Young People Don’t Save (No Surprises There)

Warning: rant against financial stupidity ahead!

Apparently it’s news that young people aren’t saving their money. In fact, they have a savings rate of negative 2%, which means they’re using up their assets and/or going into debt.

Now, as a young person who spends my days with other young people, this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Listen to what one of the foolish young women mentioned in the article spends her money on:

“I’ve been saving almost exclusively in my mind,” said 26-year-old Emily Turner, a 2010 graduate of Villanova University who lives in southern Maryland. Most of her paycheck from the digital consulting and web-design firm she works for “doesn’t even make it to a conventional bank account. I’ve certainly not had the opportunity to invest in stocks or anything.”

The money mostly went to her social life and travel, she says: a trip to Central America, a wedding in Southern California, a bachelorette party in Austin, Texas, trips to Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., to see friends, another bachelorette party in Austin.

Here’s a tip, sweetheart: the trips are unnecessary. There are few things in life that are as useless and stupid as a bachelorette party. (Especially the destination ones where the foolish bride and her friends drop a fortune on plane tickets, hotels, and various assorted crap.) The wedding may have been unnecessary: unless it was for a best friend, there’s no shame in gracefully declining the invitation and sending a nice gift in the mail. (Gifts can be expensive but not as much as plane tickets and hotels!) And I’m all about going to see friends who don’t live close to you—but if it cuts into your ability to actually save money and even puts you in debt, then I say stick to Skype for now.

“But Natasha,” you say, “you’re no fun at all! You sound like some bad-tempered old person railing against the young generation.” Well, yes, I guess I am railing a bit. I’m not old though, nor bad-tempered (and let me say that I don’t think older people are, as a rule, bad-tempered, just to be clear). I’m just all about fiscal responsibility. Let us examine what Ms. Turner’s financial situation is, as described at the end of the article.

For Ms. Turner, debts include $5,000 in student loans, $3,000 on credit cards and $6,000 borrowed from family. “There’s no formal note for that, but it resides in my psyche that I will pay it back at some point,” she said.

“I know I shouldn’t have accepted credit so freely,” she said. “But part of youth, the wiring of a young person, is the focus on really short-term gratification.”

Compared to what some people owe, $5,000 in student loans isn’t bad. But $3,000 in credit card debt? Are you joking? I can’t even imagine. Does she not know how high those interest rates are? Does she not know how to calculate the incredibly large amount of interest she’ll pay? If she doesn’t, someone at would be more than willing to show her the calculation, I’m sure.

Let me just put it this way: if you have $3,000 in credit card debt, you should not be traveling until you’ve paid it off. It’s as simple as that.

And people wonder why the country is in such a crappy situation politically. Though the answer to that is complex, part of it is because people like Ms. Turner, who possess absolutely no common sense whatsoever, are voting in our elections. Apparently the lack of common sense extends to politics.

Seriously, if you don’t know how to save money, I am going to give you my main tip for doing so. Keep in mind that I can save money like nobody’s business. Are you ready? Here is the single most important thing you can do to keep more of your paycheck in your bank account:

Stop spending money on alcohol.

I observe what my coworkers and friends spend their money on and that is the single biggest drain on their finances. Alcohol is really expensive. And buying it adds up really, really quickly, especially when you go out for drinks three or four nights every single week. (Don’t believe me? Read this blog entry in which a young woman keeps track of what she spends her money on for a week. Yes, I know she lives in New York, but the amount spent on alcoholic drinks is just insane. Food is a close second, though.)

Of course, people are free to spend their money on what they want. If you love going out on the weekends, by all means do so. But don’t go around whining when your bank account has no money in it, you’re up to your ears in credit card debt, the debt collection agencies are harassing you at all hours of the day, and you just got denied at that new apartment complex you want to live in because your credit score is in the toilet.

The Most Important Cultural Event Of The 21st Century

I will NEVER put a photo of The Band That Must Not Be Named on my blog, so here's a photo of the lovely cathedral they offensively desecrated instead!
I will NEVER put a photo of The Band That Must Not Be Named on my blog, so here’s a photo of the lovely cathedral they offensively desecrated instead!

My friends, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. Read the following excerpt I found in an advice column in the vaunted academic publication, Chronicle of Higher Education. As an ardent once-aspiring academic (who am I kidding—half of my day is usually spent contemplating my return to academia), I like keeping up with what’s going on in the academic world, especially in the humanities and social sciences. But I won’t bore you with my pontification anymore—on to the single most hilarious advice-seeking letter ever published. The emphasis is mine.

