Monday, March 16, 2009

Good Morning, again.  I wrote yesterday that I started some of my seeds  and here is a picture.  Rather than buy starter trays or anything like that we thought of using egg cartons.  We used an ice pick (that we had never used for its intended purpose) to poke a little hole in each cup then filled with potting soil and added the seeds.  The tops of the cartons make very nice watering trays after the holes in the sides are plugged.  We have gotten in the habit of looking at anything we might throw away and think about what use it might be put to.  We can't keep it all out of the garbage but we can keep some of it and put it to good uses.
Here are three pictures of our patio and what we will be using for our container gardens this year.  I mentioned them in yesterday's post.  Actually we have already made progress with a little help from the landscaping service our landlord retains.  Their workmen came in and removed a lot of the leaves before we started.  We swept up the remaining leaves, positioned the tubs and started to fill.  
By the way, that is ice in the clear once-upon-a-time fish tank and the maroon used-to-be cat litter box.  That is part of the deluge we got a week ago last weekend.  We put about three inches of pea gravel in the bottom and then started filling with garden soil.  We were going to drill drain holes in the bottoms but thought better of it and went with the gravel.  We are also using some old plastic containers to make watering reservoirs which we hope will make our watering more efficient.

We will get most of the set up finished today and tweak it as time goes on.  We are supposed to have sun (this afternoon) and temps around 60.

60 Minutes had two interesting segments last night.  One was the first (and to date only) interview with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.  I noticed this morning's news focused on his optimistic prediction that the economic situation won't deepen into a depression, that the recession was 'likely' to end later this year, and a recovery would begin next year.  I also noticed that nobody mentioned the caveat he provided along with that rosy prediction.  He expects all that to happen IF we have the political will to follow through with the various bailouts, rescues and stimulus programs. In other words, if we are willing to throw as much money as it takes to 'cure' the problem.  I think there are strong indications that the will may be lacking.  The European representatives at the G20 conference were not with Geithner who was pushing them to throw in more money and they don't appear to be on track with that strategy.  I wonder how many of our representatives and senators (of which ever party) are on board with it either.

Here is another item which contributes to the question of political will.  Ronni at Time Goes By well expressed the rage of the constituents of those representatives and senators who will have to deal with any new appropriations to continue the bailout, rescues, and stimuli.  She is absolutely right on several items: the fact that contracts, especially labor contracts, are no longer (if they ever were) chiseled in stone (with or without bankruptcy); that the very executives that caused the mess are not valuable employees who can get us out of the mess; and that something smells badly if bonuses are given for jobs 'well done' because none of those employees did a good job.  One of the major problems here is the disconnect between the main street/common man definition of bonus (which is the thrust of the definition Ronni quoted) and the financial industry's definition.  That is clear in any of the interviews the reporters on CNBC have conducted over the last months with executives and experts concerning this topic.  What most people forget (and want to forget) is that the present system of compensation was adopted BECAUSE of a previous period of outrage in the early 1990s over exaggerated and extreme compensation packages.  The financial institutions then made an appearance of reform that was, in fact, a smoke-and-mirrors game.  The reduced the amount of compensation that was labeled 'pay' and moved it to the 'bonus' category.  As a number of pundits noted (in passing and without follow-up from the reporters) the people signed on with financial institutions for a relatively low direct pay with the understanding that they would (whatever the outcome) get 'bonuses' worth several times their formal paychecks.  It is nothing more than a shell game.

To continue to beat this dead horse, Robert Reich, at TPM Cafe, makes a good point (and, again, one that gets almost no play in any of the stories or commentaries).  If AIG had been forced into bankruptcy these bonuses would not have been paid.  Legally.  As unsecured creditors those executives would have been at the bottom of a long line of creditors waiting to see what was left to divvy up.  The only reason they are getting paid is because the government decided that AIG could not be allowed to fail and provided the capital to keep it alive.  What really ticks me off is the fact that all of those self-righteous Republican idiots (I had to stop for a second before I used some very gross profanity here) berated the UAW for its excessive compensation but have said very little about the employees of AIG and other financial companies whose compensation is hundreds of times what an autoworker gets, even at the fictional levels the Republicans like to report.  Frankly, I would rather pay the autoworker.

Another fact that should be mentioned concerning the claim that the employees getting the bonuses should get them to encourage them to stay on and clean up the mess they caused because they are the only ones who understand the mess is--THEY DON'T REALLY UNDERSTAND THE MESS.  The whole credit default (and other creative investment options) was set up by mathematicians with computers.  Hire the damned mathematicians and get rid of the other idiots.  Reich, linked above, is absolutely right.  The use of the words 'talent,' AIG, and 'credit default swap' in the same sentence is three times oxymoronic.

The second story was on Alice Waters and the 'Slow Food' movement.  I like most of what she had to say.  Processed foods loaded with additives, preservatives, salt and sugar are killing us.  Eating locally produced organically grown foods is a better alternative.  However, I disagree with her on a couple of items.  She doesn't own or use a microwave.  That is nice but we own and use a microwave/convection oven.  During the summer it is a godsend because we can cook good meals using less power and creating less heat than with our conventional stove/oven.  The second point of disagreement is with her aversion to frozen foods.  We freeze produce from the local farmers' markets and our own patio containers in the summer for winter use and supplement with commercially frozen foods.  Our farmers' markets operate only between May 1 and October 1.  Not a surprise since we live in northern Indiana not southern California.  Slow Food is  good idea but we have to tailor it to our needs and circumstances.  By the way, cost is not a factor here.  Taste and quality is.

I thought I had misheard an item on CNBC late last week.  It came up only once, briefly, when I was doing something in the kitchen and couldn't hear the TV all that well.  I didn't hear anything else about it on the evening news and dismissed it.  Evidently I wasn't hearing things because Chris In Paris at Americablog made note of it.  The Business Round Table has decided that the American health care (non)system is hurting the U.S. in the global marketplace.  No sh#t.

Well that was a long post!!  I guess there is nothing like some warm temps, sunshine, and some nice physical work to get the juices flowing.

1 comment:

Kay Dennison said...

You've said it well!!!! I'll be posting some links you might find interesting later this week.