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Todd’s Thoughts

| Gazette, Opinion | January 3, 2013

Politicians are now using the tragedy in Newton CT. to take away your rights.

As we try to find answers for this tragedy, politicians see it as an opportunity to push their liberal agenda. This is a pathetic display of “never letting a tragedy go to waste.” (Obama Administration)

I have to admit I am struck by politicians who are jumping on the bandwagon without doing any research or fact checking on the “gun control” matter. The facts regarding gun control are very clear, and we have years of research and studies done on their effect on our society. No matter what anyone tries to tell you, the facts are clear. Gun control not only doesn’t work, but it has the opposite effect on society as the gun control advocates would want you to believe. The FBI, CDC and numerous other studies have found that “banning” guns or limiting the kind or type of weapons a person can own does nothing to curb bad people from killing good people. The sad fact is, when evil or disturbed people want to inflict harm on people, they will find a way. We have to remember, Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer to kill hundreds of people, and terrorists used box cutters to bring down the World Trade Center, killing thousands of innocent people. Senseless violence has been around since the beginning of time and will never be eradicated from our society.

We, as a society, need to understand and locate those individuals responsible and hold them accountable. Making laws that affect the masses does nothing to stop the real issues in our nation. Remember that in the history of the world, never has a gun pulled its own trigger.

The fact of the matter is, we as a society have not only allowed these tragedies to happen, we have listened to politicians tell us that by making laws that take away people’s rights, somehow they will make us safer. Not only do these laws not make us safer, they do just the opposite.

We advertise that areas have no protection with “gun free zones”! These are the areas where these crimes are committed. You never see any of these criminals going into a police station or gun show and opening fire. In fact, it’s just the opposite. “Evil” people prey on innocent victims who are not protected. Every mass shooting in recent years has been where unarmed people were and signs were posted telling everyone that they are “gun free zones”. In Aurora, Colorado, the shooter had seven different theaters to choose from. He chose the “gun free” one.

We have to, as a society, start thinking for ourselves. Politicians cannot legislate away “evil.” Chicago, for instance, has the strictest gun laws in the entire nation, yet 466 children have been killed there this year. The point is, it is your responsibility to make sure you are safe. It is your right to protect yourself by whatever means necessary.
There is absolutely no excuse for the senseless killing of innocent children – or anyone, for that matter.
As sad and emotional as these instances are when innocent lives are lost, we cannot rush to judgment or try to make others pay for a few bad people’s mistakes. We see celebrities and politicians making public service announcements telling us all we should lose our 2nd amendment rights, and at the same time have armed security around themselves 24 hours a day. Why should they be any safer than my family?

I can’t stand an administration lecturing me about gun control when they gave 1,400 weapons to killers and drug dealers in Mexico that cost a border agent his life in the “Fast and Furious” scandal. This is the same administration that tells us all that murdering 3,700 babies every single day in Planned Parenthood is okay, but wants to tell me I shouldn’t be able to protect my loved ones. I don’t think so!

The bottom line is that our second amendment has made it possible for us to be a free nation! Japan’s Admiral said in the 1940s that no one would ever invade America because there would be a gun behind every blade of grass. History tells us mass killings really start by disarming a nation’s population!!!

“FISCAL CLIFF” 2013

| Gazette, Opinion | December 21, 2012

The statement “Fiscal Cliff” has become part of our discussions and news from the media as the deadline approaches. Our debating politicians continue to battle with no compromise from either side. Why? Because it is obvious that the White House feels strongly about its position, Obama does not have to compromise any tax cuts, but only proposes more spending. Hopefully, most members of Congress understand that their constituents are not going to be pleased as they continue to suffer from the depressed economy and possible recession.

Here in California the taxpayers understand and are concerned about the deteriorating economy and recession problems that continue to rise. Two of the main problems that contribute to California’s growing economic problems are: 1) 2012 report last summer of our legislators not addressing government workers’ pensions being underfunded, growing, and not being addressed by unions and legislators. The report stated and quoted figures from two counties, Ventura and Kern, which, respectively, had 84 percent and 77 percent of government employees who are retired and making more money than when they were working! 2) A report posted the first of December, 2012 from the DOL noted that one-third of all welfare recipients live in California.

Another growing problem for the fiscal cliff is the growing cost of healthcare caused by the rules and regulations of Obamacare. When signed into law in March, 2008, and implementing rules beginning in June, 2008, the cost for the largest health insurer in the state – Anthem Blue Cross – to comply with the law was estimated to be over $100 million. This was for the first year! Of course by law, these costs are passed on to the insureds. Obamacare is proving to be a headache for agents and brokers, as the law has created more work and regulations to comply, and more costs to the consumer. If you are on Medicare, you have experienced an increase of Part B costs of 400 percent in five years, a reduction of benefits, and the increasing costs of supplemental coverage.

If our government leadership had asked for the experts in the healthcare field, providers and insurers how to correct the rising costs of healthcare, it would have been evaluated that three items needed to be addressed to reduce costs and stabilize and improve healthcare for Americans. The three items I for the government to better serve our needs are:

The government should help in controlling fraud by providers and insureds.

Work with doctors to lower the cost of their mal-practice insurance. Keep doctors responsible for their action, but create a reasonable cost insurance program. The average cost of insurance for many doctors is between 30-40 percent of their gross income.

Work with Pharmaceutical Companies to lower the cost of drugs. A recent report noted that the cost of drug companies to get approval of a drug through the FDA can be up to $80 million. Of course, this cost must be passed on to the consumer. A report about 10 years ago stated that drugs were about one-third of all medical costs!

If these three items were addressed by our esteemed leaders, I believe healthcare costs could have been lowered by 30-50 percent, depending on how efficient the initiated government programs worked! But then, our leaders didn’t ask the experts in the medical and insurance fields for advice or direction. They, in their infinite wisdom, acted on their own political and personal agendas. And we, the taxpayers, are expected to pay these costs. In closing, let me ask you this question: why are our employees (all government employees from the President, Congress, state, and municipalities) not required to be covered by the same plans as we the taxpayers, since we pay for all their Cadillac plans?

Let us not be so busy working to feed our families, educate our children, support our businesses that create the economy, and pay our taxes that we don’t see that the horse has gotten out of the barn. It appears that the tail is wagging the dog. Don’t you think it’s time to go back to the principles that our Founding Fathers created for our Country?

Jim Lentini, CLU, ChFC, IAR is President of Lentini Insurance & Investments, Inc. Since 1964, LII has served SCV in helping others plan for tomorrow in insurance & retirement planning.

Soaring Healthcare Costs

| Gazette, Opinion | November 23, 2012

Healthcare in retirement is becoming a focal point for financial advisors and their clients. Many people are concerned about a strategy of dealing with increasing costs and reduced benefits in their healthcare and how it will affect their retirement income planning. Handling expenses related to healthcare are a big concern for many baby boomers in particular.

A recent AARP poll of 1,331 voters over the age of 50 found that 53 percent are concerned about incurring health expenses they cannot afford, making the topic one of the top five worries for this age group. The participants included 536 baby boomers, 59 percent of whom said the economic downturn has meant they expect to rely more on Social Security and Medicare than they did in the past. Another study from Fidelity Investments found that a 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need $240,000 to foot out-of-pocket costs not covered by Medicare. The census on this study assumed the husband would live to 82 and the wife to 85.

The life insurance industry study a few years back stated that with a couple age 65 that were non-smokers, one would be alive until age 92. With these facts and rising costs, it is most important for financial advisors to focus not only on accumulating assets for retirement, but making it a priority to prepare for health care expenses as they continue to be a growing issue.

Since Obamacare started in 2008, seniors on Medicare have experienced a continued increase in costs for not only their Part B premiums, which have increased about 300 percent in four years, but increased co-payments and reduced benefits for Part A and Part B of Medicare.

Since Medicare only covers about 80 percent of medical expenses, a supplemental plan is necessary. Due to the continual reduced benefits from Medicare since 2008, the supplements have to increase the benefits to cover the balance of costs. Providing the additional benefits result in increased premiums. Supplemental insurance before 2008 and Obamacare only increased the premium every five years after age 65. Now, the premiums for supplemental coverage increase annually, because Medicare is reducing benefits annually.

Another concern for seniors is Long Term Care insurance. Medicare only covers 100 days in a nursing home. Since we are living longer, the need for LTC must be addressed when addressing your retirement planning needs. Many people don’t realize that when you stop getting better in a hospital, medical insurance stops, and you are moved out into a nursing facility for care. And, you don’t have to be a senior to need LTC. You could be disabled due to an accident or illness at any age and not be able to perform the Activities of Daily Living, (ADLs).

If you have a comprehensive LTC policy, it will cover both nursing home and home care as well as other potential needs. The latest statistics state that 70 percent of individuals over age 65 will have the need for long term coverage. LTC insurance is like life insurance – it will be less expensive the younger you are when purchased. Also, you will be guaranteeing your insurability to purchase coverage while insurable at a more preferred rate. In addition to planning for the funding of increased medical care, good planning will also include research and provide long term care coverage options in a balanced retirement planning program.

