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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Smugglers Blues, Emergency Power, Hidden Cost of American Dream

A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain. --Robert Frost (1874-1963)

The Economy must be on the mend because

Since relocating back to the Great Lakes area, where unemployment is rampant, we thought cash would be tight, houses and businesses would be boarded up. However, that isn’t the case. We attended four live auctions in the past month and sales on most items were good or through the roof, and attendance at each auction was high!
Folks were bidding way beyond reason on dozens of lots. If they were dealers, I have no idea how they would make any money because there would be no room for a decent markup and we know that on average, bidding on Ebay is down?! Go figure…the lesson is that no matter what the economy is like, many people still have money and they will spend it.

New Credit Card Rules Could Help-Could Hurt Consumers

Here are some of the Federal Reserve's new rules your credit card issuer must implement under the Credit CARD Act of 2009:
· Issue notices of account modification at least 45 days in advance.
· Increase rates only on new charges you make, while the old rate applies to exiting balances.
· Deliver your credit card bill at least 21 days before your payment due date.
· Only impose interest charges on balances in the current billing cycle; no double-cycle billing.
· Protect consumers under the age 21 by making them show that they are able to make payments, or have a cosigner, in order to open a credit card account.

To make up for these losses, credit card issuers are taking action now, before the act goes into effect: They're hiking APRs, cutting credit limits, changing fixed rates to variable rates for many card holders, eradicating or severely limiting promotional rates and lastly, but most interestingly, introducing new fees.
Are you ready to be charged for getting your printed credit card statement by mail? Well, you should be! reported that numerous retail credit card issuers will begin charging at least $1 to mail your credit card statement to you. In other words, they'll essentially punish consumers who do not, or simply cannot make their payments online.
Visit the Federal Reserve's consumer information site that explains the new credit card rules in-depth.


If you had your life to live over again - you'd need more money.

Home Economics: The Hidden Costs of the 'American Dream'

The downside of the "American Dream" can be pronounced, says James Altucher of Formula Capital.
Owning a home has "never been a great investment," Altucher says, noting housing went up a dismal 0.4% annually vs. 8% for the stock market from 1890 to 2004, according to the Social Security Advisory Board.
Moreover, Altucher says the notion buying a home is a ticket to financial security is a "scam" perpetrated on the American people by corporations seeking to keep us in debt, less mobile and with the storage to purchase all sorts of needless consumer goods. For more of this story, go to:,IYR,XHB,HD,LOW,DHI,PHM

Hadley, MA (Vocus/PRWEB ) January 21, 2010 -- Some "experts" say it costs too much to make your business Green. They claim that cheaters like Bernie Madoff are the ones who get ahead in the corporate world. They say that being nice to customers and even competitors, or providing any amenities, is foolishness.

Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green
Is that any way to run a business? You bet it isn’t Jay Conrad Levinson—originator of Guerrilla Marketing, United's Friendly Skies, and Allstate's Good Hands—and award-winning marketing author/lifelong environmental activist Shel Horowitz team up to prove these naysayers wrong. In their latest book, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your


Gee, What has the Poor Man been writing about for over a year!

The White House in the new year already had begun focusing greater attention on the nation's angst and anger over a range of economic issues, including unemployment persisting near 10 percent, government expansion, Wall Street excesses and federal deficits.
Their conclusion was that the economy — jobs specifically and the broader topics of the nation's fiscal and financial health — must be priority No. 1.
The economy and jobs also will be a major theme of Obama's State of the Union address next Wednesday night.

"Freedom is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear." - Eric Arthur Blair (a.k.a. George Orwell)

Distrust the government – oh my, never…

With the start of the nation's decennial census just weeks away, nearly one in five persons might decline to participate in the high-stakes head count, citing mostly a lack of interest but also a broader distrust of the federal government.
A poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center highlighted the challenges as the U.S. Census Bureau prepares to begin its tally in March. The findings come as some groups question whether the agency's $300 million outreach effort is doing enough to reach hard-to-count communities.
Time Honored way of making money in the US – Smuggling

ATF put 250M illegal cigarettes on streets
Many of our Founding Fathers, including John Hancock and more recently John F Kennedy’s father found smuggling a profitable sideline. Kennedy smuggled hootch during Prohibition from England and our government encourages drug smuggling -what young person would want to work at McDonald’s for $7.25 an hour when you can make $100 an hour tax-free pushing dope?
The government encouraged such free enterprise endeavors when it outlawed booze. This allowed a bunch of struggling street theives to get into organized crime in order to smuggle booze and they made a boatload (pun intended) of cash. Of course, a few got killed along the way or as the government would say, collateral damage.
One of the favorite past times of government is that of create-a-crime.
FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Undercover ATF agents in Virginia have funneled more than 250 million cigarettes onto the nation's streets in the past three years through black market sales targeting smugglers, an Associated Press review has found.
Authorities say the flood of government-provided smokes — a pack and a half for every man, woman and child in New York City, the smugglers' main destination — leads them to organized crime rings and can even cut off financing for terrorists. The stings by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have yielded about five dozen federal arrests, albeit none on terror charges.


Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.

SAVE Some Money!
Eat at home – save money & calories
The collapse of at-home cooking tracks closely to obesity rates. Example: Poles typically spend 5% of their family budget eating out while Americans spend 37% (mainly on fast food). You can save a lot of money by eating at home…and calories.
A large coke at a US McDonald’s contains 100 more calories than one in the UK and there is no such thing as a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese in the UK – do you really need a half-pound of meat for lunch? (Of course, in London there are tons of Indian eateries…not my cup of tea).