I’m tussling with my committee about my dissertation topic. I want to do something new, different, and interesting to me and others in my age cohort.

Specifically, I want to write about Pussy Riot, because they’re the most important cultural event of the 21st century. My committee’s mostly older people, over 50, and they don’t know or appreciate what I’m talking about. They disapprove. They cringe.

But I want to write for the future, not live in the past. How can I persuade them to let me do my dissertation on Pussy Riot?

Ah, yes. How fascinating. We are a mere fourteen years into the twenty-first century, my friends, yet the most important cultural event has already happened! We all should be bowing down and thanking this Future Academic Superstar for her benevolence in informing us of this. No matter what happens in the future years of the twenty-first century—all eighty-five of them!—that “performance” by those immature, offensive, ungrateful, and just plain stupid young women of The Band That Must Not Be Named will forever remain the most important cultural event of this century.

Oddly enough, the genial advice-giving professor who writes the column gives the same advice I would give: don’t touch that topic with a ten-foot pole. Admittedly, her reasons are much different from mine and mainly focus on the topic being much too recent and developing (as in, by the time the dissertation is finished, it may be already out of date). Though I suppose I should be grateful for small favors that her advice leads to the outcome I prefer (specifically, no dissertation on The Band That Must Not Be Named).

Photo credit: спасибо Википедии

No September 11 Post

I used to write a memorial post on September 11. You can read one here. I haven’t for the past two years, though, and I am not going to this year.

The reason why is that I’m disgusted. September 11, 2001 wasn’t that long ago in the whole scheme of things. Yet, everyone seems to have forgotten about it. It bothers me that in my generation, what should have been a turning point and seminal event is just viewed as history now, and something that can’t (and won’t) happen again.

So instead, I am going to work on my novel, then go read for a bit, then go to bed. I’m not going to spend time trying to convince people that the events of September 11, 2001 are more important today than ever before. (Have you read the news about the Middle East lately?) It’s not worth my time and honestly, I really don’t know if I care about persuading people anymore.

Murdered Journalists, Hypocritical Liberals, And Soviet Nuclear Threats

By now you’ve probably heard the horrible news that yet another American has died at the hands of the disgusting Islamic terrorists commonly known as the “Islamic State.” The BBC article I linked to seems to think that the murder of these journalists is proof that American airstrikes are hurting the Islamic State; I’m not sure I agree, but that isn’t the point of this post.

The first point is this: it’s amazing that for years, starting in 2003 or so, the liberals in the United States parroted the stupid rhyme that “Bush lied, people died.” People did die when Bush was president (but show me a president with a truly bloodless tenure and I’ll show you a cat with wings). People are also dying with Obama as president and I haven’t heard a peep out of these allegedly “humanitarian” liberals so concerned with human rights in the third world (and the occasional American soldier, when it suits them). (Realize I’m not just talking about Americans dying now: there are a ton of innocent people dying in Iraq from that stupid Islamic State. Somehow that doesn’t seem to bother the liberals much anymore, though.)

The second, and more important, point is: what the hell is the American government doing letting all this happen? The only duty a government has is to protect its people from external threats—and considering the taxes taken out of each of my paychecks, we Americans deserve a lot of protection! Instead of actually saying something of substance to the Islamic State—say, stop it or we’ll nuke you—all the president says (through his mouthpiece, the White House spokesman John Earnest, of course) that we are “thinking” of the murdered journalists. I’m sure all those thoughts are doing Steven Sotloff and James Foley a whole lot of good right now… not.

What, threats of nuclear annihilation don’t work, you say? I beg to differ: they can be quite effective. Observe the following passage from John R. Schindler’s Unholy Terror: Bosnia, Al-Qa’ida, and the Rise of Global Jihad, pages 135-36.

…Only rarely did Mughniyah slip up. One operation that didn’t go according to plan was the October 1985 kidnapping of four Soviet diplomats in Beirut—a political attaché, the embassy’s doctor, and two KGB officers. Mughniyah miscalculated as the Soviets weren’t inclined to use wait-and-see tactics when its representatives were taken hostage. After one Soviet was executed, the KGB retaliated in Beirut and reportedly threatened that a nuclear bomb would be dropped on the Iranian holy city of Qom if the remaining hostages weren’t at once. Israeli intelligence intercepted encrypted messages between Hizballah and Tehran that revealed Iranian control of the operation—and that Moscow’s threat worked. The Soviet officials were released without further harm.

