Thursday, September 4, 2008

8 Financial Problems Neither Major Presidential Candidate Will Solve

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

comic 56 - presidential speeches

Whether you’re a fan of the young guy and the old guy or the really old guy and the mildly-attractive girl, there’s little denying that this coming presidential election will bring about either a great deal of change or a great deal of everything staying the same and getting worse, likely both. Both major candidates have outlined how their administrations would tackle the big problems facing our economy, and each has fully convinced me that if we elect “the other guy” that our nation will suffer from a nationwide financial collapse not seen since that tower of one-dollar bills I was constructing fell over when the air conditioning turned on.

Or maybe things won’t be that bad. It’s really too soon to tell. But what it’s not too soon to tell is that a great deal of money-related dilemmas will go unaddressed regardless of who we elect. Here now are some of those issues in no particular order.

  1. Lazy people make more money than me. Neither the Republican nor Democratic candidate has outlined plans for rectifying the horrible monetary atrocity that is Joe Stevens (name changed to protect the real idiot, Scott Phillips). You see, Joe works three offices over in a similar role to mine. He started at the job the same month I did. Yet Joe makes 20% more money despite only doing half the work I do because he’s as dumb as a brick. More important than gender-equal pay should be intelligence-equal pay—all the smart people get paid a lot more than the stupid ones.
  2. Candy store child beggars. Every time I go to the candy store now, there’s always some little punk kid in there who comes up to me asking for a dollar. Since I rarely carry any cash, I can usually honestly say “Go f*** yourself, punk” without feeling like a jerk. But the real question is this: Why don’t these kids have a dollar for candy? Our candy industry must be in tremendous peril if kids don’t have candy dollars. Either major financial subsidies for chocolate farmers are needed, or the government must consider issuing “candy grants” so that these kids can get their freaking gumballs and lemon drops.
  3. A tiny sandwich at college costs $7. My wife recently transferred schools and was horrified to find that a quick-serve sandwich that she could make for about 50 cents at home was on the school cafeteria’s menu for $6.99. That’s almost seven dollars! And that’s almost 10 dollars! Whoever is elected to lead this country must take a firm stand against profit-hungry universities and tell them “Dammit, don’t be chargin’ no 50 bucks for no two pieces of bread with a slice of baloney!”
  4. American cars still suck. The new President needs to tell American automakers to stop sucking, perhaps by issuing an executive order to Ford that it must make every car as awesome-looking and well-equipped as the Batmobile.
  5. People are still retarded with their money. Despite the recent and ongoing recession scare, most Americans haven’t learned a thing about financial responsibility. I propose that the next President increase the income tax to 90% and use the money to buy people the things they really need first—affordable housing, a college education, and a car that isn’t a Mercedes when you’re only making $15,000 a year. And yes, I’m advocating Super-Big Government at this point because most of the country has proven that it’s as responsible with its money as a five-year-old in a toy store.
  6. Deal or No Deal is still around. Presidential veto, executive order, secret assassination—something to get this piece of crap game show off my television. Seriously, why are people so fascinated with this show? It’s just a guessing game with large dollar signs. And speaking of television…
  7. Yet another year without a new Star Trek TV series. By my estimates, each month that the world goes by without a new Star Trek television series being produced, our nation is losing upwards of $500 trillion dollars in generated revenue. Our new President must command Paramount to produce a new Star Trek series. Oh, and make sure former Trek producer Rick Berman gets sent to Guantanamo Bay or something so he can’t screw this one up too.
  8. Rampant prostitute inflation. While the U.S. inflation rate is hovering somewhere between 3% and 5%, several important staples are skyrocketing in price at 20-50% per year—things like gas, milk, and especially hookers! My buddy said that the same whore who used to charge just $100 an hour just upped her prices to $150 an hour last week. That’s a 50% increase right there! The Federal government must do something quickly to help ensure that the rich and poor alike have equal access to street walkers, or our nation may fall into another Great Unsexed Depression.

I urge you to e-mail both major candidates and insist that their economic plans be revised to address these burning issues, lest their prophecies of financial turmoil if we elect “the other guy” should come true!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Best and Worst Times to Go Grocery Shopping, Proven By Science

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

comic 55 - 10 items or less

Over the course of the last several months, I’ve been conducting an informal study on when the best time is to go grocery shopping. The purpose of this study was to determine exactly when one should go grocery shopping in order to obtain the best combination of fresh produce, smaller crowds, fast service, and cheaper prices.

In order to make this a genuine, science-y study, we decided to make the comparisons between shopping trips as standardized as possible. So for each time period, our crack team of scientists (i.e. they were on crack at the time) went to a series of grocery stores and purchased the same five items at each location:

  1. A gallon of milk
  2. A loaf of bread
  3. A roll of toilet paper
  4. Five red delicious apples
  5. The trashiest news tabloid available

Today, the Punny Money Analytical Institute of Lasers and Mathematics is proud to announce the results of this study. Here is a sample of the results broken down by time of experiment.

Tuesday at 6pm

Tuesday at 6pm was determined to be the worst possible time to enter a grocery store due to a variety of factors. Tuesday evening appeared to be a popular time for homemakers to give cooking dinner from scratch the one-finger salute and instead opt for a trip to the nearby grocery store’s hot food bar.

Upon arrival at the grocery store, our scientists discovered that parking spaces were a rarity—scooped up by rabid soccer moms and agitated businessmen within 2/10ths of a second of becoming available. Three scientists and one Nissan Sentra received minor injuries on one trip during this testing period.

Inside the store was no better; check-out lines often extended back into the shopping aisles, making it difficult to locate and obtain the toilet paper and magazine. However, most fresh items were still relatively fresh, and dishes at the hot food bar were being continuously replenished.

