Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Penalties Doubled for government officials in a position to abuse authority!

Penalties are doubled for drivers who speed in a construction zone because the workers are vulnerable.

How about doubling the penalty for corrupt politicians?

We are all vulnerable to the power of government officials. This includes police, judges, district attorneys, IRS auditors, senators, congressmen and presidents.

They all have power over us and we are all vulnerable to their power.

Shouldn't they pay a double penalty if they abuse their authority? They should pay a much higher penalty than the average Joe Citizen when they are convicted of serious abuse-of-authority crimes but the reality seems to be they pay a much LIGHTER penalty. Why?

Personally, I believe a government official who abuses their authority and hurts innocent people should be executed.

Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham is the latest corrupt republican to be caught. He apologized in tears but he'll probably get a minor slap on the wrist, spend a short time in jail, and retire a wealthy man after using his position as congressman to line his own pockets with money and perks at our expense - the citizens of America.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Black Friday Deals Exposed in Advance

I was never much of a black friday enthusiast, until now.

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and is the biggest shopping day of the year. It's called "black" because some retailers get out of the red and into the black in terms of profits on this day.

Many retailers have their best deals of the year on this day. Most of them like to keep their special deals secret until the actual day, presumably to reduce consumer comparison shopping which reduces cutthroat competition between the retailers.

But now there's a way to find out what the deals are in advance! The New York Times had an article yesterday listing 3 websites that reveal the deals, and in some cases the actual advertising flyers well before the day arrives.

Click here for a list of the three websites.

I'm excited about black friday now that I know where the awesome deals are and don't have to drive to multiple stores to take my chances. I plan to be at the stores that have what I want when they open on black Friday morning and for the first time, I'm going to part of the insane shopping crowd on that day.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Take a Financial Calculator When Buying a Car

A month ago I bought a new car at Findlay Toyota in Las Vegas. I bought the car through the Costco auto buying program so I wasn't expecting the dealership to try and rip me off.

But they tried.

The salesman showed me the invoice and quoted me the Costco price as they're supposed to do under the Costco program. Then, the salesman goes and talks to the finance guy and comes back and says, "okay, your payment is going to be $334 per month at 5.9 percent interest."

Fortunately, I always bring my financial calculator when buying a car because I've seen this scam before. So I get out my calculator and do the numbers and they don't add up. $334 per month at 5.9% means a total price for my new Corolla of $17,318 but the Costco price I was quoted was $16,540. So they were trying to trick me out of almost $800 extra!

I said, "hey, could you please double check these numbers because they don't seem correct." The finance guy said, "Oh, sorry, that's a mistake. That's the payment for 48 months, not for 60 months."

How do I know this wasn't an honest mistake? For one thing, that's still not the correct payment for 48 months. For another, this was a salesman who remembered every number on everthing. He even knew my zip code when I told him the general location where I lived. Yet when he came back to tell me the monthly payment and I asked him what was the principle and he said, "I don't remember."

Clearly, it was an intentional trick to try and make an extra $800 for the dealership.

I've actually seen this exact same scam attempted on me on the last four cars I've bought in California and Arizona so obviously, it's standard operating procedure at car dealerships. I feel sorry for the people who don't know how to calculate payments and interest and who get ripped off as a result.

The bottom line - take a financial calculator when you buy a car and be prepared to check the numbers!