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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Surviving Jobless Recovery, Food Prices, Amendment 28

Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats. - Howard Aiken

Dear Poor Man Subscriber

Consider the following price increases, which have occurred since the beginning of the financial crisis in October 2007.

In the 24 month period since then, a time when deflation was supposedly striking everywhere ... Food and beverage prices increased an average of 5.6% Cereal and bakery prices jumped 11.5% Sugar and sweets prices, up 11.8% Cooking oils, up 11.6%Meanwhile ... The cost of medical care increased an average of 6.7% Hospital services, up 14.0% The cost of education (tuition) at private schools jumped 10.7% Educational books and supplies, up 14.9%

The long-term demise of the dollar will fuel inflation more than any other cause…not high oil prices (though they are rising too)…the government will continue to print monopoly money and we’ll all pay the price.

Experts predict food prices will increase another 5% in 2010, with meat and dairy being the hardest hit. Note: when fuel prices rise, so does food, so fill your freezer with sale items now.

Become a Frugal Cook-Free 4-week Course


>>> Did you get a gift card for Christmas? Spend it in January. Retailers often feature drastic markdowns then in order to make room for new inventory. A $100 card can easily yield $150 in merchandise!


New report highlights ways issuers have gotten around new law

While the Credit CARD Act of 2009 puts an end to abusive tactics card issuers have long used to boost their profits, consumers need only to look at their card statements to know there's no reason to celebrate.

More from• More Credit Card Issuers Ditch Mandatory Binding Arbitration• Issuer of 79.9% Interest Rate Credit Card Defends its Product• How to Replace a Lost or Stolen Gift Card

In the past year, card issuers have rolled out or expanded their use of other ways to collect millions more in fees each year, many of which are hidden to consumers, according to the Durham, N.C.-based Center for Responsible Lending's Dec. 10 report, "Dodging Reform: As Some Credit Card Abuses Are Outlawed, New Ones Proliferate."


You know what H.L. Mencken said about elections in democracies? He said they are an advanced auction of stolen goods,”

As I sit and ponder the many "against the grain" articles I've read through your newsletter, I hear on the TV behind me the drone of the sickly sweet praise for the commander-in-chief and the way he is saving our country from financial disaster. Housing is up, more people will get "free" medical, and of course the economy is better because the stock market is up. My business is up 20% and yet what I have in my glass is not Kool Aid. Millions of Small business owners like me will NOT be hiring. In fact if we lose anyone, I'm not replacing them and I'd bet they won't be either.
--anonymous subscriber sentiment


Why We Need Term Limits!

U.S. House & Senate have voted themselves $4,700 and $5,300 raises.

1. They voted to not give you a S.S. Cost of living raise in 2010 and 2011.
2. Your Medicaid premiums will go up $285.60 for the 2-years and
You will not get the 3% COLA: $660/yr. Your total 2-yr loss and cost is
-$1,600 or -$3,200 for husband and wife.
3. Over 2-yrs they each get $10,000
4. Do you feel SCREWED?
5. Will they have your cost of drugs - doctor fees - local taxes - food, etc., increase?
NO WAY . They have a raise and better benefits. Why care about you? You never did anything about it in the past. You obviously are too stupid or don't care.
6. Do you really think that Nancy, Harry, Chris, Charlie, Barnie, et al, care about you?

Maybe it's time for:
Amendment 28

"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United
States that does not apply equally to the Senators or Representatives,
and Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators or
Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the US.”

Thanks Garry for this post!

Homeland Insecurity
President Obama’s GOP critics have been emboldened during the past 48 hours by the stumbling initial response of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who spent Monday retracting her Sunday claim that “the system worked” in the aftermath of Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab’s near takedown of a jet ferrying nearly 300 people from Amsterdam to Detroit.
Prior to Napolitano’s appointment, she was the governor of AZ. I approached her several times with a comprehensive plan to make AZ the alternative/solar energy capital of the country – she ignored my proposal and as a result, I’ve had little respect for her ever since…I see she’s doing the same old job!


Rick Newman
7 Ways to Survive the Jobless Recovery
Maybe the pessimists are wrong. Maybe the so-called economic recovery will gather steam and turn out to be robust. Maybe prosperity is about to leap from its hiding place and shout, "Hey! I'm back!"

But planning your future around maybes leaves little margin for error, and it looks as if the Great Recession is morphing into the Great Hangover. Even though economists believe the recession is technically over, the unemployment rate is likely to hover near 10 percent or higher well into 2010. Businesses have slashed costs, but with sales still weak, they're in no mood to start hiring. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that the unemployment rate will stay above average until 2014 at least. Allen Sinai, an economist at Decision Economics, foresees a "difficult, probably crisis situation in the U.S. labor market that goes beyond the recession and any fledgling recovery."

For more of this story, go to:


The Death Throes of Debt-Driven Consumerism Have
Thrown the Government Into A Dangerous State
of Operational Insolvency

As seen in a video clip that's drawing attention on YouTube, Mr. Obama conceded, "we are out of money now."
There is absolutely no precedent in 230 years of U.S. history to match the government's current cash crisis

It's taken decades, but the political incompetents in Washington appear to have finally killed the goose that lays the golden eggs of the American Dream — our once fabulous, job-creating private economy.

