Remember “Discount for Cash” ?

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A Wall Street Journal story highlights one potential amendment to credit card reform legislation, which could allow vendors to charge different prices depending on how you make your purchase. Under the Durbin-Bond amendment, if you pay with a credit card, you’ll also have to fork over the fee the business will have to pay for accepting your transaction that way. Pay by cash or debit card and you’d get a discount.

A business executive interviewed in the story says as things now stand, businesses are forced to pass credit card fees on to all customers.

As part of a sweeping bill to change the rules for credit cards, a pair of senators are pushing to lift constraints that Visa, MasterCard and other credit card networks impose on merchants’ ability to offer discounts for paying by cash or check.

Retailers have long chafed under the restrictions, which make it burdensome for them to make transparent to consumers the fees they pay to credit card companies. Those fees amount to tens of billions of dollars a year. The result, they complain, is that cash-paying customers unfairly end up sharing the cost of letting other customers buy on credit.

“Cash customers pay a penalty because we take credit cards,” said Jeff Miller, president of Miller Oil Co.

The Norfolk, Va., company, which runs 44 Miller’s Neighborhood Market stores in Virginia and Florida, says 60% of its transactions involve credit cards.

“It’s just a weird thing that a vendor like that can dictate to us how we’re allowed to sell our product,” Mr. Miller said.

What goes unaddressed is whether businesses that try a tiered pricing system will drive credit card users away rather than coaxing them into paying differently.

Paying With Cash Could Soon Pay Off [Wall Street Journal]

via Credit Card Reform: Credit Card Reform Act Could Let You Pay Less If You Use Cash Or Debit.

On property taxes …


Let me start this by saying I completely agree with Hammer on this issue.  When my property value increases, my property taxes increase, proportionately [allegedly].  Why is it that when my property value goes down, my property taxes don’t also go down?  Or as Hammer puts it,

Property taxes..yeah they pay for public schools and other various socialist indoctrination /FEMA death camps. I’ve been paying about $5000 per year based on the value of my home and property…it’s about a third of my house payment. Ok fine I’ve grabbed my ankles and paid it all these years. So the bottom falls out of the housing market, my home is worth half what it was 2 years why have my taxes not gone down to reflect this? So I lose a huge chunk of my net worth and the government keeps taxing me like I still have it….I call complete and utter BULLSHIT!

via When your only tool is a hammer….

Here in NC, there was a great big fuss in the affluent (and very liberal) college town of Chapel Hill (home of UNC).  There was even a Tea Party over the issue.  It seems that the recent reassessment by the County resulted in an INCREASE in property value, at a time when the bottom is falling out of the market in general and property values are actually declining.

On April 15, hundreds of Orange County residents gathered in downtown Hillsborough to revisit the Sons of Liberty with a ceremonial emptying of bottled tea on the courthouse lawn. It was the latest in a succession of local protests sparked by the 2008 Orange County property revaluations, which, despite the tepid national housing market, raised the average county home’s taxable value by nearly 25 percent. [emphasis mine] Though the Orange County Board of Commissioners has been adamant that it will maintain a “revenue neutral” tax structure, many homeowners will likely see significant increases in next year’s tax bill.

That had many of the tea party’s attendees steaming. At the rally, hundreds of residents gathered to wave signs, listen to speakers and attack all forms of “big government,” from the county board all the way up to the bank bailout. Former Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer, a candidate for the chairmanship of the state G.O.P., railed against big spenders in Hillsborough, Raleigh and Washington, claiming a need for a new revolution in American government. Former Orange County Commissioner Ben Lloyd, a Democrat, blasted the county’s leadership for profligate spending on unnecessary projects which he said led directly to the looming property tax increase.

“Where is the money supposed to come from?” he said. “[It’s] coming from the money tree which happens to be your pocketbook.”

The “Orange Tax Revolt,” as the movement is known, started early this year, after the county announced the results of its property revaluations, which occur every four years.


