Tag Archive | "Budget"

The True Cost of War

The U.S. announced it could launch air strikes against Syria as early as Thursday. That’s because the U.S. believes the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its rebels, killing 1,000 men, women and children.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said any strike would be limited, such as cruise missiles that would strike specific Syrian military targets. These missiles would be launched from U.S. warships that have already been moved to the Mediterranean. It would not be massive bombing on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The action would be in partnership with allies in NATO and the Arab League. (Source: New York Times, Momentum Builds for Military Strike in Syria, August 27, 2013

How It Affects You

The Dow dropped 100 points, adding to its decline since August 2. (For more, see Dow Closing History.) Investors flocked to the traditional safe haven investments, gold and Treasuries. As a result, gold prices rose while Treasury yields dropped to 2.76%. Oil prices rose above $108 a barrel, as investors grew worried the conflict could escalate and create shortages. (Source: CNBC, Dow Drops 100 Points, August 27, 2013)

This potential conflict affects you in two ways, one short-term and one long-term. The short-term impact will be felt over the next few months, depending on how involved the U.S. becomes. This, of course, depends on the reaction of Syria and its allies, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. The current unrest in Egypt could also be worsened, which has investors worried. Therefore, expect volatility in the next few weeks, which will drive stock prices lower and gold, Treasuries and oil prices higher.

The long-term impact may surprise you. Most analysts say that war is good for the economy. The theory is that defense spending creates jobs. This theory is based on the boost in U.S. economic growth from World War II, which many say ended the Great Depression.

However, times have changed. First, military spending is not the way to create jobs. A Brown University study estimated the cost of the Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan wars at $3.7 trillion, or $31,000 for every family in America. This counts benefits to disabled vets — nearly half of the 1.25 million who served have made health or disability claims.  It also counts the interest on the debt incurred to finance the wars — $185 billion.

A U Mass/Amherst study showed that $1 billion of military spending created 8,555 jobs and added $565 million to the economy. That sounds great until you compare it to other ways the money could have been spent. That same $1 billion given back to your family as a tax cut would have created 10,779 jobs and put $505 million into the economy as retail spending.

The best way to create jobs? Spend $1 billion on building mass transit. That creates 19,795 construction jobs and puts $880 billion into the economy. If you want to leverage that $1 billion in government spending into the best bang for the buck, try spending it on education. It puts $1.3 billion into the economy, while creating 17,687 jobs.

Even more important than the money are the lives disrupted. A quarter of a million people were killed, half of them Iraqi civilians.  The wounded total 365,000, while 7.8  million have been displaced.

As put so well by Reuters reporter Daniel Trotta:

In one sense, the report measures the cost of 9/11, the American shorthand for the events of September 11, 2001. Nineteen hijackers plus other al Qaeda plotters spent an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 on the plane attacks that killed 2,995 people and caused $50 billion to $100 billion in economic damages.What followed were three wars in which $50 billion amounts to a rounding error. For every person killed on September 11, another 73 have been killed since.

Perhaps it’s time to admit we can no longer afford the true cost of war. Tell us in How Much Should the U.S. Spend on National Security?

Related Articles

  • Current Military Budget
  • How Bin Laden’s Death Could Help the Economy
  • The War on Terror: Facts About Its True Cost

Connect with: NEWSLETTER | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | E-COURSE

Source: About.com


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...



Posted in EconomyComments Off

Congress Has Six Weeks to Avoid Debt Ceiling Crisis

On Monday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew gave Congress until the middle of October to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, or risk a possible debt default. This means that the rate of currently authorized spending will drive the U.S. debt above the $16.7 trillion debt limit.

What makes this a bit confusing is that it will occur two weeks after Congress must pass the FY 2014 budget, due September 30. Many Republicans said they will only pass a budget that takes away funding (defunds) Obamacare.

What Will Probably Happen

Congress won’t risk a repeat of the 2011 debt ceiling crisis. This was devastating to the economy, and no one won. Instead, it will pass a short-term continuing resolution to raise the debt ceiling by October 15, just like it has throughout history. House Speaker John Boehner can pass this debt ceiling override, even without 100% of Republicans agreeing.

However, this is only a temporary fix. The FY 2014 budget needs to be passed, or many government agencies will run out of money as of the end of September (the end of the Federal fiscal year). This is a bigger issue. Republicans will insist that nothing will be passed unless Obamacare is defunded. Therefore, the budget probably won’t be passed.

This isn’t as dire as it sounds. The FY 2013 budget has never been approved, either. Instead, Congress enacted a continuing spending resolution in October 2012 and March 2013.

That’s probably what will happen with the FY 2014 budget. This means that spending will continue at current levels, continuing the sequestration spending cuts.

