Emergency Fun

…d. Sorry, that title is supposed to be “Emergency Fund”. Now that I reread that headline, it is a little misleading.

In addition to the advice in my last post, here’s something think about: 63% of Americans Can’t Afford $500 Car Repair or $1,000 Emergency Room Visit.

I used to think that paying off debt was more important than establishing savings. After seeing people using emergency funds to smooth out rough spots in life, I’m convinced that having a small emergency fund is a top priority.

One of the easiest ways to get savings started is to automate it. Set a recurring transfer at your bank to put 10% of every paycheck into savings. 10% is usually small enough to stomach, but you’ll have deposited 3 months of paychecks in 2 1/2 years. After that, you just need to make sure it stays topped off.

An emergency fund is a kind of self-care. You can rest a bit easier and you can have money set aside for when disaster strikes. It’s a lot easier to live life in the moment when you have that little bit of piece of mind.

If you still need some emergency fun, check out the best media corrections of 2016.

Photo Credit: (CC-BY) Kevin Dooley

Best Xmas Present

Sometimes when you go a long time without blogging you don’t want to post because you feel like you need to say something important on your return.
Luckily I have something not only worthy of breaking blog silence, but worth overly large text and even the blink tag:
She said yes! We’re getting married! I love you Jenny!

“But Government Isn’t a Game”

Press Gaggle by Tony Fratto:

Q It’s been reported that in some of these meetings the President doesn’t want people to talk about the prospect of planning in the event that the Democrats take over Congress. Is that correct?

MR. FRATTO: I think the President has been very clear that he’s preparing for a Congress that has Republican leadership, and that’s the way we’ll continue to proceed. It’s the only way to proceed.

Q You said that it’s the only way to proceed, to prepare for a Republican-controlled Congress. With such a close election, and with both parties recognizing how close it’s going to be, why not at least consider both alternatives?

MR. FRATTO: We’re still in the game, and — if you’re in the game, you’re in it to win.

Q But you don’t know the outcome of the game any more than I do, and —

MR. FRATTO: We feel confident about the outcome, and that’s the way we’re going to proceed.

Q Continuing the analogy, but government isn’t a game, and you are governing, and so your responsibility is to prepare for how to govern regardless of how it turns out. So it may be a game in the political sense, but it’s really not a game to Americans who want their government to be ready to do what needs to be done.

MR. FRATTO: He’ll be ready.

Q That means you’re preparing for the other outcome?

MR. FRATTO: We are ready. We are ready for — we’re ready for a — we’re ready to work with a Republican Congress. Nice try, Jennifer.

Q That would suggest not ready for a Democratic Congress.

MR. FRATTO: Questions? Anything else? Thank you.

I don’t have anything to add, that pretty much speaks for itself.

CitizenSpeak featured in new book

It turns out that CitizenSpeak is really making the rounds right now. The latest news is that it’s included in a new book: Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age by Allison Fine.

The book includes a description of how a Philadelphia organization used CitizenSpeak and other online organizing tools to rally their community around their cause. You can read more on CitizenSpeak’s blog or by using Amazon’s Online Reader.

Where’s the outrage?

What If They Gave a War…?

So why aren’t the streets clogged with angry Americans demanding to know why their president lied and deceived them so he could attack a country that had absolutely nothing to do with his so-called war on terror?

Why aren’t we marching to demand an end to the illegal surveillance of American citizens by their own government, again under the pretext of waging war on terror? Why do we so blithely surrender our civil liberties — the very thing that supposedly separates us from other societies — to the illusion of security?

Why aren’t irate Americans camping out in the lobby of every newspaper and TV station from coast to coast, demanding that the press reassert the right to perform its single most important function, that of government watchdog?

In short, where the hell is everybody?

The answer is that we’ve created a culture where a lack of cynicism is considered naiveté. The response to the NSA spying program is the result of a culture that took the Watergate scandal and internalized it as business as usual.

The culture we’ve created responds “If you’re surprised by it, why you’re not one of us worldly people that knew the conspiracies in popular culture were real. Of course it’s going on. Sorry, I thought you knew that!”

Meanwhile, the idealists have been suffering from 5 years of outrage fatigue and making jokes on the Daily Show that further entrench the cynicism. A culture that perceives permissiveness and apathy as cool will only care when the system gets so bad as to affect people on personal level, like the Vietnam War draft. Sorry, I thought you knew that!

Comcast Privacy

Did you hear the one about the lawsuit over Big Copyright wanting personal information from an ISP? No, it’s not RIAA v. Verizon; a woman is suing Comcast because they shared her personal information with the RIAA, and they did so without even waiting for a court order.

In the short term you can prevent this by calling Comcast (1-800-266-2278 or 1-800-Comcast) and asking them to make the information on your account private. I just did it, and like a Slashdot commenter says it was fairly painless (once I got through the phone tree hell).

In the long term, you have to hope the woman wins so that companies aren’t ready to give our information to anyone who asks. Even if that does happen, it’s going to be hard to put the genie back in the bottle. Just look at what’s already out there.

More post-election musings (no grousing)

Just a reminder that election day should be a national holiday. I think that a higher voter turnout benefits the entire country, and hopefully it is no longer a partisan issue.
Please contact your Senators and tell them that you are in support of S.726, especially if you are from Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts or Michigan – states that the bill already has cosponsors from.
Here is the email I sent to Debbie Stabenow, one of my Senators and the original sponsor of the bill:

Sen. Stabenow,
I am writing to encourage you to pursue S.726, which would make Election Day a national holiday. The recent election showed how much pride Americans gain from voting in large numbers, and the strength of our patriotism when we do. It is time to build on that turnout and make Democracy Day a reality.
It also showed that a high electoral turnout isn’t a partisan issue, and I hope it would now be easier to gain Republican support.
George Hotelling

[Update: You can track this bill at the very cool GovTrack. It’s like Nagios for the US government!]
[Update 2: There’s also a bill in the house H.R. 1508]

Michigan’s Prop 2

(inspired in part by a post by beninem that you can’t see because I’m cooler than you)
Proposal 2 in Michigan, which not only added a same-sex marriage ban to the the state constitution but also will probably remove same-sex partner benefits (like health care for partners) for many people in the state, passed 60% to 39%. My home state (where same-sex marriage was already illegal) felt the need to write discrimination into the state constitution.
I have a suspicion that the proposal would have still passed in Michigan if it had said “The proposal would amend the state constitution to provide that the union of one man and one woman of the same race in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.”
One of the “really, I’m not a bigot” arguments was that gay people shouldn’t get special rights, and they are already allowed to marry (people of the opposite gender). Another “c’mon, I said I’m not a bigot, why don’t you believe me” argument was that allowing gay people to marry would weaken heterosexual marriages.
How hard would it be to draw up some boilerplate prenups that would allow 2 gay men to marry 2 lesbians that would confer as many of the 1,049 federal marriage rights on the correct person. i.e. “I will give any inheritance I receive to the 3rd party of this agreement upon the 1st party’s death.”
Obviously it would also have to protect the rights of the participants, so they would have to sign away any joint property rights. Something that was as simple as a Creative Commons deed would be perfect, and maybe a website to match up gay couples to help each other restore their rights.
Then let’s see how great banning same-sex marriage is for strengthening heterosexual marriage.