Average Shopping and Checkout Time: 24 minutes
Average Checkout Price: $15.37
Average Product Quality: Fairly good, though most news tabloids were previously leafed through by customers waiting in long lines.
Pros: Hot foods were freshly made. Several dinnertime meal specials were available.
Cons: That bitch who had 14 items in the 10-item-or-less lane. Who does she think she is?

Thursday at 2pm

Most grocery stores were discovered to be eerily empty at 2pm on any given weekday other than Friday. Our scientists determined that this may be due to people who have real jobs (unlike grocery store scientists) typically are at work at 2pm on a weekday afternoon. The only exception to this rule proved to be people who work at grocery stores, as not only were the stores devoid of most customers, but it was pretty damn hard to find more than one employee in the whole place. This resulted in seven times the normal wait for assistance in locating hard-to-find items.

In some instances, as few as half a dozen customers in a store at 2pm proved to be overwhelming to the lonesome store clerk, sometimes resulting in multiple customers being queued in the only open checkout line for 15 minutes or longer. The typical customer shopping at this time was an 80-year-old woman doing her shopping for the next 5 years and paying by personal check.

At the same time, shopping aisles were easy to navigate, and most fresh items were still fresh from being stocked earlier in the morning. If anything, selecting the trashiest tabloid available was difficult because many new ones had just arrived at the stores only hours earlier.

Average Shopping and Checkout Time: 26 minutes
Average Checkout Price: $16.08
Average Product Quality: Decent, though that one old lady must have molested every apple on the stand before deciding to get oranges instead.
Pros: Empty store. Great time and place to have a laser tag fight if you could manage it.
Cons: Most of the store staff was likely in the back room watching soap operas.

Friday at 1am

Just 11 hours after the Thursday afternoon shopping excursion proved enough to produce an entirely different shopping experience. Of the grocery stores involved in this experiment, only two were open this late (24 hours a day, in both cases), so the results only take into account averages from those two stores.

Weekday late-nights proved to be just as futile a venture for those requiring customer assistance as shopping on a weekday afternoon but for entirely different reasons. That’s because late-night grocery stores are typically manned by stoned teenagers. In fact, in one instance, our grocery scientists determined that they could have walked out of the store without paying even after loudly announcing “I am stealing all of the items in my cart” within three feet of several checkout clerks, all of whom were busy gazing pensively into the lasers of their checkout scanners.

There was no such item as “fresh” food at 1am on a weekday night. After all, most stores restock later on in the morning, so pretty much everything had been sitting out for at least 20 hours at that point. Most produce shelves were bare, save for a handful of midget unripened bananas and bruised apples. The only available milk gallons typically expired within the next 3-6 days instead of the usual 10-12 days. And for some inexplicable reason, the toilet paper just wasn’t as soft as it is during the day. For this reason, several more marked-down items were usually available.

Fortunately the shopping aisles were all but deserted, and the stoned teenagers had some sort of pre-programmed, almost robotic ability to scan items twice as fast as normal.

Average Shopping and Checkout Time: 10 minutes
Average Checkout Price: $14.97 (or zero, if they’d gone through with it)
Average Product Quality: Miserable. The oranges were, in fact, browns.
Pros: A lightning-fast shopping experience.
Cons: Produce you wouldn’t feed a hobo. Plus, it’s one in the freaking morning and everyone else with any sense is in bed.

Saturday at Noon

This is not the time you want to go grocery shopping for five measly items, our scientists determined. In addition to the normal crowds of weekday evenings, most parents also bring their school-aged children along, and most of these children would have rather been in school than being dragged around looking at candies and toys their parents won’t buy for them.

Checkout lines were always horribly long because the typical customer on a Saturday afternoon is there to buy most of the next week’s groceries. Navigating shopping aisles was like tip-toeing through a mine field of screaming children and other once-a-week shoppers.

Item freshness varied, as some produce appeared to have been restocked that morning while many others would likely sit there unreplenished until Monday morning. Specialty departments, such as Meats or the Bakery, were unmanned. Most of the tabloid magazines were starting to look raggedy.

Average Shopping and Checkout Time: 27 minutes
Average Checkout Price: $16.52
Average Product Quality: Varied from good to awful.
Pros: Uh… none really.
Cons: There are a million better things you could be doing with your Saturday afternoon. Everyone’s children misbehave more than your own, especially in grocery stores.

Wednesday at 8am

Bingo. The grocery shopping jackpot.

Specifically Wednesday morning, more than any other weekday morning, proved to be the optimal grocery shopping time. Parking, shopping, and checking out all proved to be quick and simple. Grocery store staff were rested, friendly, and helpful. Most fresh items had been restocked in the previous few hours and were still at their freshest.

Perhaps another point worth noting is that most of the grocery stores examined started their new promotion week on Wednesday, so hitting the store on a Wednesday morning provided the best opportunity to stock up on sale items before they started disappearing from store shelves.

On occasion, the express checkout lanes would fill with people purchasing just one or two items—typically store-brewed coffee and a lunch item for later that day. In these instances, a person with five or more items was sometimes served quicker stepping into a standard checkout lane.

Average Shopping and Checkout Time: 11 minutes
Average Checkout Price: $14.12
Average Product Quality: Freshest and best.
Pros: Super-fast shopping time, and items as fresh as can be.
Cons: Most people leave for work at 8am, so this might not be the best time to go shopping for you.

Our scientists also made another shocking discovery during the course of their investigation. According to several of the grocery store tabloids they purchased, Bigfoot seems to have secretly married Keira Knightley in a wedding ceremony atop the Empire State Building. Stay tuned for more developments in this breaking story, just as soon as our scientists get back from the store.