I have the day off work today in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. In between taking care of household chores I’ve been putting off for months, feeding the kids, and unsuccessfully trying to loaf around, I’ve been reading the news. This is almost always a bad idea on a day that is supposed to be relaxing for me, but I do it anyway. I’m just a sucker for punishment I guess.
Anyway, it looks like the rest of the world’s financial markets are less than impressed with President Bush’s plans for juicing the US economy with some tax rebates. Those ungrateful bastards… we give them the privilege of buying our debt by the truckload for the last 20+ years, and then when things get a little dicey, they abandon us. $145 billion may seem like a lot of cash to the ordinary citizen, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the $9 trillion in debt the US government has racked up… much of it during the current administration. We may all see some checks coming in the mail, but they won’t be free… the debt will just get added to the tab we’re racking up for our kids & grandkids to pay off sometime down the road.
The Dow was over 14,000 back in October 2007. It’s currently hanging around in 12,100 mark. That means that we’ve lost about 15% of the Dow’s total value in the last 3-4 months (not accounting for inflation). This doesn’t sound that good, but there are some economists who think the Dow is going to drop even further this year… perhaps close to 10,000.
While the housing market correction is gathering most of the big headlines, I’m starting to see more news about the spillover into commercial real estate as well. We have yet to see the bottom of the real estate markets, and I doubt we’ll see it any time this year.
I’d venture into politics today, but I’ve reached my fill of bad news just scanning the financial section. Until we figure out which pair of pro-corporate, statist hacks we’ll be allowed to choose between, I don’t see much sense in spending time trying to figure out the real differences between the candidates. Part of this is because I’m worried that in the end there won’t be many differences between them at all.
On a happier note, I’ve finally made some progress in reducing my pile of stuff. I have had a large book collection for many years… most of them I’d read once and then put away. Over the years, my library has grown to the point that I’ve got probably 10-12 of those large plastic tubs full of books, and it’s been bugging me that I have them but don’t use them regularly. I’ve taken excess books to used book stores in the past, but have always felt the payoff wasn’t worth it; if you’d get 10% of the book’s value, you’d be doing really well for yourself. I’d also spent enough money on them that donating them to the library wasn’t a popular option either. My mother volunteers in a library, and a good chunk of the donated books end up getting sold at ‘friends of the library’ auctions.
What I finally ended up doing was selling my books on Amazon. Anyone can register to sell, and you pay no fees of any kinds unless you actually sell the item. As with anything else, some books will sell better than others. Mass-market paperbacks for the most part aren’t worth bothering with unless you can sell 100’s of them a month from what I’ve seen. I’ve had good luck with history and sports books, and I hear that cookbooks and the like often do well. Anyway, over the last few months I’ve sold ~20 books and made around $200. It’s not fast money, but it’s turning extra crap into cash I can now use on procuring other sustainability-related items without having to tap the checking account, and it gets some excess stuff out of the house at the same time.