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Journal: Words of Wisdom from Bill Clinton

Journal by Bull999999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Bill Clinton jokes that since he's not the president anymore, nobody listens to him.

"I can't run for anything," Clinton said Tuesday. "The good news is I can say whatever I think."

But since he's the only Democrat who's been elected president in the past quarter century, many Democrats are willing to listen when Clinton talks about how to win.

Speaking at Hamilton College in upstate New York, Clinton congratulated President Bush and the Republicans on what he called a brilliant campaign.

He said many voters decided against changing leaders in the midst of terrorism threats and the war in Iraq, but there were other factors too.

"There was an astonishing turnout among evangelical Christians who said they were voting on the basis of moral values," Clinton said.

Clinton said no party has a monopoly on morality or truth, but Democrats have to make that clear to the voters.

"I do not believe that the Democrats cannot seek to be a truly national party. They may win some more national elections but we cannot be nationally competitive unless we feel comfortable talking about our convictions," said the former president.

Clinton said that during his eight years in office, he protected abortion rights but also worked to promote alternatives to abortion.

He also signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which stopped short of amending the Constitution, but preserved the right of every state to make its own decision on same sex marriage.

"I think the current divisions are partly the fault of me ... of the people in my party for not engaging the Christian evangelical community in a serious discussion of what it would take to promote a real culture of life and what the best strategy for reducing abortions is, or an open discussion of where we are on the issue of gays in America," said Clinton.

But in the wake of John Kerry's defeat, Clinton also had words of reassurance for his fellow Democrats:

"I'm old enough now and I've run enough times and I've governed enough, succeeded enough and failed enough to know there is a limit to how much any election can repeal the underlying tides of history."
User Journal

Journal: Shareholder Resolution: A voice for the small investors

Journal by Bull999999
Being a small investor doesn't mean that you don't have a voice in how mega-corps operate. One of highly effective tools used by individual investors is the shareholder resolution, which has been increasing over the years. According to the Investor Responsibility Research Center, number of shareholder resolutions has gone from 721 in 1999 to 1,163 so far in 2004.

It doesn't take much to become eligible to submit a shareholder resolution. All it takes is at least $2,000 worth of stock held for at least a year. Usually, the deadline for submitting such a resolution is 6 months before the annual shareholders meeting.

You can only file one resolution per company per year, and it has to be 500 words or less. You'll also need to keep it businesslike and factual; the usual Slashdot rants like "You are a moron if you don't vote for my proposal" or "99% of consumers like my idea just because I said so" won't cut it. Most of the shareholders of the mega-corps are not going to be geek and will have a different beliefs and thoughts, so it is your job of convincing them of your idea by using facts and not insulting their intelligence.

While resolutions that are passed by shareholders are not binding to the company, but most of the board members and officers will pay attention to it. For example, you don't have to follow the suggestions made by your boss, but not following it may result in you getting demoted/fired later on.

You can learn more about shareholder resolutions at NORTHWEST CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT
User Journal

Journal: What you can learn from the failure of Bush's tax cut

Journal by Bull999999
One thing that I'll agree with the Socialists is the fact that the wealthy benefited the most from Bush's tax cut and his tax cut wasn't as effective has he wished it'd be in improving the economy.

This is where the agreement ends. Your typical Socialist will use this fact to make you feel helpless in order to gain support for their cause. I will tell you what Socialists won't so that you can actually learn something from it.

Bush's logic states that tax cuts put more money in the people's hands, which in turn will encourage them to spend more to stimulate the economy. While this is true to a point, the problem is that bulk of the tax cut went to the wealthy, and most of the wealthy got wealthy by saving and investing wisely, not blowing their money away like your typical middle and lower class. This means that bulk of Bush's tax cut did not circulate back into the economy to stimulate it. But what can we learn from all of this?

The Millionaire Next Door is a well known book on the study of your "average" millionaire. This book dispels many of the stereotypes of the wealthy. Your typical wealthy gathered their wealth by living below their means, as shown on the examples below.

