Friday, February 06, 2009


It's been a fast week... yet the Super Bowl seems to have occurred so long ago. A few fun [and a few less fun] reads for Friday that I found interesting and some comments on the Jewish Economics Survey so far.

Regarding the survey, I must say that I'm relatively happy with the response so far, but there's certainly a need for it to keep spreading. Firstly, thank you to Wolf, ProfK, Orthonomics, and Hirhurim for linking to the survey; and thanks to all those who have forwarded it on to family and friends. Some points worth noting, even though it's still early:
  • The respondents have been from a nice, wide spread. There have been people in their teens and people who are over 60. Over 30 communities have been represented at least once so far, 14 of them in the tri-state area, three of them in other countries.
  • That said, no single community has 10 responses yet. The more people that take the survey, the better it can be utilized.
  • About a third of the respondents left their e-mail; most chose to remain anonymous. More interestingly, and very helpfully, people have rarely chosen not to answer a question, and a large percentage have left notes in response to the survey questions at the end.
  • Over half the people who responded to "What do you think is/are the most important financial issue(s) facing the Orthodox Jewish Community?" cited tuition.
Best comment so far:
What the survey did for me was make me sit down and add up all of the usual expenses that my family has in a year (I added in the ones the survey left out). Then I realized why we are struggling so much to make ends meet - our usual expenses now that we have only one tuition to pay are still slightly more than our income. Taking the survey is something that every family-- struggling with expenses or not-- should do. I have been recommending it to friends.
One of the primary reasons for doing the survey was because of exactly that. Most people have a vague idea in their heads - or even a decent idea - of what they spend each month and think that they're coming out just ahead even if not way ahead. But when they start adding in everything, suddenly that slight cushion is a slight debt.

Other funny but not so funny comments:
  • In response to what questions should be added: None. This was depressing enough at is was.
  • Advice: Live in a hole. Eat grass. Don't have kids right away, and save, save, save.
  • (via Deadspin) The Krispy Kreme Challenge just started. Who wants to try this: Run two miles; eat a dozen doughnuts; run back the two miles - all in one hour, and without throwing up.
  • Hilarious - Peyton Manning and a couple linemen shove Jay Cutler into a pool, taking his cellphone to protect it. But whoops! He's a diabetic...
  • The full list of Madoff victims. 163 pages.
  • Stubborn & Strong sent me this fantasticly interesting piece on how a young woman about my age lives while going deaf and blind in NYC.
  • ProfK and Sephardi Lady have both linked to what should be an interesting pair of talks on birth control, tuition, and halacha.
  • Freakonomics (which typically is moderately left) notes a pair of Chicago economists who rip into the 'stimulus' package. Final line:
    A very plausible alternative hypothesis is that the justifications being put forth for the stimulus package — even if those doing the justifying are economists — are based on politics, not economics.
  • Speaking of brilliant ideas, guess what year this is from: (via DealBreaker)
    Fannie Mae, the mortgage-finance company under U.S. government control, will loosen rules for homeowners seeking to lower their loan payments by refinancing. Fannie Mae will drop some credit-score requirements, reduce income-documentation standards and waive the need for appraisals in some cases, according to a notice yesterday to lenders posted on the Washington-based company's Web site.
    Hint: It's newer than you think. Our brilliant government in action!