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The Clark Howard Show

Weekdays 10pm - Midnight, Sundays 2pm - 3pm

Clark Howard

The Clark Howard Show

Radio Pocket Protector, Clark Howard. Howard has carved out a formidable following as the foremost authority on all things economic. In 1993, Clark opened the Consumer Action Center, a fully staffed service that answers consumers' questions located here in Atlanta, Georgia.

9.18.19 Fed rate cut impact; Twisted tax law hurts military heroes; Medical bill shock

Topics: The Federal Reserve lowers interest rates again to reduce the severity of economic slowdown and to help prevent a recession. The Fed is acting defensively. This will lower interest rates for car buyers and on credit cards. HELOCS historically follow, but many banks put a floor in recent contracts. Re-shop to get a lower rate if need be. Saver rates decline as well. Online bank savings rates have already dropped about 1/3 of 1 point.  The smart move now is to lock in money you won’t need into a 1 year CD to earn more. Oddly, when the Reserve lowers their rates, mortgage rates often rise to compensate for inflation long term. But if the economy slows, you’ll see mortgage rates go down.

Two years ago with the new tax bill, Congress made a mistake that has dramatically affected military families. Gold Star families are entitled to survivors’ compensation. Congress made a clerical error, changing the tax on those benefits from 12 to 37%. This is punishing families who’ve already made the ultimate sacrifice of losing a loved one in service. The U.S. House passed a bill to fix this last spring 417 to 3 – basically unanimous. Now that correction is tied up in the Senate and Mitch McConnell will not allow this to be voted on. This needs to be fixed now.

Kaiser Health News has exposed the UVA Medical Center for ruining lives by confiscating homes and garnishing wages under a hospital bill shock system exploiting state codes to sue people blind. This after billing at rates way beyond what’s reasonable and customary. UVA isn’t the only perp here. Recent stories expose medical providers in TN and GA. No one in medicine is interested in telling patients what treatment will cost. One consumer was given a quote yet was billed 52 times that amount after a procedure. What does it take to be a consumer? You choose what you buy, based in part on known costs to fit your budget. Healthcare is the only thing that doesn’t follow this. 

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Posted: September 18, 2019

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9.17.19 Gas price fluctuations after Saudi attack; Equifax breach settlement follow-up; How gig workers get paid

Topics: Saudi Arabia represents a huge percentage of world oil production. The recent drone attack took half their production offline. But it appears they will be back to full production in a matter of weeks. In addition, fall is a slow time of year for oil consumption. After Labor Day, demand declines. Factor in recession in some countries and a slowing U.S. economy bringing down demand. Meanwhile, U.S. production has increased. A decade ago, the U.S. produced little oil, and faced shortages driving up costs to $147 a barrel, compared to $60 last trade. We may see a brief minor spike in prices at the pump.

Equifax conned the states and the Feds to reduce their settlement liability to $125 per affected person and is still hitting back over the number of applicants. Now that want you to verify information again. You have 4 weeks to reverify your application.  

California has passed legislation making app-based workers employees vs independent contractors, starting in January. This includes Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and the like. There’s been a large movement by employers pushing the private contractor designation, to avoid paying benefits. We need a class of employment falling somewhere between a contractor and full-time employee. Uber and Lyft predict their labor cost will rise 20- 30% in California from this change. This current system of off or on is exploiting and harmful to workers. Ratio employment would help ease the income inequality problem in the U.S. 

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Posted: September 17, 2019

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9.16.19 Car rental warnings; Update on Apple's battle with independent repair shops; Scientific study touts benefits of being an optimist

Topics: Clark recently returned a rental car. He had 5 pics of the car. Why? After returning, sometimes weeks later you may get a notice saying you owe for damage. They may have already charged your card for the damage. All contracts say your check-in slip is subject to later inspection and damage charges. Clark takes pics of the car upon return, so if this happens later – he’s got dated pictorial proof. Clark had noted a ding and windshield chip on the initial ticket. You’ve got to protect yourself. Also, for at least 20 years Clark has advised travelers to rent from an off airport rental site to save money. Many airport rentals come with massive junk fees. Because many people have been avoiding airport rentals, cities are fighting back by imposing nuisance fees and requiring affidavits. If you pick up a non-airport rental in a metro with an out-of-state license you must sign an affidavit stating you did not fly in the last 12-24 hours. Clark’s nomad brother rented a car this way for one day, then turned it in for a longer term rental having satisfied the time limit – to save big money. It’s work, but you have to know how the car rental game is played to avoid getting burned.