There has been no reassessment in Lee County (where I live).  I do know that the value of my property has decreased, although possibly not as much as in other parts of the state, due to the current economic climate.  But will I see a decrease in my property taxes?  Yeah, when donkeys nest in the trees.

Wile E. Coyote Government

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Thanks to my son, who sent me the link to this video.  So simple.  So bloody simple.

A Nation of Laws


“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals.  Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted-and you create a nation of law-breakers-and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

~Ayn Rand – Atlas Shrugged~

The Light at the End of the Tunnel


light-tunnelThis morning, on my way to the office, I conducted an impromptu inspection of my little world in Central North Carolina. Despite all the threatening headlines and doom-filled stories of the day, everything was going on just as it has for a very long time.

I didn’t see fewer cars on the highway and there was not a single For Sale sign in my neighborhood. Schools were bustling with kids and teachers, restaurants were backed up for seating and the sun was shining.

Over the past few months, I’ve received the same email message more times than I care to count. It goes like this:

“Due to recent economic crises, the stock market crash, budget cuts, rising unemployment, unstable world conditions, outsourcing of business, the cost of insurance, electricity, petroleum and taxes of all kinds, we regret to advise you that the Light at the End of the Tunnel has been turned off. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

What makes me cranky is that millions of people believe it. Through no fault of their own, they believe their lives are now intolerable and their futures are doomed to failure while they sit paralyzed in a dark tunnel. They’ve become victims of The Recession.

It is a fact that the national economy of the U.S. is in a downturn, and economists say we are now in a recession. It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last. Whether this recession is worse than any since the Great Depression is not certain. What we do know is that we still have 93 percent employment. Out of more than 10,000 banks in the U.S., fewer than 25 have gone under in the past year. Sure, some national retailers have closed up shop and undoubtedly others will follow, but that’s nothing new. It’s a sure bet that we will not be facing a shortage of stores anytime soon.

This is certainly not to underestimate or diminish what many are facing now in the wake of job layoffs and challenging times. Just don’t blame the economy or feel sorry for yourself. This is life. Life happens. Perhaps you can begin to see that as a good thing. Think of it as an untimed opportunity to start your own business, change careers or move to another area. Great opportunities often come disguised as crises.

Today, I am renewing my commitment to focus on only those things that are true, honorable, fair, just, pure, acceptable and lovely. I absolutely refuse to get stuck in some dark tunnel where failure is the only option. That’s why I’ve backed my train out of the tunnel and into the bright sunshine of optimism. I’ve plotted my detour, my boilers are stoked and steam is pouring through my engines. It’s full speed ahead.

Are you with me?


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i1040ez-page-001I’ve already filed my taxes, and received and spent my refund (such as it was).  My daughter asked me a question yesterday about HER taxes, and I have no clue where to go for the answer.

She and her husband were married in Jan. 08.  They were in a combat zone (Iraq) for the first 10 months of the year, so they are not required to pay tax on any of that income.  They were in Germany for the last 2 months; all of that income is taxable.

Since they haven’t lived stateside since they were married, or announced any decision on where they plan to live when they do, neither of them has changed their ‘legal’ state of residence – Jean’s being NC and Andrew’s being TX.  Texas has no state income tax; North Carolina most definitely DOES.  Before they were married, Jean was required to file a North Carolina return.

Her question is:  Can they file a joint tax return, or since they legally reside in different states, do they have to file separately?

If anyone knows, or can point me in the right direction, I’d really appreciate it!

By My Troth: Putting it in Perspective

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Mark D over at By My Troth has attempted to put the stimulus package into terms we can relate to.

– Let’s say you convert the cost of the stimulus package to pennies. You then wrap those pennies and lay them end-to-end. Your line of penny wrappers would go around the Earth 2,494 times.

– That string of penny wrappers would reach from the earth to the moon and back 130 times.

– If you laid those penny wrappers in a straight line, it would take LIGHT a bit over five and a half minutes to travel that far.

via By My Troth: Putting it in Perspective.

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