To get through life, you only need two tools…
Duct tape & WD-40
“Modern life is so hectic-who has time to CC: the feds
on every message you send?’
--on the NSAs plundering & tapping of US citizens
emails and phone calls – Billboard Liberation Front
With the economy in the shape it is, a lot of people are really scrambling to find extra income. The problem is they can't build a website, don't have time to grow a blog or an email list, and not much to invest in schemes. They don't have time to wade through lots of unnecessary details. You may be in that situation - you need to find something RIGHT NOW!
Long time readers know I sell hard to find books – primarily on eBay. My challenge is finding those books (that’s the reason they’re hard-to-find)…fewer Americans read anymore (one of the reasons why we’ve become ‘dumb and dumber’). But….I could always invest in the commercially available software which would allow me to grab your personal data and sell that private information to the government. There’s big money in this. (http://techliberation.com/2008/02/28/billboard-liberation/)*
We sure like computer games, DVDs and other non-print media. Most of the thrift stores I visit now carry more non-book media than books.
Guess it’s time for me to branch out. My problem is, I know next to nothing about video games and the machines used to play them…but I do know they sell well on Amazon and the supply is certainly out there.
Less Money – see postscript at bottom to see how the feds plan to use YOUR 401K
Check out the interesting resources in this issue!
Guide to free e-learning sites
It’s simply astonishing – the number of free online learning sites grows by leaps and bounds. You can take courses on everything from how to use Google to researching and stand-alone university sites such as MIT and Berkley. For a lengthy listing and link database, go to Open Culture or:
Addicted to consuming? New site offers help & resources.
Site makes Craigslist easier to shop…organizes listings by photo for you
New Reality Series Seeking Contestants who need financial assistance!
New Consumer Videos
How to Deal With Debt Collectors from the FTC
Learn how to haggle
Lowest Price isn’t always the best…getting the best from retailers
IRS PDF Guide download for those who do their own taxes-useful and current
I know – taxes are about as much fun as scruffing my cats to clip their nails!
IRS Loosens up with hardship cases – Wall Street Journal report
Labor Department offers grants for Green jobs
See how our government wastes your money by ignoring domestic priorities
Offers citizen and community groups tools and resources to shape federal budget and policy priorities which promote social and economic justice. Includes databases,
Thomas Frank is the author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? and One Market Under God. The founding editor of The Baffler and a contributing editor at Harper’s, he is also The Wall Street Journal’s newest weekly columnist. He’s authored several interesting tomes.
You’ll know the recession is over with when you stop
Counting mail-in rebates as income!
Some 15.7 million Americans are out of work & it doesn’t matter what the economic indicators say…the recession is over with when I get a job!
Zoellick says crisis effects will last for years
BERLIN (Reuters) – The world will likely continue to live with ripple effects from the financial crisis for years, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said on Friday.
Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Zoellick said the World Bank estimated that a further 64 million people would fall into extreme poverty between 2009 and 2010 as a result of the crisis.
"We continue to see negative fallout from the economic crisis," Zoellick told a news conference in Berlin.
Commentary & News Round-up
*The FBI allegedly broke the law when agents collected more than 2,000 records of domestic phone calls and then tried to get approval for their actions after the fact, Reuters reported. The Washington Post broke the story, using internal bureau memos that detailed how counterterrorism officials inside the FBI did not follow their own procedures, which were put in place to protect civil liberties. A Justice Department inspector general's report due out later this month is expected to conclude that the FBI frequently violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act when agents invoked nonexistent emergencies to collect records.
Corporate & government greed gene pool…
The commercial real estate is a disaster-in- the-making - both for property investors and for the thousands of American banks that are carrying outsized exposure to commercial borrowers…much like many major retailers which have failed, many commercial real estate entities will likely fail this year due primarily to lack of bank lending and plummeting property values.
Fewer retail tenants will contribute to the problem. In many cities, landlords got greedy (what a shock) and raised rents without thought to the consequences.
US banks aren’t lending…but banks in China, India, Viet Nam and other countries are lending AND helping to grow their economy! Meanwhile, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has kicked off its hearings by promising a “thorough examination of the root causes” of the subprime scandal…are you holding your breath?
The banks, which created this mess are making a killing undoing it!
Government jobs are keeping the economy ‘afloat’ for now…most government jobs now pay 20-30% more than the private sector and have maintained generous pensions and other benefits. Government continues to grow; for a list of all the government agencies which exist, go to: http://www.usa.gov/Agencies/Federal/All_Agencies/index.shtml
It will shock you!
Here’s an example:
National Institute of Health.The NIH was set up in 1930. It had 140 employees, which seems like more than enough. Today, it has 18,442. The same sort of employee inflation happens at every government level on practically every government project.
