Archive for the 'Monies 'n' Whatnot' Category

Student Loans

I do agree somewhat with President Obama on the student loan issue: Between the government, banks, and students, there are one too many groups involved in the student loan process.

I know it’s not politically correct to say, but it is too easy to get student loans.  Money passing from the government to colleges with an understanding that some student, with no real understanding of the amount of money they are dealing with, will pay it back in the future is part of the reason that tuition inflates at a rate 1.5-2 times higher than inflation.  (And it’s not like they are getting much out of the extra tuition.) The easy money perverts the demand side of the supply-and-demand curve.

The federal government should not be guaranteeing these loans. Not only do they not really have any business doing it under the constitution, but in the long run, it is actually harming the very students it is purporting to help.

It’s not like banks weren’t willing to make unsecured loans to college students in the past.

So you only get a loan for half your tuition; so you have to go to UW-Oshkosh instead of a private college. It’s better than getting saddled with the cost of the scam the colleges are running on the students with the help of the federal government.

The worst part of the situation is that there isn’t really a private alternative. I just went through the process of funding my law school education. I had two choices: Pay cash myself, or run through the fed’s gauntlet. Believe it or not, I’d have rather dealt with Bank of America directly.

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2008 Festivus Airing of Grievances

It’s that time of year again: Orthodox Festivus. I pull the Festivus Pole out from behind the Christmas Tree and perform feats of strength. Unfortunately for you, you can’t join me for those. Fortunatly for you, you are able to read my grievances:

  • We’ll get the annual eggnog shake-related grievance out of the way. Silverdale McDonald’s:  I would never eat there for lunch except for the lure of the eggnog shake (and in March the Shamrock shake). So it’s a little bit infuriating when their shake machine is broken on Christmas Eve day and I’m stuck in the drive-in line.
  • The 1 in 5 HDTV owners who can’t tell the difference between HD and SD are legally blind: Why is this one of the biggest problems that the adoption of HD faces? The difference between SD and HD is the same as the difference between black and white and color.  (And anti-grievance to DirecTV who has done a very good job in correcting their former “HD Lite” problem this year. It still can’t compare to Blu Ray / HD DVD, but an episode of “Friday Night Lights” on the 101 looks very pristine.)
  • The People who felt the need to yell at me when I had a flat tire on my motorcycle on I-5: May someone laugh at your accident on the freeway one day. And may it be a single-car fatality.
  • Football coaches, especially Badger and Packer coaches, who haven’t figured out that the prevent only prevents the win: I only enjoy fourth quarter comebacks if my team is the one coming back.
  • The Bremerton K-Mart: Yes, combine K-Mart and Bremerton and it is as horrible as you’d expect. However, that’s not the problem. I’ll accept the terribleness for what it is when I go in there because something is on sale for an awesomely low price or because it is the closest store of its kind. What I don’t care for is the fact that they let salesman for other companies ambush their customers inside the store. One minute I’m looking for kitty litter, the next I’m trying to get away from a guy pitching me storm windows.
  • Every other retail store I was in this year: No, I don’t want your credit card. And you know what? No one else needs them either. We need to stop basing our economy, budgets, and government on stupid amounts of crappy debt.
  • The City of Seattle: When it snows you let the city fall into anarchy because you refuse to use salt on the icy roads. Why exactly? Environmental reasons? Salt is used on the roads from Montana to Maine, and the perch and trout are just fine. I know it is horrifying to think of all the salt draining down to the salt water of Puget Sound and then emptying with the tide into the Pacific Ocean, aka Asia’s toilet.
  • Brett Favre: So… what was the point of all of that then?
  • Ben Sheets: That’s a fantastic time you picked to get hurt there. Worked out great, thanks.
  • Michael Phelps: I understand the need to cash in while the cashing in is good, but can we expect to ever see you in a pool again?
  • Fellow half-marathoners who felt the need to give me a thumbs-up or some other patronizing gesture: Yeah, I know, you don’t see many people my size on the course, so you just can’t help yourself. But I wouldn’t have been out there if I hadn’t been preparing for it. Here is the equivalent: I see a 170 pound guy kicking your 110 pound ass, and I give you a thumbs up for hanging in there against what would be an easy fight for me to win.
  • People who use self-checkout stations even though you know you are going to get your ass kicked by it: Please, for the love of God, stop. If you are over 65 or didn’t graduate high school or could never set the clock on your VCR, you really need to ask yourself whether you think following simple prompts from a computer is something you can handle in less time than it would take to wait in line at a human checkout stand. Especially if there is a membership or savings card involved. Especially if it is lunchtime and the regular check-stands aren’t that crowded to start with. Especially if I am behind you in line.
  • Related to the above are people who still write checks in retail stores: Are you trying to commit fraud? Then why are you writing a check? I love standing there while the clerk writes down your two forms of ID, runs the check through the computer, and then calls her supervisor when your check makes the computer beep. Maybe you can weigh out some gold dust next time, that might take a little longer and my ice cream can melt completely.
  • People who are complaining about gas prices plummeting: Don’t think I haven’t noticed the huge overlap of people complaining about low gas prices with the people constantly crying a river about the working poor. One of the biggest things the working poor need is cheap fuel. Yeah, yeah, alternative energy… this is how this thing is going to play out: If there is an end to the foreign supply, the world will use it up. The price will rise as the third world comes online and the oil supply drops.  At some point some threshold will be crossed where we’ll use our domestic supply of oil while we figure out alternative energy (and ironically, we’ll have Democratic drilling obstructionist from the last 20 years to thank for the reserve). I’m not saying that’s ideal; I’m saying that’s the economic reality.
  • Everyone on both sides who made this last election intolerable: It’s hard to make me see an up side to living in a dictatorship, yet you did it.

