meaning… for all time. Especially if it is old. The older the better it seems. And the older, the more venerable or holy the object or place becomes. Although sometimes what we think as valuable becomes less so, if even valuable at all, after we die. Then the value of said object or place is up to whoever gets to possess it after you.

In the case of Charles Dickens’ desk, what was once just a desk, where once upon a time a man sat and wrote, is now a million dollar work of art. Whereas my desk?…well, somewhere in the future, someone might be cursing the man who somehow managed to get such a giant monstrosity through such a little door…while they search the rest of the house for the old man’s axe.

But still…a million dollars for a desk!?!!!

Ah well, Somewhere the ghost of Charles Dickens is penning a new novel about poor, hungry, disenfranchised and homeless souls searching for a place to sleep and a crust of bread to eat while somewhere nearby in a large country estate, well-to-do official sorts, sit and discuss over hot tea and crackers how to spend over 1 million dollars on one single museum piece in order to..as the newspaper article so aptly put it, “save the nation’s best heritage in memory of those who gave their lives for the UK.”

Goodnight sweet desk: And £780,000 sing thee to thy rest!…You’ve now got it better than most.

Deja Vu All Over Again, Again?

17 Mar

Well it’s Spring!…again…almost… and here on the east coast Spring has apparently been lionized for the entire month of March, so baseball season won’t begin until April this year… But no matter what the weatherman says baseball and opening day shall always spring eternal… although this year the season might not end until Thanksgiving!

Anyway, speaking of America’s favorite pastime, I have been a New York Yankee fan long enough to remember their 1965 collapse into mediocrity after a 1964 season that saw them finish one game away from the World Championship…for in 1965 as the great Yogi Berra might have phrased it, “The Yankees suddenly got old, early out there.”

And now 50 years later the Yankees stand on the precipice of continuing that trend again…but with a continued twist.

With their aging heroes continuing to age and with the return of our favorite exiled anti-hero, AKA Alex Rodriguez, the NY Yankees still owe their players over 200 million dollars in annual salary…and all for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in the last 2 years. That’s a lot of money spent for mediocrity but nothing says America quite like spending a lot of money for nothing…and then passing the buck onto the American taxpayer. For the Aging New York Yankees play in the house that “tax exempt financing” built.

Yankee Stadium is the most expensive baseball stadium ever constructed and although the Yankees paid for it (sort of)…They get to use their taxes to pay off their debt…which would be like you getting to use your property taxes to pay off your mortgage… (sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?)…but it is.

So, will joy return to Mudville this year? Along with Alex Rodriguez? All I can say is “Stay tuned!” Because when they fell from grace back in 1965 the Yankees had to wait 10 years until free agency was invented before they could put themselves back together again. But as a Yankee fan rooting for a team that still has access to free agency and with seemingly unlimited resources, in a city that can’t seem to wait to continue picking up the tab, I can only hope that it’s finally time for the next “new” thing…

A-Rod the Cyborg! After all, he’s not some cheap 6 million dollar man…he’s our 20 million dollar man!

Hopefully he used last year’s suspension from baseball for his steroid use, to have himself not only detoxed… but rebuilt! With the finest metal alloys and computer programming that the Yankees and NY taxpayers could buy. So let’s play ball and pray for sunshine…warm weather…and no rain…and definitely no lightning!

And no crazy new rules outlawing cyborgs! …Well, I can dream can’t I?

It’s Academic

25 Feb

In the history of the world there have been many great and prosperous civilizations and they have all failed. And usually at the time of the failing some few folks had all of the money and most other folks had none. They were either Kings or Queens or Popes or Emperors or Czars or Caesars or Pharaohs or whatever and they always invoked the divine right of the gods as the reason for concentrating all of that wealth in the hands of one man or one small circle of family and friends. Eventually the disenfranchised, poor populace grows disinterested and disaffected and the empire succumbs to a force of outsiders who invade and plunder. While the wealthy few run away or hide or are murdered or all 3! Then the new conquerors share in the plunder and even rejoice while sharing, and then the cycle begins anew as the new leaders emerge and invariably begin indulging in their own grandeur until…

Fortunately we no longer have empires such as those in the world today but we still have world leaders who rule with concentrated power and wealth. In the United States however, our president is not among the wealthiest men in the nation and we have no all powerful despot who rules with an iron hand under the divine rights of either religion or lineage but we still have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few and those few are now the business and corporate leaders of the world. Where we once had popes and kings we now have CEOs and corporations (The latter which ironically enough have recently been declared to be persons by our Supreme Court composed of actually real people!) and they have quite a large amount of wealth at their disposal which is growing while the wealth of the common population is shrinking. This is the historical recipe for national disaster. No matter how vast and distant the empire may reach, when the interior rots the empire always withers and dies.

Our public schools represent that interior. They are the nucleus which fuels the fire of freedom and free enterprise. We have built our greatness from the inside out and we look to replenish our strengths and our greatness through the rebirth and reaffirmation of our ideals in our children. In our best of times, We have spread our influence through the free trade and free movement of our citizens and by setting an example of economic wealth that can be earned and shared and experienced by all and not concentrated within a few.

Our public schools must be fortified and not abandoned. They must be embraced and enhanced and empowered in terms of anticipating and responding to technological, social, political, economic, and competitive change. Healthy cultures must always be willing to rethink their most basic assumptions about themselves in order to improve and grow and repair their societies and we must be willing to accept that what our schools need now more than ever is not a cut in spending but rather a renewed effort to spend more on the future and the future generations who will lead us.

Today’s students are willing to work hard but what makes us think that they are going to be willing to work hard for low wages that would suffice a life in China or India or some other-where where they don’t live? America’s corporate leaders and great men of wealth need to stop hoarding and start spreading the wealth. They can begin by first embracing the public schools of this country with largess and generosity and then by raising wages across the middle and poorer classes of society so that the term “working poor” is eradicated from our vocabulary.

Today’s students of the 21st century in America are beginning to notice that it is getting harder and harder to bring the American dream, a dream of studying hard then working hard, and then achieving affluence, into focus and for most of our poorest students that dream is nothing more than a taunting apparition of their hopelessness: a happy meal that they will never be able to afford

J.R.Goldrich

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