How It Affects You

You will hear a lot of reports in the news that there could be another crisis brewing. This could disrupt the stock market, and your investments. Gold prices will probably rise, like they did in 2011.

However, in all likelihood, it will pass over by November. Your best bet is to focus on leading economic indicators, to see how the real economy is performing. For example, yesterday’s Durable Goods Orders report showed there could be a temporary soft spot.

Related Articles

  • Who Owns the U.S. Debt?
  • Watch the Video: What Is the National Debt?
  • The History of the U.S. Debt Clock

Connect with: NEWSLETTER | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | E-COURSE

Source: About.com


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...



Posted in EconomyComments Off

Cheap Cruise Tips

Finding an affordable cruise isn’t quite the same as looking for hotel discounts or bargain airfares. You have to understand how the industry works and learn to avoid the pitfalls that can quickly turn a cruise bargain into a budget disaster.

For example, some cruise lines will sell you a bargain trip, but soak your budget with overpriced shore excursion charges. The industry likes to add up profits on little extras like your beverage at dinner, photography and even gratuities.

It’s important to consider some cheap cruise tips so that you can approach the buying decisions as an informed consumer. In my experience, informed consumers have a lot more fun on cruises, and don’t look back at a wake of unexpected bills after they return home..

Source: About.com


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...



Posted in TravelComments Off

trumpet

Ways to Cut the Cost of Musical Instruments

trumpet“Mom, I want to be a trumpet player.”

I clearly remember the day I heard the words. Our son was nine years old, and so far in his young life his interest in playing an instrument consisted of banging on our piano about five minutes every month or so, but now he was telling us (with total conviction) that he was going to master the trumpet. Later my husband quietly told me, “Don’t worry. This too shall pass.”

But it did not and for the next several weeks we heard a lot about trumpets and his friends with trumpets. The fact that he stuck to the same topic for more than two weeks convinced us that he was serious about wanting to learn. We certainly did not want to discourage him from showing an interest in music. So we decided to make the investment and get him a trumpet, even though we were on a very tight budget.

Over Night Success? Not Hardly

After looking at all of our the choices (mind you, this was early internet years) we did manage to give our son a trumpet, which he happily blew on for about a month and not so happily for another month. After that, there was silence, despite our efforts to encourage him to play.

My husband then decided that he would learn to play, explaining that it had always been something he wanted to do. I think it had more to do with his inability to stand seeing our investment sitting, ignored in the corner. However, showing complete enthusiasm, he took a stab at it. That also lasted about a month and like many other things that end up as dust collectors, so did the trumpet.

Six Years Later

About six years later (out of the blue) our son showed a renewed interest in his trumpet, to the point of returning to his music lessons, playing daily and attending summer band camp. He later played in his school’s marching band and loved it. Looking back, as difficult as it was to afford the trumpet, I am glad we did it. It contributed to his happiness.

Moral of the Story?

If you are on the fence about buying your child an instrument because of the cost involved and the fear that they will lose interest, my professionally untrained parental advice is to try to work it into the budget. Worst case scenario? When you hand it to them they’ll say, “A trumpet? Oh yeah, I changed my mind. I really want to be a professional soccer player.” Remember, you can always sell it.

In the article, “Cut the Cost of Musical Instruments,” I offer tips on how to decide if you should rent or buy an instrument for your child and ways to find affordable instruments.

Source: About.com


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...



Posted in FinanceComments Off

Sunset in Saigon © Lauren Juliff

My Favourite Budget Airlines

When it comes to transport I’ll often sacrifice comfort and time for a cheaper flight. However, after now having spent many years jetting around on budget airlines, I’m pleased to say that they’re actually not all terrible. In fact, in some countries I’ll often choose a budget airline over a full-service one because I know I’ll still receive great service, regardless of the price.

Sunset in Saigon © Lauren Juliff

Here are some of my favorite budget airlines.

Cebu Pacific

Cebu Pacific is the only airline I’ll fly with if I’m in the Philippines. Given that the Philippines consists of over 7,000 islands, it’s far easier to fly between them than take a ferry. I’ll always choose to fly with Cebu Pacific because they make my flights so much fun.

On every flight I’ve taken with them they’ve entertained the passengers by playing a game. They’ll call out items for everyone to hold up, such as a camera or some money, and the first one to do so wins a prize. It definitely helps to pass the time and helps keep you entertained!

Air Asia

With an extreme fear of flying, I love flying on airlines that I know have a 100% safety record. Air Asia is one of these airlines.

