Favorite Books of 2008

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Here’s a list of my favorite books of 2008.  These weren’t necessarily books published in 2008, but were books that I read this year and enjoyed.

Non Fiction
Fiction

Madison Property Management: How Not to do Business

I currently rent from Madison Property Management and absolutely hate it.  

Dishonesty, unfair treatment, security deposit theft and outright lies has caused MPM to quickly jump to the top of my list of Worst Companies I Deal With.  They’ve found a way to beat out my old Worst Company, Charter Communications.  I am not alone.
Our house is nice, the rent is reasonable and the owner is a great guy.  
Enter MPM.
When we first saw the house in July, about a month before the leases in Madison turn over, the MPM rep told us that we would receive August rent free.  We were expecting this, as this was MPM’s special on their website.  When we went to sign the lease, we were told that we would receive this discount.  My roommates and I trusted them to be true to their word and we were pressured to quickly skim the lease.  We signed the lease and did not pay August rent.  In the first week of September, we received an eviction notice.  I called and asked why.  They said that we had not paid August rent and that it did not say anything about it in the lease.  The guy who showed us the house, plus the guy who had us sign the lease both denied that they had said anything.  MPM also changed the website.
I know it is our fault that we did not re-read the lease carefully, but come on.  Can you be more dishonest?  I am waiting for the WayBackMachine to show MPM’s website from the summer with the special on it and then I will go back and demand the money back.
We should have been wary about renting from MPM because of a previous roommate’s experience with MPM. Upon move out, MPM deducted $300 for a “hole in the door.” He demanded that they accompany him back to his apartment to see this “hole” so that they could justify payment. Three hours later, MPM called back and said “sorry, it’s just a nail hole. we won’t charge you.”  That’s a great response from a reputable company.
Next, it is their job to show the house for people who are going to live here next year.  Our rent is 1995 per month.  MPM has raised the rent to 2475 for next year.  Nice try ripping off students.  Not only have they raised the rent by almost 25%, but they have also lowered the quality of the house.
They also show the place at ungodly hours for a college student and for whatever reason, do not have a key to our house.  This means that they get locked out and cannot show the house unless someone is home.  We’ve alerted MPM about this, but they do not seem to care.
The next problem with MPM is their snow removal people have twice created 2 foot high snow banks across the front of our garage that I have to shovel out.  When I called to complain, the MPM rep said that they “do not do the snow removal” at our house, so they can’t do anything about it.  This is the second time they have lied to me.
Going to college and renting from MPM has taught me exactly how not to run a business.  Incompetent employees who are not responsive to customers, managers who tell outright lies and ridiculous prices will not work for most companies.  MPM gets away with it because students are lazy and do not know their rights.  I will never live in an MPM house or apartment again.

Most Brazen Act of 2008 Award

It has to go to Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich who was arrested today on corruption allegations.  Not only did he try to have the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board fired for disagreeing with his policies, but he also tried to SELL A US SENATE SEAT.

Impressive, Mr. Blagojevich.   Didn’t you learn anything from Nixon?  Clearly not, since you were not worried about phone taps or recordings.  Among my favorite quotes:
  • The Senate seat “is a fucking valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.”
  • Unless “I get something real good,” he would appoint himself to the seat.
  • “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. You hear what I’m saying. And if I don’t get what I want and I’m not satisfied with it, then I’ll just take the Senate seat myself.”

Financial Crisis Explained

This article by Michael Lewis explains the roots of the financial crisis in great detail, but is understandable enough that people without finance backgrounds can understand it.

My favorite excerpt:

“I’d never taken an accounting course, never run a business, never even had savings of my own to manage. I stumbled into a job at Salomon Brothers in 1985 and stumbled out much richer three years later, and even though I wrote a book about the experience, the whole thing still strikes me as preposterous—which is one of the reasons the money was so easy to walk away from. I figured the situation was unsustainable. Sooner rather than later, someone was going to identify me, along with a lot of people more or less like me, as a fraud. Sooner rather than later, there would come a Great Reckoning when Wall Street would wake up and hundreds if not thousands of young people like me, who had no business making huge bets with other people’s money, would be expelled from finance.”