1. They tend to by used cars (You are not what you drive), with 2 out of 3 millionaires preferring to drive American cars (Ford being #1) rather than flashy European cars.

2. Most of them are older folks, which mean that they gained their wealth by using the slow and steady method instead of blowing their money away on get rich quick schemes.

3. They have modest houses, which mean less upfront cost, taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs.

4. They clip coupons.

5. They avoid buying on credit.

6. The wife is usually more frugal than the husband, which makes sense as it's hard to gain wealth when you have a gold digger for a wife.

7. They also tend to stay married with their first wives. Again, it's hard to gain wealth when you lose half of it during the divorce to your gold digger ex-wife.

8. Over 80% of them are first generation millionaires, another fact the Socialists don't want you do know as they want to make you believe that you need to be born wealthy to be wealthy.

The book was published in 1996, so while the data my seem outdated, the more recent study conducted by The Phoenix Companies Inc. shows that the data in The Millionaire Next Door is still very much valid.

With the country split 50/50 in the coming election, don't count on your favorite candidate winning it. And even if your candidate wins, many of their promises hinge on increased tax revenue from the growth, which may or may not happen, not to mention that politicians are known to break their promises.

Do what you can do to make the difference in the upcoming election, but have a contingency plan in place instead of relying on bunch of uncertainties. I highly encourage you to learn more about the spending habits of the typical wealthy and learn to control your own spending to build wealth. While you may not end up being a millionaire, you'll still be in better shape then being broke, or even worse, being in the red with crushing debt load.
User Journal

Journal: Don't make the car manufacturers richer; buy used instead.

Journal by Bull999999
An average car will lose 25% of its value (some better, some worse) per one year of normal driving. That's a bad news for the person who bought the car new, a good news for someone who's buying used.

Car manufacturers make billions of dollars per year. That doesn't mean that you need to be one of those people who contributes to their profit. Make yourself richer instead by buying used and let the other person spend his/her own money foolishly.

Here are some tips for buying a used car:

1. Once you find a car that you are interested in, look up its book value on Kelley Blue Book (http://www.kbb.com) and NADA Guides (http://www.nada.com), as well as local classifieds of similar cars.

2. Get the VIN number and run a Carfax report (http://www.carfax.com) to make sure that it was not involved in any major accidents.

3. Test drive it to a trusted mechanic to have it checked out. If the seller is unwilling to have it check out, walk away. While test driving, write down any deficiencies that you can use for the negotiation later.

4. After everything checks out, it's time to negotiate! Never ever pay sticker/advertised price. Remember that as the buyer, you have the power to walk away. I found that threatening to walk away almost always work with the used car dealers when the negotiation seems to go no where. In one situation, I was able to negotiate $1250 off of their so called "best offer" by haggling and threatening to walk off after about an hour of negotiation.

After buying the car, take a good care of it to squeeze as many miles out of it. If the car came with the owner's manual, follow the maintenance schedule as described in the manual. This is one case where RTFM does pay off. Unless you do a constant highway driving, follow the "severe" schedule. If the manual's missing, search the Internet or buy a repair manual at an auto parts store. Many people believe that an oil change every 3,000 miles is all there is to car maintenance. Those same people also wonder why their transmissions aways seem to go out before its time. Don't become one of them.

If you can, save enough money to buy the car with cash, which is easier with used cars since they are cheaper. This will allow you avoid interest, save your credit for something else (i.e. home loan), and also allow you to get a liability only insurance coverage to save even more money (if you are a good driver).

Finally, use the money you've saved for investment or donate to your favorite FOSS organization. Happy motoring!
User Journal

Journal: Don't get mad, get even

Journal by Bull999999
If you get screwed by a company, don't just sit there and be mad. Even if that company is a gaint mega-corporation, you have the resources do make things right.

