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On the Dawn of the Obama Era

I vaguely remember Clinton’s presidency. It was before I could vote. I remember people seemed to like him, so much as forgiving him for having a lusty affair with his intern. I didn’t know enough about politics then to judge, but he seemed like a good prez.

Then came eight years of Bush. I feel bad for Bush, even though I dislike him. As soon as he stepped into office 9/11 happened, and everything went downhill from that. I disagree with the decisions he made to go to war with Iraq, but with such an attack on the US he had to do something. And then over the last four years, our economy has run out of gas. We’re spending trillions of dollars on a war we probably shouldn’t be fighting, and in our own borders people are going hungry, losing houses, and living without health insurance.

I doubt Obama can really bring the “change” he promises. But there will be plenty of change with the new democratic government. Change that we need. Hopefully. I expected the worst of Bush and I got it. I’m afraid to expect too much of Obama because he is, after all, a politician.

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Where Your "Hard" Earned Tax Dollars Are Going

Fighting terrorism is expensive, no doubt. Our hard-earned tax dollars go to making sure America remains safe. The latest tactic to get secrets out of the enemy is… Viagra.

For elder Afgani males who have trouble getting it up for their younger wives, CIA officers are now offering a few little blue pills in exchange for information, reports The Washington Post. And it’s working.

“The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes — followed by a request for more pills.”

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Botox Bail Out

Every once in a while I find an article or study that makes me embarrassed to be human. At one point in our evolution we would have given an arm and a leg to be able to feed ourselves and our families for the day. These days, we equate wrinkles to starvation. Even with stocks down and job losses up, vanity beats out frugality.

According to a new study, nearly three out of four plastic surgeons reported that demand has increased or held steady for minimally invasive procedures, including the Botox antiwrinkle drug, dermal fillers used to plump up lips and smile lines, and skin-smoothing chemical peels, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a professional group representing 6,700 surgeons.


Case in point:

“Maralyn Burr of Omaha, Neb., in June lost her job as a district sales manager for bookstore chain Borders Group Inc. Ms. Burr, who is $140,000 in debt from her 22-year-old daughter’s musical education, says she has slashed spending and all but stopped eating out. But she hasn’t given up her Restylane and Botox injections. “It’s like comfort food,” she says.” – Keeping Up Appearances in a Downturn, Wall Street Journal 

Doesn’t that make you just a little sad to be human?

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Daily Dollar Briefs

Investors, “Don’t Despair”: Knight Kiplinger shared several ideas with NPR’s Linda Wertheimer about how people can steer clear of Wall Street meltdowns and investment scandals. – npr

Just another job cut Monday… Textron said it will cut 2,200 jobs, or 5.5% of its world-wide task force. The cuts are expected to save $100M in 2009 — WSJ

1 Million More Cuts: The job market in 2009 is going to be tough, about 1 million job losses tough. Be prepared, and make sure to network now whether or not you think you’ve got a stable gig — Market Watch

Un-Luck of the Irish:
As Ireland attempts to recapitalize, investors remain cautious of the country’s banking system, and with good reason — Financial Times

Quick – Short Your Way to Millions: In a down market, it’s tough to make a buck playing the stock market the normal way. Shorting when the market is down is a risky, yet potentially lucrative investing style — Examiner

Still Seeking Retirement Dreams: Older Americans can’t afford a retirement due to the housing market crash and stock market nosedive. What should retirees do when all their options for a comfy retirement have backfired? — WSJ

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The Spending Diaries

Ok, so I’m about two years late to post this, but it’s still fairly relevant. NY Magazine did a series in 2006 called The Spending Diaries about 6 different people at different income levels, with a breakdown of where their money goes each week and how much they spend.

It’s a bit annoying that their “poor” representative is a MFA candidate whose parents pay for his tuition AND housing. He’s getting by on $20k just fine in various income sources above and beyond a free education and apartment.

Crazy how much all of them spend per week. I dream of being a millionaire, but if I was, I can’t imagine spending as much as these people do.

Then again, I don’t live in New York.