Whenever I’m traveling in Southeast Asia, I’ll always be flying with AirAsia, even if they’re charging a little more than their competitors. They fly to pretty much anywhere you’d want to visit in the region, occasionally cost less than the 24 hour overland alternative and have one of the best inflight magazines I’ve ever read.

EasyJet

Europe is one of the cheapest continents to fly around in thanks to the abundance of budget airlines. However, I’ll always choose EasyJet if I have a choice.

The staff are friendly, the planes are clean and they don’t have a ridiculous amount of rules and regulations designed to trick you into paying more money (I’m looking at you, Ryanair).

Which is your favorite budget airline?

Photos © Lauren Juliff | Student Travel Blog Home

Source: About.com


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...



Posted in TravelComments Off

Sunset in Saigon © Lauren Juliff

My Favorite Budget Airlines

When it comes to transport I’ll often sacrifice comfort and time for a cheaper flight. However, after now having spent many years jetting around on budget airlines, I’m pleased to say that they’re actually not all terrible. In fact, in some countries I’ll often choose a budget airline over a full-service one because I know I’ll still receive great service, regardless of the price.

Sunset in Saigon © Lauren Juliff

Here are some of my favorite budget airlines.

Cebu Pacific

Cebu Pacific is the only airline I’ll fly with if I’m in the Philippines. Given that the Philippines consists of over 7,000 islands, it’s far easier to fly between them than take a ferry. I’ll always choose to fly with Cebu Pacific because they make my flights so much fun.

On every flight I’ve taken with them they’ve entertained the passengers by playing a game. They’ll call out items for everyone to hold up, such as a camera or some money, and the first one to do so wins a prize. It definitely helps to pass the time and helps keep you entertained!

Air Asia

With an extreme fear of flying, I love flying on airlines that I know have a 100% safety record. Air Asia is one of these airlines.

Whenever I’m traveling in Southeast Asia, I’ll always be flying with AirAsia, even if they’re charging a little more than their competitors. They fly to pretty much anywhere you’d want to visit in the region, occasionally cost less than the 24 hour overland alternative and have one of the best inflight magazines I’ve ever read.

EasyJet

Europe is one of the cheapest continents to fly around in thanks to the abundance of budget airlines. However, I’ll always choose EasyJet if I have a choice.

The staff are friendly, the planes are clean and they don’t have a ridiculous amount of rules and regulations designed to trick you into paying more money (I’m looking at you, Ryanair).

Which is your favorite budget airline?

Photos © Lauren Juliff | Student Travel Blog Home

Source: About.com


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...



Posted in TravelComments Off

Car break-in

Hot Wheels Report: Thieves’ Choice

What are uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages? Do you need these on a commercial auto policy? Find out by reading my new article.

The new Hot Wheels report has just been released! The first and second-place winners for 2012 are, respectively, the Honda Accord (1990 through 1997 models) and the Honda Civic (1990 through 2000 models). In case you’ve never heard of it, the Hot Wheels report is published annually by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. It’s a list of the 10 most frequently stolen vehicle models for the previous 12 months. After the Accord and Civic, the next two models that thieves favored the most were the Ford and Chevrolet full size pickups.

Car break-in

According to the NICB, many thieves prefer older Hondas because they are popular cars that have held up well. Many of them are still on the road so there is a high demand for replacement parts. The older cars are easy to steal because they lack many of the theft-deterrents found on newer cars. The NICB notes that relatively few 2012 Hondas were taken last year. Current models are equipped with alarms and other devices that make theft difficult.

I was the victim of car theft myself many years ago, and it is not an experience I want to repeat. Two cars I owned were stolen, exactly one year apart. Each was eventually recovered but was in such bad shape that the insurance company “totaled” it. Both cars were several years old. After the second one was stolen I asked a police officer why anyone would bother taking a clunker like mine. She showed me a list of the vehicles that had been stolen in the previous two-week period, and I was stunned. I had assumed that thieves targeted high-value cars, but the reverse was true. Most of the cars on the list were old.

If your company owns autos, there are several steps you can take to protect your investment. First, you can insure them for Comprehensive coverage under a commercial auto policy. Comprehensive coverage protects you against loss to a covered auto by any cause (including theft) other than collision or the vehicle’s overturn. You’ll have to consider the value of each vehicle in relation to the premium to determine whether Comprehensive coverage makes sense. A cheaper option is Specified Causes of Loss, which also includes theft. These coverages are usually subject to a deductible.

Insuring your vehicle won’t prevent it from being stolen. The NICB suggests four “layers” of protection to safeguard your vehicle against theft. You can start at the top of the list and work your way down, as your budget permits.