You can start by complaining to the customer service rep. From my experience with working at retail stores, I know that even low level employees have certain leeway in making the customer happy. If that doesn't work, post your complaint at Planet Feedback. Management of many large corporations regularly view that site and you may even receive a response from the upper management. If they don't responded, your complaint will at least serve as a warning to the other consumers.

Conversely, post compliments of companies that do care about their customers as a service to the consumers who are sick and tired of being mistreated. This will encourage other companies to better treat their customers or risk losing sales, ultimately leading to loss of profit.

Think of those mega-corps as dogs. Punish the bad behaviors and reward the good behaviors. Otherwise, they will piss on your pants. Oh, and that goes for the dog, too.
User Journal

Journal: A good balanced site

Journal by Bull999999
While I believe that no one can be totally unbiased as all of us grew up with different values and experiences, here's one political website that I believe is fairy balanced.

OpenSecrets.org

This site has many other useful tools as well, like the search tool for government officals and finding out the stats on political donations.
User Journal

Journal: Why I dislike Socialists, Part 2

Journal by Bull999999
Granted, I'm not fan of the Socialists, but I'm open minded and I am willing to listen to the opposing view. The problem with most Socialists here on Slashdot is that they either refuse to product any proofs to back up their claims or use a blatantly biased source as a proof. Using sources such as rationalrevolution.net and mindfully.org to argue for being a socialist is like using peta.org to argue for being a vegetarian or using nra.org to argue for gun ownership.

As for my political beliefs, I consider myself to be a social liberal and fiscal conservative, meaning you can do whatever you want (within reason), as long as you pay for it. This means that if you want to fry your brain by using drugs, go ahead. But I, as a taxpayer, don't want to support your hobby. If you are a slut who doesn't know the meaning of keeping your legs closed, go ahead and have as many babies as you want. But I, as a taxpayer, don't want to support your hobby. That doesn't mean I'm heartless; I'm more than willing to help out those who are down on their luck due to no fault of their own, i.e. being born disabled. I also don't believe in corporate welfare, either. If your business sucks, don't look to the government to bail you out.

I may sound like a Libertarian, I'm not. While I share many of their beliefs, they seem to be too extreme on certain issues. Overall, I consider myself as a very moderate Republican. I believe that my response to a comment shown below should show you where I stand.

Posted by Drakon: PS: you are now listed as a foe, because no person of sound mind can also be a republican, and I don't like people who are not of sound mind.

My response:I guess you'd better list me as a foe since I'm a Republican as well. BTW, I registered as a Republican back in 2000 to support Sen. McCain. I also joined the College Republicans, where its members were planning on voting for Bush by default. I've talked them into giving Sen. McCain a chance and they agreed to join me to hear him speak when he has planning to come to town.

I also had many friends who were in the College Democrats that were Bradley supports. Bradley was my second choice so I organized a bipartisan effort between the College Republicans and Democrats (wasn't too hard since most of us were moderats) for on-campus voter registration drive. Sadly, both McCain and Bradley lost the primaries, and no, I did not vote for either Bush or Gore. I'm not planning on voting for Bush this year, but I may end up voting for Kerrey as "lesser of two evils" depending on what he says on the debate. Personally, I think that no person of sound mind can also sterotype so blantly, but just disagreeing with me doesn't necessarily make you wrong (although I reserve the right to disagree), and thus will not have you or anyone else on my foe list. Life's too short to be closed minded, IMHO.
User Journal

Journal: Why I dislike Socialists

Journal by Bull999999
The reason why I dislike Socialists is that they want the government to do things for them that they can do for themselves. Do we really need more government intervention in our daily lives than we have now?

Many people bash corporations for caring only about profits. Believe it or not, for-profit corporations, as the name suggests, exist for profit. Profit has to be their first priority (as long as they stay legal) as if they don't make profits, they'll die, just as for an individual, breathing has higher priority than drinking water.

If you study corporations instead of blindingly bashing them, you'll realize that their obsession of profit is also their weakness, as it leaves them vulnerable to boycotts and competition from other corporations. Consumers can use this weakness to exert some control over corporations.

