Category Archives: Money

Dave’s not here, man…

I get multiple texts every day — not to mention all the emails — asking me for money for electoral candidates.

Usually, they’re Democrats — because of all the lists they must have put me on when I was with James Smith’s campaign. But not all.

Today, I’ve heard from folks raising money for Joe Biden (and I just gave him $25 a couple of weeks ago — surely he hasn’t spent it already!), Dick Harpootlian and some guy named Dave. That last one cracked me up:

I had no idea who this Dave was. Actually, he addresses my wife in the message, but there’s no point in asking whether she knows him, because I know how that happens. If I call you from my number, it might say my wife’s name instead of mine, because hers is first on the account. But actually, I’m being too logical. Sometimes texts come to my phone, but address me by the names of my kids and grandkids. There’s no logic to it.

Anyway, I didn’t figure out who “Dave” was until I looked back at previous messages from this same number. Apparently, he’s the Republican running against Bob Casey in Pennsylvania.

But he just says “Dave,” like that’s supposed to mean something to me.

Well, you see how I answered him. I was hoping that, if a human ever sees it, he or she (but most likely some A.I. “it,” will think, maybe just for a second, Hey, maybe we should throw “McCormick” in there next time. 

Probably not. But just in case, I sent a link to explain the gag. Because I figure whoever it was wouldn’t know that routine…

Now, Sherrod is siccing President Bartlet on me!

No doubt this will happen next: He’ll call me into the Oval Office, and I’ll look like this. But with hair…

This is a follow-up, perhaps a sort of caveat, to my previous post. It shows you what happens when you start caring, even a little bit, about congressional contests in other places.

Some time ago, still enjoying the new experience of making (tiny) contributions to political campaigns (which followed close on my new practice of posting signs in my yard — another thing I couldn’t do as a newspaperman), I carelessly contributed five dollars to Mark Kelly.

Call it a foreshadowing of my abandonment of the long-held principle of not caring about, much less meddling in, other people’s business. Although I wasn’t there yet. This was different. It was the special election to replace my hero John McCain, and Kelly was both a retired Navy captain (like McCain, and like my Dad) and an astronaut. I couldn’t give to my other hero John Glenn, so this was the next best thing. Godspeed, Mark Kelly, and all that.

Why five dollars? Because that’s all he asked for. Of course, I knew this was a come-on from his fund-raisers, and it would lead to lots of pleas for much more money, but I did it anyway.

And he won. No doubt my half a sawbuck played a big role in the victory.

And of course, the pleas came. And as usual, I ignored them. But then one day, he (or rather, ActBlue, his fundraiser) came up with a neat gimmick. They asked me to give $5 again, and simultaneously give another fiver to Sherrod Brown in Ohio. I had a vaguely positive impression of Brown, and I thought it was a mildly interesting pitch, and I guess I was feeling flush that day, so I did it.

The result was predictable, but Sherrod (I hear from him so often, we’re on a first-name basis) turned out to be the most extremely persistent political panhandler I’d ever encountered, putting Capt. Kelly in the shade, and then some.

Of course I got the usual emails, but his main oeuvre is the phone text. I frequently get three texts a day from him. I’ve never seen anything like it. And yes, I know I could turn off the flow, but I find it an interesting phenomenon to observe. Not that I intend to give him any more money.

I keep expecting him (or ActBlue) to realize that and move me off the list, but instead, he’s stepped it up, bringing out the big guns. And I mean big.

Now — apparently having learned that I’m a sort of South Carolina Toby Ziegler — he has sicced President Bartlet himself on me! In the last couple of weeks, I’ve gotten two texts like this:

Hi, Brad, it’s Martin Sheen. You might not know this about me, but I was born & raised in Dayton, Ohio, and am the seventh of 10 kids born to two immigrant parents in search of the American dream.

I deeply admire Sherrod Brown because he has always fought for Ohio families like mine – he makes me proud to be a Buckeye.

But Sherrod is facing his toughest reelection yet against multiple self-funding GOP challengers who are ready to spend millions of dollars attacking him. He needs our help to win. So please, will you join me & chip in $15 or more today so that Sherrod can keep fighting for us in the Senate?

Thank you,

Martin Sheen

He even threw in a little video:

What am I gonna do now? Has he finally found the button that will cause me to cough up a tiny bit more cash?

It serves me right, for meddling in other people’s campaigns. I’ve been rewatching “The Wire” in recent days, and I know what Bunk would tell me: “There you go, giving a flip when it ain’t your turn to give a flip.”

That’s the cleaned-up version of the original, of course….