Jim Lentini, CLU, ChFC, IAR is president of Lentini Insurance & Investments, Inc. LII has provided insurance and retirement planning since 1964. He can be reached at 661-254-7633 or www.Lentiniiandi.com.

A Sad Day for America – Todd’s Thoughts

| Gazette, Opinion | November 19, 2012

Was the election a teachable moment? What have we learned?

Well, we learned a few things that are quite disturbing. We learned that many millions in the American public are not concerned about their fellow Americans.

Millions of people are without jobs and are living on welfare, struggling just to get by, to feed their families and to make ends meet. Millions more will lose their jobs and become a burden to our nation.

We learned these people are not worried about America’s economy on the verge of collapse. Our country is already 16.2 trillion dollars in debt and with this president’s plan we will see 25 trillion in the next four years. Our country is only growing at 1.3 percent. This doesn’t move us forward it doesn’t even keep up with population growth. We already borrow 4 billion dollars a day – now imagine that number at 9 billion a day, or 80 cents of every dollar going to pay our debt service.

We have learned that these people are not worried about gas prices or energy prices. Our country will see gas prices climb to $8-10 a gallon, and electric bills will skyrocket under Obama’s current plan.

We have learned that these people don’t seem to care that millions of jobs will be lost in the aerospace, coal industries and manufacturing.

We learned these people don’t care about paying taxes. Under the current path it is estimated our taxes will be more than 75 percent of what we make. Can you live only getting 25 percent of the pay check you are getting now?

We have learned that socialism is okay with these voters. They don’t seem to care what direction our country is going or the collapse that is imminent. It appears what JFK said years ago, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” is not what is believed today. Obama voters want free stuff and don’t care who or what it hurts in the process. Free phones, free healthcare, free food, free birth control and the list goes on and on. As any educated person knows, nothing is free and the burden will be borne on the working people of this country. Government can’t give anyone anything without taking it from someone else first.

We have learned that these Obama voters are more worried about themselves than for their fellow American. There just can’t be any other conclusion.

I am saddened knowing half of this nation has decided that free stuff is worth their freedom and security. We cannot have a strong military or a strong defense when we cannot afford to pay for the equipment or personnel to defend our country or our allies around the world. When we lose these things, our standing in the world and friends around the world are and will be in great danger. The world we live in right now is in serious chaos, and without a strong military we have no other conclusion to draw except we could potentially be attacked again, or worse.

Will this be a teachable moment? That remains to be seen. However, I can say this. When the money runs out and the free stuff is taken away, this country will fall into chaos just like every other country that has tried this experiment before us. We have seen this throughout the world before, and socialism always fails. Sooner or later you just run out of other people’s money.

What will happen now? I predict those with money will protect their money and hold off investing. This will cost more jobs, unemployment will rise substantially and the average household income will drop 8K in the next four years. Your taxes will go up tremendously and inflation will grip our nation, causing food prices to skyrocket.

This is not a time for people to be upset about the results in this election. Patriots around the nation need to stick together and inform and educate our children and our neighbors. It is time to pray for our nation. The following years are going to be very rough on many and, whatever your political views, we need to stick together to pull our country through this very bad decision. People need to educate themselves to keep this kind of game from ever being played on the American people again. You may not believe it right now, but you will. YOU WILL!

Is Marketing Just For Businesses? How To Market Yourself To Achieve Your Goals

| Gazette, Opinion | November 9, 2012

Before I came online to work exclusively in 2006, I worked as a classroom teacher in the San Fernando Valley and as a real estate broker and residential appraiser throughout Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties. I have said many times that if I had known as much about marketing then as I do now, my real estate business would have been much easier and more lucrative.

But is marketing only applicable to business? I think not.

We market ourselves on a regular basis in our daily lives. It’s our way of connecting with others and building something referred to as the “know, like, and trust factor.” Allow me to give you a concrete example of this strategy.

Two of my friends, Tom and Dina, have a daughter, Caroline, who is a senior in high school this year. Caroline is a top student, yet she is shy and introverted when it comes to getting involved with activities at school. Two years ago the school counselor told them that unless Caroline could show that she was more than just academically outstanding, there would be little chance of her getting into the college of her choice.

That’s when they came to me for help, and I began the process of “marketing” Caroline to the world. My goal was to showcase her gifts and talents in a way that would suit her personality and get her noticed by the college admissions offices. I met with the family every week for about six weeks to put many things into place that would build her credibility and increase her visibility.

The first thing we did was to make a list of Caroline’s accomplishments: She had played the piano since she was eleven; she used to play soccer in elementary and junior high school; and she excelled in mathematics. We needed to show that it would be a benefit to have her as a part of any college freshman class.

Because Caroline is shy and reserved, my approach was to turn her into a minor celebrity who could say almost everything she needed to from the solitude of home. We set up a blog for her, and also a channel on YouTube. She began posting about her love of music, and then invited readers to watch the videos she was making where she was playing the piano. She posted about her school’s soccer team, and gave a detailed analysis after each game of what they could have done differently. She posted about various math topics, and then offered to help anyone who had questions or was having difficulty with their homework.

All of this was put into place to build Caroline’s credibility, but none of it would matter unless we could get the word out about what she was doing to increase her visibility. To do this quickly, I recommended that she connect with at least three other students who were key “influencers” in the high school community. After a long discussion and strategy session, we narrowed it down to three students she knew fairly well. Her assignment was to tell each of them about her blog, and to ask them to let others at school know about it as well.

The results have been nothing short of amazing. She became a minor celebrity at school very quickly by leveraging the power of the Internet. The music department asked her to join them for their upcoming events; the math department asked her to start a program for after school tutoring, and the soccer team asked her to be a student advisor for their next season.
Caroline was able to stay true to herself, while also getting involved in activities she was passionate about. When she filled out her college applications she had so much more to include that showcased her talents, skills, and abilities. She is currently in the process of applying to schools that meet all of her criteria so that she will have a bright future.

What about you? Can you see by this case study that marketing is not just for business?

Keep your questions coming, and best of success with your online marketing endeavors.

Connie Ragen Green lives in Saugus and has been working exclusively on the Internet since 2006. Find out more by visiting http://HugeProfitsTinyList.com.

Questions? Email Connie at crgreencrgreen@yahoo.com and be sure to put Home Business Question in the subject line. Your question and answer will be included in a future article.

2012 Medicare & Obamacare

| Gazette, Opinion | November 2, 2012

By Jim Lentini
When the Supreme Court voted to sustain the Affordable Care Act last summer, it substantiated that the Act was constitutional. It had to be, or else Medicare wasn’t. You can’t allow government to tax people to pay for medical care for citizens over the age of 65 and not allow government to do the same for those under 65.

At the same time, and despite the best efforts of the Obama Administration to camouflage the reality of the situation, the act demanded that people pay money to be part of the system. Chief Roberts called it a tax because it was the clearest path to constitutionality, as reported by political writer for Time magazine, Joe Klein. Klein said it is quite clear and noted from the outset of this Act that Obama and his handlers have shown a distressing tendency to not speak truthfull-y to the American people on this crucial issue.

Political courage requires clarity. The Obama Administration did not want to take the political risk of allowing opponents to call it a tax increase. That was stupid. The Republicans called it a tax increase and now it was verified by the Supreme Court. One of the worst aspects of Obamacare was that it moved 30 million people into Medicaid, a very troubled program.

The states have rebelled against this mandate, and Chief Roberts ruled that states could opt out. The Act has steadily increased the cost of healthcare since implementation three years ago, and it was structured to not fully be implemented until after the election next week! When passed in March, 2008, the first implementation of the law was begun in June 2008.

The largest insurer in California, Anthem Blue Cross, estimated the cost – to just comply with the law the first year – to be $100 million! Of course, by state and federal mandate control of health insurance premium, this cost is pasted on to insured’s. Health insurance premium increases can only be approved by the State Insurance Commissioner and loss ratios must be over 80 percent in California.

We have only seen the tip of the iceberg with Obamacare. When the “exchanges” are implemented in 2014, then small employers (fewer than 500 employees), which constitute 80 percent of our economy, will have to provide Obamacare plans or pay a fine per employee. The fine is designed to be cost effective to employers to pay the fine which is less expensive than providing even a basic group medical plan formulated by obamacare. This way, rules of Obamacare will drive employees to the government run “exchanges.” Can you remember how convenient it was the last time you went to the DMV, another government run program? And that’s only for vehicle registration and license.

Now, you will have to go to a government run agency for all your decisions about the right health insurance plan for you and your family. You will have to consult and inquire for the right information and questions on the best plan for your demographics, needs, and wants, if your doctors are in the network, etc. All of these questions and answers you normally get from your broker or agent for one of the most important and costly aspects of the health and welfare of you and your family. Do you really think a DMV type system will satisfy your questions, needs and costs?

Speaking of costs! Medicare is provided to all Americans and comes from Americans’ required tax contribution into Social Security from their lifetime of earnings and is a part of their retirement income. Since Obamacare was implemented in 2008, those over age 65 have experienced an accelerated increase in cost for their Part B and Part D coverage, deductibles, co-payments and supplemental costs. Instead of increases of premiums every five years before Obamacare, now seniors get increases annually, and soon it will increase dramatically with Obamacare’s planned withdrawal of over $700 billion from Medicare benefits for other entitlement programs. Tell me, what is more important than protecting our seniors from increasing costs and decreasing benefits of plans they have worked for all their lives?