  1. Common Sense These are the basic things you and your employees should already be doing. Lock the car, close the windows, park in well-lit areas and (above all) do not leave your key in the ignition! (You’d be surprised how many people forget to take their keys.)
  2. Visible or Audible Devices These days many cars come with an audible alarm. If yours doesn’t, you can use a visible alternative such as a steering wheel lock. I had one of these for years and it worked. Other theft deterrents include VIN number etching or micro dotting, wheel locks and a steering column collar.
  3. Vehicle Immobilizer Many newer vehicles come with a smart key, without which the car won’t start. Cars that use smart keys cannot be easily “hot-wired.” If you have an older vehicle, you can install a kill switch, fuse cut-off, or a devise that disables the starter, ignition or fuel supply.
  4. Tracking System These devices use GPS to track your vehicle in real time. They enable the police or a tracking company to quickly locate your vehicle in the event it is stolen.

Image courtesy of [Garry Hunter] / Getty Images

Source: About.com


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...



Posted in InsuranceComments Off

beach camping with the dog

Beach Camping the California Coast

beach camping with the dog

Beach season is still in full swing, even as little campers prepare to go back to school. With its moderate climate, sunshine, and variety of landscapes, Southern California is a top camping destination for beach goers.  Check out the best spots to pitch a tent at the beach in So. Cal. including Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.

But California’s best beach getaways aren’t just in Southern California. The Central Coast offers rugged and secluded beaches that are scenic, secluded, and full of adventure. Here’s a guide a camping road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway.

We have a photo gallery of top spots for California a camping getaway, new campground reviews and features on a few top destinations in California to help you get started planning a a summer camping trip in the golden state.

California Camping Guides:

  • Top 10 California Camping Destinations
  • Southern California Beach Camping
  • California’s Central Coast
  • Lake Tahoe Camping Guide
  • Napa Valley Camping and Budget Travel Guide

California Camping Photo Gallery:

  • Postcards from California

Photo: ©  Getty Images | Jordan Siemens

 

Source: About.com


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...



Posted in TravelComments Off

Four Points by Sheraton LAX

Four Points by Sheraton LAX Review

I recently had a number of business meetings in Los Angeles. While I was there, I wanted a hotel that was convenient to the airport (LAX), so I chose the Four Points by Sheraton LAX.

Four Points by Sheraton LAX

The Four Points by Sheraton at Los Angeles International Airport is a good fit for business travelers that want a hotel that has all the basic amenities, plus a bit more, but doesn’t break the budget. The Four Points by Sheraton LAX is a business-traveler-friendly hotel that has a good rooms, an outdoor pool, on-site restaurant and bar, and more. Read my full review of the Four Points by Sheraton LAX. (photo credit: Four Points by Sheraton).

Source: About.com


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...



Posted in TravelComments Off

Bill Promises Better Government Customer Service

What can Democrats and Republicans in Congress possibly agree on? How about a bill intended to magically improve the level of customer service provided by the federal government?

Cosponsored by a bipartisan pair or Texas congressmen, Reps. Henry Cuellar (D) and Michael McCaul (R), the Government Customer Service Improvement Act of 2013 (H.R. 1660), seeks to inspire the federal government agencies to improve their performance in citizen services like responding to telephone calls, mail and email, and benefit processing and payments.

The bill would require the government to develop something the government really should have developed long ago; government-wide standards for customer service delivery. Yes, exactly the same kind of customer service standards the private sector went totally gaga over at least 30 years ago.

Also See: VA Benefit Processing Just Getting Slower

Here’s how the magic would happen: First, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would develop the government-wide customer service standards. Next, based on the government-wide standards, the Chief Performance Officer (CPO) of each executive branch agency would develop service standards specific to the agency’s role. Finally, the Performance Improvement Officer (PIO) of each agency would get feedback from customers regarding the quality of customer service provided and report the results to the agency’s CPO. Bingo! Customer service improved.

The Government Customer Service Improvement Act passed in the House by a voice vote on July 31, and has a good chance of passing in the Senate shortly after Congress returns from its 5 week long summer break. There is no imaginable reason why President Obama would veto it.

In fact there is already a bipartisan companion bill to the Government Customer Service Improvement Act in the Senate sponsored by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin).

“Citizens should expect federal agencies to deliver customer services at least as well as the private sector does, but this often is not the case,” Warner said, responding to the vote in the House, to which Sen. Johnson added, “By embedding the concept of customer service into government operations, agencies will ultimately become more efficient and effective. This is just common sense.”

No, there is nothing in the Government Customer Service Improvement Act to address “embedding the concept of customer service” into Congress itself, where less of it seems to get done every session.

Also See: IRS Unable to Answer Tax Questions

Source: About.com


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...



Posted in EconomyComments Off

See Fresh News

From Around The World

News By Month

News By Date

August 2017
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031