I guess that’s enough for 2008. I hope that 2009 is much less annoying.

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Moose Droppings – The Last Day of Class Edition

  • As the father of a four-year-old girl, I’m soooo sorry to see the Slutz Bratz dolls line go down. Not that I don’t expect Mattel to license the Bratz IP right back to MGA or for Mattel to start using it themselves, but there might be a few months where I don’t have to tell my daughter that she can’t have one everytime they are advertised during SpongeBob. It is kind of fitting that this dispute ends on my last day of law school since the case has come up several times in the IP classes throughout my law school career.
  • The Curse of Dotty Dumpling. Althouse wonders why the hell they crammed the Overture Center in downtown Madison in the first place. She calls it an “insane hubris,” without ever mentioning the great dive hamburger joint it took down. (I know Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry is open in a new location, but it doesn’t feel the same.)
  • I’ve never heard of the “matress-on-car” prank. (Also from Madison via Althouse.)  I am familiar with the “multiple punchs to the head” prank.
  • The civilized world is overthinking the piracy problem. Step 1: The next time pirates take over a ship take it back with SAS or SEALS or something, and distribute a videotape the surviving pirates walking the plank. Step 2: Equip shipping vessels with an appropriate number of weapons and a few men trained to use them. The civilized world shouldn’t be held hostage by some adolesents in a crappy 20 foot skiff carrying AK-47s. Step 3: The next time after that pirates take over a ship take it back with SAS or SEALS or something, and distribute a videotape the surviving pirates walking the plank. Repeat as needed.
  • The Mariners seem to actually think that Russell Branyan is an answer to one of their problems. Apparently Branyan hit some homers for the Brewers last year, but it seemed like he struck out every time I was listening.
  • For the second time in two months I had to call Countrywide and ask them why my payments hadn’t been credited to my mortgage loan account after electronic transfers were timely made. The sale of Countrywide to Bank of America is working out real well for this customer.
  • Who and what would be on Milwaukee’s own currency? I propose for the front side: Lew Alcindor on the one, The Fonz on the five, the Zucker Brothers on the ten, Robin Yount on the twenty, either Liberace or Herb Kohl on the fifty, and Teddy Roosevelt finishing a speech after being shot on the hundred. For the back: The Plank Road Brewery on the one, the I-94/I-794/I-43 interchange on the five,  a Harley Road King on the ten, Summer Fest on the twenty, The Safe House (outside for confusing goodness) on the fifty, and the Mitchell Park Conservatory (aka “The Domes”) on the hundred.
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No, I don’t want a Cold Stone Creamery Visa card.

You know what I’d like to be able to do? I’d like to be able to fill up on gas at Costco, buy a pair of pants at JC Penny’s, or buy a pack of socks at Target without being hassled about signing up for their store-branded credit card.

I just looked at my student loans. I have enough debt to last me a while, thanks.
I’d rather pay an extra couple of cents per item at any of these places than constantly having to be hasseled by these poor clerks that are forced to hassle me. Somehow I doubt Costco or Target is hurting that bad, though.

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Emotion versus Math

Dave Ramsey said yesterday, “The stock market in the short term trades on emotion, in the long term it trades on math.”

His point is that big drops are based on fear and computer stop-loss orders, but over five years the stock market almost always goes up and over 10 years it always goes up. There are going to be some savvy, patient people who have some cash to invest that are going to make a lot of money.

Unless, of course, Coca-Cola stops bottling soft drinks, McDonalds stops selling food, Harley-Davidson stops making motorcycles, Dow stops making chemicals, and Kraft stops making mac and cheese. In which case it’s hardly going to matter anyway.

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