election http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/9187/all en-US How the Election Will Affect Your Credit Cards http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-election-will-affect-your-credit-cards <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-the-election-will-affect-your-credit-cards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/election-bang-iStock_000001683278Small.jpg" alt="election" title="election" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="173" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I don&rsquo;t know about you, but I&rsquo;m thrilled the election is over. Sure, I love the excitement of electing a president, but I get so tired of the political ads and the phone calls.</p> <p>So it&rsquo;s finally behind us, but now we&rsquo;re hearing about the fiscal cliff. Honestly, isn&rsquo;t it amazing how fast we went from election night to hearing about the fiscal cliff? I mean, it was like one minute we&rsquo;re counting electoral votes and the next minute we&rsquo;re told to hang on to our hats because we&rsquo;re on the edge of a cliff.</p> <p>Anyway, since the election, I&rsquo;ve been thinking about how the results might impact credit cards. Since Obama got re-elected, I don&rsquo;t think much will change in regard to how banks behave. Frankly, the banks were already a little on edge because of the prospect of more regulation. So we&rsquo;re really just status quo in that regard.</p> <p>I actually think the fiscal cliff thing will have more of an impact in the next few months than the presidential election will. The &quot;fiscal cliff&quot; is a term used to describe the economic fallout that might happen if Washington can&rsquo;t reach a compromise. I&rsquo;ll spare you the details, but let&rsquo;s just say that if Washington doesn&rsquo;t address the issues by December 31, 2012, it&rsquo;s predicted that the economic recovery might slow down to a snail&rsquo;s pace. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preparing-for-the-fiscal-cliff">Preparing for the Fiscal Cliff</a>)</p> <p>For the good of the country, I&rsquo;d like to think the politicians can get it together and make a deal. But really, would it surprise you if they can&rsquo;t strike a deal even with so much on the line? So that&rsquo;s why I think that in this post-election stage, it&rsquo;s a good idea to proceed with caution when it comes to your credit cards.</p> <p>OK, so here we go. Here are four strategies you should keep in mind in this post-election environment.</p> <h3>1. Don&rsquo;t Carry a Balance</h3> <p>I know you&rsquo;re probably tired of hearing this advice because everyone says it. But right now, since there&rsquo;s some uncertainty in the air, I wouldn&rsquo;t be surprised if banks attempted some interest rate increases just to cover their own behinds. If you&rsquo;re paying your balance off every month, rate increases won&rsquo;t affect you.</p> <p>But if you routinely carry credit card debt, this can turn into a nightmare if you&rsquo;re suddenly paying high interest rates. And believe me, I know that some of you need your credit cards just to make ends meet. If this describes your situation, get a credit card with the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards">lowest APR you can qualify for</a>. And when you can, pay more than the minimum payment.</p> <h3>2. Track Your Spending on Your Credit Cards</h3> <p>Unless you have a photographic memory, you really need to have a way to track your spending. Otherwise, you won&rsquo;t have any idea how much you&rsquo;ve spent on credit cards.</p> <p>Unfortunately, I can tell you from personal experience that relying on memory simply doesn&rsquo;t work. Yes, there was a time when I had an inflated opinion of my ability to remember purchases. Let&rsquo;s just say that didn&rsquo;t end well for me. In fact, it went on for months while I worked my tail off to pay off credit card debt.</p> <p>One way to track it is to use free money management tools. I use <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cool-mint-tools-for-manaing-your-money">Mint</a>, and I get an email when I&rsquo;m approaching my pre-set limits. You can also set up email or text alerts from your card issuer.</p> <h3>3. Boost Your Credit Score</h3> <p>Having a good credit score helps you save money in many areas of your life. You&rsquo;ll save on more than just mortgage rates. You&rsquo;ll also save on less obvious things, such as health and automobile insurance.</p> <p>Improving your FICO score is a winning strategy no matter what happens with the economy. If it stalls out again, then you want to be in a position to get the best rates on things you need. If the economy improves, you&rsquo;ll be in position to land a good offer on a credit card.