There is a certain financial institution that is running radio ads suggesting that if you (as a man) have done anything sort of noteworthy, like changing a diaper or cleaning the toilet, you should reward yourself by getting saddled with a huge amount of debt to be repaid at around 6% interest. OK, just kidding about that last part. They actually say that you should “reward yourself” with an RV loan. What kind of reward is that? We can have it now and then have payments and debt for a very long time, oh, and it devalues quickly. It should go without saying that this is stupid. Reward yourself by exchanging your future earnings for up to SEVEN YEARS or more for an RV? Woo-Hoo!!! Let’s just reward ourselves into bankruptcy! Then we’ll really be happy!

Habitat for Humanity is a great program to provide homes for low-income families. They will build a home and sell it to a needy family at a reduced cost when compared to the market and the mortgage has no interest. Certain mortgage lenders will offer to re-finance their home so they can consolidate their debts but with interest. It is sad that people who have a 0% interest mortgage do not realize that paying interest on that money by refinancing is a bad thing, even if you get a tax deduction. It is immoral for these lenders to write out loans they know will hurt the borrower, but they will apparently do anything for a buck.

What if your FICO score is not high enough to qualify for the loan you want? How about renting someone’s credit line? It works like this. A broker finds people who have good credit and credit cards. These cards have a very good payment history with varying credit lines. The broker gets their permission to add someone with bad credit as an “authorized user” while not ever actually granting them access to use the card (for up to 180 days). The person working to “repair” their FICO score pays the broker, the person with good credit gets a cut, and the FICO score is artificially inflated because of this new connection. The Federal Trade Commission has been notified and this may not be legal in the future.

There is a new Italian movie coming out. It is about an advertising executive in midlife crisis and Jesus appears to him on the road to Jerusalem. The controversy is about this scene:

At one point, the Jesus figure is in Forte’s car and the advertising chief offers him a can of coke. As Jesus swigs the drink down, Forte exclaims: “What an endorsement!”.

The film makers were contacted by Coca-Cola and asked to remove the scene and a lawsuit has been filed because it was not removed. The issue is that “[Coke] strongly objected to the figure of Christ being used for what could be interpreted as publicity purposes.” It is a mutual concern of Coke being viewed as so crass as to allow the product placement and that it may be demeaning to the Savior’s image. Good for them.

Science has determined that too much freedom may be bad for you, psychologically speaking. If you have too many options, you may not be as happy. Some people who have moved here from China (specifically a former professor of this author) are finding it difficult to cope with all of the new choices about health care, what insurance company to pick for your car, etc…. Some of these people found it comforting for the government to restrict their choices the way a father figure might. Some people in China are unaware that hundreds of students were killed at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and this author’s term paper was corrected to reflect that no one was killed. So, what kind of choices does this scientific article suggest might be restricted?

As I write this, public debate continues about privatization of Social Security (so people could select their retirement investments), privatization of Medicare and prescription drug benefits (so people could choose their own health plans), and choice in public education. And everyone seems to insist that having patients choose their treatments will make them better off. Software developers design their products so that users can customize them to their own specific needs and tastes, as if the resulting complexity and confusion are worth it. Manufacturers keep offering new versions of old products, as if we needed more variety. The lesson is that developments in each of these spheres may well rest on assumptions that are deeply mistaken.

Of course. We would be sad if we get to own our own Social Security accounts whereas for now we only have the promise of Congress to pay benefits in the future. We would be sad if we had the ability to pick a health plan, just like the horribly depressing situation of picking our own auto insurance benefits, plan and provider. We would also be sad if there was a public school that matched up better with our kid’s aptitudes better and we were able to send them there. Doctors should be allowed to force you to receive chemotherapy and radiation treatment if they think you have cancer. Choice will make you sad. Who wants software that does what you want it to do? Who needs that? Just because manufacturers make new versions that are better and less expensive [because of our capitalist market] is no reason to allow us more choices. It could make us sad.

People need to be empowered to make correct choices and to handle their freedom. Just because some people are unable to handle their freedom does not mean that it should be governmentally reduced. Freedom is the solution, not the problem.

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