Go Read This

I am returning to post a link to a Rolling Stone article that is almost two years old.  It was written by Michael Hastings, a journalist who has been dead for almost a year.  Yet it couldn’t be more timely.  It is a well written article about Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier that we traded five Taliban leaders to get back.  I’m not going to say what I believe about this, because I haven’t had a chance to read the entire article.  So go read it and make up your own mind.  I intend to do the same once I get a chance.

Juan Williams Is Right

I just read this article by Juan Williams about the war on Christians in other parts of the world.  I frequently disagree with Mr. Williams, but I completely agree with this article.  There are parts of the world today where simply being a Christian places your life in danger.  That we are debating about the “War on Christmas” in our country while remaining silent about the fate of those in other countries who are facing death for being Christians is absurd.  Thanks to Ed Morrissey for bringing the article to my attention.

These Words Must Have A Different Meaning In Chicago

Here is a quote from President Obama. There is a video to provide confirmation that he actually said this. It is such a disconnect from the actions of the Obama Administration that I can’t help but be cynical.

I know that there are a few Republicans here in the audience … If you talk to us, it turns out we’re pretty common-sense folks. We don’t think government can do everything … We don’t think that top-down solutions are the right way to go. We believe in the free market. We believe in a light touch when it comes to regulations. We don’t want to tax all businesses out of business … But we do think that there’s a role to play for government.

Here are my first thoughts:

1. Mr. Obama do you really believe that the Affordable Care act isn’t a top down solution?

2. Do you believe the Exchanges in the Affordable Care Act bear more than a slight resemblance to the free market?

3. If President Obama’s regulatory touch has been light, I would hate to see a heavy handed regulator.

4. Mr. President, do you just want to tax every business that pollutes the environment out of business? Or just tax every Republican owned business out of business?

Does Government Really Help People?

I have a friend who went to a state school and got a Bachelor’s Degree. When last I heard, his student loan payment was larger than our mortgage payment. He’s the friend that has more luck than anyone else I know, I just can’t figure out whether it’s good or bad. While the student loan balance hanging over his head isn’t the only problem he has, it is a large problem that he will have with him for the rest of his life.

When my friend was in college, he thought he’d get a job making tons of money, so he didn’t worry about the student loans. Another friend and I tried to encourage him to borrow less and get out of school sooner. My friend went to college for the maximum number of semesters and took the maximum loan every semester. Worse, my friend works in a field totally unrelated to his degree.

I have a friend who has an two year degree who is much better off financially than my friend with the four year degree. I suspect that has to do with the fact that has to do with his having the good fortune to get out of school and pay off his student loans before my friend with the four year degree.

Our government seems to be steering everyone to a four year degree and crushing student loan debt. Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should do some form of education or training after high school. IF there is one thing that successful people share, I suspect it is the desire to never stop learning. It is however a mistake to drive everyone to the one size fits all plan that is a four year college degree. Everyone kid in high school should come up with a plan for what they’re going to do after high school. For many of those kids, that plan will include a four year degree. But for many of those kids, there’s a good plan that doesn’t include a four year degree.

Every time I think about my friend with the degree and the crushing debt, I have to wonder about all those who went to college and left without their degree. How are they going to pay their student loans? Or more importantly, how are they going to get on with their lives?

As Kevin Drum says in this article, student loan debt is a real problem. The chart says a lot. However here are two things the chart doesn’t say. It is an awful problem that will still be around even if we drop the interest rate on student loans to zero. More importantly, the government created this mess in an effort to help people!

My Two Cents Worth On Dave Ramsey’s Budgeting Process

Instapundit links to this article on budgeting and Dave Ramsey’s budgeting process. Since my wife and I are in our second month of the budgeting process, I have some thoughts about the article I wanted to share.

