How to save money on your dry cleaning bill

Because the costs of dry cleaning have been in the news recently, I’m going to do a PSA post about how to not spend a zillion dollars getting your clothes clean.  Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

1. Buy machine-washable clothes. Clothes that say “Dry Clean Only” cannot be dry-cleaned, but many are labeled as “Dry Clean.”  The difference is that the latter can be run through the wash.  Some silk/cotton blends, polyester blends, and other fabrics can be safely laundered for years.

2. Dryel. I don’t recommend it for 100% silk, but it does wonders for unstained wools and wool blends.

3. If one dry cleaner overcharges you, find a different one.

Noticeably missing from that list: getting the President of the United States to take time away from focusing on a $17 trillion deficit, potential war with Russia, and a broken health care overhaul, for the sole purpose of focusing on your inability to run your own life.


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What next, gambling in Casablanca?

Via the Washington Post, a story about how the federal government is backing down from seizing the tax refund and Social Security checks of the children of allegedly debtor parents. (Hat tip, blogfather.)

If a private enterprise were to seize the assets or income of the children of debtors, do so without a court order and a showing that the children are somehow legally responsible for this debt, and do so well beyond the period of statutory limitations on such an action, there would be a hue and cry. Moreover, that private company could be liable for damages, would be investigated by the government, and, actually, might not be able to get the asset seizure through a court anyway – that whole thing about not showing that the kids are legally responsible and that the collection of the debt is within a permissible period of time.

Our government is seventeen trillion dollars in debt. It is no less rapacious than any desperate, indebted gambling addict, nor any more protective of our rights than a rogue company. The only difference is that we can get the government to act as a buffer between us and the wrongdoing of others, but can’t ask one part of the government to curtail the other part.

Any of this would be blatantly obvious to anyone who has read Federalist 51 and absorbed the lesson that the government is no more inherently good than any person or business.

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One Year Ago Today

One year ago today was Marathon Monday. I was a hydration station volunteer (i.e. I handed out water at a water station) and was a bit tired from having donated blood a week before.

I wrote about it here.

Later, I found out that my friend lost his nephew (Martin Richard) in the blasts; that a co-worker is a longtime friend of the family of the two sons who each lost a limb; that another friend has family members who lost their legs.

Miscellaneous thoughts about the interim year:

My boyfriend had the brilliant idea to make a “Boston Strong” charity license plate; I commissioned a web design firm to come up with a design and sent it off to the One Fund to begin the process of getting the license plate into production. (You need a designated 501(c)(3) charity to accept the funds from the plate.)  The One Fund rejected the idea; thankfully, they have now reversed course (due to the lobbying efforts of the State House).

Last year, I watched the first One Run for Boston cross the finish line; this year, I participated in the final leg of the relay. A lot of passerby and people in cars honked, waved, and cheered for our group; however, a few people looked at the blue-and-gold clad runners and sobbed.

It was tough to cheer at my boyfriend’s road races for a while; it reminded me too much of cheering on runners whom I saw on TV, two hours later, as they ran for their lives away from flying shrapnel.

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Birthday Musings

This morning, my phone rang at 7 am. I picked up: “You say it’s your birthday… it’s my birthday, too, yeah!” The family tradition is still going strong: every birthday morning, we listen to the Beatles “Birthday” and dance around.  My cat wasn’t really up for the dancing part.

In Slate, there is a discussion of how driver’s licenses provide far too much information for a bartender or bouncer to check DOB. (Hat tip.) I usually hand over my passport, not my license, because it doesn’t have my address on it; nevertheless, Albert Wong’s contention that eye color, gender, height, and weight are all irrelevant to identification seems misguided.  First, any person who is looking at you has a fairly good idea of all of those things; moreover, it is necessary for a bouncer to determine whether you handed over your own ID or someone else’s ID.  Those identifying characteristics are necessary to determining identity.

One of my college friends, whom I dated “back in the day,” emailed me to wish me a happy birthday.  (We still call each other every Christmas to wish each other a happy Sol Invictus Day.) He also mentioned that his Facebook matchmaking app listed me as one of his most compatible friends.


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Serious question about the equal pay legislation

Back in 2007, the Supreme Court decided Ledbetter v. Goodyear (incorrectly, in my opinion); almost exactly two years later, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law.  According to the National Women’s Law Center, the Act

The Act reinstates prior law and makes clear that pay discrimination claims on the basis of sex, race, national origin, age, religion and disability “accrue” whenever an employee receives a discriminatory paycheck, as well as when a discriminatory pay decision or practice is adopted, when a person becomes subject to the decision or practice, or when a person is otherwise affected by the decision or practice.

The Act does not repeal any prior equal pay legislation, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At this point, we aren’t suffering for any lack of laws regarding equal pay; we are suffering from a variety of factors that result in women earning less money than men (e.g. choosing different fields, working shorter hours, working in less physically strenuous jobs).

Yet the Obama Administration now wants another law executive order regarding equal pay. (Hat tip.)

Can someone who is familiar with employment law explain to me what the new Executive Order is intended to do that current legislation does not accomplish, and why anyone would think that it it would achieve its intended goal?

Can someone also explain how the Ledbetter Act changed the “pay gap,” and if one piece of legislation had no effect on it, why this particular executive order would be different?

