Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Kill Corn Ethanol

Have you noticed that your vegetable, dairy, and meat prices have skyrocked this last year? The reason is that demand is so high for ethanol (currently made from corn), that corn prices have risen considerably. Because farmers knew that corn prices were rising, they stopped planting other crops to plant more corn. Wheat and soybeans prices also increased dramatically because they were taken out of production. The price of corn remained high however due to high demand, and since corn is used as feed for dairy cows, beef cattle, hogs, etc. these prices have also gone up.

I was hoping to start a petition online to kill ethanol produced from corn.
Ethanol, produced from corn, is a loser because it obtains so LITTLE energy from the process, but also because it encourages the planting of one crop at the expense of other crops, at the expense of biodiversity, and at the potential expense of some forests that will be burnt down to start planting corn because of its high price.

I've already read that Mexican families have been unable to make corn tortillas for their families, because the price has risen so dramatically. Traditions and dietary habits that are hundreds of years old have to be abandoned so we, the rich USA, can put it in our gas tank.

Corn the fuel v. Corn the food is an unethical choice.


Whenever a lender and a borrower agree to do business, the lender lends money usually according to terms set by the lender but agreed to by the borrower.

Many times my debt has been "bought" by another lender, either because another company bought out my lender outright or bought the accounts of that lender. My debt obligation was transferred to the new lender. I don't believe there are laws that the new lender must keep the same terms as the old lender. I feel like with several private student loans and credit cards, that the terms changed.

I wonder if there is a possibility that debtors could gain the right to approve or not approve their debt being transferred to a new lender. That a proxy vote could be held regarding this debt transfer. Conceivably, borrowers enter into an arrangement with a lender based on all sorts of conditions: interest rate, penalties, customer service, etc. Since new lenders can impose new conditions that can change all of the original terms, I think that debtors should have a voice in who "holds" their debt.

I recently ran into a bank employee whose own mortgage was sold out from under him. His mortgage, which he arranged at the bank he worked for, was sold to another business without his consent. I understand this helps provide liquidity for home sales (which are fairly illiquid), by introducing them in the financial markets, but it also can help create other problems because when these are combined with other mortgages and placed into financial instruments, the ability for the market to assess its risk seems weaker: hence the recent sub-prime mess that has affected the stock market.

Has anyone heard anything about debtors having a voice in their debt being sold?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

2007 Books Read

After giving up television for Lent earlier this year, I have found my desire to read has been rekindled. I think this may be my best year ever. New books read so far this year: On Job, Leadership and Self Deception, Exclusion and Embrace, Sacred Rhythms, God of the Empty Handed, A Long Way Gone, Announcing the Reign of God, The Open Secret, Spirituality of the Road, Master and Margarita, No Greater Love, Blood Diamonds, Development as Freedom, Starfish and the Spider, Life Together, Twilight Labyrinth, 1984, The Emotionally Healthy Church, Singles at the Crossroads, Art of Crossing Cultures, Tipping Point, Clergy Renewal. Reread: Can you Drink the Cup?, Chasing the Dragon.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Quick Inventory of My Clothes

I got the crazy idea to inventory my clothes last week; I wanted to see where my clothes were produced. I was surprised by how many countries were represented. Many of these clothes were hand-me-downs, many were gifts, many were purchased. An interesting analysis, if I knew the dates when the clothes were either made or sold, would be to assess whether the countries have changed over time. (Possibly due to exporting production to countries offering lower wages.) All clothes except for socks and coats were evaluated. Also, shoes were not evaluated.

Produced/Assembled In:

Bangladesh 9
Cambodia 3
Canada 3
China 4
Domincan Republic 14
El Salvador 1
Gautemala 6
Haiti 1
Honduras 20
Hong Kong 8
India 11
Indonesia 9
Jamaica 2
Jordan 2
Korea 3
Lesotho 1
Madagascar 2
Malaysia 1
Mauritius 2
Mexico 5
Nepal 1
Northern Marianas 1 (Technically a US Territory)
Pakistan 2
Peru 2
Russia 2
Singapore 1
Sri Lanka 3
Taiwan 2
Thailand 2
Turkey 4
Turkmenistan 1
Vietnam 3