Monday, December 13, 2010

Pros/Cons Of Rising Gas Prices

Anyone who has visited a gas station recently knows that the price for a gallon of gas has risen sharply over the past few months. The last time I remember a gallon of gas costing me over $3 per gallon, was back during the summer of 2008. Ever since that time, gas prices have been going down. So, what are the pros and cons of rising gas prices? The pros of higher gas prices revolve around the alternative fuel possibilities, which can never seem to get off the ground as long as there is a plentiful and cheap supply of crude oil to make gasoline with. Back in 2008, when gas prices were going up by the day, dozens of companies began spending money on fossil fuels alternatives. However, as soon as gas prices started going down again - most of those promising new industries started to fade away.

The cons of rising gas prices involve the reduction of dollars consumers have to spend on stuff to get the US economy moving again. As gas prices rise even higher, the amount of a persons paycheck that ends up in their gas tank increases as well. What that means is that, rather than consumers visiting their local Wal-Mart or other retail outlets to buy goods and services like TV's, radio's and new clothing - instead they usually put off those purchases when gas prices rise, because that one commodity has the effect of scaring the daylights out of an average American worker. Almost always, an increased price for crude oil and with it gasoline prices turn good economies of the world into bad ones in a short period of time.

Another thing on the pros side of rising gas prices is that worldwide air pollution and "Climate Change" get worse as more and more carbon is pumped into the atmosphere. Low gas prices always lead to greater consumption by consumers. I am not a big supporter of Global Warming theories, Climate Change or the US governments ideas to totally change the way America provides for its energy needs. However, I do believe all world citizens have an obligation to do what they can to clean-up after themselves on the land, sea and air. There always have been and always will be pros and cons to rising gas prices. The side most Americans come down on, when it comes to the ups and downs of gas prices, depends on what side of the political spectrum they come from and the current condition of the economy and jobs market.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pros/Cons Of Company Christmas (Holiday) Parties

Last night, my company held it's annual Christmas Party. Like always, the food was good and it was nice to associate with coworkers in a different environment than the daily 9-5 office setting. It is becoming more uncommon every year for companies to hold Christmas (Holiday) parties, so what are the pros and cons to these annual events? The pros are simple, because in addition to building a team spirit - company Christmas parties are usually very fun to attend. The cons of a company Christmas party usually revolve around the cost of the event and the possible liability the company might be exposed to if an employee has too much to drink at the party, gets behind the wheel of their car and ends up in a traffic accident.

For me, my annual company Christmas party is something I look forward to each year. It's almost like I can finally put a period on the end of the year every time our party is held. Like many other folks, I experience many ups and downs during the year and at Christmas time it is good to put everything into prospective and especially count my many blessings like having a good job with a good company. The past couple of years it has become front page news that millions of other Americans don't have a Christmas Party to attend, because a bad economy has made it tough for them to find a job. My company Christmas Party gives me the chance to be thankful for the job that I do have.

Another thing on the cons side of an annual Christmas Party is the rare chance that someone at the party will have too much to drink, get angry and end up ruining the entire event for everyone else. Thankfully, I have never actually been to a Christmas Party where a fight has broken out - but I can image what a terrible thing that could be. While there are pros and cons to company Christmas parties, I personally believe the pros outweigh the cons - because it gives all employees at least one chance per year to sit down together for a good meal and spirits and have a chance to get to know each other in a more personal way than modern day offices permit.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pros/Cons Of Hiring Bill Cowher As Dallas Cowboys Head Coach

It was learn late this week that legendary Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher wants to get back into coaching in the NFL. That news is probably not good for Dallas Cowboys interim head coach Jason Garrett, who has taking a terrible football team and turned them into a respectable bunch in only a few short weeks. What are the pros and cons of Jerry Jones hiring Bill Cowher to be the new head football coach of the Dallas Cowboys? The pros overwhelm the cons, because by any measurement, Bill Cowher is one of the best football coaches ever in the NFL. However, if Jerry Jones turns his back on new coach Jason Garrett in favor of Bill Cowher and Cowher fails - the fans might never forgive Jones for that choice.

Fifty three year old Bill Cowher has racked up some winning percentages in the NFL that have been touch by few coaches, ever. Cowher has 149 victories in 15 seasons as a head football coach in the NFL and he has coached in two Superbowls and won one of them. All the cons of Jerry Jones hiring Bill Cowher to be the new coach of the Dallas Cowboys revolve around what such a decision would mean to current head coach Jason Garrett. While I think Bill Cowher could take the Dallas Cowboys to new heights, I also believe Garrett could do the same thing. The biggest nightmare I have is that once Jason Garrett is let go from the Cowboys, he will end up joining another NFC East team and then coach them to victories for the next couple of decades against his former team.