Previous Clark Rage: In order to maintain an Apple controlled monopoly, Apple had been refusing to supply parts to independent repair shops. This lead to legal action and resolution. Apple is now selling parts and allowing access to manuals to independent repair shops. This will give users more choice and competitive pricing, and ease the repair backlog. Instead of industries operating closed shops, the free market should rule.   

Clark has been accused of being unrealistically optimistic. He’s OK with that. The National Academy of Sciences Journal published a Boston U School of Medicine study finding tremendous benefit for inherent optimists. Men and women innate optimists have around 15% more longevity, accounting for other factors. Optimism was found to be about 25% genetic. That means 75% is in our control. Optimistic women are 50% more likely to see 85 or older. Optimistic men are 70% more likely to see 85+.  The study found that positive people recover from illness, injury or surgery sooner and are generally healthier.   

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Posted: September 16, 2019

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News

  • Four men are accused of abducting a Maine man at gunpoint, forcing him to strip naked, and then shooting at him as the man attempted to escape by running down a road, police said Monday, >> Read more trending news  Ajoung M. Malual, 22, of Westbrook, Maine, Mahdi B. Ali, 23, of Boston, Noh Y. Okubazghi, 20, of Boston, and Samson S. Samsom, 22, of Minneapolis, were charged with drug trafficking and may face other charges, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Each man is being held in lieu of $150,000 bond apiece, the Sheriff's Office said. Deputies said they received reports of gunshots fired at a naked man about 1:30 a.m. Monday, WMTW reported. When deputies located the 39-year-old Naples resident, he told them he was taken at gunpoint from his home and put into a trunk, the Sheriff's Office said in its news release. He told deputies he was taken to an area and told to strip naked, and at that point began running through the woods while he was being shot at, deputies said. The victim gave deputies a description of the vehicle, which was located in Windham and stopped by authorities, the Sheriff's Office said. The four men in the vehicle were detained and subsequently arrested, deputies said. The victim, who was wounded, was taken to an area hospital and is in stable condition, deputies said.
  • What was an exciting celebration for one Texas couple became the subject of criticism on Twitter. The New York Post reported Jonathan Joseph and Bridgette Joseph were at Capital of Texas Zoo in Cedar Creek, Texas, where they enlisted the help of Tank the hippo for their gender reveal. >> Read more trending news  Video was posted to the zoo's Facebook page, but not before going viral on Twitter, where Ana Breton, a filmmaker, posted a screen recording of a TikTok post of the gender reveal. 'I did it. I found the worst gender reveal,' she tweeted Saturday. Time reported that the video showed Tank chomping on a watermelon, which revealed a blue color, meaning the couple is expecting a boy. Criticisms soon followed. 'The whole reveal concept is just completely stupid to begin with, but I guess you can make it even dumber,' one person tweeted. 'That person's baby is not remotely important enough to feed a hippo 10 pounds of food coloring,' another person replied. On Sunday, Breton said she got in contact with Bridgette Joseph, although it's not clear if Bridgette Joseph reached out to Breton to respond or not. 'While I’m not a fan of gender reveals, it was not my intention to bring darkness to their special day,' Breton tweeted, which included a response from Bridgette Joseph. 'This was one of the happiest days of our lives,' Bridgette Joseph said, according to Breton's tweet. 'With the help of the zoo and the amazing Tank the hippo, we learned that we are having a baby boy. After many years of raising our beautiful young lady, we decided to try for another baby. It took some time and some extra money in fertility treatments, but we finally got pregnant!' Bridgette Joseph said she and her husband would have been happy to have another girl, but for them, it would have meant they 'would have had to keep tying for a boy.' Michael Hicks, the director of the zoo, told The Post the Jello-O was not harmful to Tank, despite what some said on social media. 'This is the same Jell-O people feed their kids. It's totally harmless,' zoo director Michael Hicks told the tabloid. Hicks said the hippo wasn't forced into the gender reveal. 'You can't make a hippo do anything. He weighs 4,000 pounds,' Hicks said. 'He enjoyed it as much as anybody else did.
