Posts Tagged ‘Money’

So, I’ve posted a few things that I miss about Maui.  I thought I should post a couple of positive things about my life away from Maui.

Paying bills.  Being able to pay bills is a very positive thing.  I am immensely happy to be paying off all my bills.  The last couple of years on Maui were slow ones for my side of the pay check contributions.  Work from California was barely trickling in and I was working less than half time for many months.  Bill balances were carried over, much to the consternation of Sweetie (and my father if he was watching me around that time).  I didn’t love it either, but it was easier for me (than Sweetie) to just ignore the monthly charges.  I fretted but felt that I would get my feet back under me eventually.

Now that I am back to a full-time job with a steady full-time paycheck, I am loving being able to pay my bills and start socking away money every month.  *sigh*  Nice.  Not that I don’t have new stresses from said full-time job.  But I remind myself how nice it is to pay off my bills.  And that helps.  I have a couple of personal loans I’m paying back and it feels good to be able to do that also.  I can still stress about money if I think about it.  Especially given the long list of house projects that Sweetie and I are compiling.  Some optional.  Some probably soon-to-be mandatory.  Think sewer pipes.  Fun times.  But at least I don’t feel overwhelmed on a weekly basis.

So, much as I miss the laid-back loveliness of island self-employed living, I can appreciate some of the benefits of the daily grind.  Given that I’ve landed in a nice workplace with some interesting projects to work on, I’ll keep my nose to it until the day I become a professional poker player.  ha! 

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Wasteful spending.  It sucks. Especially if it is being done with MY tax dollars. 

I gotta agree with the Senate Republicans on this one.  This latest version of TARP, or whatever they are calling this Federal spending plan, looks horrible.  It looks wasteful.  It still looks like a bunch of earmarked projects cherry-picked for some special donors back in the Representatives’ home districts.  Here is a list of some of the projects that the GOP leaders consider to be wasteful in the latest stimulus package bill:


A lot of these projects do NOT look like they would stimulate growth in our economy.  I would agree to a spending package that stimulates growth and improves infrastructure.  The American Society of Civil Engineers puts out a report called “The Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.”  It’s full of Ds.  Parents out there, if your kid came home with such a dismal report card, there would be some severe repercussions, I think.  In this report card, bridges get a C, dams get a D, roads get a D-, and drinking water gets a D-.  The United States, if we are going to pass a bill to spend billions of dollars to stimulate the economy, should make this bill a double-plus by spending the money on things we really really need.  Like roadway improvements and bridge retrofit.  Not things like furniture for new federal buildings.

I don’t agree with everything on the GOP’s list.  I don’t think spending money on Amtrak or a sewer system or new flood control projects is wasteful.  But I don’t think this bill should be passed the way it is and I hope the House and Senate Democrats work with the Republicans to fix it.  I think a lot of Americans feel the same way.  I think I’ll emulate my pal Debbie and follow this blog with an e-mail to my Congressional reps.  Let’s say “No!” to earmarked wasteful spending.  Or else just give me my tax money back.  I’ll show y’all how to spend money properly! 

Heh heh. 

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I’m reading this week’s (December 4) issue of Time magazine, and cleaning up K Street in Washington.  There’s been a lot of talk by politicians about the need for lobbying reforms in Washington D.C.  It must be quite a conundrum for all politicians who receive hefty amounts of money donations from lobbyists and their associates.  How do you rein in potential favors-for-money transactions without jeopardizing your own future war chests?

I’ll leave it to the folks in Congress, both new and old, to see if they can really create any reform in the system.  My hope is that people understand why such reform is needed. 

We all know (right?) that while the United States of America is a democratic country, our government is not run as a pure direct democracy.  We are, instead, a constitutional republic.  National law and national policy is not decided directly by the voters, but by our representatives.  That’s the way our government works.  Ideally, voters have done their research on candidates and candidates have represented themselves honestly, and we stand in our voting booths and vote for a representative that we feel will best speak for us in Congress.  That’s what we get.  We get one vote for each person, and then we get to sit back and hope they represent us well.

What happens when a Congressperson gets one vote from me, but then also gets $10,000 from another guy?  $10,000 can pay for a lot of campaign material come the next election.  Maybe someone could win 10 votes if they had $10,000 to spend on a commercial, or colorful flyers.  And maybe, just maybe, someone could win 100 votes if they used their position in Congress to spend $100,000 in their jurisdiction in such a way that would benefit a specific group of people.  If that person who hands my Congressperson $10,000 says “Do something for me when you win, and I’ll deliver more money and maybe a good block of votes.” 

Hey then.  What happened to *my* one vote?  What happened to my opinion on issues in my congressional district?  It’s probably not as important as the interests of the lobbyist in Washington D.C. who has the direct ear of my Congressperson.  A lobbyist who, by the way, may not even *live* in my congressional district.  Suddenly, while I and my neighbors are sitting around and talking about how we would like to see money for our public schools, a decent public transportation system, and  clean water, our Congressperson is slipping high-dollar “earmarks” into the legislation they are passing in Washington.  In case you didn’t click on that link above, this is what happens with earmarks:

In the United States legislative budget process, Congess has the power to earmark (designate) funds it appropriates (revenue) to be spent on specific named projects. This differs from the normal practice where Congress grants a lump sum to an agency to allocate entirely at its discretion, according to the agency’s internal budgeting process. Earmarks tie the hands of agency bureaucrats, obliging them to spend a portion of the budget on special projects chosen by politicians.

So, my local transportation agency may have a long list of priorities to fix existing roads with big potholes and build a new light-rail system.  If they were given federal money to do their jobs, they chould choose which projects to spend the money on.  But with earmarks, our Congressperson designates very specific projects, and the federal money goes to that project. 

With a fixed federal budget, what happens to lump sum budget allocations when there are a ton of earmarks?  They go down, I think.  And if you think that earmarks aren’t taking a lot of money away from our local agencies, total earmarks in 2005 were about 47 billion dollars.   That’s 47 billion dollars that were chosen for just 15,000 earmarks.  To me, that sounds like 15,000 projects at over $3,000,000 per project.  How many things could your State Department of Education do with $3,000,000?  Or your Transporatation Department?  Who knows, because they won’t get to use money at their own discretion. 

I know, most of you folks reading my blog probably already understand this. And I hope that our Congressfolks will take the recent voter discontent as a sign that there are several things that need to change in Washington.  They are being sent to Congress to represent a whole group of voters back home, not just a few people with a lot of money. 

If they spent more time listening to their constituents and doing things we need them to do, maybe they wouldn’t need a huge war chest to buy our votes in the next election.  Maybe they could earn our votes by representing our needs and serving us honestly.  Wouldn’t that be a refreshing change?

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