While I like the coaching style of Bill Cowher, I must admit that I think the cons of hiring him as the new Dallas Cowboys head coach - far outweigh the pros of letting Jason Garrett go. When I see what Jason Garrett has done for the Dallas Cowboys in just a few short weeks, I wonder why any NFL owner would want to see that kind of coaching ability go to a competitor? While Jason Garrett is much younger than Bill Cowher, he is not without coaching experience in the NFL. Six weeks ago, I would have said that getting rid of Jason Garrett and hiring Bill Cowher would be a huge positive for the Dallas Cowboys. However, now that I have seen what Garrett is capable of in a short period of time - it would be wrong to let him take his magic to another team.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Pros/Cons Of Zenaida Gonzalez Testimony In Casey Anthony's Trial

It has been reported in recent days that Zenaida Gonzalez's name is on the list of potential witnesses that may be called by the prosecution in Casey Anthony's murder trial next May. Long time followers of the Casey Anthony case will remember that Zenaida Gonzalez was falsely accused by Casey Anthony as the person she left Caylee with when Cindy Anthony called police and reported her granddaughter as missing. So, what are the pros and cons of calling Zenaida Gonzalez as a witness in Casey Anthony's murder trial? To me, the pros far outweigh the cons as long as Gonzalez can hold her emotions in check while on the witness stand. I can only image how I would feel, if I was falsely accused of a crime that I had no knowledge of.

The cons of the prosecution calling Zenaida Gonzalez as a witness involve the potential conflict of interest between Casey Anthony's murder trial and the lawsuit Gonzalez has filed against Anthony in a separate matter. There is no doubt that Jose Baez and his defense team will question Zenaida Gonzalez's truthfulness in the murder trial, because she has a financial interest in seeing Casey Anthony found guilty of murder charges. That said, I believe most members of a jury would be sympathetic to Zenaida Gonzalez when evidence is presented that Casey Anthony tried to frame her for a crime that she did not commit. Casey's lying before she was arrested is going to be put on full display in May of 2011.

While the potential cons of having Zenaida Gonzalez take the stand for the prosecution are obvious, I do think it might be necessary to have her take the witness stand in order to show jurors what kind of sinister heart resides in Casey Anthony's young body. My guess is that when Casey Anthony's trial rolls around next May, Zenaida Gonzalez's testimony will play a key role in helping the jury see through the tears and manipulations of Casey Anthony and her mother Cindy. We all need to remember that while many people have kept up with this case for two years, it is likely that the jury seated to judge Casey Anthony will not be as up on events and evidence as those of us who have follow every little tidbit of information that has been released in this case.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Pros/Cons Of Taking Aspirin To Prevent Cancer

Recently, a new medical study confirmed the link between cancer survival and the daily consumption of a single dose of baby aspirin. Over the years, the evidence of the amazing health benefits of aspirin have been proven time and time again. So what are the pros and cons of taking aspirin daily to prevent and increase your chances of cancer survival? To me, the pros are easy - because not only is aspirin sold over the counter, but it is also one of the cheapest medications on the market today. For many years, we have all known that a single dose of baby aspirin a day can help prevent second heart attacks and some strokes and now the additional pro of aspirin helping to prevent and/or extend the survival rate of cancer is just more icing on the cake.

The biggest thing on the cons side of taking baby aspirin to prevent cancer is that for some people aspirin has terrible side effects. The biggest con to taking aspirin is that for many people even one baby aspirin per day causes stomach upset and even worse bleeding of the stomach and small intestine. There are specially coated forms of aspirin which do control many of these side effects in some people. However, there are thousands of people who start to bleed from their internal organs - even after taking a delayed release form of this amazing medicine. While it is a pro that simple aspirin can prevent some types of cancer, it's a con when so many people cannot take it because of adverse physical reactions.