</p> <p>What do you need to do? Pay all of your bills on time, try not to close old credit card accounts, and keep your credit card balances low.</p> <h3>4. Take Steps to Get Rid of Your Credit Card Debt</h3> <p>I always see a flurry of generous zero percent APR balance transfer offers in January. I think the issuers are hoping folks have made a New Year&rsquo;s resolution to get out of debt.</p> <p>Right now, balance transfer offers range from 12 to 18 months. So you could transfer your debt and make payments for a year without paying any interest. A very good deal!</p> <p>The catch is that the best balance transfer offers require excellent credit, which means you need a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debt/credit-scores">FICO score</a> of at least 750. If you don&rsquo;t qualify for the best deals, then try to pay more than the minimum payments when you can. Throw all your spare cash at your credit card debt. It might seem daunting, but with persistence, you&rsquo;ll start making a big dent in your debt.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-election-will-affect-your-credit-cards" class="sharethis-link" title="How the Election Will Affect Your Credit Cards" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beverly-harzog">Beverly Harzog</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Consumer Affairs Credit Cards election Mon, 19 Nov 2012 10:36:52 +0000 Beverly Harzog 955868 at http://www.wisebread.com Three reasons to stop freaking out about socialism http://www.wisebread.com/three-reasons-to-stop-freaking-out-about-socialism <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/three-reasons-to-stop-freaking-out-about-socialism" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/redflag.jpg" alt="Red menace" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&quot;Friends, now is no time to experiment with socialism. To me, our opponent’s plan sounds more like big government, which is the problem. Bigger government is not the solution. Whatever you call his tax plan and that redistribution of wealth, it will destroy jobs. It will hurt our economy.”</p> <p>-Sarah Palin </p> <p>Sarah Palin and John McCain are pulling out all the stops to prevent their Straighttalk Express from driving directly off a cliff. Among the recent allegations of treacherous wrong-doing by the Obama campaign is Obama&#39;s apparent desire to &quot;spread the wealth around&quot;. Hyperbole meets hypocrisy in a rather desperate attempt to paint their opponent as an extreme leftist (please, let&#39;s be honest, there IS no extreme left in the United States), especially since John McCain supported the recent Treasury bailout bill that was intended to... <em>spread the wealth around</em>.</p> <p>Yes, the old socialist tiger is being dusted off and trotted out again. <strong>Socialism</strong> - what a terrifying term! Let&#39;s look in the dictionary to see what monsters lurk beneath this horrible, horrible word:</p> <p><strong>so⋅cial⋅ism  [soh-shuh-liz-uhm]</strong></p> <p>–noun <strong>1.</strong> a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole. <strong>2.</strong> procedure or practice in accordance with this theory. <strong>3.</strong> (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles. </p> <h4>We&#39;re already socialist, kinda</h4> <p>The truth is, the United States government <strong>already</strong> spreads the wealth around. Most governments do. That&#39;s why we pay income taxes, and in return, enjoy government infrastructure such as paved freeways, postal service, Social Security (Medicaid/Medicare, if you qualify), <a href="http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2008/09/08/not-a-market-failure/">Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac</a> (sigh), and unemployment benefits. It&#39;s why we have a national forest service. </p> <p>Hell, as <a href="http://www.minnpost.com/ronway/2008/10/29/4137/america_isnt_experimenting_with_socialism_its_immersed_in_it">Ron Way points out</a>,<em><strong> public golf courses are technically socialist</strong></em>.</p> <p>I&#39;m not suggesting that these services are perfect, that our roads aren&#39;t in need of repair, or that the government operates with the efficiency of a well-oiled machine. And I do believe that it&#39;s fair to question whether government is always the best method for handling certain problems. I don&#39;t believe, like some do, that <a href="http://www.slate.com/id/2202489/">libertarianism is dead</a>, because as long as Ayn Rand&#39;s books are still in print, there will be people who believe in putting the individual first. I do sincerely hope that we will reconsider deregulation in the future, especially since it seems that American financiers can never be trusted to earn an honest buck.