Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

"Quick Takes" Continued...

Issue: "The Obama era," Feb. 14, 2009

A student forever

If knowledge is power, a 67-year-old Kalamazoo, Mich., man might be one of the most powerful men around. After earning 27 college degrees-two associates degrees, one bachelor's degree, 20 master's degrees, three specialist's degrees, and one doctorate-Michael Nicholson says he's not close to quitting. Nicholson, who says he's retired, is working on two more master's degrees from Grand Valley State University. Prior to his 16-year career as a substitute teacher, Nicholson used tuition discounts he earned at Western Michigan University while working as a parking-meter attendant for just over a decade. "I find that the intellectual stimulation and the acquaintances that I have at the intellectual level make it really worthwhile," Nicholson told the Kalamazoo Gazette, noting he'll keep pursuing degrees so long as he can make it to class.

Digging shallow

Unlike some taxpayers, one Queens, N.Y., property owner probably won't need to reach too far into his pocket to foot this bill. Victor Serby, who owns property in Queens but lives in Woodmere, N.Y., received a bill from New York City's finance department in the amount of 23 cents. City officials say the tiny charge was one of 10,000 bills the city mistakenly sent out trying to collect amounts less than $5. According to city records, the finance department will book a minus-62 percent return on investment considering the 60-cent capital cost of postage, paper, and processing per bill mailed. And, though the Long Island patent attorney paid his back taxes all at once, the city's installment plan could have allowed him to mail in a 12-cent payment in January and the remaining 11 cents in April.

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