Saturday, July 28, 2001

It's a great time to be a Cubs fan. Their pitching staff is better than any I've ever seen in the Windy City, they've got a four game lead in the NL Central, and they have just acquired veteran Fred McGriff from Tampa Bay to help them in the playoff stretch.

Despite all the pesky little concrete factors that have led to the Cubbies' success so far, I credit it to the fact that I've only been able to catch one game on WGN this season, thus avoiding my own personal, unintentional jinx on the team. (Despite the fact that they won that contest as well, I remain convinced they do better when I'm not looking.) With each victory, I follow the game reports more closely and spend more time pouring over box scores and game analysis.

The prospect of a Cubs pennant and World Series chase presents me with a dilemma. I'm not a huge sports guy. My true athletic love, pro football, is right around the corner. Will I be able to divide my limited sports attention between the inhabitants of the Friendly Confines as they charge toward the post-season and the gridiron antics of the Boys of Autumn? Stay tuned.

At the risk of going all Dick Gregory so early in my 'blogging life, here's another wrinkle on the whole tax rebate thing I've been ranting about for the past few days.

Tim passes on word of a tremendous program on the GiveForChange Web site. If you donate to a charity via their donation function in the amount of $300 or $600, they will match your contribution dollar for dollar. The program is capped at one million dollars, and ends November 1st. I, for one, would love to see every dollar earmarked for this program spent. If you're considering giving your windfall to charity, and if you can find groups on the GiveForChange roster that you want to support, why not double the bang for your buck?
12:19 PM  < To return to this entry, save this link

Thursday, July 26, 2001

During a sorely-needed midweek break today, I finally rode Apollo's Chariot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I'm happy to report it's an excellent coaster - smooth, fast and admirably twisty. I just wish the park had heeded my advice and renamed it Wild Goose Chase when they had the chance.
12:00 AM  < To return to this entry, save this link

Tuesday, July 24, 2001

I touched on this in my last entry, but I wanted to bring this idea up again and expand upon it.

The first of the tax rebate checks are in the mail at this moment. Generally, the amounts range from $300 to $600, depending on taxable income and marital status. The aim of the rebate is to stimulate the economy; we're supposed to go out and spend this money on PDAs, plane tickets, picnic tables and the like.

I have major problems with this rebate, not the least of which is the way it's being marketed. The letter sent to recipients last week informing them of the amount they'd be getting was nothing more than a multi-million dollar campaign piece for the Bush 2004 re-election effort, underwritten by the taxpayers. A note of explanation could have easily been included with the checks themselves, and without the self-serving line "President George W. Bush has signed into law..."

The rebate money should have gone toward governmental issues that require our attention, such as continuing to pay down the national debt or shoring up Social Security. Failing that, it should have been kept on hand to make up the inevitable tax shortfall that will hit government coffers as a result of our current economic downturn.

However, the deed is done and the money's on its way. The power now falls to us. What will we do with this cash?

One witty, if unworkable, suggestion I've heard is to endorse the checks over to Social Security and send them back. As poetically tempting as this sounds, we won't be able to give the money back to the government and force them to use it responsibly.

We can cash the checks and do with them what was originally intended: spend it. The money does belong to each person who gets it. As such, anyone who chooses to spend it should have no qualms about doing so.

However, I don't think that's the best thing we can do, and I would like to suggest another way to use the money: give it away.

There are any number of ways to do this. One can go the traditional route and give it to a charity. If you can't think of a favorite off the top of your head, visit my old employer, GuideStar. Their site has tools to help you find groups that share your values and can use the money well.

You can give it to a friend or family member in need. Done anonymously, this would be a great good for both parties.

If you attend one, you can stuff it into the collection envelope for your house of worship.

You can hand the cash to a homeless person along with a sandwich and a blanket, ala Bill Murray in Scrooged.

Those are just a few ideas. I'm sure there are many more. It's ultimately a personal matter, and each of us must reconcile it for, and with, ourselves.

For what it's worth, my money will be divided up evenly between PFLAG, NARAL, and a player to be named later.
11:56 AM  < To return to this entry, save this link

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