Looted by lawyers, crippled by stupid regulation, castrated by job-killing taxation, and micromanaged to near-death by incompetent, power-seeking flatworms.

The government's cash crunch is going to get far worse before it gets better. Here's why:

· America's largest banks (such as Bank of America, J.P. Morgan and Citi) still hold vast quantities of iffy commercial and real estate loans. In many cases, banks are hanging onto housing assets waiting for prices to start climbing again.
· As troubling, the same cogent analysts who foresaw the real estate crash now warn that bloated housing inventories and rising jobless rates suggest another 14% across-the-board drop in home values. Commercial real estate and local businesses, on which local governments depend for funding, are also on a downward spiral.
· Robert Kurtner of Moody's Investors Service recently said "This is the first time in 20-25 years we have seen a recession affect the entire nation simultaneously."
· California's financial collapse has dominated the news, but the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities notes that state governments across the country are facing the worst revenue contraction in post-war history, amid a projected deficit of $166 billion in 2010 and $350 billion+ in 2011. Collapsing state-level pension programs, which have NOT made the news but soon will, are already in a near state of default.
Put another way, tax receipts across-the-board have only just begun to collapse. And the government is going to become increasingly desperate to find new ways to get money from you

Not long ago, for example, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank president Richard Fisher made a frank but virtually unnoticed speech. It should be required reading for anyone who has to pay taxes.

In addition to criticizing the political class for getting the U.S. into a "deep hole," Fisher observed that federal unfunded liabilities (meaning obligations Uncle Sam can't currently pay for) are close to $99 TRILLION!

As an editorial in Investor's Business Daily recently confirmed: "More than 85% of the personal income tax is paid by a small, overtaxed band of Americans who in number are less than 25% of eligible voters."

The destruction of the middle class -- as fuel, food, housing, medical care and education costs soar, everyone who is NOT on the government dole is forced to make do with less as the value of their money slowly decreases

Resource to protect yourself from the coming tax nightmare can be had from Lee Bellinger, a man I respect. Check out his kit at:

Happy New Year!
I realize at times the news and commentary I bring you seem rather pessimistic. Yet, I am optimistic because I believe in the entrepreneurial spirit of Americans. Traditionally, we’ve been a “can-do” people, despite government & corporate efforts to cripple the middle class.

You’ll note that I do not ask for contributions either. For the most part, I prefer folks to share their ideas and resources. Of course, sales of our Poor Man CD ROMs aid in these efforts and in that regard, I simply ask that you send and recommend our site and Bulletin to others.

Yours for better living,
Bruce “The Poor Man”

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!

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."


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!


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.
It provides instructions on a do it yourself site evaluation, comparisons of the different technologies, and more.

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.,0,5922424.column

Mom’s Logic Guide to Surviving a Recession – Free PDF Download


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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.
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:,,id=136337,00.html
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.

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, Oodle, Yahoo Autos and more.
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:

Hope Your Christmas was terrific – Happy New Year!
Bruce “The Poor Man”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Grandma's Wisdom, Christmas Lore, Can't Fight City Hall

Can’t Fight City Hall, Grandma’s Wisdom, Christmas Lore

Christmas in Old New England… The Puritans of New England frowned on celebrating Christmas as a Catholic “gewgaw.” They actually outlawed it in 1659, passing a law, which called for a five-shilling fine for anyone “found observing, by abstinence of labor, feasting, or any other way, any such days of Christmas.”

Santa didn’t gain his roly-poly figure and white beard until the Civil War, when cartoonist Thomas Nast pictured him that way. In the 1600s and 1700s, the Dutch settlers who first imported Santa, showed the patron saint of retailers as a skinny, dignified man.

A bit of holiday trivia you might find of interest!


Government Gains, Charity Loses…government, at all levels, have voracious appetites for cash. When they cannot find new ways to tax more, they resort to other means of grabbing cash from its citizens, even outright asset seizures. In this case, a local city government which controls the water provided to residents, charges a $150 “deposit” which it keeps for two years and does not pay interest on…in essence, an interest-free loan. It’s not as if the resident is going to run off to Mexico with its water or that it cannot simply turn the water off AND despite documents provided which attested to a reliable credit history with a previous water supplier, the city still demands its deposit.

Ironically, the city provided water service does not fall under the state public utility domain. In short, the city can do what it pleases without interference from the state…try this as a private business and you would be fined or even driven out of business. The city also failed to forewarn the citizen about the deposit and simply mailed a bill…in this case, the surprise fee would have normally been a part of an annual donation to the Salvation Army. Not this year, so the charity loses and the city wins. Welcome to America.

“The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.”
--Gunter Grass


"Sue the bastards," a metropolitan city editor said when asked how the closing of public records and public meetings by local public officials can be fought. He expressed the anger of newspaper editors over the country at denials of access to public news, and his response was characteristic of their readiness to go to court to get public news.

Despite the downward spiral of newspapers, for more than 150 years they’ve proven fruitful in obtaining information the public needs…more at:


Vintage Green: Improve Your Life With Age-Old Wisdom

Grandma grew up green. Use the age-old wisdom passed down through cultures around the world to improve your quality of life.
From Natural Home magazine, by Kim Wallace

We can learn a lot from our wise old grandmothers. Practices common to them — such as growing vegetables, knitting clothes and bartering goods — are the tips and tricks we seek today: a return to the good old days. These rich but simple lifestyles strengthen families and communities while growing local economies around the world.
The most important aspect of simple living is identifying your strengths, talents and abilities — then putting them to work. By focusing on the most effective, enjoyable ways to employ your skills, you can discover interests, values and, most importantly, people you may never have connected with otherwise.

