This Week in Financial BlundersIt’s hard to keep things organized. We’re all guilty of leaving something of ours a little disheveled: your room, laundry, car, hygiene, or personal life; the real challenge comes from making sure those missteps don’t begin to take over your life. The moment a room becomes so dirty it becomes impossible to walk in, your oil hasn’t been changed for 10,000 miles, or you can’t remember what deodorant looks like, you’re in too deep.

That’s why This Week in Financial Blunders would like to focus on the bigger failures of organization. So please, read on to see how state benefits and name databases have faltered in the past week.

Crime Pays

Prison is meant to be a time of reflection on one’s crimes, in hopes to leave as a better member of society. Sometimes it’s easier to reflect when you’re getting paid to do it. CNNMoney reported this week that over 20,000 New Jersey prisoners received approximately $23 million in state benefits like Medicaid, food stamps, and public assistance; $10 million of this was unemployment for roughly 7,600 incarcerated persons. All of this was discovered by an audit done by State Comptroller Matthew Boxer, who noted these state payments occurred from July 2009 to April 2011. Boxer’s audit revealed that state agencies did a poor job of reviewing inmate and state prison data with regard to government assistance, and one agency official admitted that they would read the newspaper to see if those applying for benefits had been arrested or convicted. Obviously the mishap has been discovered, but some of the details are upsetting – like a prisoner convicted of sexual misconduct receiving $37,000 in state pension, or $39,000 in unemployment benefits going to a convicted drug offender.

Soda Flop

Coca Cola has reached the same problem that makers of novelty key chains and personalized license plates always run into—there’s no way you’ll be able to make a personalized item for everyone’s name. As NPR and the Huffington Post have reported, Coke launched their new “Share a Coke” ad campaign in Europe and many other locations that allows people to put a name (friends or their own) on a Coke. It has a cutesy message on the bottle that says “share a coke with (name),” not too far off from M&M’s personalized messages on their chocolate candies. M&M’s, however, have a solid track record of making personalized candies; Coke only provides the top 150 male or female names in a given region. This has led to a storm of upset fans on Facebook and other social media sites asking why their name isn’t available. These are not universal to every region, but names that have been excluded from certain regions include the multiple spellings of Mohammed, and others like Dexter, Libby, Beverly, Melanie and Cinnamon. A coke representative said they were hard at work to fix the issue, but so many pop drinkers are left thirsty for their name to be on the world’s number one soft drink.

So in an odd turn of events in the universe, it’s been a bad week for people with semi-unique names and a good couple of years (financially) for prisoners in New Jersey. Funny how things work out. It’s been a busy news week, so if you have any financial stories that may have been lost in the woodwork please post them below.


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