</p> <p>While the United States is technically a capitalist country, you&#39;d struggle to find an example of a public service that is not funded, in some way or another, by tax dollars.* </p> <p>We&#39;ve had times in which our country was much MORE socialist. Take the New Deal, engineered and implemented by Franklin Delano Roosevelt at a time when our country was facing some very dire straights. You can argue, as many have, that FDR introduced socialism to the United States in a way that was palatable, as well as desperately needed. In fact, that&#39;s where Fannie Mae came from (as well as the FDIC, SEC, FHA, etc.). </p> <p>If you don&#39;t think that socialism is a fairly weak force in the US, just look at labor unions. The very basis of many socialist economies, unions have never been so undermined and maligned in America as they are today.</p> <h4>John McCain&#39;s as big a commie as anyone else</h4> <p>I do believe, <a href="http://crooksandliars.com/john-amato/mccain-calls-obama-socialist-mccain-vot">as John McCain apparently does</a>, that there is a time and a place for a government to step in and fix things. </p> <p>I don&#39;t necessarily know if this particular time in history is going to prove to be one of those appropriate moments for government intervention - like many Americans, I wasn&#39;t pleased with the $800 billion bailout bill that was handed to Henry Paulson, not to mention the political shenanigans that went into creating the bacon-laden bill to begin with. </p> <p>Giving the banks a truckload of no-strings-attached Treasury money may or may not actually show us any returns in terms of normalized consumer lending anytime soon. All indications point to the <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,444887,00.html">banks holding the money</a> to prevent their own implosion. In fact, John McCain may have a very good point when he responded to Mike Wallace in a now rather infamous interview:</p> <p><strong>WALLACE:</strong> <em>But, Senator, you voted for the $700 billion bailout that&#39;s being used partially to nationalize American banks. Isn&#39;t that socialism?</em> </p> <p><strong>MCCAIN:</strong> <em>That is reacting to a crisis that&#39;s due to greed and excess in Washington. And what this administration is doing wrong, and what Paulson is doing wrong, is not going out and buying up home loan mortgages, home mortgages, and giving people new mortgages at the new value of their home so they can stay in their home. They&#39;re bailing out the banks. They&#39;re bailing out these institutions.</em></p> <p>What McCain is talking about is nationalizing mortgages, which would be another socialist move. I actually don&#39;t disagree with the idea entirely, but then, I don&#39;t dislike socialism that much.</p> <p>Palin, it is worth noting, is the governor of a state that <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Permanent_Fund">pays people to populate it</a>. Talk about spreading the wealth.</p> <h4>Many of our allies are MUCH more socialist than we are</h4> <p>Say what you will about the evils of Canada (and I will go on record saying that Canadians are pure, Molson-and-Tim-Horton&#39;s-filled evil), they seem to manage pulling of a mixture of socialism and capitalism with significantly less guilt than we Americans do. France and England, like Canada, have socialized medical systems, and say what you will about those French surrender monkeys, they have more <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/17/AR2006101701652.html">pro-family government programs in place</a> than the United States has ever enjoyed.</p> <p>Sweden, often offered up as an example of the most egregious socialist state in the Western world, doesn&#39;t seem to be any worse for the wear. They&#39;re not experiencing USSR-style drabness of dress. Despite traditional McCarthyist claims, socialism is not actually related to totalitarianism, even though communist governments have historically trended in that direction. </p> <p>What this means is that allowing the government to partially own certain industries or markets doesn&#39;t automatically strip you of your right to vote for your elected officials (we&#39;ve got <a href="http://www.miller-mccune.com/article/745">voter purges</a> taking care of that right here in the US!).