Get to Know Your Community
Japan’s Ainu people kept daily contact with their community. Frequent trips to the village market for fresh food, home necessities and social time kept the Ainu people connected.

Apply this now: Scope out local shops, family-owned restaurants and farmer’s markets to get in touch with the people who grow the local economy. Volunteer to wrap gifts at the holiday bazaar; ring up customers at a farmer’s market booth; participate in trash cleanups; organize storytelling times with community children or elders at the library or community center. Connecting with your neighborhood keeps your life fulfilling and keeps the temptations of boredom — mindless spending, wasting away in front of the TV or computer — at bay.

Cultivate Hospitality
Russia’s Chechen and Ingush people tended to their guests with the best food, drink and atmosphere. These people treasured companionship and worked to keep relationships thriving.

Apply this now: Invite close friends to your home for weekend meals and entertainment. Host a potluck: Prepare a delicious, home-cooked main course and ask guests to bring side dishes and wine to share.

Peddle Your Wares
Pakistani families’ small-scale farms provided both food and a revenue stream. Families sold meat from sheep and cattle at the local market, giving them a reason to travel to town and interact with their communities. They also supported themselves by selling fine crafts. Family artisans weaved beautiful, intricate rugs and tapestries dyed with fruit and vegetable juices. These crafts adorned homes but were also sources of income: The artisans bartered and sold their creations at community markets and fairs.

Apply this now: Transform your hobby into extra cash by selling your homemade jams, artwork and clothing at the farmer’s market or community bazaar. If you have space, consider raising chickens—even city dwellers can do this! Enjoy fresh eggs and rich fertilizer for your garden. (Before you start, make sure your neighbors know what’s going on — and teach them how to raise their own chickens!)
If you’re more interested in swapping, remember that bartering is still viable today and is especially valuable in a down economy. If you can’t find people to swap with at farmer’s markets or at local shops, check out online bartering communities.

Try BarterPalace, SwapAce, Freecycle and neigh-BORROW for access to millions of other barter-minded folks. Because online barterers aren’t necessarily local, know that you may need to pay shipping to swap your stuff.

Find Your Staple
In Asian cultures, rice is a staple. It’s the base of every meal, and children learn how to cook it at a very early age. Early Asian civilizations also combined rice and rice hulls with traditional, natural building materials such as bamboo, straw and mud as a base for their homes. This important grain supported, and continues to support, Asian communities here and abroad.

Apply this now: Choose an inexpensive staple your family enjoys and build meals around it, saving you preparation time and money by buying and cooking in bulk. If your family relies on lentils for nourishment, consider the different ways to prepare them. If your family feasts on pasta each week, research interesting sauces and veggie mixes to keep your staple from becoming routine. Embrace the simplicity of having every meal revolve around your staple, but prepare the meals in ways that will keep you and your family enticed.

Pool Resources
In the Caribbean Islands, African Caribbeans pooled their money to form credit associations. Participants were able to withdraw lump sums for necessities. This system took care of families’ needs while strengthening the community and the local economy.

Apply this now: Search out neighbors who are in similar living situations and suggest sharing grocery and basic toiletry costs. This could mean putting money together to buy basic necessities in bulk or sharing the cost of a membership to a bulk food and supply store.

Honor Your Loved Ones
The theme of familial respect runs through many cultures. In China’s Dong culture, new parents planted pine trees to symbolize love for the earth and for future generations — and to later supply wood for the child’s first home. Buddhist Mongol families in China set up portable altars and devotional scroll paintings so they could conveniently honor their loved ones in their homes. Offerings, prayers and devotional meals paid tribute to the ancestors.

Apply this now: Start a family tradition that passes to each generation; this could be sowing seeds in a garden at the beginning of spring, knitting memory quilts every winter or creating a recipe book with all of Grandma’s secret recipes (then adding your own).

Set up your own personal altar to pay respects to your loved ones. Adorn it with candles, photos and other important mementos. To create a modern version of a Mongol scroll, adhere photos and mementos to a sturdy wood or corkboard; preserve it in a shadow box.

Grandma Always Said ...

• Balance your checkbook and take a look at where you’re spending your money. You may be surprised.

• Avoid gimmicks at the grocery store. Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale or you have a coupon.

• Save money by making "breakfast for dinner," or something as simple as beans and rice, a few times a week.

• Never throw anything away. Graciously accept hand-me-downs and keep the cycle alive when you’re finished with them.

• Save your loose change in a jar. Cash it out at the end of the year, and you’ll see why your grandmother insisted on picking up lucky pennies.

Excerpted from Natural Home, a national magazine that provides practical ideas, inspiring examples and expert opinions about healthy, ecologically sound, beautiful homes. To read more articles from Natural Home, please visit or call 800-340-5846 to subscribe. Copyright 2009 by Ogden Publications Inc.


