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An Important Lesson From the Village Idiot

By Candice Taylor in Special Reports, Wealth Watching
October 10th, 2011

There’s a lot to learn about frittering small amounts of money a little at a time. You just never know when the time comes, how much was actually squandered away.

Village IdiotOnce upon a time there was a village named Egoville hidden away in the mountains. Now, this village, like most villages, had their own idiot. His name was Hugh Millety.

Hugh, the village idiot, was the ridicule of Egoville. The towns folk would often set him up with silly choices in order to laugh mercilessly at him when he made the wrong choice.

“Hugh,” they’d say, “would you rather have this shiny new quarter or this dirty old torn dollar bill?”

“I’d like the shiny quarter,” Hugh would reply. His tormentor would give him the quarter and walk away laughing, declaring Hugh a true village idiot. Hugh would just shrug and go about his business.

Even though it was a poor village with little opportunity, this was repeated several times a day by many people. As the years went by, the ridicule became a ritual that dozens of townies took part in. The towns folk had little to their names, but at least they could feel better about themselves in comparison to the village idiot this way. It was their small comfort in the lap of poverty.

Not everyone would make fun of Hugh though. A few felt sorry for him and gave him hand-me-down clothes, leftover food, and even an old shack to live in at the edge of town. Hugh lived off of the handouts of the charitable few.

One day, Hugh showed up at the village square wearing a brand new suit. Everyone was amazed, for few people in the town could afford new clothing, let alone a nice suit. The small village didn’t even have a new clothing store, only a used clothing store.

One of townsfolk asked Hugh where he got his new suit, thinking he must have stolen it. He bought it, he told them. And furthermore he added, the fine new house being built on the mountainside that everyone was wondering about, that was his.

When questioned where he got the money, he told them it was the money they gave him. With people giving him food, clothing, and shelter, he simply saved and invested everything they gave him. “I may be your village idiot,” he smiled and said, “but I’m no fool.”

But why then, they asked, did he always take the lesser amount of money they offered him if he was so cunning?

Hugh replied that if he had taken the greater amount of money, they would have stopped offering it to him. He earned his money by letting them laugh at him, but he knew the first time he took the greater amount they’d stop offering him money and find something else to laugh at him about.

“Now,” said Hugh, “I’m the richest person in town and have all the money I need. I didn’t waste money amusing myself at the expense of someone I falsely perceived to be a lesser person. And you, all of you, have little more now than you had when you started ridiculing me. So tell me, who is the village idiot now?”

Hugh smiled again, then handed out hundred dollar bills to those who had been kind to him. The townsfolk were shocked. It was true though, they had frittered away their money a little at a time, trying to make themselves feel big by comparison to the village idiot.

It just goes to show you, if you live in Egoville, take care not to become the village idiot by your vain perceptions. On the other hand, if you follow the wisdom of Hugh Millety, you might just become the richest person in town.



Bank of America to Charge Customers $5 Monthly Debit Card Usage Fee

By Martin Harris in Banking
September 30th, 2011

It’s going to cost you more to access your own money if you’re a Bank of America customer and use a debit card thanks to a new monthly fee.

bank of America FeesIn a move that is certain to enrage consumers and enrich banking institutions, Bank of America has announced they will start charging customers a $5 monthly debit card fee starting early next year.

They’re not alone. Other national banks, Chase and Wells Fargo are also testing similar fees in select markets. Regional banks SunTrust and Regions Financial have also announced monthly debit card fees that go into effect later this year.

Sen. Dick Durbin slammed Bank of America over the announcement, saying “It seems that old habits die hard for Bank of America. After years of raking in excess profits off an unfair and anti-competitive interchange system, Bank of America is trying to find new ways to pad their profits by sticking it to its customers.”

The decision has drawn much criticism as Bank of America was one of the largest recipients of US taxpayer bailouts, totalling $45 billion in federal bailout money in 2008 and 2009 to deal with losses at Merrill Lynch.

Durbin also added, “Banks that try to make up their excess profits off the backs of their customers will finally learn how a competitive market works.”

The new Bank of America debit card usage fee will apply to basic accounts and will be in addition to any existing monthly service fees charged to account holders.



$16 Muffins and $8 Coffee Served at US Department of Justice Conference Events

By Candice Taylor in Special Reports
September 21st, 2011

While millions of American consumers are cutting back or doing without due to the current economy, US Department of Justice is still spending.

Justice Department MuffinsHow much would you pay for a muffin?

How about a cup of coffee ?

You might be shocked to find out what the US Justice Department is willing to pay for serving these common items to conference attendees - all at the taxpayer’s expense.

The Justice Department’s Inspector General released a report on Tuesday entitled “Audit of Department of Justice Conference Planning and Food and Beverage Costs.”

The report covers the last few years of the George W. Bush administration and the first year of the Obama administration and details how the department hosted or participated in 1,832 conferences in 2008 and 2009, costing $121 million.

According to the report, one conference served muffins that cost $16 each (yes, you read that right, $16 each, not $16 for a dozen). Coffee and tea at some of these events cost as much as $8 per 8 ounce cup. That’s more than the average consumer pays for a bag or can of coffee that would yield up to 60 cups.

Another conference served Beef Wellington hors d’oeuvres that cost over $7 per serving. Still yet another conference had a $60,000 tab for a reception that included platters of Swedish meatballs with a cost of nearly $5 per meatball.

While hotel food is notoriously expensive, these costs are simply outrageous. The Justice Department will say that this report old news and that it has done much more since 2009 to reduce “allowable but … extravagant” spending.


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