</p> <p>Were our government not facing a <a href="http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/">monumental debt</a>, two wars in the Middle East and Central Asia, and a <a href="http://www.americaneconomicalert.org/ticker_home.asp">looming trade deficit</a>, I might be a stronger advocate of the federal goverment pouring non-existant dollars into failing industries; technically, I&#39;m still on the fence about what direction I think the government should head in in order to stave off a much large crisis and recesssion. This crisis might settle down in the coming months with little intervention.</p> <p>But if our economy does crash and burn, and we are facing another Depression - wouldn&#39;t that be <em>exactly</em> the time to start experiementing (again) with socialism?</p> <p>&#160;</p> <p>*Removed a section from the article after a very astute reader pointed out that it was merely a rant against pork, and not pertinent to the argument that the US practices socialism of sorts through government sponsorship of social programs.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/three-reasons-to-stop-freaking-out-about-socialism" class="sharethis-link" title="Three reasons to stop freaking out about socialism" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Extra Commentary economic meltdown election politics socialism stock market crash Wall Street greed Wed, 29 Oct 2008 23:20:23 +0000 Andrea Karim 2551 at http://www.wisebread.com Could the last person to leave America please turn out the light. http://www.wisebread.com/could-the-last-person-to-leave-america-please-turn-out-the-light <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/could-the-last-person-to-leave-america-please-turn-out-the-light" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/147941669_4001d7ac52.jpg" alt="lightswitch America" title="lightswitch America" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="333" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I don’t know about you, but I’m more than a little worried by recent economic events. First Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, then Lehman Brothers, and now an $85 billion loan to AIG. Some people would have us believe that despite all of this, the foundations of our economy are strong. But with trillions of dollars in debt now on the table, how long can this country keep racking up the red ink?</p> <p>Laurence J. Kotlikoff, professor of economics at Boston University, <a href="http://www.forbes.com/business/forbes/2008/0929/034.html">outlined a story today</a> that sent a chill down my spine. The big, bad fact that had my heart thumping was the staggering $70 trillion liability facing our government. As Professor Kotlikoff explains:<br /> <blockquote><em>This represents the present value difference between all the government&#39;s projected future spending obligations and all its projected future tax receipts. This fiscal gap takes into account Uncle Sam&#39;s need to service official debt--outstanding U.S. government bonds. But it also recognizes all our government&#39;s unofficial debts, including its obligation to the soon-to-be-retired baby boomers to pay their Social Security and Medicare benefits.</em></p> <p><em>Given current policies, each of the 78 million boomers can expect, on average, to receive $50,000, in today&#39;s dollars, from these programs in each and every year of retirement. Multiply 78 million boomers by a $50,000 annual payment and you get close to $4 trillion per year. This helps you see why our nation&#39;s true indebtedness is so extraordinarily high.</em></p> <p><em>There are other obligations, too, that aren&#39;t calculated into the national debt, or even in the $70 trillion, but for which the government remains at risk. House prices haven&#39;t stopped falling. They are down 20% from their peak two years ago. But they remain 70% above their value in early 2000. That was the year prices started going crazy. If the price pendulum swings back to 2000, we&#39;ll see the mortgage default rate, currently at a record 9%, soar.</em></p></blockquote> <p>Now, I’m no economic genius (I&#39;m sure many of you will point this out later) but I do know that a $70 trillion liability is not going to go away overnight. In fact, whether you vote for John McCain or Barack Obama, this vast economic problem will be inherited by the next President. And when he’s sworn in next year, he’s taking on a burden that will only get worse before it gets better, if it ever does. </p> <p>As this crisis (and it is a crisis, as far as my understating of the word goes) deepens, there will be no end to the bankruptcies in our nation, despite those laws being tougher now than in the past. And not just that, but the aftermath for the rest of us will be cataclysmic. </p> <p>Banks and financial insitutions will be running scared. Try getting a car loan or a mortgage that has a decent APR, if you can get one at all. You may have perfect credit, but that just means you’ll be approved for a slightly