Unfortunately, those who have planned Obamacare – the president and his followers – did not ask the experts in the field of medical benefits for advice in how to revise the increasing cost of providing medical coverage for Americans. Had they done this before spending $4 billion of taxpayers’ money, they could have found the following to correct the increasing cost of health care:

Government should help the industry stop the fraud in health benefits.
Government should provide an oversight medical malpractice program so doctors don’t have to spend 20-30 percent of income for insurance.

Government should provide incentives and deductions for pharmaceutical companies to research new drugs. This way, companies do not have to pass on the cost of R & D to consumers. One-third of all medical expenses today are the cost of drugs. What we had to do surgery for 25 years ago is now corrected or controlled with drugs.

If government had executed these three factors, health costs could have been reduced by as much as 50 percent! But then, they forgot, or didn’t want to, ask the experts before spending our money for a plan that is too expensive and won’t work for the taxpayer in America! No, it will only work for those who don’t pay any taxes. Did you know that in California we already have nine programs that provide guaranteed medical coverage for those who can’t afford it or are disabled?

Jim Lentini, CLU, ChFC, IAR is President of Lentini Insurance & Investments, Inc. Since 1964, they have provided insurance and retirement planning. “Helping others plan for the future”.

Todd’s Thoughts

| Gazette, Opinion | October 19, 2012

People have forgotten why our country is in the mess we are in. I thought it might be a good idea to refresh everyone’s memories before the election.

These are the leading culprits who actually caused the subprime mortgage collapse, which then caused the current worldwide deep recession.
Jimmy Carter pushed for and signed into law the Community Reinvestment Act, which forced banks to lower their standards so that previously unqualified people could get mortgages.
Bill Clinton then doubled-down on the Community Reinvestment Act by greatly lowering mortgage standards to allow a lot more unqualified borrowers to get loans.
Bill Clinton’s Attorney General, Janet Reno, then intimidated banks with threats of legal action if they did not give loans to unqualified borrowers who would not have the income to pay the loans back.
A member of the Clinton administration, Franklin Raines, was then put in charge of Fannie Mae by Bill Clinton. Fannie Mae bought up a majority of the bad loans made by banks to unqualified borrowers. Raines then falsified Fannie Mae financial reports so he could collect bonuses, which totaled over $90 million for five years.
Senator Chris Dodd, head of the Senatorial Financial Committee, suppressed efforts by President George W. Bush and congressional Republicans to rein in the corruption at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He got a very favorable loan by a bank associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as large political campaign contributions from those sources.
Barney Frank, head of the House of Representatives Banking Committee, also suppressed efforts by President George W. Bush and Congressional Republicans to investigate corruption at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Barack Obama, while he was an attorney, filed lawsuits against banks on behalf of ACORN in order to force banks to give loans to people who could not afford to pay them back. Obama, while he was a U.S. Senator, also suppressed efforts by President George W. Bush and Republican Congressmen to investigate and rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This all boils down to the policies of democrats. You cannot expect to give people “free” stuff and expect that it will not damage our economy and take away our freedoms.Obama and the democrats want you to believe we should be happy about 8 percent unemployment. (Although the real number is closer to 12 percent). Look at what has been done in four years under Obama.

We have spent $1 trillion on stimulus. We have $5.4 trillion in new debt, we have tripled our money supply and devalued our dollar using QE 1,2,3, causing our gas prices to skyrocket and inflation inevitable. We have a $2.7 trillion healthcare bill for which we will have to borrow the money from other countries. We have record numbers of Americans on food stamps and welfare. We have spent 90 billion dollars on a “Green Energy” scam.

Guess what! We are right back to where we started when he took office!
This is insane to me that there would be anyone that would ever vote for a democrat again. America deserves better and the lies and propaganda has to stop. The facts make it very clear why our country is in this mess and that giving “free stuff” to people is the cause. Democrats say they are the champions of the little guy, but looking into the past shows this just isn’t true. The poor and middle class have been hit the hardest by the democrats; after all, a bad economy isn’t hurting the rich.

Americans of all stripes need to pay attention and stop this nonsense.

Here are some things you need to ask yourself when you listen to a politician. Is this the governments job ? Is it in the Constitution? If the answer is no to either one, then that politician is a problem and has got to go. The politicians’ pandering to get votes is not what this country needs right now, and our children shouldn’t have to pay for a society that is to worried about what they are going to get rather than what they are going to give.

Our Country is not the greatest in the world, and it’s because of our government! It is the greatest country in the world because of its people. Our country was not built on handouts – it was built on hard work and determination.

Start paying attention, America— to what’s really going on. Do your homework! It’s your civic duty to stop this madness.

Comments Off on Do You Squidoo? Get The Word Out With A Free Website

Do You Squidoo? Get The Word Out With A Free Website

| Gazette, Opinion | October 13, 2012

Thanks to all of you for reading this column each month. I’m starting to get lots of questions, and today I will address two of them. See the end of the column to learn how to reach me with your questions on the topic of online marketing and visibility for a small business or home-based business.

Michael wrote in to ask how he can get started online without any cost. He has a local business he wants to promote, as well as the desire to start a home-based operation to sell his information on coin and stamp collecting. Here is my answer:

Typically, I recommend that you start out with a hosted WordPress site. This entails getting a hosting account (I use BlueHostSolutions.com because of their fair pricing and excellent customer service). Hosting runs less than $70 per year and allows you to host an unlimited number of websites. Then you must purchase a domain name for each site you set up, or redirect to an affiliate link. This runs about eight dollars per year, per domain. You only need a few domains to get started, but this will increase steadily over time. I have an inventory of almost 600 domains, so this can be costly in the very beginning. I only renew a domain if it is earning me at least 10 times as much as the renewal fee. WordPress is a free installation, so you are now in business.

An alternative to going the “hosted WordPress site with your own domain” route is to set up a completely free website on a third party platform. The very best choice for this is Squidoo (Squidoo.com). Squidoo is the brainchild of author, entrepreneur, and public speaker Seth Godin. In 2006 he and his team launched this site as a way for anyone with access to a computer and an Internet connection to be able to easily create their own websites.

Squidoo continues to be one of my favorite marketing strategies. This is where you can create a ‘lens’, which is a web page on a specific topic. This topic could be your local business, a course or eBook you have created, or a product available on Amazon you wish to recommend and earn money from. While I tend to set up my lenses strictly to promote my articles, my own products, courses and books, and niche sites I create on a variety of topics, you can certainly do this to get the word out about a local business or to set up a site quickly based on your stamp and coin collecting hobbies you mentioned in your email to me. Anyone can become a “lensmaster” on Squidoo, and this will give you a much better idea of how you want to proceed in the future.

Let us know when you set up a Squidoo lens so we can take a look. I recently set up a lens on baby monitors to recommend the one I believe is the best on the market. You can take a look at what I did at http://www.squidoo.com/sony-baby-nursery-monitors.

Tatiana also emailed me recently. She has an idea for a business on helping parents to teach their own children to swim.

My recommendation here is to create several lenses on Squidoo to see which keyword phrases are most appealing to your target audience. Keywords are the words people type into Google when they are searching for more information on a topic, and your target audience would be parents who have decided that their child needs to learn to swim. In order to make your business venture worthwhile, your goal is to find out if enough parents want to teach their own children, or if they would prefer to have someone else teach them. By setting up lenses with keyword phrases such as “teach your child to swim” or “swimming lessons by parents” you will be able to do your research at no cost. A Squidoo lens is made up of many modules, so be sure to add the module called “Guestbook Comments,” where parents will be able to share their thoughts with you.
Keep your questions coming, and best of success with your online marketing endeavors.

Connie Ragen Green lives in Saugus and has been working exclusively on the Internet since 2006. Find out more by visiting http://HugeProfitsTinyList.com.

Questions? Email Connie at crgreencrgreen@yahoo.com and be sure to put Home Business Question in the subject line. Your question and answer will be included in a future article.

USPS, “We Care”

| Gazette, Opinion | September 29, 2012

Our Postal Service letter carrier delivered us a Certified Mail envelope from its “HazMat” department. Evidently, somebody sent us some hazardous materials that were leaking, and sirens were going off at the post office.

The USPS letter said our “package has HazMat markings, is leaking or has been leaked on and therefore can not be advanced.” (underlined by the sender)
It said we had to mail or fax within two days, “granting permission to open and dispose of the package.” And “Please be advised, you may be responsible for any disposal costs incurred.” They also said we could drive across town “within two days…to retrieve your package…”

Being an official threat warning from the government, of course the letter was unsigned. But it closed: “Sincerely, Monica ‑ Hazmat Unit.” Like the Postal Service itself, it was not quite personal and not quite official.

Well, who wouldn’t be concerned? Was there a clumsy Unabomber out there? Or worse, somebody on a rant who knows us, somebody like Doug Sutton?