"The [U.S.] Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals ... it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government ... it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen's protection against the government." --author and philosopher Ayn Rand (1905-1982)
The Foundations of Liberty
--John Stossel

"I reread ['Atlas Shrugged'] recently and was stunned. It was as if [Ayn] Rand had seen the future. Writing half a century ago, she predicted today's explosion of big government in shockingly accurate detail. The 'Preservation of Livelihood Law.' The 'Equalization of Opportunity Law.' The 'Steel Unification Plan.' Don't these sound like laws passed by the current Congress?

All were creations of Rand's villain, Wesley Mouch, the evil bureaucrat who regulates business and eventually drives the productive people out of business. Who is today's Wesley Mouch? Barney Frank? Chris Dodd. Tim Geithner? ... 'Atlas' is still a big bestseller today. This year, it reached as high as NO. 15 on Amazon's bestseller list. Pretty amazing. Clearly there's some magic in 'Atlas Shrugged.' The Library of Congress once asked readers which books made the biggest difference in their lives. 'Atlas' came in second, after the Bible. ...

The embrace of freer markets has lifted more people out of the misery of poverty than any other system -- ever. The World Bank says that in just the last 30 years, half a billion people who once lived on less than $1.25 a day have moved out of poverty. But now, Wesley Mouch -- I mean, Congress and the bureaucrats -- tell us they are going to 'fix' capitalism, as if their previous 'fixes' didn't hamstring the free market and create the problems they propose to solve. Who are they kidding? Rand had it right. She learned it the hard way in Soviet Russia. What makes a country work is leaving people free.

Parting thought…Poor Man’s Gold

Gold will most likely continue its upward trend for at least the first half of 2010, a viable alternative for most of us is silver. Often called the “poor man’s gold,” it is my feeling pre-1965 US silver coins are always a good bet and hedge to keep in your portfolio. No one can predict what the economy will do but storing silver has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.


That’s it for this week. We’ll return after Christmas. January represents our first year anniversary of the Poor Man site! We wish you an enlightened holiday! It has been my goal to live up to what a subscriber wrote about me…”The thinking person’s blog.”

Bruce “The Poor Man”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Spend More-Get Less, Cyber Begging, Scam Alert

Earn Extra Cash, Save Money on Holiday Shopping, Scam Alert,
Cyber Begging and more in this issue.

Spend more…Get less – Shrinking Consumer Goods One thing I miss from Arizona (aside from the warmth) is the 99 Cent store.
Unfortunately, they do not operate outside the southwest and the few ‘dollar’ stores in this area do not offer fresh or frozen foods or the variety of toiletries we were accustomed to finding.

Something everyone seems to have noticed is the shrinking package size of consumer goods; everything from toothpaste & deoderant to toilet paper packages have shrunk. For instance, I used to pay $1 for a name brand mouthwash that retails for nearly $4 at WalMart.
Many major ice cream makers, hit by higher dairy costs, have shrunk their standard containers to 1.5 quarts from 1.75 quarts, about 1 cup less. The industry downsized from the traditional half-gallon (2 quarts) five years ago. In both cases, only the package shrank, not the price.
"Downsizing is nothing but a sneaky price increase," says Edgar Dworsky, former Massachusetts assistant attorney general in the Consumer Protection Division, now editor of, a consumer website. "I'm waiting to open a carton of eggs and see only 11.”
Our house uses Skippy Peanut Butter, but i just found out they changed their jars from 18 ounces to 16.2 ounces for the same price. I know 2 ounces is not a huge amount of peanut better, but still.
As our deficit balloons, your spending power will continue to erode.


National Health Care Questions

George Bush’s prescription plan for seniors was sold to the public at a cost of $400 billion when it reality, it cost nearly $800 billion & it ‘forgot’ to include an allowance for government to negotiate better rates with pharmaceutical firms (what a surprise); so I have strong doubts about the veracity of any statements coming from the government.

Since we’re the only country that treats the health insurance industry as a business as opposed to a service and high costs have proven destructive to the middle class and small business AND we’re the only country, which doesn’t have universal coverage… I know moral sensitivity is lacking among politicians in this country but I posed several questions to two Democratic Congressional reps – Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow:

1. Will the new plan address tort reform? We are the only country which hasn’t introduced such reforms against ridiculous lawsuits.
2. Will the new plan eliminate the need for Workers Comp programs for small business owners.
3. Has Congress considered what the Commonwealth of PA offers – tacking on premiums for health insurance to auto premiums in order to streamline the billing and to create a larger subscriber pool?

Needless to say, neither Congress person responded to my query…another surprise.

“The reason it’s so easy for the US to declare wars…is because so
few Americans feel the actual pain. We’ve been fighting in the far east
longer than we fought in WWI & WWII combined. If voters had to
choose right now between instituting a draft or exiting Iraq-Afghanistan,
the troops would be out of those countries in a heartbeat.”

--Bob Herbert in the NY Times

Beyond Redemption
The latest multi-million dollar scam in the world of antigovernment zealots is taking off across the nation.

Scam artists and right-wing extremists are hawking a pseudo-legal strategy that promises both financial gain and the opportunity to take revenge against what is seen as a sham government. Called "redemption," the technique has earned its promoters untold profits, buried courts and other agencies under tons of worthless paper, and led to scores of arrests and convictions throughout the United States.

