The Torn-up Credit Card Application

Some people think I'm paranoid when I shred certain documents, or when I lock my doors, or when I dart erratically down the street to avoid giving the snipers a clear line of sight.  But if you've ever needed convincing that a little paranoia is good for you, especially when it comes to how you dispose of those annoying credit card applications you get in the mail, here's a great story from the folks at The Torn-Up Credit Card Application.

Basically, the guy took an application ("pre-approved credit line - just sign here and return!"), cut it up into many pieces, reassembled it with tape, filled it out with a change of address and change of phone number, mailed it in, and got the approved, ready-to-use credit card back in the mail at the new address.

Most people probably don't tear those things up, let alone shred, incinerate and bury them like I prefer to.  And while I don't want anyone constantly living in fear that their identity will be stolen, there are some reasonable precautions to take.  After all, it's not paranoia if they're really after you.

Watching the Line

There's a line out there that moves up and down all day long. A lot of people watch it because they think it's a sign of how wealthy they are, or how wealthy they could be. Some people have killed themselves when the line goes too low, others have gone to jail. Some people are genuinely happier when the line is high up there, getting along better with their friends and family, whistling to themselves a bit more while they work.


Why do we watch this line so closely? Why do we so willingly and anxiously tie our happiness and sense of security and standing in the world to its altitude and slope?

Continue reading "Watching the Line"

To alleviate the hazards of old age...

In January 1935, President Roosevelt submitted a proposal for "Social Security" to the Congress. The draft legislation is introduced as "a bill to alleviate the hazards of old age, unemployment, illness, and dependency..." It is entirely fitting, I think, that the U.S. government would classify old age as something hazardous, dependency as something to be alleviated. That characterization is consistent with the role of government, as so many of us see it: to take care of us when our abilities as an individual are not sufficient, and to help us survive when we require the help of our fellow citizens.

But I am glad that there are enough problems with the Social Security system that the level of public debate about how to "fix" it is increasing.
Continue reading "To alleviate the hazards of old age..."

Lump Sum or Installments?

Something fun to distract one on a rainy Wednesday: if I won the lottery, would I take the lump sump payment, or the installments over X years? The answer, of course, is "it depends". How old are you when you win, what's the annuity percentage on the installment plan, how much debt do you have, is there a "Best Buy" on the way home from the lottery claim center, etc. Oh, and I guess I'd have to play the lottery in the first place for this to matter much anyway. What would you do?