The HazMat notice identified the sender’s name and address, and we recognized it was one of our employees who works from his home. We called him right away to find out how disgruntled he was or what stuff he might be sending us. Was it a leaking battery? Was it more sausage and smoked cheese from Hickory Farms, perhaps mutated by global warming and escaping? He said, “No. Nothing that might leak.” The package was just some paperwork and a CD. No batteries. No liquids. No cheese.
Believing we probably weren’t in jeopardy from our own mistakes (this time), my wife drove across town to pick up the package. She brought back a sealed, see-through plastic bag, and our HazMat mail was inside. I could see inside it was grease-spotted, as if some French fries or mayonnaise were spilled on it.

The plastic bag was pre-printed with a very nice apology, and it said “WE CARE.” (see inset) The plastic bag was much friendlier than their letter, and about as personable as the Postal Service is likely to get.

I opened the bag, and sure enough, it smelled of French Fries.

So I read through the letter again. Why did we have to drive across town to retrieve a package that was dripped on by some postal worker when he ate his lunch? Did they really need to send us a certified mail HazMat notice?

At least they apologized for the damage to our mail and also for the inconvenience. I’m thinking that downsizing the Postal Service may not be such a bad thing after all. Oh yes, they forgot to cancel the stamps!

Health Care Gaps

| Gazette, Opinion | September 28, 2012

by Jim Lentini
The Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But there is still a major gap in our nation’s comprehensive health care, because there is no sustainable long-term care program. As a result of healthcare reform, businesses across the country will begin reviewing their insurance offerings and benefit packages over the next few months. Now, more than ever, agents and brokers need to advise and educate their clients about adding multi-life worksite long-term insurance (LTCI) solutions to help employers and employees supplement their benefit needs.

As all seniors receive their annual summary of benefits for Medicare and Part D (Rx), it reminds me that our government is treating all of us like frogs. The old adage says, “If you throw a frog into boiling water, he jumps out, but if you throw him into cold water and slowly turn up the heat, you cook him.” As seniors receive their change of benefits and costs for 2013, (I just received mine last weekend), it shows how much the premium increases, and what benefit changes are effective next year. How many seniors know that we have a deductible for Medicare that started Jan 1, 2012? You never heard anything of it from the media, and most seniors don’t read the booklets sent each year telling of the changes, increased co-pays, and increased premium.

Nearly six million U.S. businesses represent mid-size workforces (those with less than 500 employees) making up more than half of all private-sector workers. About 70 percent of people will eventually need long-term care services in their lifetime. With our continued extended longevity, there has never been a more critical time for businesses and employees to understand and be offered the options of multi-life LTCI that are available for the workforce of mid-sized companies. Offering LTCI on a multi-life basis has great benefits for both the employer and employees of these companies.

Having more people privately insured can reduce the strain on the nation’s health care and Medicaid system. Unlike traditional group plans, multi-life LTCI plans are flexible enough for businesses of all sizes, even those with just a few employees, and program administration has never been easier. One of the benefits of multi-life cases is that, with just a minimum number of lives, guarantee issue is offered by a few major companies and portability when an employee leaves or retires. Also, with a voluntary program, it costs an employer nothing other than payroll deduction to offer this valuable protection for the benefit of employees and their spouses.

The SCAN Foundation offers the following statistics for California:
By 2030, the number of Californians age 65 and older is projected to increase to almost 9 million, or 18 percent of the state’s population.
The population of people 85 and older (those most likely to need LTC services) is expected to grow almost 40 percent by 2030 and 206 percent by 2050.
The number of Californians age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to increase 38 percent, from 480,000 in 2010 to 660,000 by 2025.

For many mid-size employers, having a thoroughly researched and well-designed LTCI plan from a reliable carrier can be a smart way to provide valuable protection for both their employees and corporate goals. LTCI is not a well understood and explained necessary benefit. And, with the increasing costs of government, deficit spending, and reduced benefits to seniors and increased cost of benefits, it is imperative for employers to address this necessary and needed benefit for everyone.

Jim Lentini, CLU, ChFC, IAR is President of Lentini Insurance & Investments, Inc. Since 1964 LII has provided individuals, businesses and employees with Multi-life benefits and retirement planning. He can be reached at 661-254-7633. jim@lentiniiandi.com.

Todd’s Thoughts

| Gazette, Opinion | September 6, 2012

In recent months I have been struck by the divisive nature in this season of politics. In particular, the supposed war on women. I have never seen so many lies and deception aimed at women in any other election in my lifetime. I have to think this is caused by a failing president trying to do whatever he can to be re-elected. Whatever the cause, I find this rhetoric disturbing.
The truth of the matter is that for anyone to believe this hateful rhetoric you would have to assume quite a few things to come to the conclusion that Republicans hate women.
You would have to believe that women think that birth control is more important than a failing economy.
You would have to believe that women think social issues are more important than high unemployment.
You would have to believe that women want a bureaucrat between their doctors and themselves, which would be the result when ObamaCare takes over one-sixth of our economy.
You would have to believe that women don’t care that Obama has taken 716 billion dollars out of Medicare and don’t believe that it hurts the entitlements for future generations.
You would have to believe that women don’t understand that a deficit of 16 trillion dollars is bad for the economy and takes away from the freedom and future of their children and grandchildren.
You would have to believe that women don’t care about the path this president has put this country on. Nor the fact that that he has lied to the American people at every turn.
You would have to believe that women don’t understand that more women have lost their jobs during the Obama recovery than in U.S. history.
You would have to believe that women want to be on entitlements like food stamps, unemployment and want the government to run their lives.
Democrats must believe that women are just that stupid.
I take exception to remarks like this because I happen to have, know and listen to some great women in my life. I was raised by a single mother who worked two jobs to make ends meet. She never asked for a hand out. She brought me up knowing that if I worked hard and had integrity, I would succeed in this world in whatever I wanted to do. My dreams were only limited by myself, and she always asked me to consider how big I would dream if I knew I couldn’t fail. She believes in the American dream.
Now that I am older and have found my way in my own family, I look back over the years. From the time I started my successful business (Hallway Plumbing), I have never believed I did that on my own. Great women like Cathy, my wife, have always been there to push me to achieve, think out of the box and be a better father through the good and bad times. She wouldn’t let me quit or slow down.  She works in the business as well and along the way would never let me be anything except the very best.
WE DID BUILD THIS.
These women and many others in my life have been a driving force in shaping who I am, not only as a person, but in business. They all understand the country is in trouble and expect politicians to talk to them like adults.
These women are not stupid and know when they are being lied to. They are very upset at the way the country is being run and the hypocrisy in which our president involves himself. They don’t need to be told the economy is bad, or gas, food or anything else is more expensive. They see what a failure this president is and the question I hear time and time again is, “Why does Obama think he deserves another four years?” Nothing is better. A lot more is worse. He has divided the nation and forced us to buy healthcare we never wanted. He has given us the largest tax increase in American history and has taken billions from the military. Many of them voted for Obama, only to see that the Hope and Change isn’t at all what he promised. They consider themselves Americans first and think we deserve much better. They are all great business women and ALL agree, he has failed to produce what he promised.  It’s time to let him go.
Hats off to all the strong, successful women out there that understand the economy and jobs are the issue in this election.

Halloween Before Labor Day? Online Marketers Plan Early

| Gazette, Opinion | August 31, 2012

By Connie Ragen Green
Even though we’re still dealing with double digit temperatures here in the Santa Clarita Valley, thoughts of the upcoming holiday season are on the minds of those setting up niche websites to take advantage of holiday shoppers on the Internet. According to the National Retail Federation, it is estimated that consumers will spend approximately $11 billion on Halloween this year, and more than a third of that will come from online sales.
Ted wrote in to ask me what types of sites he and his wife could put up to earn extra income, and the ones I’m going to discuss here certainly fit the bill. The idea is to always be thinking ahead to what people will be interested in, and one of the very best ways to start getting used to this type of thinking is to set up sites related to the holidays, also referred to as “holiday niche sites.”
We’ve all seen how the retail stores, and even the grocery stores, bring out the holiday merchandise earlier and earlier each year. They are doing this for good reason; the sooner they put it on the shelves, the sooner we all have it in our minds to start planning and purchasing for that holiday. I tried to resist this marketing strategy one year, and ended up going to several stores the week before Easter, only to find that everything I wanted in order to make my traditional Easter baskets had already sold out. Now I am one of the first in line to buy what I need sooner rather than later.
Right now I am setting up two new sites for Halloween. They are simple, three-page websites that will be used to recommend costumes and other accessories that are sold on Amazon. The idea with these is that people searching online for specific Halloween items, such as costumes, masks, makeup and more, will be able to find my sites as a solution to their problem.
Always remember that you are a problem solver first and foremost if you are going to achieve success as an online marketer. If someone has been invited to a Halloween costume party with a political theme (remember that this is an election year) and they wish to dress up as one of the candidates, they are much more likely to at least begin their search on the Internet.
We are all busier than ever before, so it just makes sense that we want to save both time and money by seeing what might be available before we head to Target or to the mall to find what we need.
Start by purchasing a domain with the name of the holiday included. An example might be something like PoliticalHalloweenCostumeIdeas.com. This domain would be very specific and let people know what to expect to find there.
Set up a WordPress blog and add some royalty-free graphic. These are pictures that we are able to use on our sites without having to worry about copyright infringement. Add some content by writing about your topic and keeping it relevant to what you will be promoting. Make sure you are an Amazon affiliate and find some items to promote that are related to what your site is about.
Once you have set up your site, let others know about it. Add it to your signature line in your emails, talk about it on Facebook and Twitter, and tell all of your friends to share it with their friends as well. Between now and Halloween you will have built up a nice following, made some money, and have a site that is ready to go for next year. Over time, Google and the other search engines will list your site, allowing people who type in the keywords of what your site is about to find it more easily. That’s really the best thing about holiday niche sites; once you set them up the first time they are already primed for the same holiday the next year.
Connie Ragen Green lives in Saugus and has been working exclusively on the Internet since 2006. Find out more by visiting http://HugeProfitsTinyList.com.
Questions? Email Connie at crgreencrgreen@yahoo.com and be sure to put Home Business Question in the subject line. Your question and answer will be included in a future article.

