Sue Dreamwalker is on a roll. Every one of her recent posts has been an inspiration to look at our lives and change. Simplicity, food, environmental awareness. — John
Couldn’t resist posting one more video. A most energetic and inspiring older couple. I guess local food and organic food is possible. All you need is dirt and work.
A most interesting take on sustainable food and local food. I’m particularly fascinated by the part about training young people for meaningful work. A great alternative to college for many, perhaps.
Let’s think seriously about “apocalypse.” Stay with me. This will be brief. The dictionary definition is:
“noun, the complete final destruction of the world, esp. as described in the biblical book of Revelation; an event involving destruction or damage on an awesome or catastrophic scale: a stock market apocalypse / an era of ecological apocalypse.”
However, I’m not thinking of “apocalypse” in the biblical sense; or in the nuclear-annihilation sense.
Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy this past week provided us with a vivid picture of how the apocalypse of modern civilization might go. The suffering of the people of New Orleans, New Jersey, and New York could be widespread in the not-too-distant future. (Any city or state with “New” in its name has reason to be frightened.)
A respectable business magazine is out with the cover headline:
“It’s Global Warming, Stupid”
Fair enough. Quibble about the causes and terminology, if you must, but face reality.
I suggest two related subjects clamoring for serious consideration in the public square (or in smoke-filled back rooms) going forward:
“Geography Is Destiny”
“It’s Infrastructure, Stupid”
What do you think? Suggestions for additional subjects to include in the syllabus? Extra credit for class participation.
— John Hayden
- PHOTO: Businessweek’s Bold Hurricane Sandy Cover (huffingtonpost.com)
- Scientists Unsure if Climate Change Is to Blame for Hurricane Sandy (nytimes.com)
- ‘Meteorological bomb’ or climate change? Experts eye Sandy’s cause. (smh.com.au)
- Global Warming and Hurricane Sandy? (bigthink.com)
- Climate change, or crap shoot? Experts weigh Sandy’s causes (reuters.com)
- Oh Sandy… (thereinventshop.com)
10:30 p.m. Sunday, still above water in West Ocean City, MD. (Although my roof is leaking again.) Just finished writing a detailed news report over at Ocean City Blog. It’s raining hard and the wind’s picking up. But this baby is only beginning. They’re calling Sandy a hybrid hurricane/nor’easter now. Continue reading
(Please click on “comments” at the left side of the title for an interesting back-and-forth between polar opposite points of view.)
The deadlock over raising the debt limit seems almost like a clash of religious beliefs. The two sides hold different beliefs. The deadlock has helped clarify my thinking about what I believe. Maybe this debt crisis of 2011 will help us all clarify who we are, and what we believe.
I believe that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the best part of America. I believe that without Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, a large part of the American population — more than half the people over 65 — would fall into hopeless poverty.
Some people believe it would be impossible to balance the American budget without deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I believe that America is still, right now, the most prosperous society the world has ever known. I believe that America can afford Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
I believe it would be fair for the most prosperous among us — those with incomes of $250,000 or more a year — to pay a little more in taxes for the good of America. These people have prospered in America. They live the good life. Aren’t they patriotic enough to want to keep America strong? I believe they ARE patriotic and willing to help. It is inconceivable that they could be otherwise.
Some politicians say they oppose any tax increase because a tax increase would “destroy jobs.”
I don’t believe it. How would a modest tax increase destroy jobs? The president is not talking about making rich people poor. He’s talking about a modest tax increase on incomes over $250,000. How exactly will that destroy jobs? Will people earning $250,000 or more even notice a small tax increase? Will a small tax increase change their way of life? I don’t think so. Some may believe otherwise.
I believe there are other ways to balance the American budget. I believe we are spending far too much on a worldwide military presence. I believe we do not have to be fighting foreign wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. I believe we could drastically reduce foreign military spending, pull American soldiers out of harm’s way and closer to the North American continent. We could reduce defense spending by perhaps a third, and still have a military that is by far strong enough to defend the North American continent.
I simply cannot understand why anyone would want to destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I believe the vast majority of Americans support these programs. I believe that common-sense cuts in general government spending and defense spending, combined with a small increase in taxes on the most fortunate among us, would bring the American budget into balance.
What do you believe?
Keep the faith.
— John Hayden
- American Debt Crisis: The Rich and Powerful Demand Unconditional Surrender by the Middle Class and Poor (lifeaftersixty.wordpress.com)
- Liberal economist Krugman says U.S. is in a Depression (fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com)
- Government-Run Healthcare is More Efficient Than Private Healthcare (motherjones.com)
- Fix Entitlement Programs to Save the American Dream (heritage.org)
It’s too soon to know whether the Austerity Project will be a success. I’m defining “success” to mean reducing my spending to match my income.
The total damage for Austerity Project, Week No. 1, was $189.13. Issues from Week No. 1: I ate pizza three times. That number has to come down. My biggest single expenditure was a fill-up at the gas station, with regular at $2.76 a gallon, for a total of $33.68. After rent, health insurance, and food, gas for the car is my next highest monthly expense. Soon I’m going to need an oil change and some regular maintenance, which is not included in the monthly budget. And looming in February is the $700 annual payment for car insurance, which is also off-budget.
