The three money monsters of the recovery

The word on the street is that we may be nearing the bottom of this recession, or even be on our way out.  I’m a little skeptical of those claims, but even if they’re true, there are three nasty problems that will get in the way of any recovery:

1. High fuel prices

How much you pay at the pump is largely determined by supply and demand, along with a large dose of federal gas tax.  The weak demand of the recession has brought about much needed relief in fuel prices.  But while nobody is paying attention, the new administration has canceled many gas leases in the western United States, which potentially lowers the supply of fuel.  My prediction is that by the time the Dow recovers to its pre-recession glory, the price at the pump will be setting new records as well.

2. Higher Taxes

The federal government keeps spending us deeper and deeper in debt, and sooner or later will have to raise taxes in attempt to balance the budget.  Regardless of whether they tax the rich or the middle class, the effect on the economy is still negative.  High taxes = poor economic performance.  Period.  It doesn’t matter who pays the taxes.

4. Inflation

The spending of the federal government has been getting plenty of media attention, but I don’t hear much about the trillions being spent by Federal Reserve.  While this spending doesn’t drive up the federal deficit, we pay for it just the same – with inflation.  LOTS of inflation.

Top five things to do with your stimulus money

Wondering what to do with those extra dollars you take home because of the the U.S. government’s so-called “stimulus” package?  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Donate it to a poor person in another county who will see it as a blessing instead of an entitlement.  Or give it to a truly needy person in America, if you can find one.
  2. Donate it to a pro-life cause in attempt to balance the leftward shift in Washington on social issues.
  3. Invest it for your children, as they will need it to help pay the interest on the mountain of national debt these so called stimulus packages are creating.
  4. Donate it to a truly conservative politician, if you can find one.  Perhaps you can donate it to whichever state governor takes the least amount of our money from stimulus package.
  5. Buy an advertisement in your local newspaper bashing the politicians who voted for the stimulus bill.

Roth vs. Traditional IRA

It seems many financial advisers today have a strong opinion about which type of IRA is the better way to invest for retirement.  I’m not a financial expert, but I cringe when I hear somebody emphatically state that one type or the other is clearly superior, when it really is not that simple.  The correct answer depends on several factors, and I think so-called “experts” are doing a disservice when they try to steer a financial novice like me in one direction or the other without a proper explanation.  Please note that I don’t have any fancy initials after my name, so I’m not to be relied on for sound financial advice.  This post reflects my limited (and possibly out-of-date) understanding of the subject. Continue reading

Vaccines and Abortion

Although many people know me as the computer repair guy, that is just one of my jobs. About two years ago I took on another task: fatherhood.

Crystal and I did the normal things parents do in caring for a child, including allowing him to be vaccinated at the appropriate times. One day we heard a rumor that the chickenpox vaccination was developed with tissue from an aborted baby. Not one to believe every conspiracy theory that comes along, I assumed it wasn’t true.

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Local government goodies now available online

The Fulton County government is offering unneeded or retired equipment for sale to the highest bidder on their new auction web site. This auction includes some computer and electronic equipment, as well as several appliances and household items.  The address is:

http://auction.co.fulton.pa.us

This is the first auction of its kind that the county has offered via the Internet.  It was made possible by some PHP and MySQL programing by Bernardo himself.  The auction web site could use a few enhancements, but it gets the job done.

The current auction will end on February 17.  Three more auctions will be held later this year, ending April 15, July 15, and October 15.  Items will be made available for bid approximately two weeks prior to the ending date.  At the bottom of the first page you see when visiting the web site, there is a subscription link where you can sign up to be notified when there are items being sold.

Be sure to read the terms before bidding.  A few important ones: everything is offered as-is with no warranty, payment must be made with cash or money order, and all items must be picked up by the buyer.  The county will not package and ship your purchase to you.

Feel free to come back here and comment on the web site.  Suggestions for improvements are welcome!

Let’s have a Christ-like December 25th

The “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays” debate has really gotten out of hand.  Fox news reported that a Florida women is suing her former employer who allegedly fired her for refusing to say “Happy Holidays”. Radio ads from some companies proudly proclaim “we still say Merry Christmas”. Other companies are the subject of boycotts from one side or the other because of how they describe December 25th. Now some of my fellow Christians are rebuking or correcting those who wish them a happy holiday season because the word Christmas was left out.

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Financial Dos and Don’ts for 2009

If I continue writing non-technical posts as I have in the past month or two, I’ll have to rename my blog “Bernardo’s Anything But Tech Blog”. Here’s another one on a subject that is on many peoples’ mind recently:

BusinessWeek.com has listed a number of financial Dos and Don’ts for the  new year. Check it out at http://www.businessweek.com/investor/content/dec2008/pi20081217_317510.htm

The Amish and Social Security

I have known for a long time about the religious exemption to Social Security.  However, I recently ran across an account of how it all came about.   Here is the story of the struggle between the Amish and the IRS.

http://www.amishnews.com/amisharticles/amishss.htm

I’m a little envious of them, considering that an individual can receive far more retirement income from safe investments such as bonds than he or she can ever expect from social security. Here is an enlightening article on just how bad of an investment social security really is.

http://www.heritage.org/research/socialsecurity/cda98-01.cfm