Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Good morning, everyone. Yesterday I had to go to the local library. One of the books I requested had come in. And I made a trip to Barnes & Noble. I wanted some books on specific topics and actually found a couple of them. I need some reference books on garden pests (which I didn't find--not apart from more inclusive gardening books which I didn't want), vegetables, especially tomatoes (found one on tomatoes specifically--wasn't particularly interested in the broader works on veggies), and food drying (the two I found I had already checked out from the library so I will see if I would like either to add to my library.) Today I hope to get back into the gardens. It has been way too hot to do much and the temps have risen early. If I am lucky I will be able to get some things accomplished between the rain drops. The weather people say scattered rain today. Yesterday we has some spaghetti with some of the Italian flavored sausage (ground pork) Mom made up Monday. We had done this before with commercially prepared Italian sausage but the differences were striking. She didn't have to pour off water and fat--at all. And the taste was entirely different. She had wondered if we would like that--we have become so accustomed to the taste of the commercial product we really didn't know. Actually we like ours better. That seems to be a normal occurrence these days. Sunday we had a pizza--one of the frozen variety of a brand that had been pretty good. Half way through she asked if I found it too salty. I did and the pepperoni and sausage didn't taste all that good either. That will be the last frozen pizza we will buy. Even on sale it isn't worth the price. I wonder if we have reduced the amount of salt in our diets to the point where we actually can taste it. I asked her how many of the ingredients on the label (and we do read labels--often) had sodium in one form or another. She recalled four off the bat--and several ingredients she simply didn't know and couldn't pronounce. As I said--that was the last frozen pizza we will get.

I found this little post on HuffingtonPost this morning and it got me thinking. I read the article Richard Eskow critiques and thought the arguments didn't really hold water. I couldn't quite put my finger on why my gut was telling me that the arguments were crap, not being an economist, until started reading Eskow's article. Social Security surpluses were put into treasury bonds. Eskow calls them IOUs that are 'both a financial instrument and a moral obligation.' They are more I think. I read a couple of weeks ago that the IMF was suggesting that the U.S. renege on its 'unfunded liabilities' such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Well, Social Security is funded--by the interest on treasury bonds and by current receipts. Let's take this a bit further and ask what would happen if the U.S. simply walked away from the treasury bonds associated with Social Security. What would that say about the 'full faith and credit of the U.S.' And what would various governments and sovereign wealth funds that have funded our deficits for the past several decades think about the safety of their own investments?

I found a post this morning on the burningplatform that posted a letter from a New Jersey businessman titled 'Why I Am Not Hiring' that also got me thinking. That is a very dangerous thing to do. Basically the businessman argues that to provide his employee, 'Sally,' with an annual wage of $44k he has to fork over $74k. Of this something like 22% of her 'paper' wages of $59k goes to taxes, medicare, unemployment, medical and dental insurance etc. He of course has to match her Social Security and pay the company's part of health insurance, etc. But I have to ask--if all of those onerous, mandated deductions disappeared, would 'Sally' receive $59k or $44k. In other words, who would get the benefit--her to the tune of a 22% increase in pay or him to the tune of a one-third reduction in labor costs? I am a cynical old bitch but my guess--it wouldn't be her.

MSNBC had this article from Business Week that was interesting about people who make the choice not to have cell phones. I can relate to most of the arguments. I want to control my technology not be controlled by it. And I want my technology to fit my life rather than fit my life to the technology. I remarked before that I don't use a PDA though have bought two of them in the past. I found that using a paper and pencil is easier than the PDA. Now ads for those devices don't even tempt me nor do ads for phones that tout PDA functions. My phone is a phone not a calendar, not an internet surfing device, not a camera even though the phone has those capabilities. It just happened to be the cheapest model that would fulfill my needs. The whole article really dealt with people who made the surprising decision to control the technology in their lives rather than be controlled by it.

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