Heading home for the holidays

•December 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I have been remiss in my blogging duties lately. Though there has been ample to blog about, life has been too hectic for the last month to focus on any topic for more than a moment. It started with a pre-Thanksgiving parental visit, which involved cleaning for a week. I did not inherit my mother’s cleaning gene and I underestimated the crack and crevasse fur factor. I assumed that I would have ample time to write between the two holidays. Yeah. That obviously didn’t happen. Instead the pace of day to day obligations merely intensified after my parents left, the holiday looms large and 2009 is almost over.

I haven’t done any shopping. I haven’t sent cards. I have managed to evade caroling, holiday music and endless post office queues. I am not participating. I am boycotting all commercial elements in favor of putting gas in my car, driving to New Mexico and hanging out with my parents and friends for a week.

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On the road to recovery?

•December 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

As 2009 winds down, there is no question that this has been a tumultuous year economically. Though there are now more headlines lauding a stabilized economy than a year ago, the ranks of unemployed and underemployed have increased dramatically over the last 12 months.

Often my cynical perceptions are not assuaged by the optimistic headlines heralding recovery. The statistics and market segments cited are often offered as isolated variables rather than as part of a larger mechanism. There is no way of gauging whether the system is sound while simultaneously infusing billions into the economy via governmentally subsidized programs.

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Gay rights rant

•November 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

ebay_link_gayFundamentalists and right wing pundits in Maine demonstrated their finesse at utilizing morality to win the public hate debate surrounding gay rights.

The entire gay rights debate chafes me. I am annoyed that there is a debate about something that should be a non-issue. Is there anything new about being gay? Nope, we’ve been around since the species started recording things, though long term marginalization requires sifting and sorting through the details to find us. Is homosexuality unusual? Nope, there are more of us than there are left-handed people, people with green eyes or people with IQs over 140. Furthermore there are people that are green-eyed, left-handed, with an IQ well over 140, gay and/or transgendered. Genetic variations are astonishing, aren’t they?

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October job report | Unemployment hits 10.2%

•November 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

unemployment

Whereas last week politicians, pundits, Wall Street and economists heralded headlines touting 3.5% growth in GDP and 640,000 jobs created by the stimulus package, unemployment reports continue to be the wet blanket stifling economic recovery on Main Street. Today’s job report indicates more of the same.

In October the nation’s unemployment rate rose above 10% for the first time since 1983, a much worse jump than expected as employers continued to trim jobs from payrolls. Economists had forecast an increase to 9.9%.

According to the Labor Department there was a net loss of 190,000 jobs in October, an improvement from a revised estimate of 219,000 job losses in September. This was the 22nd straight month of job losses.

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Extension and expansion of the homebuyer tax credit

•November 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

first-time-home-buyer-tax-credit1

The Senate voted on Wednesday to extend the home buyer tax credit through April 30, 2010.

The National Association of Realtors had been pushing hard to extend the credit, as well as include non-first-time home buyers, saying the legislation has helped stabilize the housing market and increased home sales, projected at 5.1 million for the year.

Supporters of the tax credit say that it has helped to boost existing home sales in recent months and that the housing market, and broader economy, would suffer if it is allowed to expire. They contend that extending the credit would help further support sales, stabilize housing prices and generate jobs in the face of an expected increase in foreclosures next year, which is expected to put ongoing downward pressure on prices.

“Tax credits like this only work by creating the sense of urgency to take advantage of them,” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), the measure’s main sponsor, said in a statement. “This is the last extension of the home buyer tax credit, and I urge all Americans whether they’re first-time buyers who’ve always dreamed of having a home of their own or someone who’s been gridlocked in the failure of our move-up market to take advantage of this opportunity.”

  • The program is being expanded to include a $6,500 credit to buyers who “move up” or “trade-in” their home for a better one, as long as they have lived in their current property for at least five years.
  • The credit will not cover second homes.
  • It is limited to homes purchased for less than $800,000.
  • The credit will be extended to a larger pool of buyers by raising income caps to $125,000 for single filers and $250,000 for joint filers, up from $75,000 and $150,000, respectively.
  • Provisions strengthening the authority of the IRS to oversee the processing of credits have also been included in light of reports of rising fraudulent claims. A HUD-1 settlement statement will now be required when claiming credits.

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Mainely disappointed

•November 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

marriagecancelledCREDjoeand

On Tuesday voters rejected a state law that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed in Maine. The repeal comes just six months after the measure was passed by the Maine legislature and signed by the Democratic Governor.

Maine voters, known for their moderate, independent-minded views,would have been the sixth state in the country to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, but instead becomes the 31st state to oppose the unions based on popular vote. They would have been the first to endorse same-sex marriage in a statewide ballot. Alas, intolerance prevails.

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Money and greed

•November 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

greedisgoodI realized that a lot of films made about business and Wall Street in the 80s are relevant to the economic situation that we are in today. I revisited several of the classics: Wall Street, Boiler Room, Glengarry Glenross, Network and How to get ahead in Advertising. I also browsed snippets from recent documentaries: The Ascent of Money, the Greed Game and The Corporation. The process of writing a blog was completely derailed by video clips and, subsequently, Windows movie maker.

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