P.S. — Why a P.S.? Because there seems to be no button on this post for leaving a comment. I’ll figure that out later. Now, I just want to say COOL YOUR JETS, SHERROD! First, I get an email from him saying he’s “statistically tied” and “This can’t wait, Brad…” Then I get a text from him that says Urgent, in boldface, twice. WITH THE ELECTION A YEAR AWAY! These were both today, Oct. 31. Oh, and my phone dinged while I was typing this. Mark Kelly, this time…

Did y’all get this in the mail, too?

My reaction of course is, Well, let’s certainly hope it would be my man Joe’s “ticket to another four years.”

Of course, I fervently hope we’ll have the same result even if any of these jokers — the ones having a “debate” tonight — turns out to be the nominee.

Obviously, that’s not what Americans for Prosperity — that’s the Koch brothers’ group — is hoping. They want one of those other Republicans to be nominated, and then beat Joe! (Shudder.)

I’m just curious about who got it, and who didn’t. I probably got it because, living in Lexington County — where the GOP nominee always gets elected — I’ve voted in quite a few GOP primaries. Or maybe it’s just that this is Lexington County. Or maybe, with all that Koch money to spend, everybody got it.

So… who got it, and who didn’t?


Regarding the cost of college in 2023…

Here you see Villa Jovis, the Capri getaway of Emperor Tiberius. No, wait: It’s Strom’s fitness center.

Doug brought up the subject, and Barry weighed in, and then I started to, but realized I had several different things to say about it, and might as well make it a separate post…

Here’s the relevant part of Doug’s comment:

University of South Carolina has announced a record number of freshman in the upcoming class. I wonder how many are taking student loans to attend? I wonder how many of those know how much their loans are and what the interest rate is? I wonder how many of them are smart enough to attend college but not be able to calculate what their future payments will be? I wonder how many of them are pursuing majors that will not pay a salary sufficient to support their loan payments in the future? I wonder how many of them will cry about how they were tricked into taking such confusing loans and that is “not fair” that they have to pay them back ten years from now and expect the government to cancel the debts they signed up for?

Barry responded by defending efforts by the Biden administration — and others — to relieve the considerable college debt burden out there.

Well, it’s a completely out-of-hand situation, this spiraling cost. I’m not sure where you apply the lever to fix it. But we can at least define the problem. Here’s a simply explanation of how much more college costs now, based only on my own experience. You may have your own examples…

You may recall that back in 2011, I shared with you a receipt for my tuition at Memphis State University for the spring semester of 1974.

It cost $174. OK, you people who are young enough to think of it as a long time ago will say, “But that was almost 50 years ago, ya geezer!” You know, inflation and all that. Well, let me dispense with that. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index calculator, what I paid then translates to $1,141.42 in 2023.

Think you could pay that with a check as I did (the check provided by my parents, of course)? Well, you certainly could if you’re one of those gazillions of kids driving around Columbia with the brand-new SUVs their parents sent them to college in. But suppose you couldn’t, and my guess is that many couldn’t. But they could get loans, and then likely pay those loans off in a very few years of working after graduation. You might gripe about making the payments, but it wouldn’t be an anvil strapped to your back for the rest of your life.

But what are students paying in 2023? Well, I suppose you can calculate it a number of ways, but USC puts out the number $12,688. More than 11 times what Memphis State cost me, adjusted for inflation. Mind you, that’s for South Carolina residents. For those kids driving new SUVs with out-of-state plates, it’s $34,934.

That’s just tuition and fees, of course. Room and board costs the S.C. resident another $16,324. What did it cost me at the dawn of antiquity? The check I wrote for my dorm and meal plan in fall 1973 was for $235. In the lamentable year of 2023, that would be $1,541.57. What kids will be paying as they arrive on campus over the next couple of weeks is, again, close to 11 times what I paid.

And mind you, this Memphis State dorm wasn’t one of those prison-cell-type arrangements like the Honeycombs, where I lived back in the fall of 1971. It was a private dorm just off campus. It was way, way nicer than most public dorms. It was a lot like Bates House when I was at USC. Bates was new then, and had the features that would become the new standard — the suite arrangement that meant two dorm rooms shared one bathroom, instead of the one barracks-style latrine per floor in the Honeycombs. The decor looked like you were in a Holiday Inn — which isn’t the Taj Mahal, but light years better than the cinder-block walls of the Honeycombs, where my roommate taught me (he was a junior, I a freshman) to dress over the light fixture of the room below ours, which made the cold tile floor slightly warmer to bare feet.

Anyway, back to the astronomical cost of higher education today. And mind you, we’re not talking here about the expensive schools

What causes it, and what can be done about it?

