Friday, May 29, 2009
So, tonight I'll be at my parents' house. But I might watch UN-BROKE: What You Need to Know About Money on ABC. It starts at 9 pm Eastern, and is supposed to run for an hour. At the very least it should be amusing. And the nation really could use a little "back to basics" Money 101 review.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Image via Wikipedia
Today is a day for gratitude and reflection. It is the observation of Memorial Day, and we are planning to do a little bit in honor of this day. Expressing thanks and remembering all that has been done on our behalf is important on this day.
I hope that you are joining me in an effort to never forget.
Let's have a grateful Memorial Day.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
One of the most interesting items included in the just-passed credit card reform bill is the ability to carry concealed weapons in National Parks.
I love this because it is a prime example of the sort of legislative dealing and what-not that goes on. What does allowing concealed weapons in National Parks have to do with Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009? Why, nothing at all. But, like so many "fine print" and inapplicable measures that are passed every year, it is something that some group (in this case the NRA) wants to see happen. In return, the group promises that the lawmakers it influences will vote for the measure, rather than oppose it. So a credit card bill repeals a ban on weapons in National Parks.
Do I care? Not particularly. Most people with concealed weapon permits have been through classes, and are (generally) responsible with their use. But this whole thing still illustrates something about the way laws are made in this country. And sheds light on a practice that maybe should discontinue. After all, there was so much focus on the main thrust of the bill that this small addition didn't really get any attention. Think about how many laws are passed in the same way. With little attention and almost no debate.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I think this is too bad, since, for some reason, this is the one issue that the legislature and the good people of the state of Utah are not taking direction from the LDS Church, which has stated publicly that it is not opposed to partner rights for gays, and legal other rights (but not marriage). It's kind of ironic that in Utah, where people are still sensitive about legal rights they were denied more than 100 years ago, legal rights are being denied to a segment of the population.
But on the high-profile issue of gay rights, Herbert signaled a swing to the right.
He said he opposed civil unions for gays and strongly supported Amendment 3, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. He also said he has not been involved in any discussion on the Common Ground Initiative, which would have granted basic rights such as hospital visits and inheritance to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
"I supported Amendment 3, and I'll just leave it at that," he said.
Huntsman, by contrast, had endorsed civil unions and backed the other parts of the Common Ground Initiative.
I also think that Herbert will likely shift away from Huntman's good work in terms of the environment. I've been proud that our governor has been a leader here in the mountain West on environmental issues. I doubt that Gary Herbert will offer that kind of leadership. In fact, since he has already expressed a desire to run next year in the special election to choose a governor, I have a feeling he will work to define his position as different from Huntsman's in these areas as a way to build political capital.
What do you think about Gary Herbert?
Friday, May 15, 2009
We're in the process of getting our yard put in, and it has me thinking about where we're spending our money. SO, where are you spending yours?
- On Yielding Wealth, I ask: Would you spend $90 on a shirt?
- On Bizzia Personal Finance I wonder if banks will be allowed to repay TARP early.
- At the AllBusines Personal Finance Corner I offer some tips to help you start investing.
- At LoanShak I explore whether forcing big banks to pay into a risk fund would actually be effective.
- At Banks.com Money & Investing I point out that the more money you put in tax-advantaged accounts, the better.
- On Personal Dividends I share strategies to help teach your kids about saving money.
- Buy and hold isn't dead; I offer 50 buy and hold investing blogs for your perusal at ETF Database.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I think it's amazing. We're at a point in society -- and in my home -- where my son sees women in reasonably prominent positions actively engaging in home and community life. There's a long way to go, still, but my son is proof that maybe the next generation can get there. He was looking at the latest issue of this month's Friend when something reminded him of baptism. "Mommy," he said, "Everyone says their daddy will baptize them. But I think I'd like you to do it."
What a nice thought! Nice that The Boy clearly thinks that women should be doing just about anything they want to do. And clearly he sees women as capable. Obviously, though, we're not doing a bang-up job of describing different roles. "Well, honey," I replied, "right now only men are ordained to use the Priesthood power in that way."
He furrowed his brow in concentration. "That's strange. You can at least be there, right?"
But between that little conversation and the men-can't-have-babies discussion of a little more than a year ago, he's starting to get an inkling that men and women do different things sometimes. And I think that, to some extent, it disturbs him. He thinks men and women should be able to do all the same things if they want to, from giving blessings to have babies.
Friday, May 8, 2009
I saw Start Trek this afternoon. My husband had this genius plan: Go to a movie this afternoon while The Boy is at school. So we went to see Star Trek. Josh wanted to go because it looked cool. I wanted to go because my parents raised me to like Start Trek -- or at least all the movies after the first disastrous attempt.
Image by Las Valley 702 via FlickrThe movie ended up being a satisfying entertainment on a couple of levels:
- Intense action and a degree of character development.
- Inside jokes for the Trekkies.
The writers manage to cover any discrepancies between the Star Trek I'm familiar with and the new version with a story that involves time travel changing the way things play out in the future (Leonard Nimoy comes back in time and explains it all). It's a classic Trek device, so it works well in the new version. So Kirk grows up without his father and Spock's mother dies. But some things remain the same. Kirk is definitely going to be getting it on with an alien lady with primary-colored skin. The cheese factor spikes at the end, but you expect that. I mean it's Star Trek.
It's worth seeing in the theater, and we'll buy it. Definitely a rewarding cinematic experience.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I've been thinking about Congressional pay for a couple of months. I just haven't really gotten around to it. See, earlier this year the House voted to freeze its pay for 2010. (But lawmakers still get a raise this year.) You know, because it's hard for everyone.
This is significant because Congress has vote in a pay freeze. It sounds noble, but it's really not. Eight years ago, Congress decided that it didn't want to have to vote itself pay raises. It looks bad when you vote to raise your own pay each year. So, instead, Congress passed a law giving its members an automatic yearly raise of 3%. That way it just sort of happens, and constituents don't think about it.
Naturally, there were some (but relatively few) lawmakers who opposed the automatic pay increases back in the day. And there are some who still do. Representing Utah, Jim Matheson has opposed the automatic pay increase since the beginning. And almost every year he introduces legislation that would require Congress to go back to actively voting on their pay raises rather than passively letting them happen. As you might guess, every year it fails. And each year Matheson gives his automatic raise to charity.
This really is something we should pay attention to. Our lawmakers should be forced to vote on pay raises each year, rather than get them automatically. That way constituents have a chance to write their lawmakers and tell them "no" -- something that is especially necessary in times of economic trouble.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
I think it's fun when family comes. We had Josh's cousin stay with us for most of this week and my parents came down for my brother's graduation. I love this time of year -- lots of visitors. We have a nice time, and get a change of pace. Plus, I like being with my family on occasion.
The only real issue, though, is the massive amounts of junk food that we consume. Family gatherings tend to involve lots and lots of candy that we eat while talking. And with guests in the house, I don't exercise. SO that's not good. But it's still mostly worth. I'll just have to work harder on days when we don't have visitors.