  • Officials in an Iowa city said the U.S. Department of Transportation has asked the city manager to remove multi-colored sidewalks, according to KCCI. >> Read more trending news  Ames officials said they received a letter from the USDOT's Federal Highway Administration, explaining the crosswalk at Fifth Street and Douglas Avenue did not meet codes and requested its removal 'as soon as it is feasible,' the television station reported. The crosswalks, installed earlier this month, feature a minority-inclusive rainbow on Douglas Avenue, KCCI reported. The crosswalks on Fifth Street feature gender non-binary colors on the east crosswalk and pride transgender colors on the west crosswalk, the television station reported. Ames officials said the FHWA's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices prohibits the use of anything but white paint in crosswalks, adding that colored crosswalks and multi-colored crosswalks were not allowed. Ames officials are contesting the request. “I note that the FHWA’s letter included a “request” -- not a demand -- for the City to remove the colored crosswalk markings,' Ames City Attorney Mark O. Lambert told KCCI. 'This is not a lawful order or demand by a federal agency, it is merely a request.”
  • While this is only the first part of the Golden Ray and the St. Simons Sound incident, there remains a lot of work to do, threats to the environment, hazards to the people and to the Port of Brunswick continue to be addressed through a unified command,' said U.S. Coast Guard Captain John Reed, Charleston sector Coast Guard commander.   While an ongoing review and investigation unfolds of a fire and the subsequent capsizing of the South Korean automobile transport tanker, the Golden Ray, off the Georgia coast, you can bet millions that the ship's owner, automobile manufacturer/shipper and insurer were all hoping that there were some very experienced hands at the wheel the night that this massive cargo ship fell over on its side.
  • Chicago police have captured a man suspected of nearly killing an officer over the weekend, three days after he is accused of shooting a 28-year-old woman in the back as he rode a bicycle near downtown. Michael Blackman, 45, was in critical condition Sunday after he was shot during an armed confrontation with police, authorities said Sunday. As of Monday morning, he had been charged with four counts of attempted murder, according to Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department. A news conference was slated for later Monday to provide more details, but a time had not been set.  Blackman was captured Saturday afternoon, several hours after he allegedly shot a 40-year-old police officer on Chicago’s South Side. Chicago Deputy Police Chief Brendan Deenihan said Blackman was caught after investigators who were canvassing the Englewood community, where the officer’s shooting took place, obtained surveillance footage that showed Blackman fleeing through a vacant lot several blocks away. The footage did not show him leave the lot. Detectives and patrol officers descended upon the area, Deenihan said. “When they went to go search that lot, this defendant popped up,” Deenihan said. “This is when the gun battle ensued between the defendant and the officers.” Blackman ran over some railroad tracks, where he encountered more officers. Additional shots were fired, and Blackman was struck multiple times. “He has eight holes in him at this time and a broken femur,” Deenihan said. Watch Deputy Police Chief Brendan Deenihan talk about the shooting and capture of Michael Blackman below.  Blackman was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, the same hospital where the officer he is accused of shooting was rushed earlier that morning. No officers were injured in the second encounter with Blackman, Deenihan said. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said during a news conference Saturday that the 16-year veteran officer who was shot serves on the department’s fugitive apprehension team. The team, which was looking for Blackman in connection with Wednesday’s bicycle shooting, went shortly after 8:30 a.m. that morning to a home in the 1900 block of West 65th Street, where Blackman was believed to be hiding, Johnson said. >> Read more trending news  When members of the team knocked on the door, Blackman ran out the back of the house, where the injured officer and his partner were stationed, Johnson said. “At that time, a physical struggle ensued, followed by an armed confrontation,” Johnson said. The unnamed officer was shot in the groin and in the lower leg, doctors said. Fellow officers loaded him into a patrol car and rushed him to the hospital, where he underwent surgery. He was in stable condition Saturday afternoon. “It is reported that the injured officer had the self-awareness to apply his own tourniquet, as his partner maintained pressure on the gunshot wound on the way to the hospital,” the superintendent said. Guglielmi tweeted that the officer lost nearly a third of his blood volume. “He came basically bleeding to death,” trauma surgeon Dr. Jane Kayle Lee said during Saturday’s news conference. “He had already lost a significant amount of blood and was taken emergently to the operating room for surgery.” Lee said the officer had a hole in one of the largest veins in his leg. She was able to repair the injury. The surgeon said the bullet to the officer’s groin remains in his body. The gunshot to his leg was a “through-and-through” wound, with both an entrance and exit wound. The officer suffered significant fractures to his leg when that bullet tore through his body, Lee said. His leg was splinted for the time being, but he will need additional surgery. “I do expect that he will have a good recovery,” Lee said. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who met with the man’s family at the hospital, said the shooting is a reminder of the sacrifice police officers make every day to protect the city’s residents. She also praised the work of the officer’s colleagues in the fugitive apprehension unit. “Their quick work saved this officer’s life,” Lightfoot said. She asked the public to pray for the officer’s full recovery. “I ask that all Chicagoans continue praying for the officer and his family throughout his recovery,” Lightfoot said at the news conference. “Also, keep all of our first responders in our thoughts and prayers because, as the superintendent said, and we see on a daily basis, they run to danger to protect us.” Like the officer, the woman Blackman is accused of shooting on Wednesday is expected to survive. According to The Chicago Tribune, the woman was headed to lunch with co-workers around noon in the city’s Fulton Market District when she was shot by a man on a bicycle. Watch police and city officials, along with medical personnel, speak below about the Saturday shooting of a Chicago police officer.  “Based on the information we have right now, the shooter passed by a group of individuals and went directly to her to extend his arm and fire one single gunshot,” Johnson said at the time, according to the Tribune. “Appears right now the victim may have been targeted by the offender.” As the gunman fled the scene, the woman was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious to critical condition, the newspaper said. Her condition was unknown Monday. Police officials released still images and video the day of the shooting that showed the alleged gunman riding his bicycle near the scene of the shooting. Guglielmi tweeted Friday that detectives had been given a tip to go to a bicycle shop, where they discovered security footage that showed a man fitting the description of the shooter getting his bike fixed about an hour before the woman was shot. The clearer images, which show a man later identified by police as Blackman, offer a full view of the man’s face as he stands at the counter. At one point, he takes off his black Nike baseball cap and wipes his head with paper towels. He is seen standing and chatting with the employee working on his bike and leaning on the counter, his wallet out, as he pays his bill. The man smiles several times as he talks to the worker. Blackman was identified as a suspect in Wednesday’s shooting based in part on the images from the bike shop, Johnson said. His motive in the woman's shooting was unknown as of Saturday. The superintendent declined to speculate on Blackman’s state of mind but pointed out that he was accused of shooting two people, including a police officer. “Obviously, this is not a person that should be walking the streets of Chicago,” Johnson said Saturday while Blackman was still at large. “He’s a dangerous individual. There’s no hiding that.” Blackman has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1991, Johnson said Saturday. His previous charges range from burglary and domestic battery to drug charges. He remained hospitalized in police custody Monday morning.
  • Some Michigan students were startled last week to see what looked like an alligator living in a pond behind the school. It took a day to catch the reptile after the pond was drained, school officials said. >> Read more trending news  The reptile was identified by animal experts as a 3-foot-long caiman, according to WDIV. Caimans are not native to Michigan, but they're often kept as pets, wildlife experts told the television station. They share many characteristics with alligators and crocodiles but are often smaller, officials said. That did not matter to students at Bedford Junior and Senior High School in Temperance, who believed a gator by any other name was just as scary. The body of water at Bedford Junior and Senior High School is called the Biology Pond and is used by both junior and senior high school classes for academic study, WXMI reported. A teacher spotted the reptile Thursday and reported it, the television station reported. Joe Garverick, the owner of the Indian Creek Zoo in nearby Lambertville, attempted to catch the alligator with his bare hands Thursday, but the reptile proved to be elusive, WTVG reported. “It got loose or somebody let it loose — one or the other,” Garverick told the television station. The reptile was finally caught and will join three alligators at Indian Creek Zoo, Garverick told WXMI.