Well, I suppose part of it is that we live in a more materialistic society these days — or at least, one with greater material expectations. Take my earlier mention of all those cars that make it so hard to drive through that part of town when school is in session. I think I’ve told the anecdote before about my uncle in Bennettsville needing some new bags for his vacuum cleaner when I was at USC. The only place he knew where to get them in those pre-Amazon days was the K-Mart out at the end of Knox Abbott in Cayce — you know, the place that’s now a huge U-Haul facility. I was willing to go get them, but I needed transportation. My roommate John, who knew everybody, knew a guy on our floor who had a car (possibly the only guy who had a car). He set me up and the guy drove me out there, (which seems amazingly generous in retrospect — I suppose I paid for gas). Everywhere else I went, I walked — to the Winn-Dixie that was where Walgreen’s is now in Five Points, to the movies downtown, wherever. I never needed to go anywhere further. When I went to Bennettsville on weekends, I walked to the Greyhound station behind Tapp’s and took a bus.

None of this seemed a hardship then. I infer that those kids tying up traffic downtown today might disagree.

I didn’t have a meal plan, and neither did my friend Perry, who lived in a dorm that made the Honeycombs look palatial. He was in this old former frat house at the corner of Blossom and Sumter. Whenever I went to see him when it had rained recently, I would have to walk around or through puddles that covered much of the hallway. I’d go there every night to pick him up on my way, and we’d walk downtown to the S&S cafeteria, where I would splurge — sometimes, as I recall, my bill was well over $2.

But I digress. My point is that today, people — the kids and their parents — expect more, and their parents are ready to pay for it, sometimes to an astounding degree. Once you’ve looked at their cars, check out those private housing developments scattered all over town, the ones with their own regular buses that bring the residents to the Horseshoe to save them from having to (shudder) walk, or waste all that time trying to find a parking space.

And the university caters to these expectations. Just look around. Or if you don’t have time to roam, just look at the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center, and the elevated walkway to it from the student parking lots. You might easily cite your own examples.

Then you could get into salaries, or football ticket prices, or what have you. These places drip money, and kids want to have “the college experience,” which apparently involves a great deal more than learning.

Or to return to a favorite old hobbyhorse of my own, remember how the lottery was supposed to pay for college, but basically served as a huge price-support scheme for ever-higher tuition?

Which students pay, and if Mama and Daddy didn’t have the money handy, they pay off stupendous loans for the rest of their lives.

You know, when I said this was going to be too long for a comment, I wasn’t just thinking about what you see above. I had a couple of other points I was going to get into — such as the fact that it seems we hear more these days about sheer numbers of students in the freshman class, rather than their rising SAT scores, which used to be a treasured goal at USC.

But I’ll get to that another time…

My old roommate John peers out from our room in Snowden, just before the Honeycombs were torn down.

The four SC reps who voted to wreck the world economy

Thanks, Joe, for doing that grownup thing you do…

Not to mention, of course, the little ol’ national economy.

Those who voted against the deal Joe and Speaker McCarthy came up with to avoid the completely unnecessary spectacle of the United States defaulting on its debt were:

  1. Russell Fry
  2. Nancy Mace
  3. Ralph Norman
  4. William Timmons

None, of course, were Democrats. There were some Dems who voted against the measure scattered across the country, but since all we have is Jim Clyburn — and Clyburn is a responsible grownup, the man who saved the country in February 2020 — we were spared that humiliation here at home.

Having identified all of the malefactors as Republicans, allow me to note that my own congressman, Joe Wilson, did the grownup thing and voted with Clyburn. So did Jeff Duncan.

If any of those who voted against come up with creditable explanations for their inexcusable, I’ll come back and mention it. But don’t hold your breath, because I find it hard to imagine that happening.

Of course, I offer my greatest congratulations and thanks to my man Joe — he won’t get the credit he deserves, as Jennifer Rubin has pointed out — but he certainly deserves it. And you’ll notice he’s not doing any dances in the end zone himself — because that’s not the way he rolls. (As Matt Bai writes, “in decades of writing about budget standoffs and ideological clashes, I can’t recall another moment when a president achieved total victory and then tried to pass it off as a painful compromise.” But that’s what Joe has done, because he’s Joe. And because this is the smart way to get substantive things done.)

And McCarthy deserves a pat on the back for holding his barbarians off long enough to get the thing passed. Joe, while winning, helped with that — giving him the opportunity to claim to the yahoos that he had “made” Joe make concessions.

Now, it’s up to Sen. Schumer to do his job. And he may get it done tonight. That would be best…

More on sports and what we value…

I think Coach Dale would agree.

My point in this previous post was NOT that teachers should make “$1 million a year,” or to be more relevant in this case, $6.125 million a year.

My point was that a football coach should NOT.

Let’s relate it to the ongoing discussion about the pay of coaches of women’s teams.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Dawn Staley makes $2.9 million. I think that’s the latest figure.

