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Sunday, December 27, 2009

War on Middle Class-Tools for You to Win

The War on the Middle Class Continues...
Here's help!



Cost of Buying a US Senate Seat=$10 Million
Cost of Buying a US House Rep=$1.2 Million
Cost of Buying a Presidency=$200 Million
Cost of the loss of US middle class jobs – priceless!

There are some things money can’t buy, but Congress isn’t one of them!
The War on the middle class has left many pummeled and powerless. That’s because politicians have put the squeeze on the middle class by ignoring the challenges we face. Politicians seem to be beholden to corporate elites and not its citizens. This issue provides more tips, resources and thoughts!
Happy New Year!
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More Recession Survival Tips (Video) at Univ of Nebraska

University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension experts will explain money-saving tactics to stretch your grocery dollars, trim your family budget and make your home more energy efficient in the NET Television production "Recession Survival Guide."
http://www.netnebraska.org/extras/recession/

http://www.squidoo.com/recessionsurvivalstrategies?utm_campaign=direct-discovery&utm_medium=sidebar&utm_source=John_Fenzel

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Living your life vicariously through…celebrities and athletes. Welcome to a shallow planet. The voracious appetite most Americans have for celebrity gossip or the lives of athletes has always puzzled me.
Tons of TV shows, blogs, magazines and other media pound away at celebrity gossip, yet most Americans cannot tell you anything about current political events. The average person can spot Madonna’s underwear before they can point out a photo of the vice-president.
Even local news broadcasts focus on celebrity doo-doo; contributing to the intellectual vacuum which exists in this country.
This topic was once discussed in my sociology class and we reached the conclusion that most folks lead such dull personal lives, their only means of achieving some excitement is through Hollywood or the NFL…bread and circuses for the masses. I don’t recognize the names of half of the ‘celebrities’ featured on magazines…just out of touch.
Frankly, I miss the old National Enquirer with such stories as “Cub scout hacks through limb with his pocket knife.” It was mind candy. I guess too, it’s always easier to sit in judgement about a celebrity vs. one’s own life!

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Thanks to subscriber Michael for this addition to our DIY energy page…
I thought that information on solar power for homes would be a good addition to the page. http://solarpanelsforhomesreview.com/
It provides instructions on a do it yourself site evaluation, comparisons of the different technologies, and more.

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Frugal is back in fashion.
”In a normal recession, people pare back their spending somewhat,” said Craig Thomas, a Pennsylvania-based economist and author of “The Econosphere.” “But this is an honest-to-goodness slam on the brakes. Households have cut way back on their consumption.”


Signs of the trend

For economists, the shift is chronicled through reams of data that track indicators such as consumer debt and same-store sales. The national savings rate, for example, which lingered around 1% in 2008, has soared to 4.4%. Sales of “apparel and notions” have

fallen 13.7% since January. Consumers are even spending less at the grocery store, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-cover-frugal13-2009dec13,0,5922424.column

Mom’s Logic Guide to Surviving a Recession – Free PDF Download
http://www.momlogic.com/cdn/v3/pdf/momlogic_recession_survival_guide.pdf

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Federal Recession Aid
Time is running out to take advantage of some of the government programs set up to help consumers during the economic meltdown.
Among them are programs meant to shore up the credit markets, which allow for more available credit and lower interest rates on loans for homes and automobiles, as well as tax benefits to entice consumers to buy that new house or car.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126065336046589177.html

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EPIC is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional rights. One of the best privacy resource sites you’ll ever find – many useful free or low-cost privacy tools available here too.
http://epic.org/privacy/tools.html

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Congress has yet to impose restrictions on the practices that led to the financial meltdown, but has been quick to lay blame on the fed…and Luo Ping, a director general at China’s banking regulatory commission says, “We hate you guys, but there is nothing much we can do.” Beijing will continue to buy US Treasury bonds despite concerns over how the US is handling its finances.
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The issue today is the same as it has been throughout history, Whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.
--Thomas Jefferson


