短篇的英语故事：Crazy Housing Prices
Homebuyers nationwide are watching housing prices go up, up, and up. “How high can they go?” is the question on everyone’s lips. “As long as interest rates stay around 5 percent, there’s no telling,” remarked one realtor in Santa Monica, California.
“It’s crazy,” said Tim, who is looking for a house near the beach. “In 1993, I bought my first place, a two-bedroom condominium in Venice, for $70,000. My friends thought then that I was overpaying. Five years later, I had to move. I sold it for $230,000, which was a nice profit. Last year, while visiting friends here, I saw in the local paper that the exact same condo was for sale for $510,000!”
It is a seller’s market. Homebuyers feel like they have to offer at least 10 percent more than the asking price. Donna, a new owner of a one-bedroom condo in Venice Beach, said, “That’s what I did. I told the owner that whatever anyone offers you, I’ll give you $20,000 more, under the table, so you don’t have to pay your realtor any of it. I was tired of looking.”
Tim says he hopes he doesn’t get that desperate. “Whether you decide to buy or decide not to buy, you still feel like you made the wrong decision. If you buy, you feel like you overpaid. If you don’t buy, you want to kick yourself for passing up a great opportunity.”
Everyone says the bubble has to burst sometime, but everyone hopes it will burst the day after they sell their house. Even government officials have no idea what the future will bring. “All we can say is that, inevitably, these things go in cycles,” said the state director of housing. “What goes up must come down. But, as we all know, housing prices always stay up a little higher than they go down. So you can’t lose over the long run. Twenty years down the road, your house is always worth more than you paid for it.”
短篇的英语故事：Millions for Homeless
The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $5 million to three different local nonprofit organizations. The money will be distributed over a four-year period and is aimed at helping approximately 1,000 homeless people in the county of Arvada.
One agency, with headquarters in Woodbridge, is slated to receive $1.5 million. The agency director says that they will focus their resources on educating the homeless. “We will probably build another school-home with this money,” he said. “A school-home is exactly what it sounds like. It is a school and a home. We have already built four school-homes throughout the county. We get the homeless off the street, and we educate them so they don't have to return to the street. We teach them how to be auto mechanics, plumbers, landscapers, painters, carpenters, bricklayers, electricians, and air-conditioning repairmen.
“You wouldn't believe the success that we have had. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, our office air-conditioning went out. My secretary called a repairman. The repairman was one of our first homeless students. He now owns his own air-conditioning business, plus two houses, two cars and a boat! He has a dozen employees. Holy cow! He's doing better than I am. He fixed our air-conditioning for free. I think I might sign up for the air-conditioning class myself.”
短篇的英语故事：Man Gets 12 Years for Fraud
A federal judge sentenced Bruce Jones to 12 years in federal prison for fraud. Over a 10-year period, Jones had managed to swindle almost $10 million from thousands of gullible people throughout the state.
He advertised his fantastic ideas on TV. "For some reason," Jones said, "TV seems to break the ice. Even though you are a total stranger to the viewer, once he sees you on TV in his home, he feels like he knows you. You enter his living room and become a trusted friend."
Jones had an imagination that wouldn’t quit. One time he showed viewers an "official government" earthquake report which “proved” that the western half of California would collapse into the sea within three years. For $100, he said, Jones would insure your house and property for full value. Thousands of people who saw that TV ad sent him a hundred dollars each.
In another TV ad, Jones claimed that he had negotiated with the federal and state government for exclusive air rights. He told viewers that, for only $100, they could own the first 10 miles above all their property. You would be able to charge any commercial plane that flew over your property $100 per crossing. You would also be able to charge government rockets, satellites, space shuttles, and space stations $100 for each and every violation of your air rights.
Another time, Jones claimed to have invented a product that gets rid of calories. He showed the viewers a spray can of "NoCal." He said that by simply spraying NoCal on your food, a chemical interaction would cause all the calories in the food to simply evaporate within about 10 seconds. The NoCal was only $10 a can. As usual, Jones received thousands of checks in the mail.
The judge told Jones that he should be ashamed of himself. Jones responded that he was very ashamed of himself, and that when he got out of prison he hoped to become a TV consultant to help people avoid getting scammed. He told the judge that he was already developing an instructional CD that, for merely $100, would save people thousands of dollars in scams. The judge nodded, and then changed Jones’s sentence from 10 years to 12 years.