That, I take it, is the result of her supporters advocating strenuously for her to make more money. Well, congratulations to them, and to her — she’s obviously a great coach. Ask my mom, who gets frustrated any time she can’t get a game featuring Coach Staley’s team on her YouTubeTV account.

But folks, that’s way too much money to pay someone for training people how to throw a ball through a hoop. I think even the main character of one of my fave movies, Coach Norman Dale, would have agreed with me on that. (Also, he would want me to remind all of you that you are to pass at least four times before shooting — team, team, TEAM!)

Oh, but wait, you rise up to shout: $2.9 million is way LESS than Beamer makes, which means hers should be raised even MORE. Well, no, it doesn’t mean that. I mean, you’re right that Beamer makes more. You’re wrong that the way to address it is to raise her pay to the same level.

It’s kind of nuts that someone is paid $2.9 million to, as I say, teach people to throw a ball through a hoop. And it’s more than TWICE as crazy to pay a football coach $6.125 million to teach people to run around and smack into each other really hard — or however you want to describe what it is that he does.

Of course, you’d have a point if you want to argue that he has a bigger job than she does — heading up a larger organization with more employees, more other staff, more players, all sorts of avid constituencies to deal with, etc. And you also have a point when you say what he does brings in more money, from tickets and other things.

But MY point is that the fact that football IS such a big frickin’ deal, with so many people SO excited about it and willing to shell out SO much money for tickets and parking spaces and food and beer for tailgating and little flags to go on their garnet-and-black SUVs, and the extra gas to run their SUVs’ engines for an hour creeping along in the traffic to the game, and their wardrobe of special clothing they wear on game days, and the extra-huge TV to watch the games when they can’t be there, yadda-yadda…

All of THAT shows how messed up our values are, not only in term of where our money goes, but in terms of the time and energy spent. This is something we should ponder.

Anyway, that was the topic of my post. I wasn’t arguing that teachers should be paid $6.125 million. I was saying a football coach should not. And I was saying that a society in which the marketplace allows for him to make that much is a society with pretty confused values…

What do we value? And why?

Note the two headlines from The State‘s app yesterday.

Here’s the nut graf of the one that says “It’s official: Massive raise makes Shane Beamer highest-paid coach in USC history:”

The South Carolina board of trustees approved a new deal for the Gamecocks’ head football coach on Friday that will pay him $6.125 million in 2023 with escalators of $250,000 each year through the 2027 season — making him the highest-paid coach in school history. That’s up from his previous salary of $2.75 million annually….

And here’s the essence of the one that says “McMaster calls for $2,500 pay raise for SC teachers, plus a bonus:”

Gov. Henry McMaster wants to increase starting pay for South Carolina teachers by $2,500 to bring the base salary to $42,500….

This past year, the minimum teacher salary was set at $40,000….

Yes, I know there are ways to dismiss such comparison as silly. For instance, you can point out that the teacher pay raise will cost the state $254 million. On account of, you know, there being a bunch more teachers than head football coaches at USC. (Note that I limited that by saying “head” football coach. There are a lot of coaches. I tried to Google it and count them just now, but I got tired.)

I dismiss that by asking why you would value one football coach more than any one of those teachers. Of course, if you’re one of those public-school haters, you’ll single out the weakest teacher in the state and say, “I value him more than this teacher.” So let’s derail that argument by saying, why would you value the football coach over the single best teacher in the state (use your own standards, if you’d like)? For that matter, why would you value him as much as the very best 1,350 teachers in the state — since that’s how many times $2,500 goes into the raise Beamer received?

Of course, you could also say that you can’t compare the two, since one is purely state money, and the other is largely money voluntarily paid by people who are nuts about football. My response is that you’re missing the point. The point isn’t about public expenditures. The point is about what we humans in South Carolina value most — whether we pay for it through taxes or football tickets, or those premium parking spots around the stadium, or however we shell it out.

Of course, the “What do we value?” question is rhetorical. It’s obvious what we value.

Which takes me to my second question: Why?

So, how many bags do I GET for that?

As I mentioned the other day (as if you didn’t already know it), inflation and other money-related matters don’t interest me much, but occasionally some small detail grabs my attention for maybe half a minute.

That was the case when I went to buy some Fritos to enjoy with chili — I’m not a big chip-eater, but I consider the Bandito‘s product to be essential to the full enjoyment of chili — and was struck by the sign here that boasted the apparently startlingly-low price of $4.49.

So of course, I immediately wondered, “How many of these little bags do I get for that amount?”

I figured it would have been at least two, and I definitely wouldn’t have felt like I was getting a bargain at the price.

And when I’m really honest about the value of things, and assess what I think it really ought to cost, I set the number at five bags. I’m applying the AMIAVI (that’s the Absolute, Moderately Inflation-Adjusted Value of an Item). No, don’t Google that. That’s my own, made-up standard which, since it’s based in personal experience, makes way more sense to me than such more generally employed acronyms such as CPI or EBITDA.

