Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Good Morning, All. We have had morning thunderstorms so far. The weather people say my area has received about three-quarters of an inch so far and the rain should move out by mid-morning. I don't mind since I won't have to water extensively in the gardens. We got the latest water bill and were pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn't very much above the usual even though I have had to water the plants more thanks to the hot weather we have had. The heat is supposed to come back by the end of the week. The bill we really dread seeing is the electric because we have used the air quite a bit more. The heat we can usually tolerate but lately it has combined with humidity and that is extremely uncomfortable.

I found this item on my news alerts this morning and the cynical side of me can easily believe that there may be some fire beneath this smoke. After all, what is the value of a hundred-plus lives when hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars is at stake? That is the key fact people have to understand about economics (and politics, and science). These are NOT moral systems in their own right--they have to be judged by some standard external to themselves. Unfortunately, we have conflated concepts like capitalism and democracy into nearly religious concepts and, in the U.S., have so intertwined it with 'Christianity' that we can't criticize the first two without criticizing the latter. Capitalism is about making money and the only standard on which companies are judged is how much money they make NOT on how they make it. Making a lot of money functions as the Medieval indulgences did--your sins magically disappear.

HuffingtonPost has another story concerning the rising number of law suits by debt collectors that are clogging the 'justice' system an increasing number of which are frivolous in one way or another. A couple of months ago another story indicated that some judges in New York were becoming very unhappy with debt collection lawyers who filed large numbers of actions without checking the facts. There is no justice in a system which allows the sale, often many times over, of debts (which may or may not be owed by the person who is targeted) and then allows the harassment of the alleged debtor. We have a debtor's prison without the bars. Unfortunately, the largest debtors (banks who received government bailouts) are treated much more gently than individuals.

Talking about banks, it seems Fed Chairman Bernanke (perhaps channeling the Administration's feelings) is frustrated because loans are still hard to come by for small businesses. The banks simply are not lending. We heard this on the morning news. As usual we were not surprised. There has been a drumbeat since the crisis began to encourage the banks to make small business loans and they have been very slow to do so. On the one hand I can't blame them--debt got us into this crisis. Anyone who thinks that lax standards applied only to home mortgage loans is living in a dream world. We built the prosperity of the last 30 years on debt and now we can't figure a way to be prosperous without debt. We are in a box and haven't even begun to think outside it.

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