I told a friend once that Americans should be glad that aspirin was discovered hundreds of years ago, because if it were developed today - it would be one of the most expensive prescription medication on the Earth. The good news is that dozen of research studies around the world all say the same thing about the benefits of aspirin and if large companies in the US want to make money off the growing praise of this wonder medicine - they should develop drugs that will lesson the side effects for those people who cannot take aspirin at this time. There are two things I take everyday without fail. One is Vitamin D and the other is a simple dose of baby aspirin.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Pros/Cons Of Income Flat Tax

Now that President Obama and GOP leaders in the Congress have reached an agreement on continuing the Bush tax cuts and extending unemployment benefit, the US federal deficit will continue to grow over the next year and at some point a flat tax may be needed to help payoff the trillions of dollars of debt that has been rung up by politicians for decades. What are the pros and cons of a "flat tax" rate for all Americans? The pros are the simplest to explain, because unlike the current tax system we have today - a flat tax would be devoid of tax loopholes and write offs in favor of all Americans paying the same percentage of tax on the dollars that they earn. Another thing on the pros side of the US adopting a flat tax rate would be the ease of the system.

The cons of the US going to a flat tax systems mainly effect ideologues on the right and left, who love to social engineer people in the USA to their way of thinking. Liberals want to use the current US tax code to push Climate Change issues, while conservatives want to use it for business friendly ideas. The biggest thing on the cons side to a US based flat tax would be that it would put hundreds of thousands of people out of work almost immediately. From our local tax accountants, to most IRS employees, the need for their services would disappear - if a flat tax really happened in the United States.

The current US tax system is not complicated by accident, in the same way laws are written in a way a none lawyer cannot comprehend. The reason the US tax code is complicated is to not only help politicians push their ideology on the rest of us, but it is also purposely kept complicated in order to preserve the jobs of some pretty influential people. While the pros and cons of a US federal government flat tax will continue to be debated from time to time, in reality I see no chance whatsoever that Congress and the President will want to change the current system - which enables them to control so much of the decision making of everyday Americans.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Pros/Cons Of Facebook Privacy Policy

Sunday night, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared on "60 Minutes". I really enjoyed watching that interview and it was clear to me at the end that he had matured 10 years in the past two running his multi-billion dollar company. Like millions of other people around the world, I visit the social network "Facebook" on a daily basis. However, like most other folks I do worry about how "Facebook" and their affiliated companies use the personal information they obtain from the visits of over 500 million people around the world. So, what are the pros and cons to the Facebook Privacy Policy and do the concerns of millions of people who they collect personal information on threaten the privacy of their visitors and members?

The pros of Facebook's Privacy Policy are that any member of their social network has the right to opt-out of letting any of their personal information becoming public. However, most people who use Facebook do not pay that much attention to their own privacy settings and sometimes unknowingly allow information they do not want to become public to do so. So is it the fault of Facebook that their users do not take a proactive approach to their own privacy or is it the fault of the user? There resides the biggest question around who should police the Internet and social websites like Facebook. Should it be the users responsibility to protect themselves or is that job best left to Facebook and eventually governments around the world?

The biggest thing on the cons side of Facebook's Privacy Policy is that too many important decisions, which should be made on an opt-in basis, are instead place as an opt-out for their users. Since most people do not think that much about their own privacy until it is compromised or stolen - most of Facebook's new and modern applications should all require each user to opt-in to the gathering of consumers information, instead of forcing the user to opt-out. The pros and cons of Facebook and it's privacy policy are too numerous to write about in this small blog post. However - the pros of using the social network Facebook to keep up with family and friends, at present, far outweigh the cons - if just a small amount of common sense is utilized by users and visitors to their website.

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Pros/Cons Of IRA & 401K Gold Accounts

Few investments have been more volatile over the decades than Gold. In recent years, the price of an ounce of Gold has soared to astronomical levels and some people have rushed to sell traditional stock investments and flood their IRA and 401K accounts with Gold. So, what are the pros and cons of investing in raw Gold as part of an IRA and 401K account? The pros side consist of following the latest trend (rising Gold prices) and riding that trend to a big payday come retirement time. However, as many folks can already attest to - riding former financial trends in the NASDAQ and the real estate market caused some Americans to put off retirement forever. Some experts recommend only a 15% investment in Gold as part of a balanced retirement account.

The cons of investing in Gold lead with the fact the all precious metals are always volatile in price, which mean Gold prices could drop like a rock at any time. However, there is just as good of a chance that Gold could double in price over the next 12 months - as well. The biggest thing on the cons side to owning raw Gold or Gold based mutual funds is that there is little to no stability in the pricing of the markets. While some gambler type of personalities love the way Gold prices rise and fall on a daily basis, the average investor does not have the temperament to ride out all of that volatility, especially in their retirement accounts. That is why most financial experts recommend only a small percent of retirement dollars be invested in Gold.