The Washington Times notes that $850 million of the stimulus went to buy windmills from foreign companies. It reports that 11 wind farms that got money have imported 695 of the 982 wind turbines, creating about 4,500 jobs overseas! In October, a joint venture of crony U.S. "capitalists" armed with millions of dollars in "stimulus" cash launched a massive wind farm project in Texas using 240 Chinese-made turbines.
When the Times did the math, it came down to hundreds of millions of tax dollars creating the equivalent of 15 permanent U.S. jobs.
While the government continues its growth through ‘spread-the-wealth Obamanomics”, the big problem we all face: Congressional committees are already holding hearings on how the government can "tap" millions of 401(k) retirement funds to stave off the Social Security system's emerging insolvency crisis. I think we all may become a part of the new “pauper class.”
A report last week in Business Week shows that the U.S. Feds have 401(k) assets in their sites.
“The U.S. Treasury and Labor Departments will ask for public comment as soon as next week on ways to promote the conversion of 401(k) savings and Individual Retirement Accounts into annuities or other steady payment streams, according to Assistant Labor Secretary Phyllis C. Borzi and Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Mark Iwry, who are spearheading the effort.
“Annuities generally guarantee income until the retiree’s death, and often that of a surviving spouse as well. They are designed to protect against the risk that retirees outlive their savings, a danger made clear by market losses suffered by older Americans over the last year, David Certner, legislative counsel for AARP, said in an interview.”
The U.S. Treasury Department and the Obama administration are exploring ways to encourage U.S. savers to buy more annuities or investment vehicles composed of “safe” assets. What constitutes safe? Why 30-year U.S. government bonds of course! Thus, the government can encourage people to buy what the Chinese and the Japanese and most other U.S. creditors don’t want to touch any longer.
The trouble with an annuity or 30-year bond is that you get crushed by inflation. In principle, it’s no different than a zero coupon bond.
Rumor also has it that Congress will seek to ban you and I from investing in gold and silver.
According to shadowstats.com—a leading producer of real and UNBIASED government statistics—the dollar has lost almost 20% of its international value just in the last 30 months or so-which could easily lead to hyperinflation in this country. This will be especially true if the persistent rumors of China dumping the US dollar come true!
Airline Insecurity & Terrorism
Have you noticed that our Homeland Security department doesn’t seem able to stop terrorists? In nearly every case, it’s been our citizens (passengers), which have thwarted the bad guys. Yet, we don’t see our government being open with the public about such threats…instead, they make the screening process at airports that much more difficult for average citizens.
Every time we blame to government for ‘failing’ to keep us safe, the government treats us like children.
After passengers of Flight 253 deplaned in Detroit, they were held in the baggage area for five hours until FBI agents questioned them. They were not allowed to call family members or even go to the bathroom (even the pilot was told to sit down when he indicated a need to visit mother nature) nor were they given food or water!
The government seems to forget, or is unwilling to admit, passengers and citizens are the best line of defense.
Consumers are squeezed
WASHINGTON – Consumer inflation was tame in 2009, with prices rising 2.7 percent. Yet families felt squeezed as their spending power sank in the face of falling wages, job losses and higher prices for energy, medical care and education.
A surge in energy prices last year offset the biggest drop in food costs in nearly a half century.
The Labor Department said Friday its Consumer Price Index rose a modest 0.1 percent in December. Excluding food and energy, prices were also up just 0.1 percent last month.
A separate department report showed inflation-adjusted weekly wages for the 12 months ending in December fell 1.6 percent — the sharpest decline since 1990. Slack wages and scarce job creation have slowed consumer spending, hindering the economy's ability to mount a strong recovery.
FCC overreach…get your hands off my internet!
The FCC has been trying to control the internet. No thank you! Too many government officials feel there is nothing in the private sector which should go unsupervised…the FCC would like to regulate consumer access to the web in the same way telephone service is controlled (I already pay $14.95 per phone line in stupid government taxes – I don’t need to give them more cash).
It would use its power to stop internet providers from blocking consumer access to legal content and possibly assert itself into pricing…another power grab. What do they think this is – China?
The bad economy is giving new life to an old, dishonorable trade – the scam artists. Scammers are coming out of the woodwork these days. The days when all we had to worry about was the Nigerian investment email scams are over.
An Oregon couple was recently duped by a “mystery shopper” scam that involved being sent money orders they were to use for making mystery shopper purchases, and for being paid. They were told to send the rest of the funds back, via Western Union. The money orders turned out to have been forged, so they actually sent their own money to the scammers.
The Better Business Bureau is seeing an increase in all kinds of scams.
Yours for better living,
From the clandestine, global resources of the Poor Man Network, we hope you’ve enjoyed this issue!