Yes, the envelope system is constrained, but Dave only suggests that for certain categories. Things like groceries and eating out are two excellent categories for envelopes for example. But a lot of categories aren’t suited to the envelope system. My wife and I are doing a budget every four weeks. We do the budget in pencil because we have to make changes. Within 15 minutes of making our last budget, we came up with a list of three things we hadn’t included. We’ll be revising the budget to handle those. We can always rearrange our budget to handle unexpected events. Dave Ramsey’s budgeting process isn’t as constrained as the article would have you believe.

What Does It Mean To Be Rich In America?

I read this post by Elie Mystal about why $250,000 doesn’t make him rich in his town. I’ve been thinking about his post for some time. I have long said that $250,000 in a big city is like $100,000 in the town where we live. Upon further reflection, that may not be right. It is possible to live in our town with a $100,000 per year income and not live in a place that looks like it was just robbed. It’s also possible to live in our town on $100,000 per year and have assets that aren’t judgement proof.

Now For Something Completely Different

My wife and I have a decent income, but we seem to be experts at spending 105% of our income. We finally decided to do something about it and have enrolled in Dave Ramsey‘s Financial Peace University. So far we have made a budget, and are sticking to it. Our next step is to get rid of our non-mortgage debt. We have a plan to do that, I’d just like for it not to take four years.

There Isn’t Necessarily One Right Answer

In my previous post on diet, I left out the specific reason I wrote the post. In that post I intended to mention that Charlie Martin at PJ Media is doing a more drastic diet than I am. He’s going very low carb, and it’s working for him. I congratulate him on his results so far. Also, I see Nathan is back on Weight Watchers and losing weight. Charlie, Nathan and I are all doing three different diets. We all are getting good results so far.

If you have a weight problem, I encourage you to do something about it. The three of us are doing different diets, but we all looked in the mirror and decided we need to change. The government isn’t making us, and Charlie and I are both disregarding the government’s advice on diet to some degree. The government can’t make me diet, and if they could, they’d probably make me go on the wrong diet.

It’s your life. If you have a weight problem, I encourage you to do something about it. I think exercising more and eating healthier are two things worth thinking about if you want to lose weight. If you do the South Beach Diet like I’m doing, and get results, then that’s great. If you accomplish your health goals by a completely different path, then that’s great too.

A Few Words On Diet And Health

Just over 3 years ago I looked at the scale and realized I weighed almost 250 pounds. I finally decided it was time to do something about my health. I’m just over six feet tall, so I felt I was heavier than I should be. I wasn’t having weight related health problems, but I was slowly gaining weight. I estimated that I had gained 80 pounds over the previous 10 years.

I started on the South Beach Diet and eventually lost 31 pounds. Since then, I have gained 12 pounds. I’m starting over on the South Beach Diet, and I am going to start regular exercise. For me it’s not about losing weight so much as it is about making decisions to be a little healthier. I now weigh about 225 pounds, but if I hadn’t made some changes three years ago, I’d probably weigh about 275 pounds now, and eventually I’d probably start developing weight related health problems.

I realize the sooner I decide to eat sensibly and exercise regularly, I’m starting on a trip to a healthier, happier me. I’m not going to go to they gym, that’s just not my style. I’m going to start walking more, riding my bike more and generally taking better care of my body. The healthiest I’ve ever been was the summer I took drivers ed, because I had to ride my bicycle three miles each way. I have decided the time has come to regularly exercise. Not anything crazy, just walking or bicycling.

I’m choosing the South Beach Diet, for two reasons. First, I tried it, and it works for me. Two, of all the diets out there, it makes the most sense to me. While the diet experts are debating whether low carb or low saturated fat people are right, I’m plodding along down the middle of the road. If South Beach stops working for me, then I’ll try something else.

WOW!

I just read a post by Walter Russell Mead comparing the collapse of the Blue State Model to the fall of the Galactic Empire in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series. In the same piece, he gives Paul Krugman a good smackdown as a bonus. Thanks to Jonah Goldberg for tweeting the link!