While I tend to see more cons than pros when it comes to investing in Gold in a 401K or IRA account, I do believe there is a better than 50/50 chance that Gold will continue to rise in the near future. The reason I think this way is because the US government has not shown any willingness to tackle the runaway deficits that are ruining the country. It will always be easier for politicians to continue to borrow money that they don't have - than to tell the voters back home they can't have something they want. Nothing on Earth increases the price of Gold faster than the current overspending by governments around the world. Outside of an IRA or 401K account, it is probably wise to invest some money in Gold - unless you believe Washington politicians are really serious amount paying down our huge national debt.

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Pros/Cons Of Extending Unemployment Benefits

There is news this weekend that Democrats in Congress are insisting that a one year extension of long term unemployment benefits be included in proposed legislation to continue the Bush tax cuts for everyone. So what are the pros and cons of extending long term unemployment benefits? The pros side is pretty easy to explain, because anyone that has been out of work for two years understands just how scary it would be to know that the one lifeline you have to paying your bills and feeding your family is about to go away. Also, extending long term unemployment benefits has a positive effect on the US economy because unlike the rich, people who are on unemployment will spend all of their check quickly and that money is put back into the economy immediately.

The cons to extending unemployment benefits are more complicated and more politically driven by those on the extreme left and right of the political spectrum. Many conservatives believe that it is a mistake to continue unemployment benefits for too long, because it encourages people to stay unemployed instead of accepting employment in another field or with a lower annual income. There are also cons to the mental health and self esteem of a person who goes many years without a full-time job. Conservatives argue that long term unemployment will eventually lead to another problem that effected Americans in the 1970's and that problem involved some people staying on government welfare for decades.

Another aspect to whether or not it is a wise use of taxpayer money to extend unemployment benefits past two years is that the US government does not really have any of their own money to pay these benefits with. Instead, just like so many other US federal government programs - the US government will borrow the needed money from other nations and wealthy individuals around the world and further add to an ever growing US federal debt. While there are pros and cons to extending unemployment benefits, I believe that it would be wrong to cut off millions of Americans from their unemployment benefits during a recession and worst of all to do it during the holiday season. Unlike most of the waste already infesting Washington D.C., at least with unemployment benefits we know where the money is going and we know that money will be spent on goods and services that will help keep our economy from getting any worse.

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Friday, December 03, 2010

Pros/Cons Of Fox News Channel

The most popular news channel on cable television today is the Fox News Channel. When compared to it's competition of CNN and MSNBC, Fox News Channel totally dominates it's competitors in the ratings during all hours of the day and night. So, what are the pros and cons of the Fox News Channel and does the network live up to it's slogan of "Fair & Balanced" news coverage? The pros of Fox News Channel involve a mix of right wing political news coverage that is carefully mixed with stories of a personal and sensational nature. It is not uncommon for the Fox News Channel to lead with a hard news story and then within minutes be discussing some sensational news item no one else in the news business is covering.

Another thing on the pros side of the Fox News Channel is that all of their anchors are easy on the eyes when it comes to physical appearance. Sometimes when I am watching the Fox New Channel and their good looking anchors are discussing a terrible news event, my mind remembers an old song from Don Henley called "Dirty Laundry". One line from that hit song about a "bubble headed bleach blonde coming on at 5 and talking about a plane crash with a gleam in her eye", does sometimes seem to fit the way the Fox News Channel coverages some aspects of the news. While there are pros to the Fox News Channel there are plenty of cons, as well.

The biggest thing on the cons side of the Fox News Channel is the way they view all political events in Washington D.C. from a conservative point of view. I consider myself a right of center Republican, but on some of the political stories of the day - the Fox News Channel seems even further to the right than Rush Limbaugh. Some peole say that the Fox News Channel is only covering national news in a conservative way, because much of the mainstream media has a liberal bias to their coverage. I would have to agree with that thinking. However, the Fox News Channel is no longer just another cable news network - when you consider that more people tuned into their election coverage in November than the other three broadcast networks combined, at times. At this time, there are pros and cons to the Fox News Channel - but in my view, the pros far outweigh the cons.

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Pros/Cons Of Playing Farmville

Until recently, I was not a regular Internet game player. However, a couple of coworkers finally convinced me to give Farmville a try and now I play that game everyday. While there are pros and cons to Farmville, for me the pros far outweigh the cons - because I enjoy the competition of the game. Unlike most people who play Farmville, I really did grow up on a farm when I was a kid. However, unlike Farmville - real farmers face long hard days and low wages for very hard work. The biggest thing on the cons side of playing Farmville is that as your farm grows larger, the amount time needed to take care of your land and farm animal continues to grow longer.