Beltway Christmas: Cash for Corruptocrats
By Michelle Malkin


Creators Syndicate – The Democrats are right. Sleazy bribes and pork payoffs didn’t start with their government health care takeover bill. They’ve been doling out taxpayer-funded goodies for votes all year. Harry Reid’s latest Cash for Cloture deals are the culmination of Washington’s 2009 shopping spree at our expense.
Go back to January and February. The multitrillion-dollar stimulus bill was the mother of all legislative Christmas trees. The ruling party used the economic downturn to redistribute wealth from struggling Americans to favored congressional districts, phantom districts and special interests from golf-cart makers to fly-by-night beauty salons.

According to a new study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Democratic districts have raked in nearly twice as much porkulus money as GOP districts — without regard to the actual economic suffering and job loss in those districts. In fact, the researchers found that far more stimulus money went to higher-income areas than to lower-income areas.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/uc/20091223/cm_uc_crmmax/op_1912405
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Does the Federal Reserve need an audit?By David R. Francis David R. Francis

Is the Federal Reserve too secretive? This issue has waxed and waned. It’s reappearing again in Congress because the Fed failed to prevent the financial crisis and the “great recession,” prompting calls for major change at the world’s most powerful central bank. The change with the most backing is a proposal by Rep. Ron Paul ® of Texas to allow the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit – examine and investigate – the Fed’s monetary policy decisions. Fed officials adamantly oppose it. “My fear is that if we take what could be an unpopular step, Congress will order an audit, which would be a way of applying pressure, or perceived as a way of applying pressure, to our policy decisions,” Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said in congressional testimony Dec. 3. “Incredibly dangerous,” stated former Fed governor and Columbia

University professor Frederic Mishkin. The fear is that a less independent central bank, heavily influenced by politicians, will permit greater inflation. But Mr. Paul’s amendment attracted bipartisan support with more than 300 cosponsors. It became part of a broad financial-reform bill that passed the House Financial Services Committee earlier this month. The GAO can already audit the Fed’s regulatory and supervisory activities. The amendment would repeal a 1978 law that forbade the agency from looking into the Fed’s relations with foreign central banks and the monetary deliberations of its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which sets short-term interest rates. But release of GAO findings would be delayed 180 days to ease fears of political meddling with interest rate policy.

Congress has constitutional authority over the Fed with its vital money-creating power. At present, the Fed’s books are audited by Deloitte and Touche, a private firm.As a libertarian, Paul seems presently more interested in ending Fed secrecy than putting Congress in charge of monetary policy. His recent book, “End the Fed,” suggests closing the central bank, presumably letting financial markets, certainly not central bankers or politicians, set interest rates. “Politics are already part of monetary policy,” argues Paul’s press secretary, Rachel Mills. The amendment merely aims at providing greater Fed “transparency and accountability,” she says. The Fed is far less secretive than it was in the late 1970s, when a Monitor column, urging faster release of FOMC decisions, prompted a rebuke by then-Fed Chairman Arthur Burns. “David,” said Dr. Burns, “that column wasn’t worthy of you.” The central bank has long resisted greater scrutiny by Congress, according to a new book, “Deception and Abuse at the Fed.” Author Robert Auerbach, a former economist and investigator with the House Committee on Financial Services, details the incredible and sometimes dishonorable efforts Fed officials have made to keep their operations secret and independent.
In an interview, he listed some shady actions: no-bid contracts, falsely telling Congress for 17 years it had no transcripts of its monetary policymaking body when it actually did, improper payments to academics totaling as much as $80,000 a month, leaked policy decisions to journalists and others that could be exploited in financial markets, and shredding of official records. Mr. Auerbach talks of Fed examiners and officers in New York taking gifts, and sometimes jobs, from banks they regulate. “Examination was a joke,” says the economist, now at the University of Texas at Austin. More “checks and balances” are needed.
Source: Christian Science Monitor

