I can give an interim report on the efforts to root some cuttings of the herbs. The stevia cuttings have been giving up their ghosts one at a time over the last week. Only one remains. Next year I will let some flower and try to collect the seeds. There is only one variety (so far) and it isn't a hybrid so I may get some good seed from any new plants next year. The sage, basil, and lavender are still doing nicely. I hope they continue to do so.
I had a thought as I read this MSNBC article this morning. I spent a good bit of time between 1980 and 2000 studying history, particularly U.S. history. I remember a couple of courses that dealt with the Great Depression and the various attempts various historians made to explain both its severity and length. A number of explanations have resurfaced during discussions of the Great Recession--trade imbalances, economic bubbles, over production, a credit drought. There is one that hasn't been mentioned but I think might be relevant. By 1930 the manufacturing sector had reached its peak as the dominant sector of the economy but was already showing signs of decline (similar to the decline of agriculture as manufacturing displaced it.) The consumer section was growing rapidly. Some economic historians postulated that this shift from a manufacturing economy to a consumer economy was a major factor in both the onset of the Depression and its severity because neither sector was strong enough to revive the economy on its own. Perhaps we are now seeing the inherent weakness of an economy based overwhelmingly on the service and consumer sectors. Ten years ago I started asking a very unsettling question--what happens to a consumer driven economy when the consumer can't consume in the heroic manner previously considered 'normal?' I think we have our answer. The question now is--what will the next economic reinvention look like?
Are you all relieved that the inflation rate is so low that Social Security recipients won't 'need' an increase in their (our since I am on Social Security) benefits for the second year in a row? The take a look at the lead section of Casey's Research this morning. How, you ask, can the price increases listed not be reflected in the official inflation rate? Because, the figures have been fudged. The government doesn't include such exotic things as food and fuel costs in the CPI. We, here, at our lowly location on the economic food chain have noted for some time now that everything we normally buy has increased in price. Sometimes the price increase has been hidden--as when the producers of a product decrease the weight or volume but charge almost the same price.
The news just gets worse for the mortgage service companies and the banks. We have watched as two or three banks suspended foreclosures in 23 states (those that require judicial review of foreclosures) to Band of America announcing a suspension covering all states to 30 states' attorneys general announcing fraud probes to (today) the announcement that all states are involved in the probe. Here is HuffingtonPost's take on the matter. And to think that those poor bankers were just getting ready to announce the happy news that they had made nearly record breaking profits and were going to pay billions out in bonuses (again).
emptywheel at Firedoglake has a good article on the foreclosure mess. And, as he points out, the problem isn't just a 'few' bad mortgages but systemic failures which undermines the trust that those who are trying to foreclose have the legal right to do so. And, if fraud is pervasive in the 23 states that require judicial review, what kind of fraud has been (is) present in the 27 states without such review? Emptywheel also poses some questions on trust and the rule of law which we should very seriously consider. And we should also question whether the banks are more value to society than the law. Right now they seem to say that they are and all too many of our political leaders seem inclined to agree with them.