Boycotts

Since Slashdot caters to geeks, I'll use a software company for the boycott example.

When Inuit included activation feature in their TurboTax for 2002 tax year, it irked many of its users (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1494361,00.asp). Instead of bending over and letting Inuit have its way, its customers complained loudly and started to buy the competitors' products. This hit Inuit where it hurts (loss of profits) and they dropped the activation feature for the 2003 tax year version (http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,3973,1088341,00.asp).

Competitions

For the competition example, I'll use credit card companies, which are despised by geeks and non-geeks alike.

Many teenagers get excited when they turn 18 because they become legal "adults", with increased rights, one of them being the ability to sign contracts. What many of them don't realize is that rights also come with responsibilities, such as being responsible with contracts that they sign. Credit card applications are a form of contract, which also lists their terms of service. Terms of service pretty much states that when you are late with a payment or go over the limit, they get to rape you financially by charging you steep late/over limit charge and raising your interest rate. If you get hit with such a fee, act like an adult and accept responsibility for it, but you still can do something about it and I'll explain how later.

If you are a type of person that can't handle credit, don't get a credit card. If you already have credit cards that are out of control, cut them up. As an old saying goes, if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging! Don't blame your lack of discipline on easy credit because as I'll explain below, you can use easy credit against the credit card companies.

Now for the competitions example. If you are planning on getting a credit card, don't just go for the first offer that comes your way. Here's the first reason why easy credit can be good for you; there are many credit card companies out there that wants your business, so may them to compete against each other for your business in terms of interest rates and rewards programs. Go to person financial sites such as Bank Rate (http://www.bankrate.com/brm/default.asp), to compare the offers by the credit card companies.

If you already have balances on high interest rate credit cards, don't just sit there and be angry about it. Instead, pick up the phone, call your credit card company, and ask for interest rate reduction. Most of the credit card companies will cut your rate if you are a good customer, as they'd rather keep you with reduced profit than lose you to one of their competitors and lose all of the profit. In my case, I was able to cut 4% during a 5 minute phone call. For more tips, go to http://money.cnn.com/2004/09/28/pf/debt/chatzky_program_0408/index.htm.

If your credit card company is not willing to cut your rates, this is where you can use the easy credit to a good use. There are many credit card companies that are offering 0% balance transfer interest rates for one year. Use that offer to transfer your high interest credit card balances and save on the interest for a year. I've noticed that when I transfer the balance off of a card and not use that card for a while, the issuer of that card comes back with balance transfer offer of its own. By playing the balance transfer game, you may be able to pay off your credit card debit quicker with paying little or no interest. In some cases, people without credit card debt use the 0% interest rate deal to purchase low-risk investments, and payoff the credit card at the end of the deal while pocketing the investment learning. Yes, you can indeed make money off of the credit card companies if you know what you are doing.

Of course, credit card companies aren't stupid. If you make a purchase on the card with the balance transfer, you cannot payoff the principle of the new purchase until you pay off the transferred amount, which means that principle of the new purchase will just sit there and accumulate interests. Another gotcha is that if you are late on the payment or go over the limit, the 0% interest deal will be terminated. Beware of the rules before playing the balance transfer game and you'll always come out on the top.

Going back to the late or over limit fees, credit card companies may forgive the fee if it's the first offence so give them a call. Worst they can do is saying no..

Summary

Socialists like to spread FUD about how helpless you are and how you need to support them to protect yourself from the corporations and how the corporations will get you if you don't. That's no better than FUD Microsoft that's spreading about how their customers will be protected from lawsuits and how SCO will get you if you don't.

I just gave you a couple of examples where you can take control of your own situation to fight back against the corporation. If I chose to bitch about the high credit card interest on Slashdot and waited for the government to do something about it, I would've been no better off today.

Don't listen to the Socialists FUD telling you how helpless you are. Corporations need you as the consumer to survive, and you don't have to take their crap if you don't want to.

Science is to computer science as hydrodynamics is to plumbing.

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