Only I can apply this standard, because no one else has the sufficiently detailed knowledge of my life experiences. (If I figure out a way to monetize this special skill, I’ll let you know.) In this case, I remember that in the vending machine in the main hall of Garrison-Williams School (nowadays shortened to “Williams School“) in Norfolk, Va., the private school where I attended 1st grade because my birthday was inconveniently timed for the public schools, you could get a small, kids-lunch-sized bag of Fritos for a nickel. Yes, 5 cents. I can’t prove that, but that’s the way I remember it, and that’s what is relevant to the AMIAVI.

Note that I’m allowing generously for inflation here, expecting only five bags for the lordly sum of $4.45. That’s because I’m applying the easygoing AMIAVI. If I were applying my stricter, but seldom-used, ANIAVI (Absolute, NonInflation-Adjusted Value of an Item), five bags would be worth a quarter. That means I could get at least 17, and maybe 18 bags. But that would be the little, kiddy bags, and several (but not many) of those would fit in one of the bags pictured above, so let’s go with the AMIAVI, which involves less math and more gut feeling.

Anyway, enough with the complicated monetary terms. What do you think one of the bags in the picture is really worth? Apply any standard you like, but it would be cool if you’d also explain it…

What did ‘rich’ mean to you as a kid?

I don’t think I’d ever dive into a vault full of coins. Paper, maybe…

Yeah, I think it’s a silly question, too, but I saw it on Twitter, and saw an interesting response or two from folks I know, and decided to respond myself… and thought y’all might want to get in on it.

It came from this feed I had never seen before. I only saw it because people I follow responded:

Here’s what Sen. Katrina Shealy said to that:

I never thought about it. We were not rich but we were comfortable and we had friends and family that had more and those who had less. I never noticed, until I I read all these responses.

A few minutes before that, our friend Lynn Teague had written:

As y’all know, I’m generally not that interested in money. (A sure way to lose me is to steer a thread toward a discussion of the economy.) Unlike someone whose Twitter handle is DelyanneTheMoneyCoach, when the subject comes up I usually run the other way. But I responded this way:

Elaborating on that diving-boards-and-pools theme, I suppose I should throw in the Clampett’s cee-ment pond.

Another model for me was the Howells on Gilligan’s Island. Which reminds me of something else, so I might come back to them in a later post.

In other words, the models were silly, and the things that distinguished them as “rich” were even sillier. Nothing basic, like a washer and dryer. (Maybe that’s what drove her to be “the Money Coach.”)

When I was a kid, I saw us as living sort of outside that whole money universe, since my Dad was in the Navy and therefore outside the private-sector rat race thing. We usually had a washer and dryer in our homes, but I owned my own house before my parents bought one. We were just always moving around too much. My folks bought their house after he retired.

Not that I never think about money, as an adult. I think about it way more than I want to. That’s why my fantasy about being rich is simple: I’d like to have enough money that I would never again have to think about money. I’d hire what in Regency Period terms (all those historical novels I read, you know) would be called a “man of business” to deal with all that. All bills would go to him, and he’d take care of them. I’d also engage the services of someone clever to watch him, and then maybe a third person to watch her. And I’d instruct them all not to bother me with it.

I think that would be way better than a pool full of ginger ale…

I couldn’t find an image with ginger ale. But I’m sure I read a comic that mentioned it…

How about an ‘I ALREADY GAVE’ button?

I don’t mean to pick on Wikipedia here. I find it to be an amazingly useful tool, the handiest reference source to which I or anyone else has ever had access.

This is just something I wonder about sometime.

For instance, when I’m listening to the NPR One app. Not the radio, because the radio version can’t address the problem. But it seems that anything that comes to me over my phone, my iPad, my laptop, or any device to which I am logged in in a way that identifies me, should be able to leave me out of the “please donate” pitch, if I already gave.

So no more pitches that I’ve heard a thousand times urging me to give to South Carolina Public Radio. (Especially ones I’m forced to wait through — the app lets me click past a news story if I’m not interested, but that’s not an option during the begging segments.)

And, in the case of Wikipedia, no more having large portions of my screen filled with a fund-raising appeal when I look something up.

For you see, I am one of the 2 percent who give to Wikipedia. Oh, don’t think I’m topping it the nob or anything. It’s a pittance. But they said that’s all they need. Near as I can tell, I’ve been sending them $3.10 a month (although it’s not easy to find that out — I had to infer it from my bank account). I don’t know how I came up with that amount. It’s a money thing, which means five seconds after I did it, my brain had tossed out the information.

