small change toward a rich life

Now Read This — what you really want, house happiness, and the fiscal cliff

Erica Strauss on getting what you really want

Remember ‘miswanting’? Erica at Northwest Edible Life offers a another way to rethink your tangible purchases with Occupy Your Brain (Why You Don’t Really Want What You Want). She lays out a nice little chart to help you dig down past the initial desire-reflex and examine the real issue.

I’ve been trying to implement this process myself in the weeks since Erica first posted this, and I have to say that my answers rarely come out as cleanly as the ones in her sample chart. For any significant purchase (e.g. iPad) I usually have a whole stack of reasons for wanting it, so that even with a huge grid of intermediate problems and feelings in place, the answer to the final yes/no question is not always apparent.

But despite this messiness, I still think it’s a great way to facilitate consideration of your spending. Just the attempt has helped me clarify my emotions and expectations — and when the issue is whether to drop four months’ personal allowance on an iPad, I can’t have too much clarity.

Matthew Amster-Burton on happiness and houses

The secret to happiness, writes Matthew, is to Live Like a College Student for the rest of your life. In particular, that means keeping your domicile 1) small and 2) close to your work or other frequent destinations.

I almost wrote an entire rant explaining in great detail why I think you should take every last word of this article to heart RIGHT NOW, but I thought better of it (see also: whining). Let me just say instead that, as I sit here in our isolated, inconvenient 1800sf mistake, I am feeling what Matthew has to say in a big way.

Not only have I now read the same psychology studies he references, I’ve lived them. Getting separate rooms for the kids was a major factor in our house selection process, and it was completely, utterly misguided. In addition to wishing we’d remained renters, I wish we’d stayed small and prioritized location over space.

At some point the bank will decide to come after our house, and we’ll be moving. This time (and from now on) I’m aiming for tiny — less cleaning, less clutter — and convenient. Two of my top three criteria are access to public transit and walkability. I’ll trade a whole lot of space for those.

Ezra Klein et al. on WTF is the fiscal cliff

It’s all fiscal cliff, all the time on the news these days. Read/listen/watch for a while and you get the idea that it has something to do with taxes, and something to with government spending, and it’s all about Democrats and Republicans fighting. But the details are pretty vague.

Fortunately, the fine people at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog are here to help with The Fiscal Cliff: Absolutely everything you could possibly need to know, in one FAQ. The title is not an exaggeration — it really does break down the whole thing and explain it piece by piece, in language that you don’t need to be an economist or a politician to understand.


6 responses

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  1. Kokuanani says

    The Washington Post is NOT the best source for an evaluation of the fiscal speedbump. You ought to be directing people to the MANY articles at Naked Capitalism that show this fraudulent scam for what it is.

    A good place to start is this interview with James Galbraith:


    Really, I’m disappointed that anyone would recommend the folks at the WaPoo, who have their own pro-big guys agenda. Their goals are NOT good for readers of Pocketmint.

    • Karawynn says

      I don’t read widely in the Post, but I’ve been specifically following Ezra Klein for over a year, and have generally found him to be astute. I am not sure exactly what you mean by ‘big guys’, but he’s definitely not pandering to corporate interests. /understatement

      Did you read the FAQ I recommended, and if so, do you have specific disagreements with it? Or are you just categorically biased against anything printed in the Post?

      I’ll watch the video you linked soon, but I wanted to address the rest of your comment first.

      • Emmers says

        Pretty sure someone who uses the phrase “WaPoo” is going to fall into the “categorically biased” argument. This is why I hate labels like “Faux News” and crap like that.

  2. Kokuanani says

    Well, Emmers, I guess you could call me “categorically biased.” I lived in DC for over 30 years, and watched the Washington Post descend from the paper that broke Watergate into the depths of bloviating by the Very Serious People, with “equal access” given to the far right wingers. Thus the “WaPoo” designation.

    Yes Karawynn, i’ve read almost all of the links you provided. I’ve been following this issue for a number of years.

    Here’s the latest in a GOOD article, explaining how the Very Serious People have created the issue, framed it, and seek a solution that of course hurts everyone but themselves. It’s by Dean Baker, a respected economist.


    One of the things that makes me sad it that one DOES have to have been following this for a while to see what’s going on. Ezra Kline is okay, but he’s still not ready to call out Greenspan, Pete Peterson, the hedge fund guys and everyone else who’s howling for remedies which hurt others, but not themselves.

    I have two recommendations for you: 1) as noted above, the blog Naked Capitalism. The author is an experienced financial writer. She and others there can dissect the bullshit that flows across the pages of the Post and NYT. 2) see if you can locate a showing or copy of the movie “Heist.” It’s a telling history, beginning with the memorandum written for the Chamber of Commerce by [not yet Supreme Court Justice] Powell, outlining the steps to be taken to create a climate more favorable to business and rich guys. It’s NOT a tin-foil hat or conspiracy item, but it’s striking to see how these steps [e.g., establish business-friendly, right wing "think tanks" to churn out position papers & "scholars;" ] have been followed.

    It’s heart-breaking to me to see so many folks bamboozled by the “fiscal cliff” scare stories. This is just another case of the right-wingers’ successful marketing, framing and scare tactics. It does take some work to realize what’s really going on, but I thought that was what you wanted to provide to your readers.

  3. Kokuanani says

    Update re the “Fiscal Speedbump:”

    A couple of weeks ago I posted the previous comment, mentioning the film “Heist: Who Stole the American Dream.”

    In case folks think this is half-baked or “leftie” idea, I wanted to point out that the theme [and the whole history of the "Powell Memo"] has been hijacked by “respectable journalist” Hedrick Smith [without, of course, crediting the creators of Heist, the movie.]

    Still, the following article from Nieman Fellow Dan Froomkin describing Smith’s book will give you & your readers a good summary of the idea:


    For more information on Heist, the movie, go to http://www.heist-themovie.com/index.html

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