Thanks Larry for bringing this to my attention. For more information:


Private Currency Network
Thanks to TraderJoe for bringing this program to our attention via our Twitter network; worth checking out this barter program.

Find a Perfect Gift in Seconds
My holiday shopping is easy, I just send cash or gift cards. If you’re stuck for a nice last minute gift, try looking at this site where you can send an electronic gift certificate good at more than 300 locations.

***NOTE: Make a donation to a non-profit group and tuck the receipt into a card…makes a good ‘gift’ for someone who has everything.


Bad economy forced him to swallow his pride…cyber begging?!
Each year, more and more people are going online for their holiday shopping, but in these hard times, the Internet is also becoming a place where people in need can ask for a handout.
There are thousands of appeals on craigslist and on other Web sites devoted to begging, such as Begslist, CyberBeg and
And the appeals are heart-wrenching. A single mom with no money to pay her bills; an unemployed construction worker about to lose his house. And, of course, lots of families who can't afford gifts for Christmas…Go to the NPR site:

Decoding price tag secrets
Many stores have a system for markdowns & this information will help you snag the best price. For instance, at Costco, look for prices ending in 97 cents or with an asterisk; at Sam’s Club prices ending in 1 cent mean it’s the final markdown price. At TJ Max or Marshalls; a yellow tag is the best deal indicator. At Target stores, look for prices ending in 4.
Also, a recent study found chain stores located in less affluent or inner cities offer markdowns before suburban stores.
Spice up a holiday meal like they do in France with a hidden treasure…French families bake a ‘Three Kings Cake,’ commemorating the three wise men. A single uncooked bean is hidden inside; whoever gets the slice with the bean is made king or queen for the day. During the Great Depression fundraising parties were held whereby folks would pay a fee to eat cake and coffee. Surprises, such as diamond rings, were hidden in the cake and some lucky person could win the ring. Other prizes were offered too…be careful today as someone might just swallow the darn ring!

Of course, another nice gift which won’t cost you a cent is to refer someone to our website and weekly Bulletin!


Niche Sites Going After eBay
A host of Web start-ups are gaining traction based on the premise that they make it easier for people to buy and sell online than the company that invented the idea: eBay Inc.
Second Rotation Inc.'s site, which offers people a set price to take used gadgets like iPods and laptops off their hands, last month more than doubled the number of products, to 18,000, that it took in compared with a year earlier.
Glyde Corp. last month launched its own online marketplace that allows consumers to sell used books, DVDs and videogames in a system that automates posting a listing, figuring out how much to charge and even mailing it out.
Gaphics designer Ben Whitesell says he has bought and sold more than 200 items on eBay since 1999, but selling there has lately become too cumbersome. So last week, the Louisville, Ken., resident tried Glyde to sell a used videogame. "It was just insanely easy," he says. He who ended up selling a used "Call of Duty 4" game for $22.
For more, go to:


- Money is like a sixth sense - and you can't make use of the other five without it. - William Somerset Maugham

Ways to generate extra cash

1. Skip those gold buying firms which suggest mailing in your scrap gold; they seldom pay top dollar. Get more cash by attending (or hosting) a gold party. Sites such as and have proven track records of paying top dollar.
2. join a focus group or take online surveys. Find them on Craigslst or via Also, check out American Consumer Opinion at or Harris Poll online at:
3. Host a winter garage sale – offer hot cider or hot chocolate- you’d be surprised at the money you can still generate during even the holiday season. We just did one and generated nearly $400 for my elderly mother.
4. Get paid to respond to people’s questions via phone or text – decide your own schedule…frequently, questions are basic & you can find the answers on Google. Register at:
5. Sell your unwanted books by going to: or


Sort of the grand daddy of online business how-to…make your site sell. Normally sold, here’s a free download of this ebook.


The People are Speaking…

Populism is a political discourse that juxtaposes "the people" with "the elites." Populism may comprise an ideology, a political philosophy or a mere type of discourse urging social and political system changes and/or a rhetorical style deployed by members of political or social movements.

Over time, there have been several versions of a Populist Party in the United States, inspired by the People's Party of the 1890s. This was the party of the early U.S. populist movement in which millions of farmers and other working people successfully enacted their anti-trust agenda

If you’re tired of paying the price for government ineptness and bailouts of bankers, review and/or join these two organizations. Watch the PBS/Bill Moyers video interview of their presentation…finally, a national group which is on our side. The middle class is tired of taking constant hits so Wall Street robber-barons can get rich.

While you’re at, read this article about Howard Zinn, author of the People’s History of the United States.

In Howard Zinn’s new documentary, “The People Speak,” the actress Marisa Tomei is shown reading aloud an essay by a worker at a 19th-century textile mill in Lowell, Mass., who led other women to protest wage reductions and demand better working conditions.


Yours for better living,
Bruce “The PoorMan”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Human Poop Composting, Organics, Field of Schemes

“America is one of the finest countries anyone ever stole.”
--Bobcat Goldthwaite

Skipping the ‘organic’ food buzz…

Marketers are smart and use a lot of buzzwords to entice you into buying their food products. Organic products usually mean higher prices. You’re almost always better off to simply purchase locally grown food.