And for that wee bit, I don’t even expect thanks, much less a ticker-tape parade. But it would be nice if you would see that it’s me using Wikipedia on this Chrome browser through which I’m logged into my Google account (and all sorts of other things), and spare me the message. I wouldn’t even mind specifically logging into a Wikipedia account, if that would do it — as long as I only had to do it once.

Or, if you MUST show me the appeals, offer another button in addition to the ones that say “MAYBE LATER” and “CLOSE.” The new one would say, “I ALREADY GAVE,” and clicking it would make the box go away.

I mean, this artificial intelligence thing ought to be good for something, right?…

Fund-raisers are really… quite emotional… aren’t they?

At some point, I should probably unsubscribe from all these Democratic Party fund-raising emails that, since I was on James’ campaign, do more to clog up my Inbox than anything. But I continue to be mildly fascinated by the various strategies they employ to try to get me stirred up enough to open up my wallet.

They seldom try to do this with reason. Talking me into a rational decision to invest in their causes isn’t really part of the playbook. They’re more about stirring emotion — elation over good news, sorrow over bad news, outrage over anything done or said by their various stock villains (Mitch McConnell, that insane woman from Georgia, You Know Who)….

And sometimes, they weep. I’m referring to the headline on the email pictured below: “tears in our eyes.”

They’re sort of like what Reisman said about Col. Breed. They’re really — quite emotional, aren’t they?

Come on, people. Your cause is just — what the Republicans are trying to do, in the way of suppressing the vote, is a bad thing. But hold off on the waterworks, please. You don’t want me looking at you like this, do you?


No more anachronistic prices, thanks to Netflix!


It’s not a big deal, but this happy notice from Netflix sort of cracked me up.

They’re “updating” our subscription price!

Finally! I had grown so sick of having to pay them every month in drachmas and Deutschmarks. We’ve all known the frustration of searching under seat cushions in the hope of finding doubloons, or at least pieces of eight, with which to finance our streaming. First, they were hard to find, and second, even having to look for them made me feel so passé, so… anachronistic.

Finally, modern prices, which apparently I can pay with modern money! I feel so up-to-date, so hip, so with it!

And only $13.99! Think of it! That would only have been $1.47 in the month when I was born. Sure, it’s a higher number now, but that’s because it’s updated! Take comfort from that…

Now I’m giving money. Not much, but technically money

filthy lucre

I mention this because to a lot of people, giving money is a big deal.

It’s not so much to me, because I don’t find money very interesting. Which is a big reason why I don’t have much of it. I’m even less interested in lucre than I am in football.

It was a bigger deal to me to actually start choosing and endorsing candidates back in 1994, my first year in the editorial department. That took some serious rewiring of my head. And then getting the point of putting out yard signs for candidates, as I started doing in 2018. And when I went to work for James and Mandy that same year.

To me, saying “I support you” is a bigger thing than “Here’s some money.”

But I know that makes me kind of weird, so I’m telling y’all — so you can make of it what you will — that one night last month, I actually, deliberately made a financial contribution to a candidate, in response to this appeal:

So I went to the ActBlue link and gave.

Yeah, I know. Twenty dollars and twenty cents ain’t much. I wish I could give Mandy a lot more. But still, it was technically money, and therefore kind of a step for me.

And as long as we’re talking technically, I guess it wasn’t my first. Several days earlier, my wife had made a contribution to Jaime Harrison. She mentioned it so I’d know, because my name’s on the account. So I was on the books as a donor. Which I thought was great — I’d been thinking about making a contribution to Jaime, but as I tend to do with money, I had repeatedly forgotten about it. So I was a donor, and I didn’t even have to do anything (like fill out a form or something, which I hate with a passion). Which is awesome.

But technically… I had made a contribution earlier in the year, to Joe Biden. I had reached out to folks I knew on his campaign, back before the primary, to ask if they’d like a free ad on the blog. They said yes, so I filled out an in-kind form (see how much I love you, Joe?), and put up the ad. I liked seeing it there so much that I left it up for awhile after the primary was over, but finally made myself remove it.

So I guess that was my first “financial contribution.”

I did it again a week or so ago. And reached out to Jaime Harrison’s campaign and did the same for him.  You can see both ads in the rail at right. (And I’d put one up for free for Mandy if I thought it would help her up in her district — I don’t know how many actual readers I have there.)

So I’ve just been giving like crazy to these campaigns. Sort of. And now you know…


Yes they DO, by their very nature!

warning money

Just got this email from the nice folks at Columbia Regional Business Report.

I know they mean well. They see this as their way of being helpful. But I must disagree, and most vehemently.

But how can they bring themselves to say something so absurd as “Money Matters don’t have to be frightening?”

