Odds and ends number 35

Gee, and I just did one of these last week. But I keep picking up more interesting items, so here we go.

On Saturday it’s quite likely your bank started charging you a monthly fee for using a debit card, whether once or multiple times a day. The most infamous example is the $5 monthly fee Bank of America enacted, but many other banks got into the act as well.

But as John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote in the American Spectator, we have someone else to blame as well:

The irony of these developments is that if the media and politicians wanted to blame a greedy big business for these new consumer costs, there is one industry that would accurately fit the bill. This would be the giant big-box retailers that lobbied for these price controls to fatten their bottom line.

In fact, one report I found said Home Depot stood to save $35 million a year by cutting the interchange fees in roughly half, as the new federal regulations do. Of course, that is split out among everyone who shops at Home Depot whether they use a debit card or not. But don’t hold your breath waiting for prices to miraculously come down since each store has thousands of items that may cost a few pennies less for the retailers to sell. Bank customers will be stuck with the fees, though.

In other news, I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry about this item.

Apparently the creators of Redstate‘s “Click to Victory 2012” campaign think we can convince young voters this way:

The average young voter plays games nearly two hours every day—so we’re creating a new game to attract them. We’ll send it to our support group of 100,000+ young voters on an internet site, Pick Your Future, already created by our intern Rebekah Meinecke, where she advocates conservative solutions to her generation’s problems: no jobs, crippling debt and more. Our core group will then get their friends to play, using email and all the other digital tools. Every game player will also see vote-winning conservative messages. (Emphasis in original.)

What truly scares me is the first sentence. Have we become such a nation of slackers that people have two hours a day to spare playing games?

Maybe I don’t understand this because I spend my time on the computer reading or creating articles rather than playing Farmville or the latest gaming product. Perhaps I take stuff too seriously but, when you figure one spends eight hours a day sleeping and eight working, why waste a quarter of that remaining time on nonproductive activity?

Even if it has a conservative angle.

Perhaps some of those playing games two hours a day are doing so as part of the Occupy Wall Street protest. Writer Ryan Young dissects their demands one by one in this piece.

But while Young is correct in concluding these people know little to nothing about economics (let alone how the real world works) he stumbles on the thought that the TEA Party is one of “uninformed populism.” In truth, the TEA Partiers I know are quite well-informed on how the world really works – Ryan just doesn’t agree with their solutions (particularly when it comes to illegal immigration.)

Now let’s go local. A note came to my mailbox from the PR firm Stanton Communications, which I’ll excerpt here:

To help spread the word about October’s designation as Energy Awareness Month and the important message of energy efficiency, Delmarva Power is encouraging Marylanders to “Pledge To Save” at home and work. Delmarva Power customers in Maryland who take this symbolic pledge will be entered to win one of three $250 Lowe’s Home Improvement gift cards.

To kick off this initiative, there will be a fun, family-friendly event on Saturday, Oct. 8 at Lowe’s of Salisbury, 2606 N. Salisbury Blvd., Salisbury, MD, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Energy advisors from Delmarva Power will be available to talk to customers about ways to save money and energy. Also, customers can bring their old and outdated appliances to the event, and Delmarva Power will recycle them for FREE.

Well, I’m busy that day. But the rationale behind this event is basically that the gun of big government is placed at Delmarva Power’s head. “In support of the State of Maryland’s EmPOWER initiative, which seeks to reduce energy consumption by 15 percent by the year 2015, we’ve launched the Pledge to Save campaign.” Support my ass – hopefully you fought that crap tooth and nail.

And the pledge in question is that consumers will do one or more of the following:

  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (filled with mercury and generally made in China)
  • Setting the thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter (which eventually a ‘smart meter’ will do for you, like it or not)
  • Convert to more energy efficient appliances and/or heating and cooling systems (okay, no fault with that as long as the homeowner can afford it)
  • Improving my home’s insulation (good, but has diminishing returns)

How about this? I pledge to be a thorn in the side of any government that forces companies to try and bribe me into something I may not want to do. If I want it 72 degrees in my house during the winter it’s going to be 72 degrees if I can afford it. (In reality we keep the thermostat a little cooler – but that’s our choice.) And if I want to be able to see what the heck I’m writing I prefer a good old-fashioned incandescent bulb that I can just sweep up and toss out should I break it, instead of creating a near-hazmat situation. Of course, the government is trying to stamp those out too.

By the way, if you happen to break a bulb on a frigid day you may spend all you save trying to reheat the house based on these cleanup guidelines. So much for savings.

Finally, a blogging friend of mine is on the verge of a milestone: his first full-length book.

Three Days in August covers the story of U.S. Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, who admitted to having a tryst with a local German woman, but was later convicted on charges of rape and kidnapping. Bob McCarty, who you likely know as an occasional source of news and video here, has spent many hours doing the research and getting the facts, putting together a book which will hopefully establish him as a serious investigative writer.

His volume hits the bookstores October 19. The book will also mark the end of his time as a blogger, for which he’ll be missed. But I wish him the best of luck with his long-form debut.

Update: Well, I thought I was done…but I forgot something.

You know, I wrote a whole post about Sarah Palin not getting into the Presidential race. But when one of the bottom tier candidates drops out and nobody notices…well, that doesn’t say much about the campaign.

Back on September 22 Thad McCotter, the last-place finisher in the Ames Straw Poll and the candidate who tried hardest to straddle the line between moderate and conservative, gave in to reality and endorsed Mitt Romney. McCotter’s timing also insured he would have a chance to maintain his seat in Congress.

Since Thad didn’t really make much of a splash in the process with his brief three months or so in the spotlight, it makes me wonder if the field won’t shrink by another three of four before Christmas.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.