5.26.2018

Mike Meru is the "Poster Child" of the Student Loan Crisis



Mike Meru Has $1 Million in Student Loans. How Did That Happen? Escalating tuition and easy credit have yielded a class of student-loan borrowers with spectacular debt they may never pay back

Excerpt:

Mike Meru, a 37-year-old orthodontist, made a big investment in his education. As of Thursday, he owed $1,060,945.42 in student loans.

Mr. Meru pays only $1,589.97 a month—not enough to cover the interest, so his debt from seven years at the University of Southern California grows by $130 a day. In two decades, his loan balance will be $2 million.

He and his wife, Melissa, have become numb to the burden, focused instead on raising their two daughters. “If you thought about it every single day,” Mrs. Meru said, “you’d have a mental breakdown.”

Due to escalating tuition and easy credit, the U.S. has 101 people who owe at least $1 million in federal student loans, according to the Education Department. Five years ago, 14 people owed that much.

More could join that group. While the typical student borrower owes $17,000, the number of those who owe at least $100,000 has risen to around 2.5 million, nearly 6% of the borrowing pool, Education Department data show.

For graduate-school students especially, there is little incentive for universities to help put the brakes on big borrowing. The government essentially allows grad students to borrow any amount to cover tuition and living costs, with few guardrails on how the final sum will be repaid.

More than a third of borrowers from one of the government’s main graduate school lending programs have enrolled in some form of federal loan-forgiveness plan.

“These are choices. We’re not coercing,” said Avishai Sadan, dean of USC’s Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, where Mr. Meru went to school and one of the most expensive in the U.S. “You know exactly what you’re getting into.”

Even the best planners might not have anticipated the sharp increases in tuition and student-loan interest rates from 2005 to 2012, Mr. Meru’s tenure as a student. While the Federal Reserve was reducing interest rates to near zero to combat the recession, rates for grad students were as high as 8.5%.

Dental school is the costliest higher-education program in the U.S. Private nonprofit schools during the 2015-2016 school year charged an average of $71,820 a year, the Urban Institute found. The USC program now costs $91,000 a year, and $137,000 when living expenses are included.

Comment: He makes over $ 200K per year has a $ 400K mortgage  (map) and drives a Tesla. Why are we subsidizing his life?!


5.22.2018

Planned Parenthood vs the NRA





Comment: The NRA is rabidly attacked by the Left and MSM at every turn! PP is not!


5.17.2018

Gaza, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and "the culture of victimhood"



Gaza’s Miseries Have Palestinian Authors

Excerpts:

In 2014 Israel discovered that Hamas had built 32 tunnels under the Gaza border to kidnap or kill Israelis. “The average tunnel requires 350 truckloads of construction supplies,” The Wall Street Journal reported, “enough to build 86 homes, seven mosques, six schools or 19 medical clinics.” Estimated cost of tunnels: $90 million.

Want to understand why Gaza is so poor? See above. xxx Which brings us to the grotesque spectacle along Gaza’s border over the past several weeks, in which thousands of Palestinians have tried to breach the fence and force their way into Israel, often at the cost of their lives. What is the ostensible purpose of what Palestinians call “the Great Return March”?

That’s no mystery. This week, The Times published an op-ed by Ahmed Abu Artema, one of the organizers of the march. “We are intent on continuing our struggle until Israel recognizes our right to return to our homes and land from which we were expelled,” he writes, referring to homes and land within Israel’s original borders.

His objection isn’t to the “occupation” as usually defined by Western liberals, namely Israel’s acquisition of territories following the 1967 Six Day War. It’s to the existence of Israel itself. Sympathize with him all you like, but at least notice that his politics demand the elimination of the Jewish state.

Notice, also, the old pattern at work: Avow and pursue Israel’s destruction, then plead for pity and aid when your plans lead to ruin.

The world now demands that Jerusalem account for every bullet fired at the demonstrators, without offering a single practical alternative for dealing with the crisis.

But where is the outrage that Hamas kept urging Palestinians to move toward the fence, having been amply forewarned by Israel of the mortal risk? Or that protest organizers encouraged women to lead the charges on the fence because, as The Times’s Declan Walsh reported, “Israeli soldiers might be less likely to fire on women”? Or that Palestinian children as young as 7 were dispatched to try to breach the fence? Or that the protests ended after Israel warned Hamas’s leaders, whose preferred hide-outs include Gaza’s hospital, that their own lives were at risk?

Elsewhere in the world, this sort of behavior would be called reckless endangerment. It would be condemned as self-destructive, cowardly and almost bottomlessly cynical.

The mystery of Middle East politics is why Palestinians have so long been exempted from these ordinary moral judgments. How do so many so-called progressives now find themselves in objective sympathy with the murderers, misogynists and homophobes of Hamas? Why don’t they note that, by Hamas’s own admission, some 50 of the 62 protesters killed on Monday were members of Hamas? Why do they begrudge Israel the right to defend itself behind the very borders they’ve been clamoring for years for Israelis to get behind?

Why is nothing expected of Palestinians, and everything forgiven, while everything is expected of Israelis, and nothing forgiven?

That’s a question to which one can easily guess the answer. In the meantime, it’s worth considering the harm Western indulgence has done to Palestinian aspirations.

No decent Palestinian society can emerge from the culture of victimhood, violence and fatalism symbolized by these protests. No worthy Palestinian government can emerge if the international community continues to indulge the corrupt, anti-Semitic autocrats of the Palestinian Authority or fails to condemn and sanction the despotic killers of Hamas. And no Palestinian economy will ever flourish through repeated acts of self-harm and destructive provocation.

