Sunday, June 24, 2007

Lukewarm News

As always, I like to bring you a variety of links to interesting money stories from all over (all over the New York Times), keeping you up to date on what is going on (or was a few days ago).

First of all there was Friday's article about Freegans-- see commentary at Millionaire Artist and Frugal for Life. I'm all for getting used stuff for free, but I'm pretty selective about what I'll pick out of the garbage. And I will definitely not be eating any dumpster-dived food.

Friday's paper also had an article about the decline in smoking in New York City. Unfortunately the online version doesn't reproduce the graphic that showed the dips when higher taxes and the ban in restaurants and bars went into effect, but take my word for it that they were pretty dramatic. Smoking is such a deeply addictive habit for many people, I was kind of surprised that a financial incentive to quit would be so effective. (The tax raised the average price of a pack from $5.20 to $6.85.) It would be interesting to know if the people who quit for that reason had been truly heavy smokers or just the kind of social smokers who might have one or two when they're out in a bar... I also wonder if anyone has kept any stats on the average income level of smokers. If people who couldn't afford the higher cost were the ones who quit, you'd think smokers' average income has gone up. Do you think that's been the case?

I was also fascinated by this story about some leadership squabbles in the Pequot tribe, the ones who own the Foxwoods casino:

Even with its disputes, life on the Pequot reservation resembles the Magic Kingdom compared with the grinding poverty that afflicts many Native Americans. They typically confront unemployment rates of about 40 percent and per capita incomes of less than $13,000, a fraction of what a Pequot might spend on a car.

The gated community here, near the tribe’s $18 million golf course, features rambling homes, manicured lawns and driveways filled with luxury cars. Under the tribe’s profit-sharing system, each member 18 and older, working or not, receives a monthly payment that averages about $100,000 a year, tribal members say.

Tribal leaders make more. One tribal council member, in a court filing several years ago, said she had made as much as $1.5 million in a year. Each Pequot is also guaranteed a job, free medical care, day care and tuition at any private school or college.

Some tribal members say it has been too much too fast.

“My own nieces and nephews are ruined,” said Robert Hayward, Richard’s brother. Two of his sisters said their children were refusing to work or go to school. Tribal officials have acknowledged that some Pequots have also struggled with drugs....

“I wish I could get him to work,” Ms. McKeon said of her 19-year-old son, who she said had dropped out of high school. He receives $8,000 monthly from the tribe, she said, and has bought three cars in the last six months, including one that has already been repossessed.
Just as it's possible to be too thin, sometimes people can be too rich.

And today (ooh! today!), there was this article about baby showers:

What began as an informal gathering for close friends and family has become a major event — and often several events — for expectant parents.

“People love to celebrate the different stages of life,” said Peggy Post, the etiquette expert. “Traditionally, baby showers were small and intimate, just the way wedding showers used to be. But we live in a consumer society and people just love to shop.”

For those in the baby gear business, the growth in showers and registries has been a boon. The concept began about 12 years ago, Ms. Post says, and since then, the number of people using baby registries has mushroomed. It was a $240 million business in 2006, up 9.6 percent from 2004, according to Mintel International Group, a research firm based in Chicago.

I couldn't go to the latest baby shower I was invited to, and I'm kind of glad. I did mail a gift, but I think I would have felt pressured to give something fancier if I'd actually gone to this big sit-down lunch at a country club!

That's it for now... tune in again next week, when I'll bring you the best of this week's hot news!


Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

A student of mine was telling me about a Native American familiy that was having a really hard time adjusting to their tribal money. It was a very sad story of people using the mother for her money and ability to buy drugs while the kids had no reason to work.

As much as we actually do owe Native people, I'm not sure this quick cash is doing them any good, sigh.

Diamond said...

Cigarettes here in Australia are about $12-15 for a packet of 25. I can't believe anyone still smokes. I remember growing up and my aunts saying they would give up when cigarettes reached a dollar a packet, then $5, then $10 and so forth. Now we have these graphic warnings on packets - gangrenous limbs, cancerous lips etc. I just can't believe people still smoke.

Very sad about the indigenous kids not working or going to school. Free money isn't always a good thing. Maybe if they want the profit share, they should have to have a job and meet minimum performance criteria.