Hello, all, on this cold Wednesday. The temps are in the 20s but the wind chill drops that into the teens. At least the winds have died down. And the snow stayed east and north. I looked out to make sure that nothing had blown out of place and saw everything is where it belongs. The wind had the over-the-fence pot hangers swinging like pendulums with the pots inside. I have them hanging on the cross bars of the mini-greenhouse. I thought it looked like a good storage space and so it his turned out. The weather person on our local (Chicago) TV station reported that one of her regular e-mail correspondents has already figured that we have 111 days till spring. He is already tired of the cold. I look at all the moisture coming through this late in the year and figure we have worse to come.
I agree, Lois. College today is not worth the investment of time and money. But then so much of our educational system is not worth the amount of money (private and public) that has been put into it. Our local news this morning carried a snippet on a recent evaluation of Chicago's charter schools and it wasn't good. The way our Federal Secretary of Education and various politicians at all levels of government have touted charter schools you would think they were the magical road to educational success. I think the key word there is 'magical.' The students at most of those charter schools scored no better than the students in the regular public school system and those in at least half a dozen did significantly worse. No panacea there. You may be right and a system of apprenticeship programs would be more effective.
Tom Englehardt has a nicely satirical piece by Steve Fraser that touches on most of the ills of modern society dominated as it is by predatory capitalism. Englehardt's intro is as entertaining as Fraser's article. And both are absolutely right--this system is rapidly consuming our dreams, our futures, and our children. I find it amazing that most of us would find cannibalism abhorrent unless we are talking about fiscal and psychic cannibalism.
Just glanced at the list of items on my Google alert page for 'drought.' I noticed on which claims that the drought in Texas is now the worst on record since records began in 1895. That means it beats the benchmark most of us use--the Dust Bowl. And the recent rains, though welcome, missed many of the hardest hit regions and much, much more is needed to provide real relief. I couldn't read the article because it was taken down by the time I found the link. Mexico, especially northern Mexico, is suffering the worst drought in 60 years. That isn't good for two reasons: Mexico is the world's fifth largest supplier of corn and many of the early veggies for the American market come from Northern Mexico. And to make matters worse many crucial reservoirs are at 30-40% of their normal levels which means water is going to be a scarce commodity this coming season. And the lower Danube in eastern Europe is at its lowest level since 2003.
Leigh at 5 Acres and a Dream has a good post this morning that crystallizes many thoughts I have had over recent years. I grew up at a time when debt had become an 'investment' in the future that would be paid off from future financial gains. I never really fell for the notion of debt as 'wealth' that has come to dominate much of high finance. But debt is, as we have increasingly found out over the last 20 years, a drain on our futures. Debt-as-investment relies on trust: the trust that future will be more prosperous and the debtor can pay off the debt. Anyone who has that kind of trust now is either extraordinarily lucky or extraordinarily oblivious. I also grew up with the notion of insurance as a good form of protection against catastrophe: a breadwinner dying unexpectedly, a car damaged, a house destroyed, an unpredictable major medical problem. But I have questioned it more of late. We have renter's insurance and there are clauses I simply can't understand. Some seem to contradict others. And I have seen too many people who thought they had coverage for whatever disaster they encountered and discovered they did not. As far as medical insurance--I believe the pervasiveness (until a couple of years ago when so many lost benefits) has been a major factor in the increase in medical costs. The people who receive the medical services do not pay for those services directly and have no incentive to incorporate economics into their decisions. The doctors and hospitals provide services but bill the insurance companies whose deep pockets make it all too tempting to inflate the costs for a higher return. The insurance companies pay but have no real gauge of how effective or efficient the services provided really are. Disconnect on all levels. And again much depends on trust--the trust that the treatment is really worth the cost. I don't have that much trust in the medical establishment. And on the notion of retirement instruments--that also depends on trust that the money will be there when one retires. And I don't have any faith beyond when I see my next check has been deposited.