Six months ago, if someone told me that I would enjoy an Internet game like Farmville so much that I would look forward to getting off work to "harvest my crops" - I would have called them crazy. On a funny note, I do think my wife thinks I have gone nuts for Farmville - because I always act excited when it is time to plant a new field of seeds or when my chickens are ready for harvest. Like most newcomers to Farmville, when I first started playing the game - I tried to buy and expand my farm at every opportunity. However, now I think the best way to advance via Farmville's XP system - is to keep your farm at a moderate size and maximize your income using common sense math skills.

Another thing on the cons side of playing Farmville is that the game is very addictive. It is important to set aside a certain amount of time each day for the game and then stay away until the next day. When I first started playing Farmville, it became clear to me within a matter of weeks - that I was spending more and more time playing the game and less and less time doing other things in my spare time that I enjoyed. Just like everything in life, the best things are enjoyed in moderation. So, don't let the fun of playing Farmville become an obsession. Instead, play Farmville in moderation and enjoy the game for many years to come.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Pros/Cons Of Prosecuting Julian Assange

While the US Justice Department debates the wisdom of filing criminal charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Sweden has filed an arrest warrant for him for an alleged rape in that country. That arrest warrant for Assange via Interpol will make it even more difficult for him to travel between counties. What are the pros and cons of Sweden or for that matter the United States of America arresting Julian Assange? The charges facing Assange in Sweden have nothing and everything to do with the mischief he has been up to on the world stage via his Wikileaks website in recent months. While there are many supporters of Julian Assange around the world, I do not count myself as one of them. To me, Mr. Assange is on a one man mission to promote himself at the expense of the military, politicians and soon at least one large bank in the United States.

So what are the pros and cons of the United States arresting Julian Assange on espionage charges? The biggest thing on the pros side is that Assange would be removed as a free man to stick his finger of rebellion in the face of nations around the world via his access to classified secrets that have been leaked to him. However, the cons of the US arresting Julian Assange and putting him on trial might be even bigger than the initial good feeling many people would experience once he is finally behind bars. Throughout history, people like Assange have popped onto the public radar and promoted themselves at the expense of others, like military personnel serving in Afghanistan. The last thing the United States of America and other nations around the world want to do is turn Julian Assange into a hero, which is is not.

While the pros of arresting Julian Assange might seem like a good idea in the short run, in the long run it would be a disaster for any nation who puts him on trial. Rightly or wrongly, most of the time when a character like Julian Assange makes the choice to take on the governments of the world, old age is something they do not live long enough to experience. The only thing the governments of the world can do to finally put a stop to Julian Assange's actions, is to discredit him in a way that people, newspapers and the media stop paying attention to what he has to say. Most of the time, people obsessed with personal self promotion like Julian Assange - will eventually be brought down by their own arrogance of narcissistic greatness.

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Pros/Cons Of Increasing Taxes On The Rich

Few things in life will bring as much heated debate in the United States as the question of whether or not the taxes of the rich should be increased or not. What are the pros and cons to increasing the taxes of millionaires and billionaires? The answer to that question depends mainly on your political point of view more than anything else. The pros to raising taxes on the rich involve raising tax revenue from the people who have the best ability to pay. The cons of raising the taxes of the rich revolve around the fact that rich people in the United States create the most new jobs and what is need right now more than anything else in the US is new job creation.

For a bean counter, with a narrow view of the world of finance, it makes perfect sense to tax the daylights out of the rich in order to not only balance the US budget, but to also fund additional federal programs. To liberals and other socialist leaning Americans, most of what is wrong with this country could be cured simply be increasing the taxes on the richest among us. For die-hard conservatives, the idea of taxing the richest Americans is nothing less than biting the hand that fuels the US economy. To conservative leaning Americans, the biggest thing on the cons side of increasing the taxes of the rich - is that by doing so the largest potential job creators in that nation will choose to just write huge checks to the US federal government - instead of putting that same money back into expanding their businesses and creating new jobs.

While I personal lean right politically, I do believe that some kind of middle ground must be found between the conservative view that no taxes should ever be raised on anyone and the liberal view that no limit should be placed on increasing the taxes on rich Americans. There are pros and cons to any US federal government tax increase and for me as long as the President and Congress do not put into place massive government spending cuts, no new taxes for anyone should be put on the table. No one group of Americans - rich, middle class or poor should escape the financial pain that will be necessary to clean up the mess our elected representatives have created on our behalf for decades. While there are pros and cons to increasing taxes on the rich, all Americans must be willing to step up and accept their part of fixing this huge financial problem.

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