Get step-by-step instructions for a host of home repairs, (how to replace a car headlight, teach your teen to drive, build a deck, refinish a floor, etc.) from:

Another eBay alternative to try

Top 10 Best Companies to work for – yes, they still exist & offer perks!


Emergency Power Options
From Mother Earth News magazine, by Steve Maxwell

A good electric generator makes your home blackout proof. It’s relatively inexpensive insurance against complete loss of household power. Plus, portable units are convenient when you need electricity beyond the reach of an extension cord.

All generators combine an internal combustion engine with electrical components to create electricity for powering appliances and tools. Choosing a generator involves several key decisions. How much power do you really need? How often do you expect to use it? What level of quality makes sense? What kind of fuel? How will you get the power from the generator to items in your home?

The first thing to consider is generator output. What size is right for your situation? This sounds simpler than it really is because not all items on your wish list are going to be used all the time or at the same time. Also, some appliances require more start-up power than their specified ratings.

Generator output is measured in watts, a unit of power derived by multiplying electrical flow rate (amps) by electrical pressure (volts). One typical household outlet, for example, delivers a maximum of 1,800 watts (15 amps x 120 volts), or the equivalent of a small portable generator. Many people buy a small generator but regret it later because they didn’t understand the basic issues.

The generator I’ve used for the last 20 years has a maximum rated output of 3,500 watts. That seemed like enough when I bought it, but it’s proven barely adequate for emergency backup. By the time the submersible well pump kicks in (1,500 watts at start-up), the basement freezer is running (800 watts) and a few lights are on (100 watts for several compact fluorescents), there’s not much power left for other things. If we want to use the microwave or toaster oven, we have to make sure that most other items are switched off.

There’s also the issue of sustained output. When a manufacturer rates generator output, it usually refers to a maximum, short-term level only. In practice, most generators can sustain only 80 percent of their maximum rating for the long haul.

Any appliance with a motor - a refrigerator, circular saw, drill, water pump or furnace blower - creates what’s called an “inductive” electrical load. This means energy demand skyrockets for the first second or two after start-up. You should allow two or three times as many watts for start-up compared to watts required while running. Heating elements (in stoves, toasters or space heaters), lights and small motors don’t draw significantly more current on start-up. In cases where no wattage consumption figure is stamped on an item, use the “volts x amps = watts” formula. You’ll almost certainly find volt and amp numbers stamped somewhere on an appliance.

As you do the math, you may discover that you want more than 5,000 watts of backup power. If that’s the case, you should consider a stationary generator wired directly into your home’s electrical system. These units are covered by weatherproof shrouds and are ready to kick in either manually or automatically whenever the power goes off. Stationary units cost more than portables, but they deliver more power. Prices for units large enough to run multiple appliances and lights during a blackout range from about $3,000 to more than $10,000.

The quality of power is important, too. Most generators create a specific frequency of alternating current (AC) by precisely governing motor speed — or at least they try to. But in reality, governor engine control is mechanical and pretty crude, especially on cheaper generators. That’s one reason generators typically produce such dirty (irregular) and potentially damaging AC power, filled with lots of high-voltage spikes. But the latest generation of “clean power” generators, often called inverters, takes a different approach.

These generators have a fuel economy feature that tailors engine output speed to electrical load demanded. Traditional generators run full blast, regardless of how much power you need. The engines on today’s best generators run only as fast as needed to create the power required. It’s a smooth, quiet and economical system that’s easier on the environment.

At the other end of the spectrum are less expensive generators with basic engines, no-frills electronics and less than optimal mufflers. These are worth consideration if you’ll only be powering large, simple electrical items such as cooking appliances, water pumps or basic power tools.

Regardless of the amount and quality of power you need, there’s also the question of fuel type. Most portable generators run on gasoline, but there are advantages to propane- and diesel-fueled models, too.

Propane (also called liquefied petroleum gas or LPG) is more expensive than other fuel options when you buy it in small tanks like those used with an outdoor grill. But it’s also more chemically stable than gasoline or diesel. Ordinary gasoline becomes significantly less flammable after several months of storage as key chemicals break down or evaporate. Diesel fuel also is susceptible to degradation by algae growth. You can expect two years of reliable shelf life by adding a conditioner to gas or diesel fuel, but LPG never goes stale, so an LPG system is worth considering if your generator will be used for emergency backup only.

Smaller diesel systems in the 4,000-watt range are now appearing on the market. Diesel engines are harder to start and usually cost more than comparable gasoline motors, but they last longer, especially for continuous use.

Got a tractor? A whole range of PTO-powered (Power Take Off) generators are available, most for medium and large power output. These units aren’t usually designed to put out the kind of clean (regular) power required by sensitive home electronics.

There are two ways to get power from your generator to the place where you need it. Extension cords are easy to use, but limited. You have to run them from outside to indoors, and even then you can only energize items that have a plug-in cord. Powering the blower on your furnace, a household water pump or permanently installed lighting is out of the question. But if you have a generator that puts out 3,500 watts or more, it’s worth creating a connection directly to your household wiring so nearly everything requiring electricity in your home can be used (at least in theory). But there’s a catch: To be safe and legal, any such direct connection must pass through a transfer switch.
This safety device ensures that either your home is connected to the grid or to your generator, but never to both at the same time.

Excerpted from Mother Earth News magazine, the original guide to living wisely. Read the full story at or call (800) 234-3368 to subscribe. Copyright 2008 by Ogden Publications, Inc.


Yours for better living,
Bruce “The Poor Man”

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