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Jason Hernandez

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since May 15, 2016
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Recent posts by Jason Hernandez

Jain Anderson wrote:
There's a saying that goes like this - in order to have a change you must make a change. I can't help but wonder if the 'financial poverty' they find themselves in is debt based or simply reflects choices that didn't work well for them? Certainly there circumstances of illness, physical incapability and plain rotten luck!  

There is also the circumstance of not understanding how it works. Not everyone is educated in the ways of money -- some, for example, are unaware that money can be saved; they think spending it is the only thing that can be done with it, as if it is perishable.

What gets me is the ones who dare to step out into the entrepreneurial world, only to step right into a trap. There are scams that market themselves as "home based business opportunities;" they have a legitimate product, marketing materials, a business model... and in order to access all this, you have to pay a fee. Then they hit you up for ever higher fees for "upgrades." I have heard of people spending thousands on these supposed "business opportunities," only to end up making nothing, because it was a scam from the start. And why do they spend so much? Because they are desperate -- and because they don't understand entrepreneurship. One such scheme offered a higher tier membership where you "double" your commission, or a still higher one where you "triple" it. Now, if you're like me, and you can do basic arithmetic, you would make note of those as something to keep in mind for later, when you start seeing returns. After all, we know that 0 x 2 = 0, and 0 x 3 = 0, so as long as my returns are 0, there is no good reason to pay to double or triple them. Not so, a lot of the victims of this scam. They "upgraded" right away, and also bought every other supposed marketing tool offered. In their financial desperation, they wanted to rake in big returns right away; instead, they were out thousands of dollars. They didn't understand that entrepreneurship doesn't work that way. Bill Gates did not immediately build Microsoft; he started out building a few computers at a time, and slowly, gradually, grew his operation larger by investing his returns back into it.

One more thing: if any alleged opportunity makes a point of explaining to you exactly how it isn't a pyramid scheme -- it's a pyramid scheme!
2 weeks ago

Jay Angler wrote:
Similarly, so much of "charity" is not really about giving a "hand up". It's about puffing up the givers. If we *really* wanted to give people hope, we would support increases in minimum wage and require companies to offer affordable health and dental care to *all* workers, not just full time ones. We would support free/almost free adult education classes up to Grade 12 and subsidize skills and trades training entry level education. We would teach people how to grow their own food, and not put up road blocks that prevent them from accessing public land or telling them they can't plant veggies on their front lawns. We'd plant edible trees in our cities, rather than ornamentals.

Here is an essay I originally posted to Facebook in Honor of St. Stephen's Day, 2017:

'Good King Wenceslaus look'd out on the Feast of Stephen...''

That's today, December 26. The Feast of Stephen was traditionally a day of almsgiving and charity. I suspect it is the origin of today's concept of December as a ''season of giving.'' Which would be fine if it corresponded to a season of need.

We all know the ''Stone Soup'' story, right? People facing a food shortage, learning to share instead of hoard. All very well, but what if food isn't the need in short supply?

It is easy to donate food. The frequency of food drives attests to that. But what good is gifted food when you are already drawing foodstamps, but worried about making rent? Heaven help you if there is a housing shortage -- rents will skyrocket, and don't expect a heartwarming Stone Soup story about that!

I have seen the video on social media: freezing cold day, and someone gives a homeless person a hot cup of coffee. But as a regular coffee drinker, I can attest to one thing: coffee causes the bladder to fill very quickly. Have you ever been in one of those neighborhoods where every store and restaurant for blocks around has a sign saying, ''Restrooms for customers only''? What then of the well meant cup of coffee? The giver gets to walk away feeling all warm and fuzzy, and doesn't have to think about potentially putting the recipient at risk of arrest for urinating in public. That's a sex offense in some jurisdictions! Awww, but it's so much EASIER to provide coffee than a place to urinate afterward!!

And speaking of a place to urinate, perhaps you have been frustrated by a public restroom all out of paper? This could be the work of what is known as an ''urban hunter-gatherer.'' Someone goes into a restroom, winds a wad of paper around his or her hand, and pockets it. Now that family has a few days' supply. Toilet paper isn't food, so you can't buy it with foodstamps; but do any of you disagree that it is a necessity? On the same note, I am sure you ladies are only too aware that you cannot buy feminine hygiene products with foodstamps either. I have occasionally heard of drives for these items, but not nearly as often as food drives. After all, a can of soup is ever so much cheaper than a six-pack of TP.