By its very nature, the phrase “Money Matters” is a grim and urgent warning. It tells us that we are about to be subjected to at least several seconds, if not excruciating minutes, of words having to do with the most painfully soporific subject on the planet… money.

It’s a dead giveaway. There is no way that anything pleasant can follow a headline with “Money Matters” in it. It says, Here I come! You’d better run!

If you’re not quick enough, the initial words (ugly and mysterious words, like “accrual” and “debentures”) will give way to spreadsheets, if you’ll forgive me for mentioning something so unpleasant.

There are people, I am told, who enjoy talking about money. But they are from another planet, one with characteristics in common with the Bizarro World.

In any case, I appreciate the warning. Let’s skedaddle…

Phil Noble reaches out to his base… in Alabama, of course

noble ad

I’ve wondered here a number of times: Who, in South Carolina, is supporting Phil Noble for the Democratic nomination for governor?

I asked it each time he brought forth another prominent out-of-state Democrat to endorse his campaign. I kept perusing his website for lists of supporters. I looked at his donor list, and found one South Carolinian I’d heard of — an impressive one — and I was going to reach out and interview her about it… and then realized she had given to James Smith, too. She was just promoting democracy in general.

Anyway, a friend in Alabama shared with me the above full-page ad from The Anniston Star, saying “Have no idea who he is, but it does seem like something out of the ordinary.”

Not if you’re Phil. If you’re Phil, of course this is where you look for support…

Something off-putting about those ‘patriotic’ uniforms

unis 1

I thought about posting this on Memorial Day itself, but decided to wait.

For me — a guy who’s all about some patriotism and support for the military (and if there’s a spectator sport I love, it’s baseball) — there’s something off-putting about those special uniforms MLB players donned over the holiday weekend.

It’s not just that it’s so contrived, such a cheesy, sterile form of tribute to men who died in the blood and noise and fury and filth and noise of battle. They did not wear clean, white uniforms with camouflage numbers. They did not wear caps that look as much like what a deer hunter would wear as anything you’d see on a soldier.

But there’s also something… decadent, something last-days-of-Rome about it.

Of course, I’m guilty of romanticizing baseball. I think of it in very anachronistic terms as a humble, pastoral game played by plain men who did it for the love of the sport, guys who maybe had one uniform to their names, and that uniform made of wool that caused them to roast in the summer sun. (And they liked it, as Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man would say.)

I just can’t help thinking of all the money spent on these uniforms that these players will probably wear only once. Which makes me think about how much — way too much — money there is in professional sports today, so much that vast sums can be thrown away on PR gestures that, as I said above, seem inadequate to the kind of tribute our war dead deserve.

I’m not blaming MLB here. This occurs in a context in which the fans, the entire society, seem to have lost all sense of materialistic restraint.

You, too, can have a genuine copy of the jersey your hero wore for one game for only $119.99. Or, if you’ve really lost your marbles and have more money than anyone needs, you can have the actual jersey that a player wore, for $2,125! Unless someone with priorities even further out of whack outbids you!

It just all seems kind of nuts to me. And vaguely offensive. Does this make any sense to anyone?


Stop trying to lower my non-expectations!

Of course, there are some jobs I wouldn't take no matter how well they paid.

Of course, there are some jobs I wouldn’t take no matter how well they paid.

As you know, back when I first got laid off, I signed up for all kinds of job-tip services — and I still get emails from most of them, all these years later. Sometimes, they are a great source of amusement, considering some of the jobs for which they think I’m just perfect.

One of the many is a service called “Ladders.” It’s one of the least realistic in terms of jobs to which I’d be suited. But I signed up for it anyway, because it supposedly specialized in jobs paying six figures and more. Why lower my standard of living, I thought, right after losing what may have been the last journalism job in South Carolina that paid well?

Of course, the universe of jobs that pay that well is limited, so the jobs the service lists tend to be from a wide variety of fields, including many very far from my experience and qualifications. Some are really interesting: For instance, I frequently see positions for “executive assistant,” which makes me think, Really? Being a secretary pays that well now? What do their bosses make?

But today, I saw something disturbing — an email from Ladders headlined, “Jobs that pay More Than $80K.”

What?!? No-no-no-no-no. If you’re going to show me jobs that I’ll never get anyway, then make them super high-paying ones. In fact, since the whole enterprise is so unrealistic, from now on I only want to see jobs paying at least a million a year.

Stop trying to lower my non-expectations. You might discourage me…

A better use for $450 million


I just thought I’d share here what I had to say last night when I got the news….

I mean, seriously: You know how I got the above image for this post? I right-clicked on it and saved it. It’s in the public domain. Look at it all you want, for free.

I mean, that’s OK, right — you attorneys out there? Or does the new owner own the rights to the public domain photo on Wikipedia, too?