More Reasons to Repeal ObamaCare

| Gazette, Opinion | August 24, 2012

Deroy Murdock, a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service, wrote an article in April, 2012 that was reprinted in our local paper, The Signal, April 14, 2012 concerning the reasons we need to repeal ObamaCare. The following are excerpts from his report.

Mr. Murdock stated, “The Obama administration is quietly diverting roughly $500 million to the IRS to help implement the president’s health care law.”

Team Obama is handing the IRS one half of $1 billion to implement funding supervision by the Health and Human Services Department. This money will help the IRS hire 300 employees to oversee the individual mandate for health insurance. These new IRS agents also would handle ObamaCare’s $22.2 billion in new taxes on drug companies and $60.1 billion in new taxes on health insurers. The IRS also has asked Congress to finance 537 other new staffers to administer ObamaCare’s subsidies for low-income patients.

Mr. Murdock further states that the main reason to repeal ObamaCare is the study called “The Fiscal consequences of the Affordable Care Act.” Murdock says it should be redubbed “The Unaffordable Care Act.” This 2,801-page law continues to threaten individual liberty and America’s wobbly finances. Obama promised in a joint session of Congress on September 9, 2009, “I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period.” Alas, this is yet another sad float in Obama’s disappointing parade of shattered promises.

Over the years 2012-2021 ObamaCare is expected to add at least $340 billion and as much as $530 billion to federal deficits, while increasing federal spending by more than $1.15 trillion over the same period, and by increasing amounts thereafter. These figures were concluded by Dr. Charles Blahous, in his fastidious, 52-page monographs for the free-market Mercatus Center.

Blahous, who earned a PhD in computational quantum chemistry at University of California, Berkeley, is a veteran entitlements expert. In October of 2009, Obama appointed Blahous to the board of the Social Security Trust Fund. “The enactment of the ACT has seriously worsened a federal fiscal outlook that was already untenable over the long term,” Blahous found. “The ACA both increases a federal commitment to health care spending that was already unsustainable under prior law and would exacerbate projected federal deficits relative to prior law.”

Jeff Sessions, the Senate budget committee’s top Republican, had his staff calculate ObamaCare’s long-term unfunded liability. That figure is $17 trillion. This surpasses today’s $15.6 trillion national debt by nine percent.

Murdock concludes his article by stating that the American people need to stop this law that is untenable, not wanted, and unaffordable, even if America’s economy was healthy, which it is not.

Jim Lentini,CLU,ChFC,IAR is President of Lentini Insurance & Investments, Inc.

Market Outlook August, 2012

| Gazette, Opinion | August 10, 2012

The Department of Labor released figures on Friday, August 3 that our national unemployment has risen to 8.3 percent. The markets report that the second quarter of 2012 was largely a case of finally perceiving that some things might be amiss. A return of somewhat subdued volatility was added to slow growth in China, more second guessing in Europe, and slowing growth domestically. We, here in America, (that is, any worker and most business owners), are ever reminded of why this is happening.

Our economic markets and the actions by our government – both in Sacramento and Washington – are making our citizens feel like a boater on a river that thought he was on a long, placid carefree float; however, the markets, workers and business owners can now hear a distant, unsettling roar. In this case it is not a giant waterfall, but a fiscal cliff composed of equal parts of tax cut expirations, budget deficits, and public pension shortfalls all coming due at the end of the year. One example of pending disaster we are facing is a recent report that said that, out of 8,500 states, counties and municipalities, 8,200 have $3.3 TRILLION of underfunded pension plans.

The City of San Bernardino this week filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, and the feds are spending our money advertising for people to apply for food stamps. In the last four years our federal government has increased dependency on entitlement programs, and is preaching that we need to tax those making over $200,000, which are mostly those who are small business owners. The last report of economic growth I read was that 80 percent of the economy was produced by the small business, which is those businesses having 500 employees or less.

With the negative reports of the markets and what the federal and state of California is doing , is it any wonder that businesses are not expanding? Why would a business take the risk of investing money to expand and hire more employees, when the government is hitting businesses for funding entitlement programs for illegals, increasing growth of underfunded pensions, and planning to increase all forms of taxation?

Usually, during an election year the markets at least hope for a new direction and fresh ideas, and sometimes this is enough to blunt the effect of bad fundamentals. Today, the businesses and workers are attempting to secure their assets and retirement funds, and are very concerned how our children will handle the growing deficit spending that will be difficult to deal with, no matter who is elected in November.

By Jim Lentini

Todd’s Thoughts

| Gazette, Opinion | August 9, 2012

I would like to start out this week with my condolences to the families of the men, women and children who lost their lives in the senseless shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin. Our prayers are with you.

Unfortunately, when tragedies occur I am struck that some people look to further regulate and ban weapons, essentially trying to take away our rights as citizens of the United States to defend ourselves. You hear that if we had tougher gun laws these kind of things wouldn’t happen. This is nonsense. The percentage of assault type weapons used in a crime is one-fifth of one percent (.20), a number so small they can hardly even track it.

Banning weapons won’t stop the problem. Chicago, for instance, has one of the toughest gun laws in the nation, yet hundreds of people have been killed there since the beginning of the year. I looked into the numbers and found, ironically, that the states with the more lenient gun laws have lower gun violence. Over half of the gun related deaths are suicides, and most gun deaths are caused by 18-25 year olds in the inner cities.

This tells us some important points about the issue. For one thing, mental health issues are not being taken care of properly. And 75 percent of the people from the inner city who are committing crimes are being brought up in households without fathers. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, and have been since the beginning of time. You have to ask yourself – could you protect yourself and your family from crime if it occurs? And do you really expect a police officer to show up before or while a crime is being committed? The odds are 95 percent that you are on your own until after the crime has been committed.

The laws are designed to keep guns out of legal gun owners’ hands, not out of criminals’ hands. So, why are the politicians on the left trying to enact more gun laws? Simply, to take away your rights. You only have to look back in history to find leaders like Hitler, who took people’s guns away and then took whatever they wanted after that, including lives. We as Americans have to stand up for our rights and keep any politician from trying to take them away.

We have an administration that has been bound and determined to take our rights away, as evident in this last month’s Chick fil A problem. I have never seen anything like the assault on religion like I witnessed during this left wing debacle. Left wing mayors spoke out against a CEO for his personal opinion and told him they couldn’t open the business in their cities. This is not only absurd, but illegal. People in this country, like it or not, have the right to free speech, and are free to practice whatever kind of religion they choose, without the interference of the government. Do we really live in a society where people boycott businesses because of religious views? And, if we do, God help those that don’t conform with the political flavor of the month. Remember, president Obama didn’t believe in same sex marriage until a few months ago. Funny how nobody was picketing the White House when he had the same views as the CEO of Chick fil A.

I have an interesting perspective on this issue, as I have two gay children. I spoke with them about this and had them look at what would happen if the tables were turned. What would they do if they were boycotted for being a gay business? The business outlook doesn’t look very favorably on those only catering to that demographic. My opinion is that a business should stand on its own merits. Its executives should be entitled to their own opinions and, unless they are doing something illegal, like discriminating, they should be allowed to open a store wherever they want. Last I checked we are still in America. We buy products and services because we like them – not because of their personal views.

I would hate to think someone who didn’t like that I am a conservative would hire someone less qualified just to make sure their views were the same. Mr. President, I built my business and I built it on integrity. My customers call because they like quality. Not my opinions or beliefs.
By Todd Hall
**The Views expressed in this column are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications.

