Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Good Morning, Everyone. It is nice and sunny today. Yesterday was gloomy even if warmer than normal for November. It was a wasted kind of gloom since we didn't get any rain to go with the clouds. More house cleaning planned for today.

However, a couple of things caught my attention. The news media has noticed that the big banks are rolling out new credit card fees and establishing new requirements for credit card customers hoping to beat any new deadlines Congress might impose. They are essentially blackmailing us and our political leaders. Either they get to pocket obscene profits without regulation or they will choke off credit. They are hoping that we, as a society, will decide that we need them more than they need us. It feels somewhat like the old Cold War notion of MAD (mutually assured destruction). On the one hand they are right. To keep our economy going the way it had been going we need liberal credit because wages haven't fueled our standard of living for at least the last thirty years for the lowest paid two-thirds (plus or minus) of our population. A middle class standard of living has been possible for most of us only because of borrowing of one kind or another--credit cards, home equity lines of credit, easy credit for car purchases. And even then most of it required two working adults as well as liberal credit. Their tactics will work only as long as a significant portion of us decide that the old way of life is desirable. What happens when we don't?

Another news story this morning raised my irritation level a notch largely because it came close on the heels of a similar irritation earlier during our weekly grocery shopping trip. The supermarket had a sign noting that they would be open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on THANKSGIVING. And people wonder why I hate retail??? That is a wonderful holiday for their workers; but, hey, they should be grateful they have jobs, right?? Then this morning Wal-Mart announced they were going to be open on Thanksgiving--all 24 hours of it. Supposedly they want to avoid a repeat of the incident last year when a temp worker was trampled to death by frenzied shoppers on Black Friday. Really??? It sounds to me like these retailers simply want every nickel they they can get and don't mind screwing their workers, again.

Mark Morford has a good post this morning on the 60 Minutes story I didn't comment on earlier this week. We were also somewhat put out about this story. First, we don't care much for celebrity gossip and are especially put off by such gossip paraded as news. Second, we have no intention of buying or reading Agassiz's book and so didn't want to sit through an unpaid advertisement for it. Third, they devoted two thirds of their air time to that story and only one third to the much more interesting story about the threat of cyber attacks. WTF??? Fourth, we were stuck watching the last 3 minutes of a football game that lasted almost 20 real minutes in order to get to 60 Minutes and were grateful that the powers that be didn't spend the next forty plus minutes going to the tail ends of other football games. I don't know which is the more irritating--the looooong 3 minutes or the overexposure of an former tennis star's confession to bad behavior.

Entitled To Know has a piece that parallels my thoughts (in an earlier post) on the notion some in Congress have of establishing a commission to, as they so nicely say, 're-negotiate the social contract.) We elected our representatives to make the hard choices for the good of us all--not to kowtow to the special interests, not to preserve their political career and electability. They are not doing that job. And now they want to establish this commission to take the heat off themselves and make decisions that will affect all of us, most of us adversely??? Unfortunately, they may just get away with it.

Richard Heinberg has an interesting post today. I am one of those people who cannot see things in a black and white or binary (right/wrong, good/bad) light. When the issues of climate change, or health care reform, or peak oil come up and various pundits come out with their statements of 'problems' and 'solutions' I am most likely to say 'Yes, but...'. One of my teachers, some many years ago, made the observation that for every question science answers several more questions are revealed in the answers. And for every techno-fix to a given problem the fix creates new problems we never even dreamed of. Mainly because we wore the blinders of the 'problem/solution' mindset.

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