Cashing in on Joe Arpaio, from all directions


As you probably realize, one of the reasons we are so politically divided in this country is that there’s a whole industry that exists to keep us that way.

There are the parties, of course, but there are loads of other entitities out there that exist to make you angry and keep you angry at those other people, and to keep you giving money so that the destructive process continues forever, in a self-perpetuating, self-financing loop.

About a month ago, I got on a mailing list from another universe — one in which Donald Trump and his fellow travelers are the most wonderful things ever. I get message after message begging me for money to fight “liberals,” which are defined as everything from Democrats to mainstream Republicans — Mitch McConnell is a favorite target.

Two or three times a day, these appeals came behalf of ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for his defense.

Of course, it’s not only the right that tries to cash in on that barbarian. After his pardon, I got this from a usual suspect on the left:

Brad —

We’re sick to our stomach. Donald Trump just pardoned Joe Arpaio — a fellow birther, convicted for illegally targeting and abusing communities of color.

This makes a mockery of the rule of law. It’s disgusting. And Republicans continue to REFUSE to hold Trump accountable for this latest in a string of racist acts.

We need to kick Republicans out of office and take back the House for Democrats. Please contribute right away so we can have the resources to do it.

$10 $25 $50
$100 $250 Other


Team Pelosi

Well, of course. When there’s a demon at hand, get the begging cup out.

You’re probably thinking, “Well, at least the right has no excuse to ask for help on this matter any more.” Oh, how foolish you are! The excuses why you as a partisan should give never end:


Sheriff Joe Arpaio Legal Defense Fund


BREAKING: Sheriff Joe Pardoned
by President Trump

I just received some incredibly good news! President Trump has just issued a pardon on my behalf.Honestly, I could not be more thankful to President Trump for seeing my bogus conviction for what it was: a political witch hunt by hold overs from the Obama justice department. 

I am certain that President Trump was able to see the TRUTH so clearly because he too has been the victim of a character assassination by the liberal media and Democrat establishment on many occasions.

HELP SHERIFF JOE! Contribute $150 >>

While I am humbled and incredibly grateful for this very good news, I can’t help but be concerned about a bit of bad news I received recently.
I am still facing tens of thousands in legal bills from my fight to clear my name. Going up against the full force of the federal government was not only personally taxing, it was incredibly expensive.

Remember Friend, I am just a retired local law enforcement officer. 

The only reason you now my name is because the liberal media decided to launch a national campaign to paint me as a monster for my hard belief in upholding the Constitution and against illegal immigration . . .

HELP SHERIFF JOE! Contribute $75 >>

Frankly, the DOJ thought that I would back down and take a plea bargain to avoid the enormous expense of a legal battle on this scale. I was not going to let them intimidate me into to admitting to a crime that I did not commit, so I had to fight to clear my name.
Now, my wife Ava and I are still facing significant legal bills. . .

HELP SHERIFF JOE! Contribute $50>>

Friend, I know that you work hard for your paycheck which makes this very difficult to ask of you, but if you are financially able will you please make a contribution to my legal defense fund today? Every dollar you donate will go directly toward paying off my legal bills and putting this awful chapter behind me.
I cannot thank you enough for supporting me through this incredibly trying time,


– Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Maricopa County, Arizona


Is Mulvaney ‘The most dangerous man in Washington?’


That’s what Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post claims.

(Well, to be clear, what she means is the second most dangerous man in Washington, which she acknowledges.)

Here’s why:

It’s Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

In terms of both immensity and immediacy, the threat Mulvaney presents is far greater than any of the slow-motion train wrecks happening elsewhere in the administration. That’s because he seems hell-bent on wreaking a global crisis within the next two months.

Not a century from now. Not a decade from now. In two months.

That’s when the government will run out of money needed to pay bills Congress has already incurredaccording to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, if Congress does not act to raise the debt limit.

What would follow? Just a constitutional, political and global financial crisis….

OK. That would be bad. Important safety tip. Although I may not think about financial matters more than I’m forced to, even I understand — apparently better than the administration’s budget guy — why protecting the full faith and credit of the United States is important. But most dangerous? Maybe. But as much as I might be inclined to root for a fellow South Carolinian, I think some of the other people she names have pretty good claims to the title:

It’s not the guy in charge of our nuclear arsenal, who may or may not have realized that was the core of his job description before accepting the post (Rick Perry).

Nor is it the woman meeting with men’s rights advocates (Betsy DeVos).

And it’s not the guy who keeps adding financial assets and meetings with Russian officials to his federal disclosure forms (Jared Kushner).

It’s neither of the guys rolling back climate change regulations and sidelining scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department (Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke, respectively)….

But yeah, what Mulvaney wants to do is bad, almost in the Egon sense, financially speaking…