Saturday, May 31, 2008

Un-Buffeted by Over-Indulgence

Granted, many are using their credit card for used Mother Nature never intended—buying groceries and gas—and how else to get these things when paychecks and interest rates are not keeping pace with the costs of basic living? But as more and more people continue to expand their revolving debt (credit card—think stuck in a spinning revolving door) for stuff they really don’t need, but perhaps have grown accustomed to during the recent spend, splurge and spoil years, kind of like a New Age Roaring Twenties, it is almost refreshing to read how someone who could probably buy half the world feels about such expenditure.

Here are some excerpts from an interview conducted by Christoph Pauly and Janko Tietz and published in Der Spiegel this weekend [,1518,556114,00.html ] . Among other things, Warren Buffett explained why he doesn’t feel the need to live large:

SPIEGEL: You have pledged about half of your fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. What happens with the other half?

Buffett: In addition to the Gates Foundation, I have pledged money to four other foundations. So far, 80 percent of my stock holdings have been firmly committed to these five organizations. I have promised that I would ultimately donate every one of my shares in Berkshire Hathaway. My will clearly specifies what will happen to the remaining shares. But I can still change this decision while I'm alive.

SPIEGEL: You are the richest man in the world…

Buffett: … maybe not anymore…

SPIEGEL: Let's not argue about a few billion. How does your immense wealth affect your everyday life?

Buffett: I have everything I need. But that's also the way I felt at 25, when I didn't have that much money yet. I have a wonderful family. I have a job that I love and wonderful people who help me with it. It can't get any better than that.

SPIEGEL: You have no interest in a new mansion in Omaha, or perhaps a luxury house at the beach? After all, you've been living in the same house for decades.

Buffett: I don't need 15 houses. Owning real estate doesn't mean much to me. I don't like to think about things like that. I don't need 12 boats, or even the world's largest boat with a crew of 80. I'd have to take care of them, to worry about them. I get a lot more fun out of life without all the bells and whistles.

Yep, those bells and whistles seem to eventually rust and fall apart so maybe it is just better to not get too used to them. Just stick with the basics. The basics are priced pretty much like luxuries these days anyway.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Charge it! (Words by Tim Curry)

I keep hearing that Americans are still buying as much gas for cars. It is as if we are in denial—but then, not everyone can take public transportation. It may not exist for our itinerary. Does that mean more of us are charging it—putting off until tomorrow what we can’t pay for today?

Let the song speak:

You can Telex my accountant

Call up Tele-Credit, too

I know they sent a monthly statement

But I never read it through

You say you won't accept my Visa

Or American Express

And the computer is suspicious'

Cause I've got no fixed address

Lady, that's a valid document

Check out the way I'm dressed

You know the way I'm feeling now

I'd take a lie-detector test

Paradise lost for capital gain

Traded for a ticket on the gravy train

I can amortize the cost with a minimum of pain

But I need it for a write-off

Can't take another night off

You know I never carry change

I just Charge It

Where do I sign?

Charge It

Show me the dotted line

Charge It

I don't have the time to waste.....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I consume, therefore I am………………….broke

Consumer. Producer. Consumer. Producer. These days I find myself cringing when I think about making a purchase—any impulse to buy any item that is really and truly outside the realm of a staple. I think “CONSUMER”-- a kind of never satisfied monster devouring more goods ever day. A financial version of Jabba the Hut with a wallet.

And it seems as if there are more and more ways to spend money. Every other ad on television is either for a car or a restaurant or fast food place. Sprinkled among these calls for consumption are ads for beer or cosmetics and pharmaceuticals—“Hey—let’s all get made-up, get drunk, pig out and pop a few pills! But make sure you’ve filled up the tank in the new car because the price of a gallon of gas is going up 25 cents a day.” Here I am about to consume and what exactly is on the other end of that increasingly scary spectrum—PRODUCER? Where are more and more of these things being produced? Not here. Not anymore. I’ll get to the statistics but you know what you see when pick up a bag of broccoli or an umbrella or a pair of shoes or a shirt you can pretty much name it…..and you read where this stuff is made. And just suppose, those countries decide, for whatever reason—political, financial, or the wrath of nature—they can no longer send us all this STUFF either at all or for so few dollars?

Maybe it is time to take a step back and have second thoughts before buying. It really shouldn’t be a hobby.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Desperately Seeking.......What?

So, let’s see, the best use of the Internet is to….........make fun of celebrities, as if we were mean and desperate 3rd graders looking to make ourselves feel better by making someone else with maybe more exposure/aptitude/talent/luck look bad?

Here are some recent puerile examples : tagged BJÖRK as being a fine example of one of the “Worst Fashion Flubs.”
First Impression—
--- Do we all want to look the same? So what if she surrounds her head with tennis-size puff balls in every hue of the rainbow and then some? This is who she is. Isn’t she a singer anyway? This wonderful weirdness is what she is known for…should she look like everyone else?
Second Impression:
Why do we care about this? What about the worst Financial Flubs? What about hedge fund managers making obscene amounts of money hedging bets that the rest of us will have to eventually pay?

A nastier example—one of many, I’m sure-- can be found on “Trusted AOL partner” TMZ’s site—“You make the stars…We make them real,” they announce proudly. Uh-huh. Real subjugated.

Accompanying a photo of Sarah Jessica Parker:
SJP: You're So Vein
Posted May 13th 2008 11:03AM by TMZ Staff
"Sex and the City" isn't the only thing being brought back to life -- so are Sarah Jessica Parker's hands!
The 43-year-old trendsetter stepped out in London on Sunday sporting the latest It accessory of the summer -- a pair of Frankenstein hands! Carrie Bradshaw doesn't need a man -- she's got man hands!

Is this something anyone cares about? Does this make others else feel a lot better about themselves? This person has a job as an actor and okay, to some extent she puts herself out there since that is part of the fame game. Two sides to that coin. But these people aren’t walking PIÑATAS. And it makes journalism, or whatever this is, look really really bad.