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Best columns: Phone lesson, Home obsession
Traveling in Europe is expensive enough, says Brett Arends in <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>, so avoid &ldquo;sticker shock&rdquo; when you &ldquo;get home and open your cell phone bill.&rdquo; Our pro-housing po
 

Avoiding the traveling cell phone blues

Europe was expensive enough even “before the Almighty Dollar had become the Yankee Peso,” says Brett Arends in The Wall Street Journal, but if you’re not careful, “your biggest sticker shock may not come until you get home and open your cell phone bill.” Staying connected abroad is much cheaper if you reroute your calls via the Internet to a prepaid cell phone in your country of travel. It isn’t hard. Before you leave, sign up with a VoIP service like Skype, Gizmo, or Truephone. That will give you a U.S. number, which you give to potential callers. Once abroad, buy a prepaid phone on “any shopping street,” then log in to your service and reroute the U.S. number to the prepaid one. It will “save you a fortune.”

The housing crisis misdiagnosis

“The real lessons of the housing crisis have gotten lost,” says Robert Samuelson in The Washington Post. It is “partly true” that the financial system has “run amok” and needs new rules, as we’re told, but the larger problem is that the U.S. “obsession” with the American dream of homeownership has turned housing “into something of a national nightmare.” Not everyone can, or should, own a house. But our pro-housing policies subsidize wealthy home buyers, and thus ever-bigger homes, and poorer buyers, who can’t afford a house. Congress’ solution, more subsidies, “may—or may not—stabilize the housing market in the short run,” but we won’t solve the problem until we realize our “obsession has gone too far.”

 

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