Examples where not to waste your cash include:
· Brown eggs – white is fine & cheaper
· Organic or prime beef – use select cuts, the least expensive meat. Just marinate or tenderize it prior to cooking
· Organic fish – this label has no meaning as the US has no such standard

Skip convenience foods to save. For instance, at most food co-ops you can purchase bulk wheat and grind your own flour and cereals for pennies a serving; local farmers often sell direct to the public as well. Store brands are almost always just as good as national brands (in many cases, the product is produced by the national brand specifically for use as a store brand).

Buy fish at the frozen foods counter, it’s cheaper and just as good. The same rule applies to most vegetables and fruits and many studies indicate frozen items retain more nutrients vs. fresh. Invest in a freezer and stock up on items when they’re on sale.


Learn how to recondition batteries for wind & solar power backup…for yourself or start a business doing it for others.

Urban Outhouses – Say Goodbye to Toilets!
Don’t waste human waste. Composting toilets are expensive but Joseph Jenkins advocates using buckets instead as an alternative sanitation system. His book, Humanure Handbook: A guide to composting human manure shows you how. When properly managed it is odorless (lots of sawdust) and is an excellent compost/fertilizer…saves a lot of water and more people are using this system now that the book is in its 3rd printing. For additional resources, see:

Find where the jobs are:
Ever wonder where your job skills are in demand? Plug your job title into
The site will pinpoint available openings around the country for you.

More free barter networks
Register with these free sites to trade stuff with confidence. Since people can leave feedback on past transactions, you can be more certain your trading partner is legit.

Check out the new dutch-auction site

Pricefalls, the brainchild of 21-year-old college senior Elliot Moskow, lets sellers list their merchandise for free and works on the Dutch auction process: The price of the merchandise falls until a buyer selects the price he or she believes is the perfect buy. The buyer may also submit a price he or she is willing to pay during the auction, and if the item falls to that price, the consumer is notified and wins the auction. The buyer is asked to pay immediately, like most e-commerce checkout procedures

“The right to be left alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom”
--Justice William Douglas

Field of Schemes - Fewer Americans want Washington help…
Most realize the costs associated with bailouts is bankrupting our country…according to a Wall Street Journal poll, only 23% of respondents said they trust the government – the smallest portion in 12 years. Most believe the only thing government is good at is wasting tax money.

Stupid government tax policies and subsidies to the wealthy have ravaged our economy, allowed prime technology which threaten our national security go to China (thank you Bill Clinton), allowed the middle class and wage base to shrink, seen decent jobs leave the country, and have allowed the United States to become the largest debtor nation while teetering on complete financial ruin.

There are many traitors among our politicians –in both parties- who have sold us out during the past 30 years…economic erosion, the erosion of our Bill of Rights and the decline of the middle class…one day, when America collapses or the average citizen awakens, there will be hell to pay for the people.

Feeling short changed by Democrats & Republicans the average guy on the street feels the government has overlooked “Joe the Plumber” types. The new administration has little to show for its first year in office. (Read the new book, The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy by Lisa Dodson who cites examples of how a few employers and members of the medical community will go the extra mile in helping their fellow citizen).


EPA finding: Greenhouse gases harm humans…but…

Energy prices for many Americans probably would rise, too — though Monday's finding will have no immediate impact since regulations have yet to be written.
"It will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project," declared Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which in recent months has been particularly critical of the EPA's attempt to address climate change.

"Every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory... of how we are taking responsibility..."
So said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently, signaling the latest leftist plans to obliterate your privacy and personal autonomy while explaining her green energy "vision" to the Associated Press

The larger problem for America is MORE damnable rules & regs from unelected bureaucrats which already cost business and consumers billions in added costs for everything from step ladders to fuel costs.

But keep in mind…

>>40% of Americans pay no income taxes at all.<<

This is just another symptom of the single biggest problem now facing the U.S. (and for that matter, the world): the ballooning size and cost of government.

Privacy in America continues to vanish courtesy of Uncle Scam

The well-publicized case of Obama's Treasury Department browbeating the Swiss government into surrendering the identities of thousands of U.S. account holders. For example, the Obama Administration is using global positioning technology carried by Census Bureau employees to establish the precise global "coordinates" of every front door in America– setting the stage for a national inventory of assets.
The GPS mapping program (which allows satellites to zero in on specific areas down to the inch) is part of larger efforts to aid all levels of government in figuring out what's on everyone's land, including room add-ons, boats, cars, and other items of interest to federal and local tax/building permit/environmental officials.
In addition, federal budget documents show the Obama Administration has quietly quadrupled long-term IRS enforcement funding. IRS agents are engaging in citizen financial surveillance dragnets based on data mining (in which your private purchases are matched to your tax returns as part of a "lifestyle audit").

Two key post-9-11 sections of anti terror legislation most members of Congress admit they never bothered to read:

· The first ends over two centuries of 4th Amendment protections against unlawful searches and has opened the floodgates of open-ended "fishing expeditions" against private citizens. Specifically, bureaucrats now have the power to directly access medical records, library check-out data, any and all credit card purchases, Internet usage, private emails, political affiliations, and any and all private-sector records of any kind.

· The second anti-terror law being perverted for use against private citizens is a new Congressional legal definition of terrorism so broad and vague as to be meaningless when it comes to limiting the government's arbitrary access to anything about you.