Setting Up Your Profit Funnels To Earn Money Online

| Opinion | August 3, 2012

When I think about how I have set up and built my online business over the past few years, I realize that I’ve created eight separate profit funnels that bring me multiple streams of income on a regular basis. This was not my intention in the beginning, but as I continued to learn and implement what was available to me as an online entrepreneur, these were the eight areas I resonated with and added to my funnel one at a time. They each bring me a profit stream that has helped me to be successful on the Internet. These profit funnels include:
Affiliate marketing
Local business marketing
My own products and courses
Services I offer to others
Membership sites
Niche sites
Amazon
Coaching
Cara wrote in to ask me which method would work best for someone just starting out, and the answer is that it depends on your interests, skill level, and goal for your Internet business. I will describe each of the methods in greater detail.
Affiliate marketing was the very first way I was able to earn money online. Because I had no product of my own and was just starting to blog and write articles, it made sense for me to recommend the products and courses I was benefitting from to others who were also getting started online. I earned my first affiliate commission in April of 2006 and have never looked back.
Then, because I was learning how to market on the Internet and honing my skills, I began helping a friend to market his insurance business and a family member get started as a handyman. This was my first attempt at local business marketing and, since that time, I have even created a course where others can learn how to do this as well. Small businesses everywhere need our help so they can stay in business and thrive in any economy.
By the end of my first year online I had created my first product and added this to my profit funnel. This first product was a four-part course on how to use blogging and article marketing to increase your visibility, credibility, and profitability. It sold for $97 and taught me that having my own line of products would increase my affiliate income, while also adding another stream of income to what I was putting in place.
Helping others get set up online led me to my next area of income production. Soon I was offering my services to others, such as installing plugins and setting up a WordPress blog. Even though this involved trading time for money, I saw it as an opportunity to start outsourcing some of the tasks to others.
In 2008 I added membership sites to the mix. I learned that I could add information and training each month to a membership site and that many people would be willing to pay by the month to receive this information. I continue to use the membership site model in my business.
Niche sites soon followed, and I still enjoy the process of choosing a hobby or interest of mine and setting up a site that will earn income for years to come. There are so many possibilities for this. I even have family members who earn online income based on their interests in model trains, skateboarding, fashion accessories, and relationships.
In 2010 I wrote and published my first book, “Huge Profits With A Tiny List: 50 Ways To Use Relationship Marketing To Increase Your Bottom Line.” This led to my writing several more books, as I saw the profit potential and personal satisfaction of creating an income stream with Amazon.
I also run a coaching program. I refer to this as mentoring, rather than coaching, for a few reasons. A mentor takes a few people under their wing and helps to guide them towards success. I only work with 12 people each year and love the way I can be a part of the progress someone makes over time.
Which of these profit funnels are you already using? I recommend making a study of what is possible as an online entrepreneur and then jumping in to get started.
Connie Ragen Green lives in Saugus and has been working exclusively on the Internet since 2006. Find out more by visiting http://HugeProfitsTinyList.com.
Questions? Email Connie at crgreencrgreen@yahoo.com and be sure to put Home Business Question in the subject line. Your question and answer will be included in a future article.

Let’s Fix This

| Gazette, Opinion, Sports | July 20, 2012

I know I will probably get a lot of emails on this one. Things have to be said that really aren’t being said.
This political season has become one of the most disturbing ones in recent times, and it leaves me wondering about the sanity of the American people.

Our country, like it or not, was built on capitalism. Business makes our economy grow and makes our country prosperous. Without it we no longer have a free country. We will end up on the trash heap of all the other socialist nations that have failed before us.

We have been given the great gift of the opportunity to peer into the future to see what happens when a government takes over and runs economies. France, Greece and others are failing before our very eyes because of entitlement spending – the “Cradle to Grave” mentality. Our President seems eager to rush us toward the policies that have destroyed these countries. It makes me seriously wonder what his true motives are and why so many Americans just look the other way. Are they not informed, uneducated or just don’t care?

Any way you look at it, our country is on a path to destruction and our administration is doing nothing to change course. If anything, they are increasing the speed to the inevitable.

We have one of the worst presidents and administrations of modern time, maybe of all time. You can look at any economic indicator and nothing has turned around. Yet we hear every day he wants four more years.

What has really shocked me in the past weeks, when the job numbers came out telling us only 80K jobs were created, that in the same month a record 85K people went on disability. More people on disability than got jobs in the safest work environment in U.S. history – something is wrong. I looked a little deeper and found a record 5.4 million workers and their dependents have signed up to collect federal disability checks since President Obama took office, according to the latest official government data, as discouraged workers increasingly give up looking for jobs and take advantage of the federal program.

This is straining already-stretched government finances while posing a long-term economic threat by creating an ever-growing pool of permanently dependent working-age Americans.

In the same time frame only 2.3 million (non-farming) job-seekers have found jobs. Ironically, this drives down the unemployment rate, which simply measures how many people are looking for work but haven’t been able to find it. When people quit looking or sign up for disability benefits, they no longer count as unemployed.

The problem is that few people who get on disability will ever participate in the labor force again. In fact, the vast majority of those who exit Social Security Disability Insurance do so, either because they hit retirement age or died. This, while our unemployment rate hovers above 8.2 percent and experts say the real unemployment rate is a staggering 15 percent.

Is this what we want in America? I know I don’t want to see American families struggling.

President Obama tells us he wants four more years. I have just one question: For what? Haven’t you done enough damage? Every time I hear him speak he blames someone else. Bush, Europe, Romney, Bain Capital, rich people, the oil companies, the weather. Seriously!

Can you imagine for a minute going into an Interview for a great job, but instead of telling your interviewer about accomplishments you tell them how bad the next guy in line is? Not what a great asset you have been at your last job, but how everybody else made your job harder and why you couldn’t do yours…how you were supposed to be a leader but your fellow workers made it just too hard for you to do your job…and how your last boss made such a mess that you couldn’t possibly fix it. That is exactly what Obama is trying to convince you and the citizens of America.

Obama needs to quit complaining and blaming. He had a super majority in Congress for two years and he decided a Healthcare Tax plan was more important than helping the economy. Even in his own words, “If I can’t fix the economy in three years, it will be a one-term proposition.” Well, it’s not fixed Mr. President.

We deserve better. Americans are tired of the lies and propaganda. Let’s Fix this.

**The Views expressed in this column are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications.

Setting Up Mini-Sites To Get Started Quickly With Online Income

| Gazette, Opinion | July 13, 2012

We have discussed many ways to get started online over the past several months. Anyone can do this successfully. It all begins with your desire to earn money, either on a part- or full-time basis. Next you have to develop an idea as to the area, referred to as your “niche,” where you will focus your time and attention. And then you will set up a website where you will connect with the people who are interested in learning more about your topic.

Tamara wrote in and asked me how she could set up a website quickly that would start earning some money right away. This is what I recommend, Tamara:

The fastest and easiest way to pull this all together is through the use of a mini-site. These are three- or four-page websites that can be set up and published online in less than an hour. Everyone who does any type of business on the Internet these days knows that mini-sites are excellent for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), visibility, and diversification within your income streams.

Start by choosing a domain that will include a keyword phrase that will lead people searching the Internet on Google or Bing to your site. If your business is a local one, then be sure to include the name of the city, preferably after the name of the industry. For example, HandymanSantaClarita.com is preferable to SantaClaritaHandyman.com. Over time you will need many domains, including your name. The dot com (.com) is the best one to have, unless you are doing work with a charitable organization. If the dot com is not available, you can always back order it from a registrar such as GoDaddy, and they will let you know when it’s available for you to purchase. Domains will cost you just under 10 dollars per year. I have almost 600 of them currently, and they are all earning me money in various ways.

Hosting is the next piece of this. The hosting company allows your domain to actually live somewhere on the Internet. I recommend and use Blue Host (BlueHostSolutions.com is my link for them) because they have excellent customer service and are especially patient with “newbies.” They also allow you to host an unlimited number of domains with just one account. This runs about $70 per year.

Now that you have the necessary pieces in place, use the one-click installation to set up your site with WordPress. Most of us earning money on the Internet use WordPress for all of our sites, because it is simple to use and the search engines rank our sites more easily. Write a few paragraphs on your topic to start this process quickly.

A mini-site only requires that you have a few pages. The “home” page is where people will typically land when they find your site. Make sure to use a picture of yourself and tell visitors a little bit about yourself. Add an “opt in” box so you can begin building your list. Then it’s time to turn your site into one that will generate income. I recommend using the AdSense and Amazon programs to begin with, and these can be set up quickly and easily.

Sign up as an Amazon affiliate by visiting Amazon.com and scrolling to the bottom of the page. They will give you step-by-step instructions on how to get started. For AdSense, go to Google.com/adsense to start your account. Both of these programs, Amazon and AdSense, have strict rules that must be followed. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with what they are looking for so you don’t run into any problems down the road. Add these to your mini-site as a revenue stream that will bring you passive online income.

The idea is to write something about your topic and then have the ads on your page bring in the income. The more specific you are the better. For example, instead of writing about trains, write about collecting narrow gauge model trains. Train enthusiasts spend lots of money and are always searching for more information. If your niche is about having fish as pets, be more specific and write about keeping a salt water aquarium at home. You get the idea.

Connie Ragen Green lives in Saugus and has been working exclusively on the Internet since 2006. Find out more by visiting http://HugeProfitsTinyList.com.

Questions? Email Connie at crgreencrgreen@yahoo.com and be sure to put Home Business Question in the subject line. Your question and answer will be included in a future article.

