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Category Archive: Politics

Feb 26

I am buying bananas with my stimulus package cash

We are in the Land of Grandma’s Advice right now, meaning pay down one’s debt before buying a single thing more.

I wonder if that includes bananas?

Before I explain, I want to mention a footnote. I heard the description, Land of Grandma’s Advice, while moving too fast channel surfing. Did not catch the name of the financial advisor who quipped the remark. Sorry, I cannot credit him here; however, his advice remains sage indeed.

Just like Grandma’s.

To make us feel better, this financial guru in question also mentioned that we are not actually in Grandma’s Great Depression yet nor are we headed there, he thinks. He is almost certain.

What do bananas have to do with any of this, you may ask? Here’s what.

The spousal unit in our household is already in Grandma’s Great Depression mode.

Late yesterday afternoon, he graciously asked if I bought bananas yet that day.

My first thought, “He noticed we are out of bananas?”

I said no and that I had not been to the store.

He sweetly replied, “Don’t worry about it; I will get your bananas for you as I know you like one for breakfast.”

I am thinking, “What is up with all this sugar all of a sudden, offering to get bananas out of the clear blue and with no prompting. Hmmm.”

Just before I went to bed I was hungry and went looking for a banana, since apparently we have them now. There they were on the banana hanger, barely visible because there were only two of them.

Two bananas!

Immediately, I asked the hubby why two, why not a bunch?

And he replied, “They go on sale tomorrow somewhere and I am not going to spend more for them today. I will wait until then even if I have to drive all over town. I didn’t want you to buy too many today and spend too much on them.”

Recently, he overstocked the freezer with day-old bread and visited electric companies that give out packs of free light bulbs to customers.

It is not the Great Depression yet in our household, but it is getting close.

Good news though.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that our nation’s upcoming stimulus package will give us all fresh cash in our paychecks, “the latest calculations of the tax break suggest that the $116 billion in tax credits would amount to an extra $8 weekly in each paycheck.”

I am spending mine on a bunch of bananas and fresh bread; forget the light bulbs. Eight dollars should do it.

Jan 22

A chance conversation about Social Security

“Mind if I take this seat,” the gentleman asked as he squeezed in the middle seat on the plane. I was on the aisle, always my preference, and a young woman who was reading a medical school entrance exam book, sat by the window.

I did not mind a bit as he appeared pleasant enough and might be an interesting conversationalist.

The young woman was completely absorbed in her studies, and I doubt she heard a single word of our conversation that lasted nearly the entire flight. If she had, she would have yawned.

That is because it was about topics that interest my age group, certainly not hers.

We talked about travel, grown kids, grandkids, favorite cities, past jobs, retirement, but mostly Social Security.

Yes, I hate to admit it, I am having conversations with complete strangers these days about whether or not to take the early-bird payout and grab those Social Security benefits while I can.

You, too?

Apparently, the question is coming up seemingly everywhere I go and with others my age, because the first big wave of boomers will soon reach the grab-the-money-and-run plateau at age 62.

I am not there yet mind you, but find it interesting that when the subject does come up others like me quickly point out they are simply looking ahead.

Does not mean they are 62 yet, they make abundantly clear. Me, too, because heaven forbid anyone should think I might be 62, right?

But I digress. Back to the conversation on the plane. We talked of options. Wait until age 66 when Social Security benefits will go up slightly, or wait until age 70 when benefits could nearly double and one can make all the additional money one wants and still draw benefits.

The conventional advice is to wait for the big check and play the long game.

However, when I speak randomly with strangers about this as I did on this recent flight or when I discuss the question with hubby, trusted friends or grown children, I get the same advice.

“Take the quick upfront money and run,” they tell me.

This advice can only mean two things: either I have a sign on my forehead that says, “you are about to get hit by a truck so take the money stupid”. Or, Social Security will be bankrupt, and I will never collect the full benefits if I wait.

Neither option looks particularly rosy.

And since the random stranger on the plane agrees, that makes me feel better about my decision.

Advice from arbitrary strangers works fine for me.

I am playing the short game.

Oct 16

Straddling the fence is not a good place to be

Are you one of the undecideds in the middle this election year, a fence straddler? I hope not.

My Dad often said that the middle of a fence was not a good place to be. He had a saying about fence straddlers. “That fellow spends so much time straddling that fence I am surprised he doesn’t have splinters by now.”

Who are you fence straddlers any way? I want to meet you. I really want to meet you.

Where do you live? How do you think? An inquiring mind, mine, wants to know.

Can you really and truly not make up your mind yet about the election of 2008?

We are told almost daily by pundits that there is a vast number of undecideds who live somewhere in this country. We do not know exactly where they live, however,

We do not know who these uncommitted are, yet the political experts continue to tell us that these “Malcolms in the middle” will decide the election.

I just want to meet one. A living, breathing human being who truly does not know what he or she wants yet.

Do these folks answer a poll question one way today and another way tomorrow based on the latest stump speech? Do they have a moveable sign in their yard that is easily changed as one vacillates between candidates?

Do they decide whom to support this week based solely on the latest television ad happily singing, “Oh, if I only had a brain?”

Does a candidate’s slip of the tongue, a wrong word choice, a gaffe, a wink, or a hand gesture actually change a mind?

I am not buying any of this. How about you? We are smarter than that, are we not?

Think about this.

Consider these numbers. Forty per cent of the country wants socialism and big government control, we are told; and forty per cent want a capitalistic free market society.

Twenty per cent are fuzzy and confused in the middle.

Thirty per cent of Americans call themselves liberal and 30 per cent call themselves conservative, ten per cent call themselves very liberal and are part of the “blame and hate America first” crowd, and ten per cent call themselves very conservative and are part of the ultra right wing “America can do no wrong” crowd.

Twenty per cent are fuzzy and confused in the middle.

Can these numbers be true?

We have another saying in the Midwest about residing in the middle and straddling fences that deserves repeating here.

The story goes that a rancher went to the doc because he cut his hand trying to remove a “post turtle” from the middle of a fence. The doc asked him what a “post turtle” was, and the rancher explained.

“When you are driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that is a post turtle. You know he didn’t get there by himself, he doesn’t belong there, he can’t get anything done while he’s straddling the middle, and all you can do is help the poor dumb thing get down.”

Write me if you still can’t decide about this election and are straddling the fence; perhaps, I can help.

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