Even the left-leaning Washington Post recently noted that private citizens with anti-establishment views are now the target of government surveillance. In just one of many examples cited by the Post, Maryland state police had been feeding the names of death penalty opponents into a national database (that had been set up to track terrorists).
The former police superintendent who had secretly authorized the operation told an investigating committee "I don't believe the First Amendment is any guarantee to those who wish to disrupt the government..."

All together, the Washington Times reported on April 1, 2009, that some 800,000 state and local law enforcement officers are now engaged in the process of collecting information on private citizens, including their political beliefs. Leading the charge to ideologically catalog and profile citizens is the Department of Homeland Security, which sent out a 9-page bulletin warning against "right-wing extremism" in the United States.
Retired U.S. Customs and DEA officer Michael Levin recently told Congress he knows of 15,000 paid informants on the federal payroll. In that same Congressional hearing, the U.S. Justice Department admitting to spending at least $42 million a year to pay informants. Worse, the full extent of federal snitching programs are treated as a State Secret.
· Beware of Presidential Directive 12, a Trojan Horse scheme to impose a "smart" national ID card on the residents of all 50 states– a card so smart that it can be "deactivated" like a credit card so that you can't travel, rent a car, cash a check, or even get a job….

I’ve reported previously on how privacy is vanishing in this country thanks to government intrusion…the Patriot Act was an excuse to undermine the rights of citizens; most just don’t realize it yet. On the horizon is a deal for state’s to turn over their drivers license operations to the feds and anonymous pre-paid debit cards may become hard to find under proposed rules.

On a related note:

The campaign Web site,, will give Internet users a platform and the tools to create communities that will unite around these issues. The campaign will provide Internet users with unique tools allowing them to not only contact those in the government and industry who can change the system, but also to alert their friends about what needs to be done. The Web site will become an interactive hub for the campaign, kept fresh with information about the latest developments in privacy controls and how Congress is reacting to the campaign's message.

FYI-one way to protect your privacy…need to include a phone number in a classified ad; give it out at a singles bar, etc.? Play it safe by using a free temporary number from
When people dial it, it’s automatically forwarded to your home or cell number. You decide how long you need the number; an hour, a day, or a week.


Brrr! It’s cold outside. Not having seen snow & freezing temps for 10 years, I was actually kind of delighted to see my first snowfall in so many years. It will probably take my body 30 years to get readjusted! No wonder animals hibernate.

Yours for better living,
Bruce “The PoorMan”

Friday, December 4, 2009

Create Your Own Money, Co-ops & More

Co-ops, Community Currency, Private Lottery Pool, Barter

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether
it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying
the wrong remedy”
--Ernest Benn

Gold is up to over $1200 per troy ounce, the dollar is in the dumps and banks aren’t loaning cash to small businesses. The government is doing what I reported on a few issues ago…letting the dollar tank so it repays debt with cheaper dollars – good for the gov’t, not good for borrowers or citizens.

The ancient Chinese had a system for creating investment nest eggs to start or expand a business…private lotteries. Say you have 12 like-minded business owners who each contribute $1000 to a pool or the equivalent of $12,000. Once a year they would hold a lottery and one recipient would get the $12K – something, which never required repayment and the rules stated that person could not enter into the drawing again for two years but still had to pony up the $1000 ante for the next drawing. Not a bad deal when you have 12 or more, trustworthy compatriots.

In a similar fashion, folks have started their own credit unions over the years as means of fostering low lending rates (see below if you wish to start your own credit union). Many groups have also started various kinds of co-ops over the years including electric, water, food, babysitting, advertising and so on.

Starting such co-ops save money for members. Another means of stretching tight or non-existent funds is to start your own currency (yes, it’s legal). Popular in small towns and neighborhoods (think Ithaca dollars), developing your own ‘community currency’ as another means of getting goods and services you need.

Barter & Swaps

Whenever times get tough, barter seems to make a come-back. Bartering is a good means of protecting yourself against inflation and since no money changes hands, there is usually no tax bite!

Even large companies participate in barter internationally; usually called ‘counter trade.’ One fellow started a wedding gift barter exchange service, collecting a 10% cash fee on all trades…many folks get duplicate presents and it makes sense to swap them. In some parts of the country there are work-barter clubs. Swapping services is another great means of saving money and getting work done, say on your home, for your dentistry needs and more.

You can join a formal bartering group or use Craigslist to exchange goods.

For more information on barter clubs, co-ops, and community currency, see our website and click on the appropriate tab (community currency, for example).
We’re working on a hybrid co-op and community currency program, which will hopefully develop around the end of Jan or Feb (a tie in to our Living Better on Less Program workshops)

Another prediction…Sen. Carl Levin & others, who serve us unfaithfully, are attempting to initiate new laws, which would virtually outlaw US citizens from owning a bank account overseas. If you’re planning to move cash offshore, do it now and consult a CPA. Banking alternatives include the corner MoneyStore operations seen on too many corners AND they’re expensive to even cash a check…a better alternative for check cashing is WalMart which charges $3 in most areas. They also offer some of the least expensive money orders, especially compared to the post office.

Keeping your finances under the radar isn’t always easy…use cash whereever possible and dump your credit cards as the Feds now track all credit card activity through FinCen and other Patriot Act ‘laws’ which subvert your privacy. The IRS now tracks ownership of US citizen credit cards that are held by offshore banks…they recently went after American Express to reveal the names of such account holders.