A Cure for ObamaCare Nausea

| Gazette, Opinion | July 6, 2012

By Chris Ball

If you’re like me, you are getting very nauseous from the political discussion. Hopefully, reading this will finally make you throw up, and we’ll all feel better for it.

First, let me brag that I listened to all the Supreme Court oral arguments, and I actually read the written decision as soon as it was published. Well, to be honest, I only digested the Roberts portion in full. I skimmed enough Ginsberg to see if she is really that incoherent. And I only tasted enough of Scalia to get some acid reflux.

You are probably already sick of this, but here’s an antidote of my findings and opinions. I’ll just prescribe a few Smart Pills to evoke a visceral reaction:

Smart Pill #1: “The Supreme Court upheld the mandate that everybody has to buy insurance.” Not true. The so-called individual mandate for uninsured employed healthy people was struck down. Here’s what Roberts actually said:

“The individual mandate forces individuals into commerce precisely because they elected to refrain from commercial activity. Such a law cannot be sustained under a clause authorizing Congress to regulate commerce.”

In her minority opinion, Ginsberg criticized Roberts and his broccoli, and Scalia for skiing a slippery slope of analogies to the bottom. She accuses Scalia and friends of “asserting, outlandishly, that if the minimum coverage provision is sustained, then Congress could make “breathing in and out the basis for federal prescription.” She thinks that Congress would never make us eat good food to be healthy. Hah!

Only the tax penalty on the employed uninsured was upheld. Our uninsured neighbors will be taxed for their decision to sponge off us for their safety net.

Smart Pill #2: “The Roberts Decision represents Judicial Activism.” Commentators are saying that Roberts went out of his way to preserve the Act. Here’s what Roberts actually said:

“We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions.”
“The text of a statute can sometimes have more than one possible meaning…it is well established that if a statute has two possible meanings, one of which violates the Constitution, courts should adopt the meaning that does not do so.”

And he cited other judicial precedents, including Oliver Wendell Holmes:

“The rule is settled that as between two possible interpretations of a statute, by one of which it would be unconstitutional and by the other valid, our plain duty is to adopt that which will save the Act.”

I concluded that Roberts was exercising Judicial restraint and expressing respect for the people’s right to be wrong. Roberts took great pains to observe the line between judicial and legislative responsibilities.

Smart Pill #3: “Roberts sided with the Liberals.” Not true. He joined with conservatives to strike down he forced purchase of health insurance. He also struck down the mandate that forced states to provide the new Medicaid provisions. It’s a complicated law, and the Court’s ruling was organized into many parts that had divided support for each.

Smart Pill #4: My personal opinions are guaranteed to make you sick:
Both sides of this debate have dumbed it down to rally voter support. The Republicans are better at this.
The U.S. has similar quality medical care as other industrial nations.
Our health care “system” is the most expensive, with about 20% overhead costs.
The overhead costs in similar industrialized countries is about 9%.
We already have Universal Health Care in this country, but only you and I are paying for it.

I don’t see much resemblance between the Supreme Court decision and the political attacks. That’s why I’m writing this. There might be one branch of government not run by idiots.

The Roberts Decision was well reasoned and explained. It takes all your brains, maybe more. Reading it might give you a headache, but it won’t make you sick. The effort is a humbling experience, which is probably why politicians and pundits would rather yell about it.

Pension Reform, Why We Need It!

| Gazette, Opinion | July 6, 2012

By Jim Lentini
A recent article in Time Magazine dated June 25, 2012 noted that democrats who oppose pension reform are putting liberal interest groups ahead of ideals.
After Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won his recall election, we in California had landslide victories in San Jose and San Diego of ballot measures passed to cut the benefits of public sector retirees. Warren Buffett calls the costs of public sector retirees a “time bomb.” Government pensions are the single biggest threat to U.S. fiscal health.

If this country is going to face a Greek-style crisis, it will not be at the federal level, but rather with state and local governments. The numbers are staggering. In California, total pension liabilities (the money the state is legally required to pay its public sector retirees) are 30 times its annual budget deficit. Annual pension costs rose by 2,000 percent from 1999 to 2009!

In Illinois, they are already 15 percent of general revenue and growing. Ohio’s pension liabilities are now 35 percent of the state’s entire GDP. The accounting at the heart of government pension plans is fraudulent, so much so that it should be illegal, says Time Magazine writer, Fareed Zakaria.

For a plan to be deemed solvent, employees and the government must finance it with regular monthly contributions. The size of those contributions is determined by assumptions about the investment returns of the plan. The better the investment returns, the less the state has to fund.
The research done by this writer is that states everywhere made magical assumptions about investment returns. David Crane, an economic adviser to former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, points out that state pension funds have assumed that the stock market will grow 40 percent faster in the 21st century than it did in the 20th century.

In other words, while the market has grown 175 times during the past 100 years, state governments are assuming that it will grow 1,750 times its size over the next 100 years! Why has this happened? It is democracy at its worst. Public sector unions, powerful forces in states and localities, ask for regular pay increases. (Note: the taxpayer citizen who the majority of seniors rely on for Social Security, didn’t get COL increases in two of the last 5 years).

Governors and mayors can dole out only so much in salary hikes because of requirements for balanced budgets or other constraints. So instead, they hand out generous increases to pension benefits, since those costs will hit the budget many years later, when current officials are themselves comfortably in retirement. (Remember the articles in The Signal early this year stating that many counties in California were paying retirees more than they earned when working?).

The net effect of these retirement benefits is to starve state and local government of funds for anything else but employee pensions. Last year, California spent $32 billion on employee pay and benefits, which is up 65 percent over the past 10 years. In that same period, spending on higher education was down 5 percent. The City of San Jose has closed libraries, cut back on park services, laid off many civil servants and asked the rest to take pay cuts. By 2014, San Jose, the 10th largest city in the U.S., will be serviced by 1,600 public workers, one-third the number it had 25 years ago.

The current government system evolving is highly regressive. Current workers will have their salaries cut, numbers thinned, and benefits slashed, all to maintain benefits for retirees, who are richer than the workers. Current residents will watch their services dwindle, so that government retirees, again, who are richer on the average than they are, can have guaranteed generous cost-of-living increases year after year.

Public-sector unions are strong supporters of the Democratic Party, so their clout has drowned out the voices of the poor, the young, students, and average citizens. That is why credit for the few democrats who are talking on these issues, even at the cost of losing support, goes to a few mayors, Rahm Emanuel, Chuck Reed, and Governors Andrew Cuomo and Pat Quinn.

Based on my knowledge and experience in retirement planning, no defined benefit pension plan (what governments have that has created this problem) ever projected more than a 5-6 percent future return, even during good times! And, why the private sector moved from adopting this type of pension plan in favor of the 401(k) plan controlled by the employee. The defined benefit plan is known as “the greedy plan.”

The private sector that pays for all this government deficit spending does not have this type of pension plan. That’s why private sector employees have the IRA and 401k type plan, where each of us is responsible for making the right decisions, how our money can grow, and how to guarantee future values. It is time for government to adopt the same type of plans for those who pay the bill – we, the taxpayers!

Jim Lentini, CLU,ChFC,IAR is President of Lentini Insurance & Investments. His firm has been providing insurance and retirement services since 1964. He can be reached at 661-254-7633 or visit www.LentiniIandI.com.

Senioritis Affects The Over-50 Crowd, Too

| Gazette, Opinion | June 30, 2012

You can’t help notice the big, beautiful new library coming up on the corner of Lyons Ave. and Railroad Ave. in Newhall. Hurray! I love books. And the more access our young people have to knowledge, the better citizens they will be when they grow up.
Besides this new library, the kids of SCV have a lot to be grateful for. We have gorgeous parks, an Activities Center and an Aquatic Center to cool them down during the summer months. Our Boys and Girls Club is among the best in the country and is generously supported by the community. Yeah, our kids have a great life here and, fortunately, lots of local support.
Aren’t we forgetting something?
What about our seniors? No, not the ones walking across every stage in America at this time of year. I’m talking about our senior citizens.
Specifically, I’d like to ask, are we caring for them with the same generosity and bigheartedness? I’d have to say no. Have you been to the SCV Senior Center down on Market Street? It’s not bad. There are worse centers around the country. But, for one whose programs have been modeled by centers across the world, I’d like to ask: are we doing the seniors who partake of it justice with an over-stuffed building with a rugged parking lot and limited service offerings? And as of this writing, 20 percent is slated to be cut from meal service. Is this respecting our elders? Look again.
I’ve been involved with the center for 12 years. The volunteerism is exemplary and support from within (the board and foundation) is outstanding. Funds, however, are low and if we don’t do something quickly, 1,500 people are going to lose meal service. For some, this is the only meal they have for the day.
Are these rumors? No. Funding is not there to continue with several services.
So, who’s responsible? Do we pass the buck and say federal and county funding must take up the slack? Or, do we as citizens and community members take responsibility for helping to sustain the quality of life of our aging population?
I say we can no longer turn a blind eye to the concerns of our elders. The Band-Aids® don’t work anymore. As our world becomes more complex, the needs of the aging increase. Of course, government funding should be there, but what can we as groups, organizations and individuals contribute? Can we turn our minds away from enhancing youth services – just for a second – toward pitching in on behalf of our seniors?
Those who advocate senior issues are not just talking about upgrading recreation, although there would be no shame in that. We’re talking about basic human needs, such as comfort, food and service offerings. If you’re interested, we, the volunteers, have plenty of ideas. The seniors themselves have ideas. Ask them.
Where do we go from here? I say we can’t wait for leaders to rise up from the crowd. We must become those leaders ourselves. We must introduce conversations among those who have power to create change. Who might that be? WE OURSELVES!
First, visit the senior center and talk to people who can offer facts and information. Talk to the seniors. They’ll tell you what they need – they have worthy ideas. Their wisdom and guidance can help ignite change that will benefit seniors in this community for generations. All we have to do is listen. Listen and then take action.
Over the 12 years I’ve been working with our senior population, I’ve heard behind-the-scenes stories of needs that are not met. They’re not complaints. They’re facts. One day we’ll all be seniors. I’m 53 years old myself! The time is now, while we have energy and influence, to elicit change. There are ways we can contribute right here, right now. Interested? I hope so. Let’s move on it while we can!
Judith Cassis, C.Ht. is an author and personal development coach for individuals bouncing back from failure, loss or tragedy. She has a private practice in Valencia and also runs Miracles Mountain Retreat in Pine Mountain, Calif., about an hour north of Santa Clarita. You can contact her by Email, Judith@judithcassis.com or visit her website, www.judithcassis.com.

