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Remember back in the day when you used to take a flight and they would serve you a meal?  Roughly 30 minutes into the flight, a very nice stewardess (before they were called flight attendants) would politely ask you what you would like to eat and you would anticipate your “airline meal”, even though people joked about how bad it was.  It was honestly the thought that counted.  Ok, now fast forward to 2008, the year of the gas gouge and consider what the airline experience has become. We have to now be subject to a ton of new fees and charges that are affecting, not only your in-flight experience, but the bottom line of your airline charges.

Security/911 Surcharge

If it isn’t bad enough that our flights are now custom-fitted to weed out terrorists, rather than simply transport people from destination to destination, the financial effects of 9/11 have been so far reaching, that we may never fully be able to calculate it.  The fee is roughly $2.50 and is used to fund the number of initiatives that were implemented after that memorable day.

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{popin}My younger brother let me listen a few tracks of an album by popular hip-hop artist, Kanye West one day when I was in his car. On the few tracks I listened to, Kanye was basically poking fun of the fact that a growing number of college graduates emerge with nothing more than a retail job at the mall and have not become more marketable. But they could still be proud because, after all, they still have their degree.

Does West have a point? Is it really worth the effort of going through four years of college? Will college graduates be able to reasonably justify the costs of higher education, and if so when? And if it isn’t worth it, at what point in tuition level does it become worth it? Statistics show that tuition rates have risen by 439% since 1982, far surpassing the inflation rate. Even with all the recent uproar about fuel prices, it still is not even half of the increase in tuition. In addition to this, federal grants have consistently been decreasing while students and parents of students continue to take on huge amounts of debt to either land that raise or higher-paying job.

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The current buzz about the upcoming stimulus plan and the state of the US economy has a lot of people talking.  When the Bush administration and Congress alerted the public that families and individuals would be getting checks ranging from $600 to $1,800, people were excited.  And, I have to admit; I was even starting to consider what I was going to do with my piece of the pie.  So, apart from all the independently wealthy folks out there who aren’t thinking twice about this check, let me give you a couple of things to consider.

The Goal Is Spending

The government is actually sending these checks out with the hopes that you, the normal consumer will go out and spend this money- on a flat screen TV, on a new pair of tires you’ve needed or any other shiny, glittery, thing that catches your eye.   Now, that’s all fine and dandy, but if you’re going to spend the money, you might as well get the best bang for your buck (pun intended).  If you are currently in the market to purchase a big-ticket item, then wait for the season when checks will be disbursed.  Many stores understand that a lot of cash will suddenly be infused into the economy and they will be competing to get your dollars.  So let them fight over you and use this time to negotiate on price.   

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Most of you have been watching politicians shuck and jive in predictable ways to try and manage the even more predictable liquidity crisis that has terrorized our financial markets.  As a supporter of Senator Barack Obama, I am hopeful that this will serve as the final signal to America that a Harvard graduate with extensive Economics training might be a better choice than a mediocre student who claims to know nothing about the economy.  I won’t even mention Sarah Palin, who now makes George Bush the runner-up in the “Unfit to Manage a Burger King” contest.  I am not big on Obama-mania, but I tend to be big on common sense.  It is also telling that many Americans would sacrifice our nation’s future in order to avoid the discomfort of seeing a Black man in the White House.   OK, let me shut up before I say what I REALLY think.


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