Archives For September 2011

Let’s close out the month with a quote by one of my heroes, Woodrow Wilson.

If you want to make enemies, try to change something. 
Woodrow Wilson

Change, even though it is coming at such a fast pace in the twenty-first century makes just as many enemies today as it did one hundred years ago when Wilson made this comment.

Source:  Leaders of deficit panel say public’s confidence at stake – USATODAY.com.

Since this is an optimistic post and I am short of optimism lately it will be a short one.

In these times of total political gridlock it is nice to see at least some conciliatory words from the members of the “super committee”. These are the members of congress who have been assigned to come up with a plan for deficit reduction by sometime in November. Maybe, just maybe some in Washington are beginning to “get it”. With less than one in five citizens thinking they are doing a good job they certainly need to get it soon.

I know that every parent wants to see his kindergarten kid get an evaluation of “plays well with others..” so using those words when talking about cooperation in congress seems somehow appropriate.

But what do I know.

Maui Hawaii – 1986

September 28, 2011

In honor of my fellow blogger, Bob Lowry over at Satisfying Retirement, who is visiting the island this week I wanted to bring up a picture of my bride taken on our honeymoon there in 1986. We haven’t been back since but I expect that Bob will see a much different island than we did.

Have a good time buddy….

Source: Post office turns to small-town mini-mart for savings – USATODAY.com.

There is an old saying  “What goes around comes around” and that seems to apply to the much beleaguered Post Office. According to the above article they are starting to move small town post offices out of their specialized government owned building and back into local retail establishments.  I am old enough to remember that when I lived in a rural community while I was growing up the post office was in the general store/grocery.

According to the article above they are planning to close around 3,700 offices and move them elsewhere. If they had had this epiphany some years ago they might not be in the dire straits they are in today. The post office, like so many other government controlled agencies and even many large corporations, are too reluctant to make any changes until a crisis demands it and for the post office crisis is demanding it. And then there is Saturday delivery. Why haven’t they eliminated that already?

Any forward looking technocrat could have predicted the reduced need for post office services several years ago. Now that the Internet is in the majority of American households most families, including mine, use on-line services to pay monthly bills.  It now turns out that the majority of deliveries by the postal service is junk mail. Most people now send emails to the ones they love instead of writing a letter as they did in the old days (ten years ago ;) ).  Because of the speed of the Internet the post office is now  called “snail mail”. Will the post office one day go the route of the buggy whip manufacturer? Probably, but that will still be sometime in the future (I think).

Maybe the Post Office can morph themselves into something else to maintain their existence. Maybe they can make themselves into a competitor of UPS or FedEx? I hope they don’t just go out of existence; that would mean too many jobs lost in these times where jobs are moving off-shore at a inflaming rate.

But what do I know…

This is probably one of the most famous barns in America.

Living Debt Free….

September 27, 2011

The average consumer carries over $16,000 in credit card debt. And there is usually a mortgage and probably a car loan in the pile too. They say the total personal debt of U.S. consumers is over $11 trillion.  Unfortunately many of those are middle aged and moving into their retirement years. With all this debt they are obviously not putting away much for their later life.

It is quite startling how much debt many seniors today carry into their retirement! Four out of ten carry a mortgage with them into their golden years. Almost five out of ten carry a $6,000 credit card debt!  My father taught me to “put money away for a rainy day”.  While that message stuck with me it obviously didn’t with many of my cohorts.

What makes one person maintain a lifestyle that is debt free while another piles it on? My father and his generation were called Depression babies as he was  six years old at the onset of the Depression of the 1920s. My grandfather had a pig farm and was not seriously affected by the depression but I still remember Dad’s stories about some of his neighbors who were very much affected. Depression babies like my dad did not like debt but for the most part they are all gone now and quickly being replaced by us baby boomers. From the evidence it looks like many of us have not followed in our fathers’ footsteps about being debt free. Why are so many so ill-prepared for their senior years? I’m sure part of it has to do with “wanting it now”.

For some who are on retirement’s door it is already too late and that means they have to keep working whether they like it our not. Unfortunately, even among this group, there will be those who because of health or other issues will not be able to work in their senior years. What will happen to them. Most likely they will be trying to live on basically Social Security benefits which average usually a little over $1,000 per month. What would happen to those if even the Social Security safety net were removed?  According to some in the audience at the latest Republican presidential debate we should let them die! I hope and pray we never become a nation who lets that happen! But sadly I didn’t hear of anyone on the stage renouncing that idea!

I see the results of trying to live on Social Security alone weekly at the soup kitchen I volunteer.  Our lunch and dinner guests increase by about 25% the last week of the month when the checks are running out. We all would like to say “that happens to others” but I’m sure the “others” did not believe it would happen to them either.  No matter how close to retirement you are it is never to late to be reigning back some expenses in order to save a few dollars.