Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spending Smartly This Holiday Season

As the holiday shopping season gets into gear, remember that buying cheap goods made in China contributes to our trade imbalance, the "creative destruction" of American jobs, and global carbon emissions (both from coal-burning power plants in China and from the container ships transporting the raw materials and finished products across the ocean).

It's almost impossible to avoid buying products made wholly or partly overseas.  However, if you are willing to make the effort to buy American where you can, this website is very useful.  With so many of our friends and neighbors out of work, the holidays will be merrier if you support local businesses as much as possible. Buy books and DVDs from a bricks-and-mortar store rather than online (if you sign up for coupons, it can be just as cheap). Give gift certificates for services.  Your grandmother doesn't need more perfume or dust-collecting knick-knacks, but she might enjoy a day of pampering at a salon or day-spa, or a dinner with the family at a nice restaurant.  Studies have shown that people who spend their money on experiences rather than things tend to be happier.

Many of us make charitable contributions during the holiday season. There are a great many very worthy charities that do a lot of good with those contributions.  There are also charities that spend more money on fundraising than they do on the programs that help those in need. The American Institute of Philanthropy does an excellent job of researching charities and helping donors get the most bang for their buck.  Their website lists top-rated charities in a variety of categories.  For a small donation, you can subscribe to their Charity Rating Guide, which gives more detailed information about how much various charities spend on fundraising and administration versus services.

Finally, if you are starting to make 2011 vacation plans, think seriously about visiting Las Vegas or New Orleans.  Both are terrific cities for visitors, and both have been hit harder by the recession than many other places. Las Vegas was ground zero for the real estate bubble, and New Orleans' fishing and offshore drilling industries took a big hit after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, just as the area was beginning to bounce back after Katrina.  Both places can be affordable vacation destinations if you avoid their peak tourist season and patronize the restaurants that target locals rather than tourists.


capper said...

No problems there. Due to Scott Walker's failure in Milwaukee County, we don't even have the money to host Christmas dinner like we've done for the past ten years, much less by and gifts or go on any trips.

Kentucky Turtle said...

I agree with you about buying products made in the America. I was recently able to find a pair of athletic shoes made in the USA. They were New Balance brand and it turns out they still make 25% of their shoes here in the states.

So while it can be tough to find certain products made here, it can, in many cases, be done. It would also help, if instead of hunting for an excuse to not buy American, people would hunt for American products to buy.


sofa said...

capper - It's revealing that your funds for dinners, gifts, and trips are dependent on politicians. While you were stealing that money previously, did you ever wonder where it was coming from? How many families could not go on trips or eat dinner because they were forced to pay for your entertainment?

Collectivists are leeches, at heart.

capper said...

Well, now isn't that a rather presumptive and ignorant comment.

I'll have you know, even though it's not really any of your damn business, that I am referring to the illegal furloughs Walker has forced on county workers, such as myself. But that was really only the last straw.

We got into debt when we took out loans to care for my grandfather instead of sticking him in a nursing home. We were making our bills easily until my wife was laid off from her $10 so that the company she worked for, which continued to make a profit, could hire someone to do her job at minimum wage.

You see, it was the ignorant greed of your type of folks that led us into this miasma. It sure as hell isn't going to lead us out of it.

Now maybe you think we should have just let my grandfather die in squalid conditions at government expense, but that isn't the way I was taught to treat family.

sofa said...

capper- You raised the topic fishing for responses. Why act surprised?

Your first comment blamed Scott Walker for your lack of money, then your second comment acknowledged responsibility with personal choices. Clarity.


How are Scott Walker's actions illegal (maybe cite a law)?

capper said...

Yes, I chose not to allow grandpa to waste int he squander of a nursing home, but we were making our bills just fine, even though without frills. We didn't mind, because we knew we did the right thing.

I'd think you'd be happy about this since we didn't use your precious tax dollars on a $6K/month nursing home, but couldn't get any help for a $3K/month assisted living center.

As for what laws Walker broke, well that's quite a laundry list. For two years now he submitted an illegal budget with a deficit. The law requires a balanced budget. For 2010 alone, his deficit is already running about $8 million.

He has illegally tried to negotiate w/the unions, violating numerous laws, which will cost the tax payers millions of dollars as the cases are getting settled.

How's that for starters?

Ordinary Jill said...

sofa, you may not realize that Capper is employed by Milwaukee County, and Scott Walker is currently the CEO of Milwaukee County. When the terms of one's employment and compensation are unilaterally changed by one's employer due to a policy decision by the CEO, it is logical to blame the CEO for the impact on one's personal budget. Capper is not blaming Wisconsin's macro-economic problems on Scott Walker.

sofa said...

Specific claim was "illegal".
So then prosecute.

capper said...


We (the union) have filed numerous lawsuits in court, complaints with the state's employment relations committee and grievances. The union figures that they are spending nearly a quarter million. Imagine what the county is spending with their expensive private attorneys. Any concessions gained will be lost in just the legal fees. He could have just bargained in good faith and spared everyone the pain.

sofa said...

Sounds like the government has gotten to big for it's britches, and is working for it's own good and against ours. It's rectal-cranium inversion: Who works for whom?

A tyrannical authority figure sets himself against the people. He uses their own moneys to fight them, rather than do his duty and use the moneys as they were intended. Laws only apply to us, but not to them. And they need more and more in taxes and tribute, or they will send swat teams to our homes and throw us in jail (try not paying taxes). Power for the sake of power.

King George did that too.
We finally tired of it.

Then we constituted a government with the specific mission to protect our Life, Liberty, Rights, and Property.

We are suffering a long train of abuses, from an organization that is dictating to us, rather than working for us.

It's that time again.

capper said...

Those are the same sentiments of the people that elected Walker as governor.

The TEA Parties have become those that they hate.

sofa said...

The GOP is not the Tea Party.
The Tea Party just saw a dead elephant corpse that wasn't doing anything, and dusted it off and used it.

As communists captured the Democrat party, socialists were the RINOs of the GOP. They had become two wings of the same party, which is how we got where we are today: Both parties working for themselves and against the Constitution, against the good will of the country. Each worked to transfer power from locals unto a strong central organ of state. They stopped seeing Gov as the servant created to protect the people, but transmorgafied the relationship to where they view themselves as lords supreme over the people. Two wings of the same collectivist party.

But America wasn't founded on tyranny. It was founded for strong local and states (where individuals still have their voices heard), and with limited enumerated powers for We constituted this government to protect our liberty and wealth, not to take them from us.

Liek 1775, the it boils down to individual Liberty vs Tyranny by a strong all powerful central state. RINOs as socialists, and Dems as communists- Are each repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.

Stop the looting.
Start the Prosecuting.

And when they act against the Constitution, against the people, against their oaths- the Constitution specifies the remedy.

Tyranny and Chicago style gansters do not stop until they are vigorously prosecuted. Where is the FBI? Why were they created? They have become complicit, oath breakers, enablers.

Rangel got a slap on the wrist, rewarding him for his actions. Unike the rest of the world, the US used to prosecute and jail criminals in office. Now the self appointed rulers are above the law. Until that changes, we acknowledge that they are above the law.