Complaint about Local Charity

| Gazette, Opinion | June 19, 2012

Reader Stephanie Sheets of Santa Clarita stopped in to report some frustration about a recent visit to the Goodwill Store in Saugus. The following is her statement:

I was in there shopping and a gentleman walked in with no laces in his shoes and he was looking for help — not a handout – just help. He said he had five bucks and asked me if I thought he could get a pair of shoes for five bucks…a ruined pair of shoes, nothing special, he just needed some shoes.

But it was $24.99 for a pair of shoddy shoes. I was so disheartened for him. I told him to get the manager. So, they brought the manager out and she was not very willing to assist him with anything free, that’s for sure. She was just looking for a price range that would help him.

After 15 minutes waiting in line, (they only had one person at the cash register), I saw that he still hadn’t gotten anything. When I asked if the manager helped him, he said, “I don’t think she’s going to.”

I handed him four bucks…it’s what I had. He asked, “What do I owe ya?” I said, “Nothing.”

Goodwill isn’t helping people anymore. They get tons of stuff for free just donated and they sell it for top dollar. Something’s gotta give.

First’s by Todd Hall

| Opinion | June 15, 2012

With the economy going backwards, I am having a problem understanding why Obama would ever ask for another term. Our president is in way over his head. Remember the only jobs he had before he became president were a junior senator and a community organizer.

Here are a few “firsts” by our president. If this doesn’t make you angry, nothing will:

First president to preside over a cut to the credit rating of the United States Government
First president to violate the War Powers Act
First presidential administration to orchestrate the sale of murder weapons to Mexican drug cartels
First president to issue an unlawful “recess-appointment,” while the U.S. Senate remained in session (against the advice of his own Justice Department)
First president to be held in contempt of court for illegally obstructing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico
First president to intentionally disable credit card security measures in order to allow over-the-limit donations, foreign contributions and other illegal fundraising measures
First president to defy a federal judge’s court order to cease implementing the Health Care Reform Law
First president to halt deportation of illegal aliens and grant them work permits, a form of stealth amnesty roughly equivalent to “The DREAM Act,” which could not pass Congress
First president to sign a law requiring all Americans to purchase a product from a third party
First president to spend 787 billion dollars in stimulus, which equals $4 million per job
First president to sue states for requiring valid IDs to vote. Even though the same administration requires valid IDs to travel by air and to get into the Democratic National Convention
First president to abrogate bankruptcy law to turn over control of companies to his union supporters
First president to sign into law a bill that permits the government to “hold” anyone suspected of being associated with terrorism indefinitely, without any form of due process. No indictment. No judge or jury. No evidence. No trial. Just an indefinite jail sentence
First president to bypass Congress and implement the DREAM Act through executive fiat
First president to threaten insurance companies after they publicly spoke out about how ObamaCare caused their rate increases, then forced them to spend $20 million on advertising for ObamaCare
First president to “order a secret amnesty program that stopped the deportation of illegal immigrants across the U.S., including those with criminal convictions”
First president to send $200 million to a terrorist organization (Hamas) after Congress had explicitly frozen the money, for fear it would fund attacks against civilians
First president to arbitrarily declare an existing law unconstitutional and refuse to enforce it
First president to tell a major manufacturing company in which state they are allowed to locate a factory
First president to refuse to comply with a House Oversight Committee subpoena
First president to file lawsuits against the states he swore an oath to protect (AZ, WI, OH, IN, etc.)
First president to withdraw an existing coal permit that had been properly issued years ago and publicly said he would bankrupt the coal industry
First president to propose an executive order demanding companies disclose their political contributions to bid on government contracts
First president to propose budgets so unreasonable that not a single representative from either party would cast a vote in favor (“Senate unanimously rejected President Obama’s budget last year in 0-97 vote”: Politico; “House Votes 414-0 to Reject Obama’s Budget Plan”: Blaze)
First president to press for a “treaty giving a U.N. body veto power over the use of our territorial waters and rights to half of all OUR offshore oil revenue” (The Law Of The Sea Treaty). He is trying to do this in November by executive order
First president to give 80 percent of campaign donors a position in the Administration, and one-third of the spouses of these donors were also given positions…including the CEO of Bain Capital!

We could add the phony war on women or his class warfare. The Constitution is being trampled! We, the American people, have to take a stand and fight for freedom. Obama has said, “The United States has never worked and he is going to change it.” Change it to what, Mr. President? We have had enough of your Hope and Change. We simply can’t afford four more years. Six trillion in new Obama debt is enough! The Next time you hear the lies coming out of the White House, understand they are lies and propaganda designed to keep Obama in office, not to help the country.

What’s Really Important?

| Gazette, Opinion | May 17, 2012

By Todd Hall

I know the talk of the country is Obama’s stance on gay marriage right now, so I wanted to briefly comment on that first.

Our president has chosen again to move the talk away from his economy to pleasing a special interest group for campaign contributions. He only spoke of his personal opinions that have nothing to do with the rule of law. I don’t care what anyone does personally, but this topic is for the states to decide, and 31 have decided not in favor by their people, not a judge. I have gay children and only want what’s best for them. I don’t believe that the government has any right to tell them what they can and can’t do unless it harms society. The less the Government is in our lives the better. If the government can give you a right then they can also take it away.

I have watched as our politicians have bickered back and forth without any conclusions for our nation. We have trillions of dollars of debt which equates to $138,343 per tax payer, or $50,110 per citizen, while our politicians argue over how to spend more. It’s time to stop the madness and make the necessary changes to our leadership to get this country back on the right track.

I am tired of our president telling us the rich should pay more. The fact of the matter is you could confiscate all of the wealth from the richest one percent of our nation and it wouldn’t run our government for 30 days. We are not stupid and these ideas coming from this administration are absurd.

I grew up on a farm in Wyoming and Colorado where I learned that the way to become successful was to do a good job, work hard and the money would follow. It seems that these rules don’t apply anymore. No longer does a handshake and a promise mean anything. Now, it seems, people with their hands out are not willing to work nor willing to do the job they can get. They are content with living on what the government will give them.

We have all watched the “Occupy” movement complaining about what the government should give them, free college education, free housing , free cars. I hate to break it to everyone, but there is nothing in this world that is for free. Our administration is telling everyone that this is fair. Fair to who, Mr. President?

The facts are the U.S. is out of money and this wild spending on social programs won’t do anything for the poorest people in this country. Giving people free stuff only makes matters worse. We have an entire generation that has learned that everyone is a winner and there are no losers – the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality. The truth is everyone has been given the opportunity in this country to make a life for themselves if they choose. But life is not fair and not everyone is going to win. I don’t buy the argument that some people just can’t win because of where or how they were raised. I came from a very meager childhood. I worked hard and have been very successful. It took 10 years to pay back my student loan for college and I have never asked the government for anything except to leave me alone.

The Socialist policies that our president has put forth have been tried before throughout history and they have failed miserably. Remember, Obama can’t give anything to anyone that he hasn’t taken from someone else.

Obama pitting Americans against Americans with his class warfare rhetoric is reprehensible. Since when is it bad to be a productive member of society and to be as successful as you possibly can?

I came from a time when the last thing in the world you would do is take money from the government. If you needed help you would ask your neighbors or church and they would help. In turn, you did what you could to help when others needed help, but you never asked the government.

The time is now for our government to take its foot off the neck of American business. Then we can watch this country succeed. Stop demonizing success, Mr. President.

Aren’t you done with the lies and propaganda coming out of this White House? This is like arguing over who has first class seats on the Titanic…we are all in the same boat.

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Doug’s Rant – Video Edition

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