NOTE: Gold, just like everything else financial, will probably continue its upward path for awhile longer but will eventually become a bubble and burst. When fiscal restraint returns to the government, that might be the time to dump precious metals.
Against the Fed's still-hidden insolvency, unemployment is now touching the 18% rate – not much shy of the 25% unemployment rate that defined the Great Depression. And with no signs small business are going to create jobs – that means the penniless U.S. government's only remaining tool to fund make-work government-backed jobs is good old fashioned money-creation. As this becomes clearer, precious metals will continue to attract more and more buyers
Starting Up a New Credit Union
First, know that this is not a casual undertaking. You are establishing a bona fide financial institution that exists to provide valuable financial services over an indefinite period to an ever-growing group of individuals.
Accordingly, the organizing and chartering process alone can take months --and even years-- so philosophical and financial commitment is essential on the part of all sponsoring groups.
Also, having a potential membership base of at least 3,000 individuals is strongly suggested.
The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) charters federal credit unions. A charter is a license to operate the credit union. Below are some resources to assist those who are considering the formation of a federal credit union. The list is not exhaustive, but outlines the steps necessary to begin the chartering process.
After you have reviewed these materials and determined you are able and interested in forming a federal credit union, you may initiate the chartering process by submitting a written request for preliminary approval of the proposed field of membership (see options and sample wording in Chapter 2 of the Chartering and Field of Membership Manual) to:

National Credit Union Administration
Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives
1775 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
If you are interested in organizing a credit union, please take the time to review the following:


Do you keep livestock? Horses, goats, pigs, and the like…you can save a lot of money and locate hard-to-find items for such from our favorite supplier-Jeffers. For a free catalog, go to: or call 800-533-3377

Everything you ever wanted to know about raising goats…Goat School
Basic goat care, goat meat recipes, goat cheese and more. Find their schedule and fees at:

Emergency Essentials – hot off the press catalog
Helping people prepare is what they do & they’re offering some mighty fine deals on long term food storage packages, wheat grinders and more. Go to:


Over Valuing Your Items
Studies conducted over the years have proven most of us tend to over value our belongings, yet, are not willing to pay someone else the price of their goods…one of the reasons why garage sales produce such little income for so much work and WHY I seldom list items on eBay for others…most everyone thinks their item is worth a small fortune! As a former appraiser (I quit doing these as few people weren’t willing to pay my hourly fee even though I had to sign off on documented appraisals for the IRS and insurance firms) I frequently found people would get angry when I appraised something at a lesser value than they deemed proper.
Keep in mind, an appraiser (even those on the Antique Roadshow) looks for fair market value (what an item will go for in a given market) or replacement value (what an insurance company thinks it will cost to replace something). Auction values are a guesstimate of what something will sell for!
Values for nearly everything are in a constant state of flux.


Saving Money on TV Viewing

For the most part, TV viewing is a waste of time. I’m not interested in the latest celebrity scandal (Tiger Woods) and I’m not the typical male caught with watching sports (just another big business) but I do enjoy watching the news & a few programs so I use a digital converter box. The big challenge was the antenna. An indoor antenna was good for about four stations.
Using an outdoor antenna got me 20 stations! I like to buy locally but found the best deal for an outdoor system on eBay - $51 delivered & no sales tax. The unit included a splitter so I could hook up two sets and 35’ of cable and had a radius of 100-miles (I needed at least 45-miles). Similar antennas at Radio Shack would have cost me nearly $150 as their pre-boxed sets did not include cable, splitter or signal booster.
Sometimes it pays to use eBay!

I’m getting really cheap!
I realize more folks today are eliminating their landlines in favor of cell phone use only. I haven’t done that due to business reasons. However, I ordered only the basic line service – no extras, which I had previously paid for such as voice mail, unlisted number, etc. I hooked up a digital voice mail system of my own which I purchased (NIB) from the Salvation Army for $5!
What struck me though were the amount of phone solicitation calls we began getting within hours of the new line becoming active! No doubt, the phone company must make serious money from renting those lists. We did place our number on the DO NOT CALL registry through the FTC site.


“What kind of government is this? It’s getting more like California all the time”
--Woody Allen

The Decade from Hell

The Dec 7th issue of Time Magazine featured a provocative piece about why the last 10 years have been such a disaster for most Americans. Economic narcissism, irresponsible deregulation, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, endless political scandals, greed…or the great meltdown, as they termed it.

It is true that our standard of living for average Americans has fallen, good jobs have evaporated and more of our citizens are living below the poverty line.

It seems too we’ve had a plethora of natural disasters, such as Katrina, which have strained an already inept government. To my knowledge, no one from failed Wall Street entities has served any prison time either, while many of us took severe hits to retirement portfolios…many of those crooks walked away with millions!

It should be clear to most of us by now that citizens are not a priority to government leaders. Politicians and Wall Street, through greed, neglect, self interest and deferral of responsibility have let this country down and have exacerbated our problems.

What puzzles me most is WHY do we put up with crappy leadership; why do we continue voting the same idiots into office? The path of least resistance I guess. To watch the Time magazine video, go to:

That’s for this week. Don’t let the holiday rush get you frazzled!

Yours for better living,
Bruce “The Poor Man”

Feel free to share this with a friend!