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Archive for January 22, 2012

Weekly Observations – Money Matters

Keeping An Eye Out For ALEC

With the start of the legislative session here in Iowa, citizens and journalists need to keep an eye out for ALEC legislation trying to get its foot in the door. Last year Republicans offered a bill which cut commercial property taxes, but also had many a poison pill for cities and towns in Iowa. I think we can expect those kind of shenanigans again. This is why the Liz Mathis election was so important. Without a majority in the senate, Dems would be unable to stop ALEC type legislation. Thus in a short peiod of time we would be Wisconsin or Michigan.

Anybody else feel Mitt has contempt for us little people?

After seeing the confrontation with a citizen on the ropeline in South Carolina I get the impression that Romney has little but contempt for those among us who do not have a few million laying around. Guess to be a full citizen under Romney I will need to find a few more zeroes to put behind the family fortune.

Under Gingrich, will State Dinners be swingers parties?

Why can’t I get this idea out of my mind? Just imagine Mr. Openmarriage as President. He is hosting a state dinner for let us say Sarkozy. Suddenly he decides he has taken a fancy to Mrs. Sarkozy and asks the first lady (aka the third wife) and the President of France if he and the French first lady could be excused for an hour or two. Think there would be any fallout?

When was the last time you said?

“I earned just a little bit of money” about $372,000? Looks like a big bit of money to me. A really big bit of money.

Payday Lenders finally going to be controlled?

When Richard Cordray was appointed to his job as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau he let it be known that Payday Lenders were in his sights. After immediately taking on the mortgage market, he has now focused on the Payday Lenders. With interest rates that can top an annual 500%, these lenders are certainly in need of some supervision. Thank you Mr. Cordray! Please read all about it here.

Are they caricatures?

I can’t help but think that if any creative person were trying to come up with a comic book character to represent on the 1%, that person would end up drawing Mitt Romney. We hear stories that he is really nice, yet the persona he shows in public is one of arrogance, disdain for the poor and middle class, who has so much money he considers a $10,000 bet a ‘friendly wager.’

Yet Gingrich and Santorum are not far behind as caricatures. Gingrich as the old southern white gentleman who treats women like objects and still echoes strains of the south’s racial past.

Santorum appears to want to be Pope of the United States. He is condescending to anyone who does not fit into his very narrow view of what humans should be.

How’s that austerity doing?

While we spend much of our time being distracted by the glittery object of the primaries and their circus like atmosphere, Europe continues to perform a great experiment in economics. Can austerity really grow an economy? Well, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other monetary groups issued warnings that austerity may not be the way to go after all.

Europe looks to have a very slow growth if any at all in the near future. It looks as though much of the expected slow growth can be attributed to the austerity.

Almost forgot our friends in Wisconsin

Congratulations on turning in the recall petitions not only on Walker, but on Kleefisch and the senators. I am sure there will be many here who will want to help make calls or whatever is needed in your fight for good government.

Sunday Funday: How Rich Are Our Presidents?

Lots of talk this week about Mitt Romney and the incredible bulge in his back pocket. Estimates of his fortune go as high as $250 million, but Mitt seems quite reluctant to share how much he has.

So that brings up a question – comparatively in current US$s how do our presidents stack up? Well, fortunately someone took on the task of figuring out what our past presidents had, so all I have to do is make up some questions from that. See if you can figure out which president is described in the questions below.

1) Born to a prominent and wealthy family, this president inherited a large trust fund. He lost a great deal of the trust fund in a ranching venture in the Dakotas. He worked most of his adult life in public service and as an author. His top estimated wealth was $60 million.

2) This man was an orphan and was raised by his uncle. He made his fortune in mining and holdings in mining companies. His wealth was estimated at $75 million.

3) A war hero, this man was one of the wealthiest presidents. He had extensive land holdings and also married a wealthy widow. His estimated worth was $525 million.

4) Also a war hero, this man was not so fortunate. Following his presidency he had to write his autobiography just to make money to live on. Estimated worth well below a million dollars.

5) This president made several attempts to be a small business man. Success eluded him in those endeavors, but he did succeed in political life serving as a senator, vice-president and eventually president. When his term ended he and his wife drove themselves back to their modest home. His estimated worth was less than a million dollars.

6) We had many war heroes as president. This war hero had an estate worth over $5 million at one time, but by the time he died most of it was gone. His estate consisted mostly of inheritance and land holdings in Indiana.

7) This president had large holdings in a tobacco plantation and other land. At one time he was estimated to have as much as a $51 million estate. But due to involvement with the South in the Civil War he was poor at death.

8) This man made most of his money as an author. Besides that he has worked in public service most of his life. His estimated worth was pegged at $5 million.

9) This man made most of his money as a college president and then as a governor. His estimated worth was below the million dollar mark.

10) This president had a successful career as an actor and spokesman for many corporations. His estimated worth is in the $13 million range.

Interesting, no? Most of our presidents have had some money, Some lost it, some made more. If Romney becomes president (I can’t imagine it either) he will not be the richest, but a contender. Unless he has more stashed away than we know.

Answers? OK!

1) Teddy Roosevelt
2) our own Herbert Hoover
3) George Washington – probably the richest – the Kennedys in toto had more money.
4) Ulysses Grant.
5) Harry S. Truman
6) William Henry Harrison
7) John Tyler. Remember that he served in the Confederate government in the civil war.
8) Barack Obama
9) Woodrow Wilson
10) Ronald Reagan – and I hope it was obvious.

Read up on all the presidents and their fortunes here.