The first day of Week No. 2 was my first day with no expenditures. Not a penny. Tuesday was $16.23 for miscellaneous household goods at Walmart.
Today, I signed up with a health club, aka “gym,” with a commitment of $19.95 a month for the next year! I did not make this decision lightly. There is no health club line in my monthly budget. I don’t know where the $19.95 a month is coming from. But you have to admit it’s a good price for a health club membership.
With a fancy new health club opening, there’s something of a price war going on among health clubs in my area. I found the $19.95 price at a so-called “bare bones” club. It doesn’t have a sauna or whirlpool or spa. The locker room is small. No towel service. But the place is bright and airy, and they’ve got more equipment than I’ll ever use.
I’m thinking that at age 62, with creakiness in the bones and weakness in the muscles, the health club membership comes close to qualifying as an essential.
It’s not as if I’ve been inactive in the past year. For much of that time, I worked as a security guard, which was mostly walking, walking, walking around a large building and grounds. In other words, my job was to be a moving, human scarecrow. Since August, I’ve spent a lot of time on political campaigning, which also involved lots of walking. I got a sunburn, and then a tan, on my face, but I can’t say I feel any healthier for all the walking. The campaigning resulted in two disappointing losses, first my own in the primary, and then the candidate I volunteered for in the general election.
Now, with the security guard job and the campaign over, and winter coming on, I feel like I’m facing rapid deterioration if I don’t keep these old bones moving. The health club is less than $1 a day, and it will give me another place (in addition to the library) where I can go to get out of the rain and snow.
I’m starting the health club adventure at near rock bottom (I always feel rock bottom this time of year, with the shortening daylight and the sun low in the sky). Job one is to get myself to the health club almost every day. It will be interesting to see if the exercise makes a difference. Any improvement in health of mind and/or body will be well worth the $19.95.
Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted.
— John Hayden
On this first day of November, in the Year of Our Lord 2010, it’s time for me to begin.
After a lifetime of free spending, I’m changing my ways. I’ve never had expensive tastes, and in the past two years, I’ve downsized my lifestyle and focused on simple living.
Now, I have to get really serious. In June, I turned 62, and in August, I received my first Social Security payment, direct-deposited into my checking account. For a variety of reasons, it looks like I’ll never have a middle-class job again. So it’s me and Social Security, and whatever part-time or seasonal work I can find. The rent is covered, and a few other items that I still think of as “necessities.” (Food comes to mind.) But there’s no budget line for “discretionary spending.” There’s no financial margin for error or excess.
Therefore, I will begin today, Nov. 1, 2010, to keep a record of everything I buy, everything I spend, down to the dollar. Hopefully down to the penny. I call it my Austerity Project. I should have done this a long time ago.
I have one of those old-fashioned elementary-school composition books, bright red color, made in India, I forget how much I paid for it. (See, that’s my problem. I never pay attention to how much I pay for the things I think I need. I need it, so I buy it.)
In this bright-red composition book, I will record every expenditure, every day. On this, the first day of the Austerity Project, I did one load of laundry at the laundromat ($3.25). While waiting for the clothes to dry, I had the off-season special from the Pizza place next door ($4.23, including tax, for two slices and a large Coke). I invested in an eight-pack of budget paper towels, which were on sale at Food Lion ($5.08). I bought a gallon of Turkey Hill iced tea and two bananas at Super Fresh ($3.65).
Total damage for Day One: $16.21.
Today was the last day of the 2010 election campaign, and tomorrow, Election Day, will be a long day volunteering at the polls. So I knew these first two days of the project were going to be hard on the budget. Tomorrow, I’ll probably grab a quick lunch at McDonald’s or someplace. The polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., so that probably means a couple shots of caffein during the day. Maybe a doughnut. Hey, Election Day is a special day for me. I’ll even go to a party after the polls close. Whether it’s a funeral or a celebration, I’ll buy at least one Coke at the cash bar.
Wednesday, the day after, will be hangover day, nothing to do but drive around and take down the campaign signs. No more excuses about hamburgers at McDonald’s or Cokes at 7-Eleven.
I never thought it would come to this. But then, I never was much of a realist.
I never thought a newspaper or a Coke would be a luxury I couldn’t afford. I can still enjoy those luxuries, but now, I must have discipline to drink the Coke at home, and read the newspaper at the library.
I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.
— John Hayden
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I can compromise on cola, for the sake of frugality, but you gotta take a stand on principle somewhere.
I think I’ll draw my line at computers and operating systems. Two years ago, I paid twice the price for my Mac iBook from Apple, compared to a generic Windows laptop. Never regretted it. Would do it again (not that I can afford a new computer right now).
The point is, I don’t NEED a new computer. Apple keeps sending me free software updates over the Net. If I had bought the Windows laptop two years ago, that balky version of Windows would be obsolete, and I’d be faced with buying the new Windows or a new computer.
My brand loyalty to Apple is stronger than ever. I’m determined to hold out for an iPhone, or at least an iPod, when I can afford it. Right now, Apple is still coming out with significant improvements to the iPhone on a regular basis, and reducing the price as well. So I’m content to wait another year or two until the iPhone is fully evolved, and the price is lower.
Waiting to make an important purchase is a good approach to frugality. Paying more for a product that won’t be obsolete in six months can be thrifty in the long run. Immediate gratification is over-rated.