Thursday, February 14, 2008

A piece of news crossed my desk today that has me utterly stunned. The city council of Berkeley California has issued a letter to the United States Marine Corp that their local recruitment center is no longer welcome in their city.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, said "The Marines don't belong here, they shouldn't have come here, and they should leave" . I am appalled by such a statement coming from a branch of government who's very existence is allowed due to the protection of these brave men and women.

If the city of Berkeley does not want the protection provided by our military then they should also opt out any federal funding also. If they are unwilling to pay their own way and protect themselves then they owe the Marine Corps and the American people a great big apology.

A group of people operating under the name "code pink" are doing everything in their power to stop the Marines from operating their recruitment center. You want to see something appalling? Check out this video:

My opinion is that the Marines need to send a detachment of Force Recon soldiers to protect the free ingress and regress from their offices. If the local police will not enforce the law and protect the rights of our armed forces then I believe the military has the right to take care of themselves. If I was trying to enter that building and some of those peace freaks tried to block my way they would learn the meaning of getting walked over.

For more on this story try these links:,2933,330419,00.html

Senators Isakson, Chambliss and Broun have sponsored a bill to take away federal funding from the City of Berkely. There is a petition sponsored by the American Center for Law and Justice that supports the Semper Fi Act of 2008. To add your name to this petition follow the link at the bottom of this article.

This deal has my blood boiling. If this was happening in my town those "code pink" protestors would have to walk through a wall of my friends and I to get to the door of the Marine Corps recruitment center. If this upsets you just half as much as it does me then please join the ACLJ by signing onto the petition.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Every day I seem to encounter more and more people that don't understand the concept of cash. While I do have two corporate credit cards and two personal cards, I only use the personal cards every once and a while. If I buy myself a toy and place the order over the phone or via the internet the card gets used. I do use them on trips for motels and rental cars. Most of my business purchases get done on a Delta Skymiles card thus most of my plane tickets are compliments of the rewards card. Everything else is done with cash.
A while back I needed some real luggage for a trip. Since I almost always pack in backpacks I have never really needed luggage. This particular trip required that I have at least three business suits along with the standard fare of street cloths. No climbing gear, no backpacking gear and no bicycles.
I went to Wally World and all they had was cheap looking stuff that all said "made in China". I picked up the cell phone and called a friend that did a fair amount of retail shopping. He said he always saw a good selection of luggage at Target, so off I went to my first ever trip into that store.
I found what I needed, took it to the register and the young guy that was working the register rang it all up. I reached into my wallet and started skinning out hundred dollar bills. When I handed him the money he just looked at it like it was going to give him leprosy. He immediately got on the microphone and called for a manager.
While we waited for the manager he held each bill up to the light, examined it closely and then swiped each one with the counterfeit pen. When the manager arrived on the scene he started with the same routine. While the manager examined my money the clerk unzipped every zipper on the new luggage and examined every compartment to see if I was trying to hide other items in the luggage.
While the clerk was pilfering my bags the manager asked me if I had a debit card or something else I could use for my purchase. I said I don't use debit cards and my personal credit cards are just for emergencies and traveling. He expressed concern about taking several one hundred dollar bills for a single purchase. I replied that they either took them or I was walking out the door. At that point he decided to "allow" my bills to enter the register but didn't seem happy about it.
So the prevailing theme seemed to be to assume I was a criminal the moment I entered the store. I was watched on video cameras, followed at one point by what appeared to be store security, two people checked my money apparently assuming I was trying to pass counterfeit, and finally to add insult to injury they searched my purchases assuming I had hidden other items in the bags. That was my first and last trip to Target.
Recently I stopped for gas at a convenience store. This particular store didn't take American Express (AmEx has the best customer service by far) so I opted to pay with cash. This fuel stop didn't have a pay first policy so I filled the truck up. After pumping approximately 70 dollars worth of fuel I went in to pay.
I handed the clerk a 100 dollar bill. She said that company policy didn't allow hundred dollar bills. I said all I had was two twenties and the rest was c-notes. She said I needed to use a card then. I said all I have is American Express to which she replied they didn't accept. So I replied that she was just going to take the c-note to which she said she couldn't. Catch 22.
I then thanked her for the free tank of gas and said I would be leaving. She informed me that she was going to call the cops if I left without paying. I then said that I think it may be best for me to call them first and report her for violating Federal law. She said what law? I then read her the inscription on the front of the bill, "this note is legal tender for all debts public and private".
I said that her refusing to take it was a blatant violation of the law and that I was just going to go ahead and call the cops myself. She became livid and started cursing. Give me the "%#$&#^$(#" money, so I did and she gave me my change. I had to argue and threaten to give a retailer cash money. These are just two instances that I relayed but the same basic scenario has transpired many times to me.
My wife and I have a person that travels with us occasionally. This person never carries cash. Back before fast food joints started taking cards it was a real pain to travel with this person. We would be driving down the road and decide to stop for breakfast, she would say we needed to find an ATM so that she could pay for her biscuit. We would have to go to two or three before we found one that didn't charge her for the service.
When it came time for lunch we would have to go through the same routine. I always wanted to ask why didn't she get enough that morning for lunch but never did. If we went on a weekend jaunt with this person we would end up stopping at teller machines at least a half a dozen times. Why in the world she couldn't leave the house with enough cash to get through the weekend boggled my brain.
the sad thing is that I know lots of other people that operate the same way. Once on a trip with another couple we encountered a hotel whose credit card machine was not functioning. This was the only hotel for miles where we were and thus we had to stay. We skinned out some federal reserve notes and paid our bill without even really thinking about it.
The other couple looked at us like we had lobsters crawling out of our ears. They asked, 'Ya'll carry that much cash when you travel?", to which I replied that I don't leave the house without at least a few hundred bucks in my pocket. We loaned them enough money to pay their bill for the night. Next day they decided it would be much easier to pay our hotel bill that night than to get cash out of a machine to pay us back.
Folks, teller machines can run out of cash, credit card machines can malfunction, computers can crash, sometimes you encounter emergencies that can only be handled with cash. Quite often I find really good deals on stuff from individuals that don't have a credit card machine in their pocket, don't want a check and the deal can only be sealed with wallet sized photos of dead presidents. if you don't make a habit of carrying some cash you will end up in the lurch at some point. Besides, carrying cash helps you learn how to budget.
When you pay make a habit to pay in cash you won't find yourself like the average American household. 15,000 dollars in unpaid credit card debt. That number astounds me. I don't carry any credit card debt over into the next month. Most of my friends don't, my parents don't and so forth. So if the average American household figures in us then how deep in debt are these folks really? Carry cash, learn to live on the money that you actually have in your pocket and if you can't then I don't feel one bit sorry for you that the credit card company is eating your lunch with fees and interest.

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