Nice Shoes!

I found the following article interesting: First Lady Michelle Obama steps out in Lanvin sneakers and they’re only $540! While many of us are barely holding on during this recession there is always a few that remind us how poor we really are. Apparently the First Lady was volunteering at a food bank the other day sporting $540 sneakers. Don’t get me wrong its good she is volunteering her time, not that she has anything else to do. Plus we all know she is rich so of course she will have the finer things in life. However, I believe it to be a poor choice of character flaunty luxury items in front of people that can’t even afford to feed themselves. Seriously $540 sneakers? She would have won me over if she showed up in a pair of $75 Nikes and donated the rest of the $465 to someone who truly needs it. Sure I might be a little jealous but im not the one the country is looking up to right now during this financial crisis. Any thoughts?

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100% Problem Solving Nonsense

Helping Psychology explains how people need to come together to solve any kind of problem. It also tells that some people do not want to be involved in coming together to help solve a problem and conform to groups because they may not trust everybody in the group.  They also tell why if everyone was to come together and solve a problem, we wouldn’t be in a downward sloping economy and society and the people would run the world in a much better state. Republican fundamentalist even is quoted on this issue of how people wouldn’t ever be able to come together as one to solve problems

according to Republican fundamentalist Mike Huckabee, who promotes the theory, “if we all did [the right thing] we wouldn’t need any other laws.” This theory will always be common nonsense, not common sense, because everyone doing the right thing all the time won’t ever be common, so we need to adapt our behavior to reflect what will happen when some people don’t follow the rules, not what happens when everyone does.

To some people, this is why they choose not to help out. They get that mentality of “If 1 or 2 people do not help out, why should I?”. This turns into a domino effect and this is part of the reason people choose not to conform and choose to help the world or some other reason. People nowadays have started to go “green”, by using less energy producing products. Slowly people are banding together to make a difference, which even though everybody will not help to solve this problem, it will be good enough, but never 100%.

A Lack of Will

If you’ve been listening to NPR over the past week, you may have heard this interview with former New York Attorney General and governor, the disgraced Eliot Spitzer. No, they weren’t interviewing him to hound him about his time in the doghouse after the scandal of his patronage of a high-end prostitution ring (I believe you refer to it as a “house of ill repute”, when the girls cost you a grand or more per hour…) – they sought his opinion on the current global financial crisis and, at least here in the U.S., it’s roots in the subprime lending crisis. In case you didn’t know, before Eliot Spitzer was the governor of New York (but probably not before he was an adulterer) he was the state’s Attorney General. Early last year before his popular demise, Spitzer contributed http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/13/AR2008021302783.html>this article. Telling though it was, especially as the subprime lending crisis grew, the article was largely ignored by many media outlets – even those not in the mainstream. Though I would estimate we’d still be in rough waters had anyone bothered to take Spitzer’s article to heart, I think many would agree that a lesser version of the current crisis would be better.

While it seems obvious that the global financial crisis is not solely the product of predatory lending practices and “a lack of will, not power” by federal regulators to investigate and prosecute the illegal dealings in the financial sector, Spitzer does make a valid case for these two variables being of particular significance. Whether or not you think Spitzer is a smutbucket or just another philandering politician, he does have the experience as a former Attorney General who, along with his colleagues in other states, tried to fight back against the irresponsible and downright illegal lending practices of banks but was cut off by the Bush administration. Spitzer concludes his article with the prediction that “the Bush administration will not be judged favorably” once the history of this crisis is investigated, revealed, and written. One can only hope, it seems, that though it is unlikely (nigh, impossible) that anyone directly responsible in that administration will be held accountable, that future generations can be far more wary.

Sustainability

In this article from Scientific American, Michael D. Lemonick discusses the Top 10 Myths About Sustainability. No, this isn’t an affront to environmentalism – it’s an article that seeks to define just what sustainability is, how it can (and can’t) operate, and how it can help. The concept of sustainability, the article points out, is widely and legitimately applicable to our modern global society but can be difficult for people to understand. I found two points in this article to be especially succinct in describing the concept of sustainability in very simple and very real terms.

“The economy,” says Anthony Cortese, founder and president of the sustainability education organization Second Nature, “is a wholly owned subsidiary of the biosphere. The biosphere provides everything that makes life possible, assimilates our waste or converts it back into something we can use.”

This is immediately followed by,

If too many of us use resources inefficiently or generate waste too quickly for the environment to absorb and process, future generations obviously won’t be able to meet their needs.

As humans on this planet, everything that we rely upon to provide us an environment in which we can not only live, but flourish, is a product of the earth in at least its most basic form. Therefore, if we are wasteful and abusive towards the planet, it is likely that we will no longer be able to flourish – perhaps not even live. Sustainability may require us to use less (whether that be fossil fuels, water, etc.), and to use what we do take from the earth with greater efficiency, but it is not about returning to cave dwellings and loincloths. Sustainability requires each individual to be both responsible for themselves and conscientious of others in the way that we live our lives, manipulate and use resources, and to consider how our actions of the present will continue to resonate in the future. Regardless of personal politics, I fail to sympathize with any individual’s inability to recognize not only the merit, but the absolute necessity, of sustainable living. The future of humanity does not look to be an easy or pleasant one and will require a massive overhaul, but that is no reason to feel hopeless. At the individual level, even small changes and adjustments to your habits and lifestyle are better than no changes at all!

No more sprinkles!!!

