I found this article at MSNBC on my way to the e-mail this morning. It focuses on what has been hinted at but rarely explicitly mentioned in all of the stories on the mortgage mess: the loan providers are not willing to help most of the homeowners who need help. Why? Because they make a tidy amount in fees. Late fees alone can total 6% of the monthly mortgage payment. Then there are a long list of other fees they can apply as well. Another article I read earlier this week (sorry, I didn't keep the list) added a different twist. Among the pool of struggling homeowners, according to that author, the banks would willingly help only about one-third: those who were stable but could only could continue to pay only if the banks gave them a bread and renegotiated the mortgage to lower interest rates and/or longer term. The other two groups included those who might be able to meet the current payments but only with draconian sacrifice and those who were so totally under water no amount of reasonable re-negotiation could salvage their situation. So what ever help these guys will 'voluntarily' give is likely to be extremely little, extremely late and reach very few at-risk homeowners.
Right next to that article, I found this one (Reuters via MSNBC). It also got a brief mention on last night's news. A recent study that reviewed some 160+ studies published over the past years 'proves' that organic foods are no more healthy than foods produced by usual commercial methods. My first question--define healthy. Commercially produced foods have residual pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. There is not way to get rid of these chemicals. They are taken up by the roots and remain in the plant. We are told they are safe but I trust those claims about as much as I do this study. My second question--what about the environmental effects of agricultural chemicals. Those chemicals stay in the environment long after they have been applied; in the soil, the air and the water. We already have 'dead' zones at the mouths of rivers around the world because of the agricultural (and other chemicals) that have been and are being dumped into the water. The cost-benefit analysis of organic foods goes well beyond the nutrients they deliver and whether those nutrients are also in commercially produced in the same amounts. Those considerations are not reflected in this study at all.
Continuing the theme of debt relief (or not) started in the second paragraph above, Robert Borosage at Huffington Post had some interesting comments on U.S.-China relations. He is absolutely right that the US press has been far more interested in Sarah Palin's resignation than anything of substance or importance. There was a brief sound bit that included the quote Borosage uses to set up his article. But no national news program featured any analysis of that speech. The ultimate irony in Borosage's description and analysis of the meetings is that both sides pay lip service to the need for change--on the other partner's part. Neither wants to make any change in their own behavior.