Sunday, August 22, 2010

Good Sunday Morning to all of you. The temps and humidity are down today, and we expect them to remain moderate for the rest of the week. We didn't get very much rain yesterday and the sun made its appearance so the temperatures were higher than forecast. I will have to water very well today. (I just finished the watering. I see several peppers that should be harvested tomorrow and put in to dry. I also need to clip the herbs. Yeah, I know. I have said that for the last week. I would have done it today but I wound up trimming, cutting, treating and drying the last eggplant I took. Also had some tomatoes to get in the dehydrator. Either that or loose them. I absolutely hate the thought of loosing anything.)

NPR had this story today. I don't doubt that a lot of Americans are rethinking the whole notion of home ownership as the American Dream. We did that several years ago when we decided not to buy a mobil home that Mom saw listed in the papers--we decided not to even investigate it. We saw two major problems with it. First, it would have totally wiped out Mom's reserves. We would have had absolutely nothing to fall back in case of an emergency. Second, my employment situation was already dicey and I was nearing the end of my last (worthless) degree program so we had no idea whether we would have to move when I finished and got a real job. Third, I remembered all to clearly a big, nasty brawl where I used to live when the owner of the mobile home park decided to sell to a developer. Those who owned the mobile homes but leased the slots had to either move their homes or lose them. Most lost them. The cost to move a mobile home was several thousand dollars and most couldn't afford it even with state aid. I was merely a bystander but it left a very nasty taste in my mouth. Recently, I had another thought about the whole 'home-with-a-white-picket- fence-and-a-30-year-fixed-rate-mortgage' version of the American Dream--it is so very outmoded. It was outmoded even for my parents much less for me and my younger siblings or anyone younger. How many of us have a good job that keeps us in the same place for 30 years? In my family--only two of my siblings fit that bill. For myself, my other sibling, and my nieces and nephews we have had neither the jobs nor the geographical stability to make the house with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage practical. I was the luckiest of us because I sold my house during a sellers market at a profit. I notice that there has been a drumbeat of criticism leveled recently at Fannie and Freddie that the article continues but I wonder--why do they focus on the two GSEs? Why don't they spread the criticism around to the banks who benefitted from the government guarantee the GSEs provided? Why don't they renew the criticism of the mortgage backed securities the big banks packaged, sold, repackaged and resold? The article rightly notices the lax lending standards but never goes to the heart of the problem--and over-sold, acquisitive, one-size-fits-all 'dream' peddled by a bunch of conmen who passed the costs on to the all of us while they pocketed obscene 'profits.'

It looks like the mainstream media is picking up a bit on the egg recall story. This one comes from AP. The broadcast news, however, barely mentions the story and has glided over the long string of violations the DeCoster farms have racked up in at least two states. But, again, the story doesn't go to the heart of the problem--the industrial system itself. The problems with tainted eggs (or lettuce, or tomatoes, or peppers, or meat) is the same as the problems that plagued Toyota. The 'manufacturers' push so much product through and distribute it so widely that it takes months before the problem is even recognized and then months more to trace it to a specific cause. And, in both cases, a customer can be an informed consumer but still get burned. Furthermore, the end consumers have no way of following the supply chain back through the suppliers that contributed to the product they bought. How can the customer who gets sick from eating an egg at a restaurant follow the chain back to the farm where the egg was laid to the chicken that produced the egg to the farm that supplied the bird or the feed supplier that sold the feed the bird ate? I have other problems with a system that treats living animals as though they were inanimate widgets but I will save that rant for another time.

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