Rerum Novarum Lives On

It is surprising to me that, throughout all of the debates about automation and minimum wage laws in the United States over the past few years, hardly any mention of Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 papal encyclical “Rerum Novarum” enters the dialogue.

Personally, I find Paragraph 45 to be one of the most compelling commentaries on the moral validity of a living wage that I have ever encountered.

In it, His Holiness offered:

“Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford Read the rest of this article!

The Jones Act Overview

The Jones Act is one of the most worker-friendly statutes in existence in the United States because it gives seamen and sailors very broad rights to sue their employers in the event that they are injured while navigating, or attempting to navigate, American waters carrying cargo for U.S. ports.

In the 1910s, the United States was losing about a hundred sailors per month to deep injury or even death. To combat the occupational hazards of being a seaman, Congress passed the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 which gives vast monetary recovery rights to sailors if they are injured or killed while at sea. The purpose of this highly pro-worker maritime law was and is to incentivize ship operators to adopt the highest safety standards possible by imposing stiff penalties for marine workers that are injured on the job.

The Jones Act gives injured seaman four strong ground rules that greatly Read the rest of this article!

The FHA 203k Loan Advantages

Any time you can find a government program that excludes investors and is only limited to occupants or users, the odds are good that the terms are relatively advantageous. This is the case with FHA 203k home improvement loans, which provides an opportunity for home-buyers to receive a mortgage that also covers the cost of future/current home repairs as part of the initial loan that you receive.

If a homebuyer is looking to purchase a $250,000 property, but sees that the kitchen has not been updated since the 1970s and will need $30,000 in repairs, an FHA 203k loan can give you a single loan that consolidates both the home purchase and the improvement into a single loan.

There are six important factors to weigh when thinking about a 203k loan.

First, the total amount that can be borrower under this FHA provision is 110% Read the rest of this article!

An Extended Warranty For Cars Isn’t Worth It

With the rise of online price-checking, the profit margins on new cars have fallen dramatically over the past ten years. In 1995, the average markup on a car was almost 17%. As in, if you paid $39,250 for a new vehicle back then, approximately $25,000 covers the dealer’s cost of purchasing the vehicle from the manufacturer, and the remaining $4,250 represents the dealer’s cut in the transaction for getting you the vehicle.

Because people comparison shop and prioritize the cheapest price over nearly everything else, profit margins in the sector have fallen to 2.8% in 2017. That is a punishing drop in profits. A similar transaction with a $25,000 base would only deliver $700 in profits to the dealership on cars that cost $25,700 pre-tax to purchase.

As is typical with industries whose business models are in transition, car dealers have sought ways to recoup the lost profits from the Read the rest of this article!

The Legendary Mark McGwire Rookie Card

If you lived in St. Louis during the late 1990s, it is difficult to capture the hysteria that surrounded Mark McGwire after his trade from the Oakland Athletics at the 1997 trade deadline. In just 51 games as a Cardinal that year, McGwire managed to hit 24 home runs, a precursor to the home run record he would set the following year at 70 and the 65 to come the year after. 

I was too young at the time to appreciate the ominous impending cloud of the steroid and performance-enhancing drug scandal, though my sense of the era was that hometown fans overlooked any speculation about steroid use concerning the players on their team but were quick to accuse the sluggers on rival teams.

And back then, no one could change a game faster than McGwire. I have a strong memory of people asking the question “Did McGwire hit a Read the rest of this article!