November 24, 2012
A pair of reports critical of military spending — on items as diverse as health care and dried meat — are part of the latest round of scrutiny of the Defense Department's budget as the fiscal cliff approaches. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report this month that military compensation over the past decade increased faster than the rate of inflation and, in some years, the growth rate of private-sector wages and salaries. Another report, by Sen. Tom Coburn, outlined what the Oklahoma Republican sees as wasteful or redundant military expenditures, including the military's creation of its own beef jerky.
November 2, 2012
The new rates for U.S. Savings Bonds are out. And at least the Series I bonds offer a better rate than you get at the bank. Series I bonds purchased this month through the end of April will earn an annualized 1.76 percent for the first six months. Series I bonds are inflation protected. The bond has two rates: a fixed rate for the life of the 30-year-bond and an adjustable rate that goes up and down with inflation every six months. New I bonds carry a zero percent fixed rate, and a 1.76 percent annual rate tied to inflation.
October 16, 2012
The Social Security Administration announced Tuesday that 56 million retirement beneficiaries are set to get a cost-of-living raise of 1.7 percent next year. The same goes for the 8 million people receiving disability payments from the agency. The raise is tied to inflation. Checks this year went up 3.6 percent, after two years when inflation was so low that beneficiaries didn't get a raise at all. In addition, the agency announced that the level of earnings subject to the Social Security tax is going up $3,600 to $113,700 next year.
September 27, 2012
As the Federal Reserve begins another round of money-printing disguised as monetary policy (Quantitive Easing, Round Number 3), it is instructive to review the congressional scorecard of those congressmen who continue to give the Fed this power. Congressman Elijah Cummings and John Sarbanes both voted against the "Audit the Fed" bill passed by the House in July. Both men, particularly Elijah Cummings, represent people who will be profoundly harmed by the inflation that inevitably occurs after reckless monetary policy.
September 18, 2012
Shoppers seeking to spend their rainy Tuesday running errands at the Walmart in Glen Burnie will be confronted with a 10-foot tall inflatable pig, standing in a cage and showing open, bleeding wounds. The animal rights organization Mercy For Animals is protesting Walmart's use of pork suppliers who confine pregnant pigs in tiny crates, where they are unable to lie down or turn around. According to Mercy For Animals, the practice is banned in nine U.S. states and the entire European Union.
July 23, 2012
Electronic Arts has reached preliminary settlement with the consumer protection law firm Hagens Berman, who filed suit against the company for violating antitrust and consumer protection laws in making its popular football video games. The settlement has not been approved by U.S District Court, but if it is confirmed as it stands, a $27 million fund would be set up to pay out purchasers of EA's football games since 2005. According to a press release by Hagens Berman, the suit was originally filed in 2008.
April 3, 2012
We have been hearing claims by our federal government that there is low to no inflation in this economy. The Federal Reserve continues an "easy money" policy, cranking up the printing presses at the U.S. Mint when the government needs more money to operate than it collects in taxes. And long term interest rates are the lowest in recent history. And deficits are at all time high levels. Yet gasoline and heating oil are up 40 percent since last year (and we can't blame the oil companies for the price of oil products)
March 26, 2012
Here's a deal few would jump on: A chance to pay $2,000 for a $600 laptop computer, $1,200 for a $400 TV set, and nearly $2,700 for a used washing machine and dryer that only cost $935 when new. It's probably safe to say most people would run the other way as fast as possible if asked to plunk down their hard-earned cash on those terms. Yet there's a booming market for such transactions in Maryland, where so-called "rent-to-own" stores are a $67 million-a-year industry, according to a new Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition report funded by the Abell Foundation.
February 18, 2012
Robert Tomkies raced yachts in his native New Zealand, with a reputation respectable enough to be hired to work for a fellow named Ted Turner. But as Tomkies' dreams grew, so did his family, until he figured that he had to do something else to take care of his wife and four kids. Tomkies opened a shop in Wellington selling lighting and electrical parts, and bought a small farm off Moonshine Road. Tomkies never got rid of the racing bug, designed and built a 30-foot yacht he named the "Moonshine Express" and tried to pass his passion for fast boats and the open sea on to his brood.
January 30, 2012
This shouldn't surprise you. The holiday shopping season was not gangbusters after all. With 13 million unemployed Americans and millions more working part-time or otherwise underemployed, the country has not returned to the mall in full force. It's not 2006 again, and it's certainly not 1999. The economic rebuilding from the 2008 financial crash is far from over. Consumers focused as much on saving in December as on spending, a Commerce Department report released Monday showed.