I don't want to sound ungrateful. I have been a patron of food banks, and I appreciate the donors who keep the shelves stocked. I also appreciate the hardworking, unpaid volunteers there. Really, I do! It's just... well... if the items I received at the food bank have to be cooked in order for me to eat them, then I'd better hope my electric or gas bill somehow got paid! I can't very well cook over a campfire during the countywide burn ban, now can I?

Let's face it, people donate food because it is the easiest. Warm fuzzies on the cheap. I'm sure the writer of ''Stone Soup'' had his heart in the right place; I just can't help wondering how that story would be different if it was about a shortage of something other than food...
2 weeks ago

Jennifer Richardson wrote:
One is a financial independence framework based on very low, very concrete expenses. Say that I allocate myself $100 a month for food. That means that if I can save $2,500 and get a 4% return on it, I never have to work to buy that food month’s again (Note: multiply this by 12 months and never have to work to buy any food ever again). That helps with the discipline to save (small, concrete goal, easier to reach), and the discipline not to spend $800 a month on food (which I could do so, so easily), which would require saving $20,000 instead of $2,500.

It helps to have a tracker, to know exactly how much you are spending on food (or whatever). My friend the accountant introduced me to Mint, where all I need to do is link my bank and credit card accounts, and Mint keeps rack of every transaction, displaying them for easy view. If I set budgets, it tells me if I have exceeded my budget for that category. Best part: it emails me if something unusual happens -- that saved me a bundle one time, because my debit card got skimmed. Mint's email alert let me catch the theft by day two, instead of not knowing about it until my statement came out. The thief was draining me so fast, I probably would have had nothing left if I had had to wait for my monthly statement.

The most infuriating part is that it wasn't my usual bank where it happened. A certain roommate kept begging me to borrow money, but wasn't willing to drive to my usual bank. We went to a different bank I had never used before. He hasn't repaid the loan, either, so see if he gets anymore loans from me!

The second thing sounds kind of bad, but it involves cultivating a sort of protective arrogance. It is not how I really feel when I am being nuanced, and I definitely never apply these ideas to people other than myself, but it is a shell that I can put on and say, “I am not going to be a poor, unhealthy schmuck wasting my money on fast food because I am too lazy to cook. I am not so desperate to look attractive that I am going to drop money on new clothes and a haircut. I am not some fool who sits in front of the television like a sheep.” Etc. Basically I motivate myself by appealing to my own self-image as a disciplined, free-thinking, self-reliant, and determined person who would very much hate to think of myself as a weak, spoiled, lazy consumer who is just going to drop to her knees for her societal overlords. Also I imagine Diogenes and Seneca and some other Stoic philosophers judging me. It works for me.

It doesn't sound bad at all to me. I use the same technique. It is a very effective technique if you can do it.
2 weeks ago

Pearl Sutton wrote:The reason they can sell crap is because people will buy it.

Or the other way 'round: the reason people will buy crap is because it's all there is!

I dream of no longer seeing the "No user serviceable parts" label.

I dream of a spade with a handle that won't snap off just because there is a rock in the soil I'm trying to lift.

I dream of interchangeable electric motors, so that if my blender blows out, I can just buy a new motor, not a whole new blender.
2 weeks ago

Dale Hodgins wrote:This leads me to ponder weather walnuts have spread around the world, on ocean currents, the way that coconuts and sea beans have.

Speaking of sea-beans, I cannot get the sea hearts (Entada gigas) to germinate! I have tried scarifying with a file, punching a hole in the shell with a nail, planting them intact (unscarified), soaking them in water for variable number of days, planting them without soaking -- always the same result. They just rot.
I concur: definitely amaranth. One of my favorite leafy vegetables.
2 weeks ago

Zach Muller wrote:
Up until now I have been chopping and dropping it which is creating a fantastic amount of mulch in the garden. In the future I will experiment with it's other uses. Anyone else seen this creeping around their property?

I wouldn't use it for mulch. The one in the Islands is Commelina diffusa, and every piece of it will grow into a new plant. It is one of our most difficult weeds to clear.
2 weeks ago
Well, it is clearly in the daisy family. You can tell because, if you look really closely, the centers are made up of tiny, separate flowers. Unfortunately, I haven't access to a wildflower guide for your region. Can you get one through your library system?
2 weeks ago
Dominicans love flowers! Even the poorer households usually have at least some flowers, either out front or in pots on the veranda, and the better off households might have nearly the whole yard in flowers. I find lots of zinnias, coleus, allamanda, frangipani, and many whose identities I do not know.
2 weeks ago