less offensive loan than the guy sat next to you. If you have any equity left in your home, which is diminishing more rapidly with every passing day, you’ll be very lucky to get a home equity loan or line of credit. </p> <p>As of August 2008, we’ve had almost <a href="http://tickersense.typepad.com/ticker_sense/2008/08/us-job-losses-c.html">450,000 new jobless claims this year</a> . That doesn’t include the massive layoffs coming from the fallout of corporations like Lehman Brothers and, potentially, AIG. And <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/sep2008/gb20080917_256937.htm?chan=globalbiz_europe+index+page_top+stories">Analysts</a> are saying that the full-scale damage caused by these losses will not be fully understood for months. That means there is even more bad news on the horizon.</p> <p>This, readers, is a very scary time. A time when the Dow Jones can drop 500 points in one day. A time when the value of the dollar is in freefall. And a time when the price of everything from gasoline to milk and eggs is rising. </p> <p>Then there’s healthcare. Both <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSN1639216720080917?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=healthNews&amp;pageNumber=2&amp;virtualBrandChannel=10112">Obama and McCain have a plan for it</a> , and neither one looks good to me. Healthcare is broken, and no-one seems to know how to fix it without leaving casualties. I’m more scared by McCain’s plan to be honest, because it eliminates tax benefits for employers. And when that happens, employers will most likely dump healthcare coverage for employees as it becomes too costly to subsidize. McCain’s tax credit to families will offset the blow, but not by much. $2000 doesn’t buy you much coverage these days, if you can actually get coverage. </p> <p>But from what I understand, Obama’s plan will cost an absolute fortune to implement, and it’s not like the U.S. can just conjure that money from thin air. It has to come from somewhere. But where?</p> <p>As the U.S. is such a lynchpin in the global economy, we can already see the effect our economy is having on the rest of the world. Tourism is down because of, among other things, the rotten exchange rate (try turning in your Dollars for Euros and see what kind of chump-change you’re left with). Not just that, but the import/export situation is getting dire. I know of companies in the UK that are going out of business because American firms can no longer afford to import their products. </p> <p>From what I’ve been told, there’s not much you or I can do to stop this freight train, so ultimately it’s not something to worry about (really?) What will happen will happen, and we’ll just have to ride it out with everyone else. However you look at it, these are dark times. But if someone, an economic Einstein, can shine a ray of hope on all of this horrible news, please share before I start looking into life on Mars. </p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-the-last-person-to-leave-america-please-turn-out-the-light" class="sharethis-link" title="Could the last person to leave America please turn out the light." rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs Credit Cards Lifestyle Real Estate and Housing Taxes depression Economy election mccain obama recession Wed, 17 Sep 2008 23:17:53 +0000 Paul Michael 2438 at http://www.wisebread.com Would you sell your vote? http://www.wisebread.com/would-you-sell-your-vote <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/would-you-sell-your-vote" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/292239798_b7b2c78bfe.jpg" alt="vote for sale?" title="vote for sale?" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="299" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Being a humble Green Card holder, I don’t have a vote here in the US (makes me wonder about that old “no taxation without representation” line, but that’s another story). Anyway, as the election goes into overdrive, a question has started to bubble up inside my head. If the price was right, would you sell your vote?</p> <p>It’s important to remember that voting is a right that many people didn’t have for the longest time. Here’s a very brief history of voting in the US, as listed on many sites including <a href="http://www.activoteamerica.com/Home2/History_of_Voting/history_of_voting.html#rights">ActiVote America</a> and <a href="http://www.infoplease.com/timelines/voting.html">InfoPlease</a> :</p> <p>1776 – Voting rights based on property ownership; white protestant males over 21.<br />1830 – Many states drop religion and property ownership as requirements.<br />1870 – African Americans given the right to vote.<br />1920 – Women given the right to vote.