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April Fool’s Day, Redux

April Fool’s day typically brings all sorts of online pranks; among twenty- and thirty-somethings, the most common seem to be announcing fake engagements or pregnancies on Facebook.  (In one twist, a few women who actually are pregnant announced their actual pregnancies – the prank being that people would think they were kidding.)

Well, pregnancy/engagement announcements are for pikers: I announced my candidacy for Congress.  This was really funny right up until my friends thought it was serious, and rep-posted it, and people asked me if I needed signatures from certain towns and if they could donate to my non-existent campaign.  It probably didn’t help that I made a fake website, put up a bio and some positions on issues, and linked to a “meet the candidate” video.

You just clicked on that, didn’t you? Sorry.  Well, no, I’m not – that was funny. Admit it.  (One of my friends clicked on that and asked me if I was going to keep it up there. I told her it was what is commonly referred to as “the point” of the campaign site.  Even after getting Rick-rolled, she still thought I was serious about running.)

Hey, at least my jokes are funny, unlike those of certain people in Washington.


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The Yoga Pants Debacle

Short version: a middle school asked female students to not wear leggings or yoga pants unless they also wear a shirt that comes to “fingertip length.”  This provoked outrage among elders who claimed that such restrictions were slut-shaming, blaming women for men’s sexual thoughts, and tantamount to putting girls in burqas. (Hat tip.)

There is a fine line between asking women (and girls) to dress appropriately, and implying that they must dress to avoid drawing sexual attention from men.

Absent a burqa, the latter just isn’t going to happen. Men admired women in hoop skirts, bustles, ankle-length skirts, neck-high clothing, or whatever the fashions of the day happen to be.  (Back in the day, I remember being propositioned by a bartender when wearing a khaki skirt, Ralph Lauren sweater, glasses, and ballet flats.)

But that doesn’t mean that girls and women get a pass.  Men intuitively understand that they should dress professionally and appropriately for the situation.  Yet women take suggestions to dress professionally as an affront to feminism. (Just a thought, but that doesn’t seem to be a great way to get ahead in life.)

So let’s remove the whole sexual aspect and just say this: girls of Haven Middle School, please dress like you’re in school to learn, not like you’re in yoga class.

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Inevitably, a government programme ran out of money…

…to the detriment of those who relied on it.

Well, the PILF programme (public interest loan forgiveness) isn’t quite out of money yet, but it is on the chopping block in 2015. The petition says:

The Presidents proposed 2015 Budget includes a provision that will change the Public Interest Loan Forgiveness (PILF) program by capping overall forgiveness to $57,500. This change only hurts the hard working employees who work by serving their community often in low-wage jobs. These individuals’ student loan amounts often exceed the cap as they consist of people with more than a college degree: Social Workers, Speech Pathologists, Lawyers, etc. These dedicated public servants chose to work for the public good with the added promise that their dedicated service of 10 years would be rewarded with complete loan forgiveness, only to have the rug pulled out from underneath them by a misstep by the administration. Please sign this petition and support those who work to help you.

(Hat tip: the many emails I’ve received from the ABA, asking me to sign onto this petition.)

The original idea behind PILF was that the government would help out the few dedicated public servants who needed help.  What happened (inevitably) is that graduates flocked to public service jobs, deciding that loan forgiveness after ten years was better than twenty years of payments. Those who would have left for the private sector after a few years continued to hang on to their jobs. Universities continued to increase their tuition, knowing that their students would not be responsible for paying it all back.

Unexpectedly, this boondoggle cost more than initially thought, as more graduates took advantage of it and sought higher amounts of debt forgiveness than originally planned.  So now the plan is to limit loan forgiveness to $57,000, an amount that is wholly inadequate for those who have taken on $200,000 worth of non-dischargeable debt.

As I’ve told many prospective law students and college students, debt forgiveness is current government policy, which is a far cry from an enforceable right that will still exist ten or twenty years from now.

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Beware the First of April

April Fool’s Day is always the day on Facebook when people “announce” pregnancies, engagements, elopements, or conversions.

Real pranksters announce their candidacies for Congress, leading to that awkward moment when people take it seriously.


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I’m a Title IX Girl, But This is Ridiculous

The place: Detroit, Michigan. The scene: a newly-renovated baseball field, paid for by the fundraising efforts of the baseball player’s parents. The crime: that the field is unequal to the girls’ softball field.  The result: the new seats were ripped out and are in storage until there is a solution that is acceptable to everyone.

I’m a Title IX girl, a woman who earned nine varsity letters in high school and is profoundly grateful for the same opportunities that men have. But the spirit of Title IX was never meant to extend to equality of results in private efforts.  It would be problematic if a school were to allow the boys’ baseball team to fundraise to improve their stadium, but not the girls to do the same; likewise, it would be a problem if the school pushed a disproportionate amount of its funding to the boys’ facilities.

Here is the relevant section of Title IX:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Yes, in theory, disproportionate fundraising for an effort that also receives federal funds would result in unequal treatment, but the touchstone is that the programmes operate in a non-discriminatory manner.  No one is alleging that the school set out to discriminate against the girls; the only allegation is that the result of private efforts by parents is disproportionate.

Cry me a river.  This makes a mockery of a great achievement for women’s athletics.

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