We as Americans are a society of consumers. I wonder just how dependent we are on commercial goods. Working for Starbucks and now Heritage it is amazing to see how people can become so furious if they aren’t able to have their mocha or a piece of lemon loaf. It seems to be that the customers really think that we purposefully had the grinder break down or be in the middle of a power outage and that we have control of what pastries other customers order. A post in the beginning of March reported that a woman called 911 three times because McDonalds was out of chicken nuggets.

 

 

“This is an emergency, If I would have known they didn’t have McNuggets, I wouldn’t have given my money, and now she wants to give me a McDouble, but I don’t want one,” Goodman later told police. “This is an emergency.”

 

 

As I was thinking about this craziness I decided to check out Starbucks. In a chat room for Starbucks customers and partners there was a post about no more toffee nuts. I absolutely found this hilarious! Starbucks brings out new drinks at least every quarter. The Toffee Nut Latter, made with toffee nut syrup, whip and toffee nuts, was a promotional beverage that really didn’t go over very well. I had to throw out a few bottles of toffee nuts because we never used them and they had expired.

 

The horror. The outrage. I have been drinking toffee nut lattes with whip and sprinkles since it was introduced last holiday season and watched as it drifted off the big board and became a special item to order.

Apparently there will be no more sprinkles and really, it’s the sprinkles that make the damn beverage what it is. I have no idea who is handling latte strategy up at headquarters but this news it quite distressing. Am I going to be forced to bring in outside sprinkles to my local Starbuck’s.

 

What are we going to do if there are no more sprinkles or nuggets? Why is shortage such a crisis? Sometimes I think we have too many things available to us to really see things in perspective.

Re: Five Reasons for Economic Optimism

U.S. Home Values Continue Their Free Fall

I stumbled across an article in the March 16th issue of the TIME Magazine that brought up a couple of interesting points about the current economic situation in America. The author of the article, Justin Fox, talks about the good (or, at least, the fairly good) things that come out of any recession. Consequently, he came up with a list of four positive outcomes of the crisis.

  1. The stock market is no longer over-priced. Of course, as prices on stocks fall as a consequence of the general shrinking in “lung capacity” on Wall Street, the investor suddenly finds himself in a better position than, say, two years ago. Given that the promise of the recovery is realistic, the average capitalist could eventually earn a robust profit. The problem is guessing when the market is going to stop falling. Confidence is required for such dismissive action.

  2. The government is on the case. Here, the author merely points to the recent activity that followed the election of a new president. Of course, the worsening of the economy drastically stimulated this stirring, but Obama is to be given credit for much of the action on the matter.

  3. Consumers are adjusting to the new economic reality. This is both a good and a bad thing. Good because it is a reality-check for the (American) consumption machine. People begin realizing that the borrowed money will have to actually be repaid. On the dark side, this increase in savings hurts the economy (consumption being part of the Gross Domestic Product) as it drags the GDP along.

  4. Reinvention and change are what the U.S. is all about. This is a good point in general, not just in the economic sense. Theoretically, when something must be rebuilt anyway, people may as well fix what needed to be fixed for a long time (which, for lack of “inspiration,” or less likely – money – never got done). Remodeling a house to suit its residents’ needs better is much easier to do if the house in question had already gone through a fire: the structural walls are still there, but the rest can be refreshed on the way.

Falling Housing Prices - the Vicious CircleThe fifth point that I wanted to add to Fox’s list relates in a way to the first on the list. The prices on the housing market. Any time there is a recession, the housing market gets hit first (in this case, it was the housing market that was the root of all evil). This however may be beneficial to those people looking for a house. According to the Wall Street Journal, prices have been falling constantly since May of 2006. Now, when the prices are the same as they were in mid-2002, it is expected that they will continue to fall.

Is there a bullish scenario for house prices? Sure. If all the government spending to turn around the economy reignites inflation in a year or two—as some predict—house prices could begin climbing again. But if the current price deflation continues, look for house prices to keep dropping.

It is confidence that is needed get out of the crisis. From home-buyers, to investors, to consumers – all need to regain their confidence in a stable economy. This of course may only be attained in time. Meanwhile, we can continue watching the market for a better bargain.

What Comes Next?

London Protests

Once again, with this year’s G-20 Summit coming up (and the abundance of material for protesting banners) political activists, environmental groups, but also regular people, are all meeting in London to “greet” international leaders.

Protesters gathering on Saturday were calling for jobs, fair distribution of wealth, and a low-carbon future. They carried banners and posters reading “Climate Emergency,” “Gaza: End the Blockade,” “Planet Before Profit,” “We Won’t Pay for Their Crisis,” and “Jobs not Bombs.”

In a preliminary meeting of G-20 officials in Chile on Saturday, Joe Biden asked for patience, and promised to have a concrete plan of recovery out of the economic mess. Needless to say, tensions in Britain and all-over Europe are not going to get mellowed-down by this type of promises. Instead, British protesters follow the general feeling of rage among the taxpayer, from Washington to Brussels.

It is expected that the marches will continue throughout the meeting in London and the rest of Europe next week. The masses, ranging from 400 protesters in Paris, to 20,000 people demonstrating in Frankfurt, are only continuing to grow, and some are expecting the largest amount of enraged people since the huge rallies against the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

It is hard to say exactly what the effect of the protesters will be upon the decisions made within the G-20, but one thing is certain: this allows people to have someone to hold responsible for the crisis. Furthermore, it allows them to collectively show their anger against their governments, and get their voices heard. The only thing that keeps people from rallying the streets in America is Barack Obama, who is still extremely popular among the people, even though not all of them support him in his giant stimulus package.