UPDATE: AS I WRITE THIS, AMAZON IS VALUED AT SIX TIMES BARNES & NOBLE. HERE’S AN IDEA FOR BARNES & NOBLE: PUT TABS FOR VIDEO, ETC., AT THE TOP OF YOUR WEB SITE AND SEE IF YOUR STOCK SEXTUPLES. IF NEED BE, CLOSE YOUR 504 PROFITABLE STORES AS WELL, SO YOU JUST HAVE A MONEY-LOSING INTERNET UPSTART AND AN EXCITING FUTURE.
AND NOW BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING.
I wrote recently about Linda, a single mother of two in Montana who earns $18,000 and has a very tough time getting off the credit-card debt treadmill. “What is Linda to do?” I asked. It was more of a rhetorical question than anything else, and a way to lead into musings on the minimum wage ($10,000 a year for a full-time worker), but you had suggestions:
John T: “Linda is missing a big source of income: It’s called child support! Where is the father? This is costing her at least $500 dollars a month and probably a lot more.”
A.T.: Yes, indeed. But something tells me Linda has thought of this.
Ed Ost: “I would suggest not paying the medical bills with her credit card. Set up a payment schedule directly with the hospital if they are willing or (if you must) pay by check and cancel the check if necessary. The main point is to keep the bill with the hospital since they don’t charge interest, at least I’m pretty sure they don’t and if they do, they probably charge a lot less than the credit card companies. Also, she could try using any not-for-profit clinics in the area for whatever health care they provide, probably maintenance type health care such as flu shots, vaccines etc.”
Dr. Marc Armstrong: “Linda C.’s credit card problem could be ameliorated if the U.S. had a sensible system of national medical insurance.”
Shawn Tapley: “Linda sounds like a very responsible person, now. It sounds like she is living with the consequences of some irresponsible decisions earlier in life (like having kids she can’t afford). That’s not fun, but it is life. Linda may even be too proud to accept many of the welfare programs already in place. From my volunteer work in Georgia, I can tell you that if she were in my state she would qualify for plenty of assistance, including help with medical care. She probably qualifies for federal assistance too. I remain convinced that people like Linda who persevere can improve their lives, and that there is PLENTY of assistance available for these people through private charities and existing welfare programs, WITHOUT raising taxes one penny.”
Sri Shankar: “Does universal healthcare violate the fundamental principle of capitalism? Does minimum wage? How does one resolve the cruel efficiency of a pure free market and the cruel inefficiency of a government-run program? I really don’t want to see children homeless and without healthcare in a country like the US.”
A.T.: Much about government is inefficient, but not everything, by any means. Social Security isn’t inefficient. Progressive taxation isn’t inefficient. Much about the private sector is efficient, but not everything, by any means. (If it costs $100,000 to put on the gala that raises the $300,000 that goes to pay for the overhead and program expenses of running a private charity, is that really so much more efficient than raising the money by taxation?)
Lots of food for Thanksgiving thought — and not a gram of fat.
Friday: A Duplex in Vermont (will you get a load of that Thanksgiving foliage!)
Quote of the Day
In 1800, 75% of [an American's] working man's expenditures went for food alone. By 1850, that had dropped to 50%. Today it is a little more than 11%.~The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 1996
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