<br />1947 – All states finally grant Native Americans the right to vote. <br />1965 – Voting Rights Act bans use of literacy tests and poll taxes.<br />1971 – Voting age lowered to 18.</p> <p>As Fatboy Slim once said, “we’ve come a long way baby.” People have campaigned, suffered and died for this right. Wars have been fought in the name of freedom and democracy. It seems like one hell of a privilege to give up. I know I miss my right to vote, especially as I have such strong political beliefs.</p> <p>Not unlike Woody Harrelson’s character in “Indecent Proposal,” everyone has their price; (although I would rather sell my vote than do what he did). But in light of recent DieBold news, and an <a href="http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/hackingdemocracy/synopsis.html">HBO documentary</a> I saw last month called &quot;Hacking Democracy,&quot; I have to wonder what has happened to that most precious gift that is your vote anyway.</p> <p>As <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2008/08/23/diebold-comes-clean-admits-that-its-e-voting-machines-are-fault/">Engadget</a> reported in August of this year, DieBold spokesman Chris Riggall explained that a <em>&quot;critical programming error that can cause votes to be dropped while being electronically transferred from memory cards to a central tallying point&quot;</em> has been part of the software for ten years. So, your precious vote may have been dropped from the system on multiple occasions. </p> <p>And in “<a href="http://www.hackingdemocracy.com/">Hacking Democracy</a> ” it’s unveiled that voting machines can be rigged, records can disappear and elections could indeed be miscounted by machines. The security of the electronic voting machines being used today is suspect to say the least, and this is not a partisan issue. Your vote is your vote, and if it’s not being counted, or it’s being manipulated for one party of the other, does it then open up the debate about selling your vote? If your vote is not as sacred as we once believed, is there less culpability involved in selling that vote? </p> <p>If someone came up to you tomorrow and told you that you were in a swing state, and your vote was needed to ensure victory for one party, would you consider the offer? Would your vote be up for grabs?</p> <p>It may be that you were going to vote for that party anyway. You may believe that one vote doesn’t actually make a difference. Or, you may just think the whole system is screwed anyway, so why not profit from it? And just what would your price be?</p> <p>In these tough economic times, I’d be tempted if someone waved $5000 hard cash in front of me and asked me to vote a certain way (if, of course, I had a vote to sell). But as there’s no way to prove who you voted for anyway, would you then just give your word that you’d vote for one party, and then vote for the other anyway? Or would you just say no?</p> <p>It may all seem like rhetoric, but it did actually make the news in July of this year. <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/07/04/ebay.vote.ap/index.html">CNN </a> reported that “<em>University of Minnesota student Max P. Sanders, 19, was charged with a felony Thursday in Hennepin County District Court after allegedly asking for a minimum of $10 in exchange for voting for the bidder&#39;s preferred candidate.”</em></p> <p>And this got Sanders into more than a little hot water; <em>“Sanders was charged with one count of bribery, treating and soliciting under an 1893 state law that makes it a crime to offer to buy or sell a vote.”</em> He tried, he failed, he says it was a joke. Maybe it was, but it still leaves the question hanging in the air…would YOU sell your vote, and if so, what would your price be? Over to you. </p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/would-you-sell-your-vote" class="sharethis-link" title="Would you sell your vote?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Consumer Affairs bribery DieBold election hack Making Extra Cash politics vote voting Tue, 02 Sep 2008 21:15:33 +0000 Paul Michael 2393 at http://www.wisebread.com The Gas Tax Holiday; don’t fall for it. http://www.wisebread.com/the-gas-tax-holiday-don-t-fall-for-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-gas-tax-holiday-don-t-fall-for-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2443743949_79b490504c.jpg" alt="tax break?" title="tax break?" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="267" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Both John McCain and Hillary Clinton are proposing a new Gas Tax Holiday that will run during the summer months, bringing “much needed relief” at the pumps. But will it? More than 200 economists, including four Nobel prize-winners, have already signed a letter rejecting the proposal.