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Semi-Scam Alert…Aaron Russo’s Freedom to Fascism Movie
Although Russo is no longer with us, he did make an effort to expose the income tax fa├žade in his movie “Freedom to Fascism.” I’m not a fan of our tax system but there are several factual flaws in his movie that don’t jive with law (just because something is law, doesn’t make it right).
I suggest checking out Wickipedia’s take on the movie prior to becoming entangled with the IRS. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America:_Freedom_to_Fascism
Speaking of the IRS…

The IRS does not do random audits, but does conduct "research audits" that will test compliance in business tax categories. In 2010, the target will be payroll taxes, according to Steve Miller, deputy commissioner for enforcement.
What happens if you're audited while unemployed? The IRS may give you a break.
"While our assessments were up, the ability to pay went down drastically" due to the economy, Miller said. "We have a series of tools. We can have them pay partially, over time. If the money is not collectible, it's treated as non-collectible. It's going to depend on each case.

"We have to ensure there's a balance between our responsibility to collect taxes with economic realities. We give people more time and determine how fast they can pay and whether they can pay."
The total revenue collected from IRS enforcement actions, $48.9 billion in 2009, is a drop from $56.4 billion in 2008 and $59.2 billion in 2007.
Here’s a link to the most often used tax avoidance scams many promoters use to get money out of you or to avoid taxes. Good idea to read this:
http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=136337,00.html
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Now that the holiday shopping rush is over (you did support the economy didn’t you?) Here’s a refresher course I wrote on Why You buy-Brief History of Consumerism.
www.associatedcontent.com/article/2523497/brief_history_of_consumerismwhy_you.html

Sell your car on this new website

Answer a few easy questions about your car to pinpoint its worth, then it lists it free on top auto sites such as AutoTrader.com, Oodle, Yahoo Autos and more.
www.Mota.com
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Fixing the Health Care System-My 10 Step Program

Personally, I feel that during this time of high unemployment, people becoming homeless and hungry, that Congress is practicing ‘wag-the-dog’ politics by addressing the healthcare problem now rather than fixing the economy and restoring American jobs.

However, problem solving requires breaking down key components into smaller blocks and here is my outline for repairing our health care system.

1. First, start with tort reform. Medical malpractice suits abound and help cripple our system.
2. Take the Medicare system and simply incorporate it into a national healthcare program; eliminating age brackets.
3. Allow states to negotiate prescription drug costs.
4. Explore what the Commonwealth of PA does and incorporate insurance premiums into auto insurance premiums; creating a larger member pool while reducing costs.
5. Stop allowing medical treatment of illegal aliens; it’s bankrupted 100s of hospitals in this country.
6. Initiating a national system should eliminate the need for employers to pay into a Workers Compensation program; saving small business a lot of money annually.
7. Include preventative care, eye and dental into health policies
8. Save money on the national budget by cutting back on defense spending and foreign aid (We don’t need troops stationed in 130 countries).
9. Encourage co-op medical programs
10. Encourage enrollment into medical schools by not taxing graduating doctors for the first five years of practice and/or offer free tuition to medical school.

The above steps represent a far easier solution than all of the political wrangling currently going on in Congress (and it would eliminate the special favors many Congressional members are receiving). In any event, Congress has a reputation for screwing up everything it touches and then passes more laws to ‘fix’ the problems they created. As stated in a previous commentary, this is all a scheme to achieve their goal of creating a national biometric ID; something which is on their agenda to do before 2017.

Incidentally, the only politician I contacted for answers on the healthcare plan which responded to me was Candice Miller – although she didn’t answer the questions I posed, she at least, unlike Stabenow and Levin, answered back!

To see the full reply from Ms. Miller, go to: www.poormansurvival.com/healthcarefix

Hope Your Christmas was terrific – Happy New Year!
Bruce “The Poor Man”
http://www.poormansurvival.com/

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