Monthly Archives: July 2008

Candidate Crisis?!?

I’m not really expecting anything to come of this, but what if neither presumptive candidate is Constitutionally eligible to be President?

Obama campaign presented a forged birth certificate.

Arizona law professor says McCain isn’t a natural-born citizen.

Clinton vs Huckabee?

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How much voting is too much?

When I first moved here, I thought Seattleites and Washingtonians must really like to vote.  Now, three years later, I think that the city and state government really like to make us vote.  That way politicians don’t have to risk making any unpopular decisions.  I thought that the point of electing officials was to choose people who you think will carry out your wishes or act in your interest.  While I do think ordinary citizens should be somewhat educated on the issues so we know which politicians to support, we are too busy with our daily lives to discover all the nuances of public policy.  I understand having public comment sessions for different projects, but ultimately I wish politicians would make the decisions.  On one hand, I’m glad that Seattleites got to vote to reverse City Council’s “nanny state” four-foot rule in strip clubs, but should the final details on how we replace the viaduct, increase public transportation, acquire & fund parks, and improve Pike Place Market really be put to voters?

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I made it onto the radio yesterday

I left a message on the Conversation Feedback line on KUOW about this cartoon:

Read about it, hear my comment, listen to the whole program here.

Of course they only played the beginning of the message I left, making me sound like I was basically saying nothing. Listening to the entire show, I realized pretty much everyone was saying the same thing that I did: Yeah I get that it’s satire, but what about the people who don’t get the context? Will people believe that The New Yorker is supporting various rumors about Barack & Michelle Obama?

Considering that this morning, I once again thought about something I’ve pondered a few times. I find it offensive enough that people think Obama is lying when he says he’s a Christian, but the deeper problem is the concern that he’s a Muslim. So what if he is? Not all Muslims want to participate in violent jihad. A 2007 Gallup poll showed that Muslims worldwide and Americans equally believe that attacks on civilians are unjustifiable. I’m also amused by the idea that someone trying to hide that he’s Muslim would decide to portray himself as a member of a church with a pastor who spouted “Africentrism and black-liberation theology.”

While looking for a picture of the cover to post here, I found this article which seems very similar to my blog post–only more eloquent and informed.

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added on the Activism page

I just put up a little blurb and a sample letter on my Activism page from Poverty.com to ask our government to reach the goal it agreed to twice in 2002 to give 0.7% of our national income as international development aid. Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark, and the Netherlands have already exceeded this goal.

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An epic lack of foresight

Because our country didn’t seriously pursue alternative energy sooner:

We are facing global warming and poor air quality.

We are dangerously entangled with the Middle East.

The Pentagon needs a bigger budget. For example, a Stealth Bomber gets 0.7 miles per gallon.

Fuel prices for airlines are also out of control, and they are taking a number of measures to compensate. They’ve started charging for every little extra: the snacks onboard, checking your luggage, headphones for the movie. My ticket for going from Seattle to St. Louis at Christmas this year cost 20% more than last year’s and I bought it months in advance. American Airlines is cutting many of it regional flights on the American Eagle network. American is also asking flight attendants to go on voluntary unpaid leaves to avoid having to make layoffs.

Home health care workers aren’t getting reimbursed for their driving expenses at a high enough rate, so many are reconsidering their careers to go to work in hospitals and other facilities closer to their homes. As a result it will be harder for the sick and elderly to stay in their own homes.

Food prices are rising because fuel is required for planting, harvesting, and distributing food. Other consumer products will probably follow.

NPR talked to a homeowner in the Northeast who will probably give up her home because she can’t afford her mortgage payments plus the cost of heating oil this winter.

The sudden, intense demand for biofuels is reducing the price difference between organic and conventionally-grown crops. Since raising organics doesn’t produce such a premium for farmers anymore they are switching back to the conventional methods of growing to have a bigger yield and sell to biofuel refiners. This is shortening the supply of organic food choices, which I believe is healthier for our bodies and the environment.

Lots of businesses, not just the ones I mentioned above, are suffering by uncontrollable fuel costs, so they’re cutting what they can cut: labor costs. And anytime that workers are being paid less, they spend less, which is no good in America where consumer spending makes up 1/3 of the entire economy.

I’ve lost my faith in the forces of the market. It’s true that now that gas is four and a half dollars a gallon people are driving less and getting more fuel efficient cars, but it’s pretty much too late for Detroit’s Big 3. I heard yesterday that of the three, Chrysler is likely to fail. There’s a lag in research and development. Truck and SUV plants are closing down, because they’re not ready to turn them into factories for plug-in hybrids just yet. Only a few months ago, I heard an industry representative insist that powerful cars like the Ford truck series and the Dodge Magnum are “what Americans want.” Gas prices are proving that there’s a difference between what Americans want and what they can afford to have. Why didn’t Detroit see it coming?

On the bright side:

Rising fuel costs are finally forcing conservation and innovation. And hopefully rising food prices could help out our obese population. Too bad the cheapest foods are the most processed…

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Why the mortgage crisis matters to everyone

Yesterday I explored how a least a little bit of blame for the mortgage crisis lies with our entire society. Today I will take on why it matters to our entire society.

Problems for communities

Cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo have been hit hard by foreclosures. Houses taken over by the banks are vacant and their yards neglected. Squatters may move in. Not only is it hard to sell a run-down house, but just having them around lowers the value of neighboring houses. Houses bought up by absent investors sometimes don’t fare any better. Vacant houses also don’t generate real estate taxes for cities. So at the same time tax coffers are being starved of revenue, citizens displaced by foreclosure often require social services. There’s an interesting BusinessWeek article on the topic. If foreclosed houses aren’t quickly bought and turned into rental properties, displaced residents will begin to strain rental markets as they look for new places to live.

The credit crunch

Banks have written down billions of dollars for bad mortgage investments. They’ve learned their lesson about handing out money to the less-than-deserving. But maybe they’ve tightened up a little too much. A few lenders are even saying they won’t give educational loans to students in community college or schools with high drop-out rates.

Construction Jobs

New construction starts are falling for a few reasons, the mortgage market has tightened up making it harder for people to buy new homes and the housing market has been flooded with foreclosed homes. Construction is a huge force in the economy with how many workers they employee and all the various materials and supplies they buy from all over the world for their building. Not only is residential construction slowing down, so is public building. Governments won’t be building so many new buildings when their tax revenues drop and citizens need social services–going back to what I said above.

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So I guess what I was forgetting to say when I originally posted this was why I was making an argument that this problem affects more than just banks and homeowners.  I wrote this blog in response to comments I’ve heard from my roommate and others that the government shouldn’t bail out people who made irresponsible decisions.  My position is that due to the reasons I listed above, we would be in a worse situation if thousands of people lose their homes than if governments at every level created programs to help these people stay in their homes, such as offering interest-free loans to catch up with mortgage payments or passing laws to force banks to lower interest rates or anything else to make more favorable terms.  Basically, I’d rather spend a little tax money to help people stay in their homes than pay for the fallout of extensive foreclosures.–added 7/3/08

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