If Palestinians want to build a worthy, proud and prosperous nation, they could do worse than try to learn from the one next door. That begins by forswearing forever their attempts to destroy it.

Comment: This opinion piece is from the NYTimes - hardly in the pocket of Israel! Image source: Israeli Military Kills 15 Palestinians in Confrontations on Gaza Border


5.15.2018

My T-Bills "sweep" strategy

The old (very old) paper TBill - now all digital! But The above image is cooler than the following!


The entry page for TreasuryDirect


Treasury bill

What is a Treasury Bill:

Treasury bills (or T-bills) mature in one year or less. Like zero-coupon bonds, they do not pay interest prior to maturity; instead they are sold at a discount of the par value to create a positive yield to maturity.

Regular weekly T-Bills are commonly issued with maturity dates of 28 days (or 4 weeks, about a month), 91 days (or 13 weeks, about 3 months), 182 days (or 26 weeks, about 6 months), and 364 days (or 52 weeks, about 1 year). Treasury bills are sold by single-price auctions held weekly. Offering amounts for 13-week and 26-week bills are announced each Thursday for auction, usually at 11:30 a.m., on the following Monday and settlement, or issuance, on Thursday. Offering amounts for 4-week bills are announced on Monday for auction the next day, Tuesday, usually at 11:30 a.m., and issuance on Thursday. Offering amounts for 52-week bills are announced every fourth Thursday for auction the next Tuesday, usually at 11:30 am, and issuance on Thursday. Purchase orders at TreasuryDirect must be entered before 11:00 on the Monday of the auction. The minimum purchase, effective April 7, 2008, is $100. (This amount formerly had been $1,000.) Mature T-bills are also redeemed on each Thursday. Banks and financial institutions, especially primary dealers, are the largest purchasers of T-bills.
Comments:

  • My strategy is not technically a "sweep" account because it is not automatic!
  • The question I ask: "Am I likely to need the cash in my savings account in 30 days?" If no ... buy a TBill
  • TBill rates

  • I'll probably build a ladder that may take this form:
  • The key: Buy at a discount to coupon value ... redeemed at coupon value. The interest gained is the difference.


The logon look:


The ladder look:

My "toe in the water" initial investment(s) are all 4 weeks. I expect that going forward I will avail myself of the 13 weeks, 26 weeks, and 52 weeks TBills

The Purchase page:


My experience so far is A+. The website is fast and EZ to use. I called customer support once and they answered quickly and were helpful. I doubt I will need to call them again.










I'm one of these (below):

5.14.2018

Clearing up the "who's going to hell" question



Pastor Who Said Jews Are Going to Hell Led Prayer at Jerusalem Embassy Opening

Excerpt:

Here are some of the most incendiary remarks they’ve made in the past.: 

Mr. Jeffress, who leads one of the largest Southern Baptist churches in the country, suggested in a 2010 interview with the Trinity Broadcasting Network that some churches might shy away from saying “anything that’s going to offend people” to try to grow their congregations. He made it clear he was going to preach what he believes the Bible says.

“Islam is wrong. It is a heresy from the pit of hell,” Mr. Jeffress said in the interview. “Mormonism is wrong. It is a heresy from the pit of hell.”

He added: “Judaism — you can’t be saved being a Jew. You know who said that, by the way? The three greatest Jews in the New Testament: Peter, Paul and Jesus Christ. They all said Judaism won’t do it. It’s faith in Jesus Christ.”

“Not only do religions like Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism — not only do they lead people away from the true God, they lead people to an eternity of separation from God in hell,” Mr. Jeffress said. “Hell is going to be filled with good religious people who have rejected the truth of Christ.”
Comment: Truth: What he said is Biblical Christianity!






5.07.2018

Apple or IBM: 1 year later





AAPL IBM May 9th 2017
1 year ago I sold 100 shares of IBM and bought 100 shares of Apple. I chose wisely!

5.05.2018

In the hunt for Dividend Yield - is Century Link Safe?





Is Centurylink Inc Stock a Treasure or Trap? 3 Pros, 3 Cons




Comments: Remember GE! Investors have priced the stock as if the dividend will be cut! I'm going to flip a coin on this and probably invest $ 1850. [as an aside ... Century Link was the acquirer of  Qwest / (formerly USWest). I rarely bitch about companies ... but of all the companies I have dealt with (been a customer of), Qwest is Jimmy Peet's "I really hated to deal with them!". (And I am a Comcast customer!)]. But Century Link is much more than the old Quest!



Below: Jimmy hunting for dividends






5.03.2018

Steelcase - my small cap dividend stock of the day





Steelcase CIO Bets Big on the Connected Office

Excerpt:

Steelcase Inc., a 106-year-old manufacturer of office furniture, has a vision of the office in which chairs, tables, and other objects are part of a digital network.

Steelcase has been working with Microsoft Corp. for about three years on these efforts.

One new service, expected to launch this summer, offers Steelcase clients a mobile app that employees can use to find available rooms and other colleagues in real-time. “Steelcase Find” connects to a wireless network of infrared sensors and uses room-booking data that shows which workspaces are being used.

A mainstream thing. It’s an example of how the Internet of Things is hitting a different level of maturity, Steelcase CIO Steven Miller tells CIO Journal’s Sara Castellanos. “You’ve had some people just dabbling in it and testing the waters, but now it’s becoming much more of a mainstream thing that companies need to pay attention to,” Mr. Miller said.
Comment: A steady dividend payer with a 4% yield