</p> <p>The Gas Tax Holiday is yet another way politicians pander to the public, with an idea that on the surface sounds like a money-saver , but after a few seconds of consideration is actually pointless. It’s just a cheap way to buy your vote. It&#39;s an illusion. </p> <p>The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon. Suspending the gas tax over the summer would save the average American around $30, according to Congressional Budget Office. That’s roughly 33 cents per day. </p> <p>To me, that’s not a whole lot of cash. To people who are on the poverty line, it is. So I don’t want to dismiss it straight away. For a smart shopper, that’s enough to buy plenty of groceries. But we can’t just take it as read that people will see one cent of that money.</p> <p><strong>Fuzzy math</strong><br />One of the main reasons economists are up in arms about the tax cut is that the knock-on effect has not been accounted for. Basic physics states that for every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, if we cut the gas tax and prices go down, what happens; demand increases. Maybe not by much, on a 13-gallon tank you’re saving enough to buy a loaf of bread. But the illusion of savings will be enough to ‘drive’ more people to the pumps. And when demand increases, so does the price of gasoline. It happens every year.</p> <p>So, it’s highly feasible that if/when the gas tax is eliminated, the price of a gallon of gas will remain the same or actually increase. And it’s those mega-rich oil companies that will reap the rewards. Oil companies that already report record-breaking profits and still receive grants and tax breaks from the government.</p> <p>Furthermore, what happens to all the services that would have been paid for by the gas tax? Which roads will not get repaired? Which bridges will be allowed to stay in a state of disrepair? Oh wait…don’t tell me…our government will borrow the money, thus weakening our already dying economy even further. Or they’ll just let the infrastructure crumble. </p> <p>I’m no economist, anyone will tell you that. But I don’t have to be. I have over 200 esteemed economists backing the argument and I for one don’t intend to stay quiet about it. Enough is enough Washington. Republican or Democrat, we need to make a stand and let them know we’re smarter than that, and they can’t buy our vote. </p> <p> There is currently a <a href="http://www.gastaxscam.com/letter.html">petition</a> out on the web asking for your signature. Here’s an excerpt from the petition:</p> <blockquote><p><em>Eliminating the federal gas tax all summer would only save American consumers about 30 dollars, send more money overseas, reduce our ability to invest in infrastructure, and encourage even more driving and pollution contributing to global climate change. At the end of the summer, gas prices would be as high or higher than before and no problems will be solved.</em></p> <p><em>The only way to save Americans from spending huge sums on gas is to reduce the gas Americans use. We need to invest in alternative sources of energy. We need to build more fuel-efficient cars. And we need to make it easier for more Americans to accomplish everyday tasks without having to drive.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>I have signed it. Over 1460 other people have signed it, too. You can find it <a href="http://www.gastaxscam.com/letter.html">here</a> , and if we all get behind it maybe we can stop this insanity from happening. As Gandhi once said, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.gastaxscam.com/letter.html">http://www.gastaxscam.com/letter.html</a> <br /><a href="http://blog.wired.com/cars/2008/04/gas-tax-holiday.html">http://blog.wired.com/cars/2008/04/gas-tax-holiday.html</a> <br /><a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&amp;sid=aTzCmqCNyLho&amp;refer=home">http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&amp;sid=aTzCmqCNyLho&amp;refer=home</a> <br /><a href="http://www.boston.com/business/ticker/2008/05/mit_prof_a_gas.html">http://www.boston.com/business/ticker/2008/05/mit_prof_a_gas.html</a> <br /><a href="http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/04/29/958462.aspx">http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/04/29/958462.aspx</a> </p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-gas-tax-holiday-don-t-fall-for-it" class="sharethis-link" title="The Gas Tax Holiday; don’t fall for it. " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Cars and Transportation Consumer Affairs election gas tax politics taxes white house Tue, 06 May 2008 21:42:58 +0000 Paul Michael 2072 at http://www.wisebread.com