North Of Woods Christmas Lights, 2010

When Kish and I took Penny for a walk around the block tonight, we marveled at the excellent holiday lighting on display in our neighborhood this year.  I just had to take some pictures, starting with Webner House itself.

Advertisements

You Can’t Always Get What You Want –

I love it – the passion that Richard showed in his December 7 blog – A Tough Choice, which dealt with the Obama Compromise with the Republicans on tax cuts and on the opposite side, Bob’s ongoing almost daily writings reminding us of the out of control spiraling United States deficit.

I like to consider myself an independent and my take on the whole thing was good for you Mr. President, I mean seriously what was the guy to do ? In a few weeks he will have a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, an expiring tax policy put in place by our previous president which helps the little guy and a small portion of conservative Democrats insisting on an extension of tax cuts for all Americans. Yet being mindful of the election where voters wanted the two sides to work together he showed the ability to compromise and was able to get most of what he wanted.

If you take a close look at the total package I’m very much in favor of most of it, $300 billion for a middle class tax cut for those earning $250,000 or less per year, $280 billion for corporate tax breaks which will hopefully create jobs and spur business investment, $130 billion for continuing tax cuts for those making over $250,000, $120 billion for a 2% payroll tax cut, $56 billion for a thirteen month extension for jobless benefits and $40 billion to continue earned income tax credits and education tax credits.

Sure the president could have continued to fight with Republicans and the fight would have most likely lasted into next year, being played over and over again on the nightly news. What would have happened is American’s making the least amount would have seen what was 10% of their earnings going towards taxes increase to 15%. That’s a 50% increase for those who need their hard earned money the most because they live from paycheck to paycheck. I’d argue that even though the president was sticking by his principles, people would have blamed him.

Compromise is tough, but this compromise really doesn’t hurt the president since 67% of Independents and 52% of Democrats along with an overwhelming number of Republicans support tax cuts. We all know you can’t raise taxes during tough economic times. So you can’t always get what you want – but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need !

Scams On The Half Shell

Yesterday I got a letter from “US Airlines.”  It advised me that I had “qualified for an award of 2 roundtrip airline tickets,” valid for travel anywhere in the continental United States, with a retail value of up to $1,400.   The letter was signed by “Barbara Dion, Vice President.”

It didn’t take more than a glance at the letter to see all kinds of red flags.  “US Airlines,” whose motto is “Fly the US Skies”?  Who are those guys?  Not US Airways, or United Airlines, whose motto is “Fly the friendly skies.”  (And, of course, a quick Google search turned up no entity called “US Airlines.”)  The letter had no return address or general contact information.  It also was filled with phony urgency.  It advised that “US Airlines” has “attempted contacting” me several times “without success,” and the letter would be their last attempt.  (I’m pretty easy to reach, and I don’t recall any prior communications from “US Airlines.”)  If I don’t call by December 15, at the phone number listed, the ticket vouchers will likely be issued to “the alternate.”   I’m quite confident that anyone who called the phone number would be asked to give their credit card number and other confidential personal information to “verify their identity,” and the scammers would be off to the races.

Scammers suck, but they’ve been around for the entirety of human history.  Lazy, crafty people have always come up with schemes to try to trick or cheat others out of their hard-earned money.  Most scams, however, aren’t as careful, plausible, and elaborate as the play that netted Doyle Lonnegan (brilliantly played by Robert Shaw) in The Sting.  People just need to be on their toes, look for red flags that really aren’t hard to see, and maintain a skeptical attitude.  With those attributes, people can usually avoid falling for the half-baked scams that are so commonplace in modern America.