I don’t like the Soviet Union one bit, but I can’t help but admire such an effective show of strength. (Note: this is one reason why I wish the US and Russia were close allies. I want such rhetoric from someone on my side, not an enemy.)

And I also want the government to stand up for all Americans, no matter where they are in the world. Is it really asking too much for my fellow citizens to elect someone who isn’t a spineless coward? I suppose it is, unfortunately.

Tired

Today was a not-so-exciting day at work. So unexciting, in fact, that while thinking it over in the shower, I thought, “And why am I doing this again?!?” We’re doing a whole bunch of training right now and dang, is it boring. A little part of me dies inside every time I’m forced to listen to a lecture on something I already know. Case in point: I know what an inverted yield curve is, I know when and why it occurs, and what I don’t need is an hour-long lecture on the subject that does not contribute to my knowledge on the matter whatsoever. Just saying.

No, Alexander Motyl, Putin Hasn’t ‘Lost’ Ukraine

I think only someone truly delusional could believe that Putin has “lost Ukraine” (and one must wonder, what does that phrase even mean?). Alexander J. Motyl, resident pro-Ukrainian Russophobic columnist at World Affairs Journal, is one such delusional person. That’s why I couldn’t resist responding to his latest article, “How Putin Lost Ukraine.” Without further ado.. let’s bring it on!

Putin at his inauguration in 2012, obviously thinking, "Bow to my might, weak Ukraine!" Source.
Putin at his inauguration in 2012, obviously thinking, “Bow to my might, weak Ukraine!” Source.

Half a year ago, in the fall of 2013, Ukraine was well on the way to becoming an authoritarian vassal state of Russia. Now, thanks to Russia’s neo-fascist dictator, Vladimir Putin, Ukraine is well on the way to becoming a democracy and a full-fledged member of the international community.

If by “authoritarian vassal state” you mean “close partner of Russia due to historical and cultural ties,” well, I guess you’re right, Mr. Motyl. Likewise, if by “full-fledged member of the international community” you mean “bankrupt country that leeches off US and IMF aid and is gleefully killing its own citizens in the eastern part,” then, right again!
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News Flash: Kiev Police DIDN’T Kill Protestors in February

Berkut policemen shoot rubber bullets at protestors. Source
Berkut policemen shoot rubber bullets at protestors. Source

Remember those protests in Kiev at the end of last year and earlier this year? Remember how Viktor Yanukovych, the rightful president of Ukraine, was accused of ordering the special police force Berkut to fire on his own people?

Well—surprise, surprise—it turns out that Berkut didn’t kill the protestors after all! A parliamentary commission in Ukraine that is investigating what happened says that the bullets that killed the protestors didn’t match the weapons issued to Berkut.

There is no forensic evidence linking the victims of mass killings in Kiev on February 20 with officers from the Berkut police unit, the head of the parliamentary commission investigating the murders told journalists.

[…]

The MP [Gennady Moskal] made the statements at a media conference on Tuesday gathered to announce preliminary results of his commission’s probe. He assured that despite the Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s office having arrested 12 Berkut officers on allegations of committing the mass killings, forensic evidence suggests their innocence.

He said the bullets that killed people in Kiev on the bloodies day of confrontation between protesters seeking to oust President Viktor Yanukovich and riot police didn’t match any of the firearms issued to Berkut’s special unit, which, unlike the majority of riot police, was allowed to carry lethal weapons.

Moskal added that the first shot was fired at police, not the protesters. He alleged that the shooters were agents of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) acting from the ranks of the protesters, but admitted that genuine protesters could have been the culprits.

[…]

The sniper case is one of the hottest issues in Ukraine, where the new authorities accused the ousted president of ordering the mass killings. Both he and several former Ukrainian officials accused the new authorities of sending the snipers to provoke bloodshed and topple the government.

Yanukovich said he never ordered anyone to shoot at Ukrainian people.

The same version was voiced privately in a leaked conversation between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet.

Russia says that activists of the radical Right Sector ultranationalists are the most likely culprits.

The whole situation is so frustrating. Of course, there will be no mention of this in the Western media, just as there is no mention of the civilians being killed in Eastern Ukraine since the election of Pyotr Poroshenko on May 25.

Also, keep in mind I’ve been saying this from the start. The government forces only turned to violence in order to act in self-defense. The protestors were the ones who began behaving violently first.