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Thursday, August 25, 2011

In case you missed these articles... here they are!

“It’s crazy what’s happening in America today: We’re having an economic crisis and the politicians are having an election — and there is almost no overlap between the two.” Thomas Friedman, Obama, Tiger, Golf and Politics, NYTimes.com

A quick look at the crazy state of U.S. Politics through my favorite articles from the past week (I’ll put the links here but provide a brief summary in case you aren’t in the mood to read):

Warren Buffet wrote a very intriguing piece which is ultimately calling for tax reform to end tax loopholes that favor the interests the wealthy and politically connected corporations: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=buffet&st=Search

Jeffrey Miron, Harvard Professor wrote this follow up: http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/08/16/miron.buffett.wrong/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

The top portion suggests that emphasizing the super rich distracts from the real issue at hand: tax reform. The bottom portion of the article outlines seven key areas of reform that would be most beneficial to the economy. One of my favorite suggestions he makes involves cutting back on excessive licensing requirements, fees and exams that make it extremely difficult to enter numerous trades from hair styling and medicine to real estate and medicine.

I appreciate that both sides of the argument can agree on one point- tax reform. It is time to for tax reform, reform that does not exhaust the middle class, while boosting revenues simply by taxing the wealthy proportionate to their income.

Then, Stephen Colbert creates a Super PAC , Americans for a better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. His PAC is legal, well-funded and currently running ads in Iowa. As Mark Feldstein of the University of Maryland says so poignantly, “He is taking advantage of loopholes to set up an organization that is not a legitimate political action committee, if there is such a thing, to make the point that the current system is a form of legalized bribery. Try making that point as a member of the mainstream media and holding on to your objectivity.”

My favorite little morsel in this article is the fact that Colbert’s commercial tell Iowans to write in Rick Parry, the “a” standing for American and IowA.

For more info, read the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/22/business/media/stephen-colberts-pac-is-more-than-a-gag.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

Here is a link to the commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qulpucVacM8&feature=related

Meanwhile, Republicans have sold their soul to the Tea Party resulting in a field of equally absurd Presidential candidates and a lot of confused, disheveled and bewildered GOP Republicans.

The surprising piece of all this is that President Obama has actually had a solid plan throughout all of this craziness that has gone almost entirely under the radar. The Grand Bargain offered trillions in cuts, including Medicare reform, as well as revenue creation. Under normal circumstances, most GOP members would have been out of their wits with glee at such a right-wing proposal from the President. Saddled by the “no new taxes” demands of the Tea Party, the Grand Bargain was taken off the table. Instead of standing up for himself, the President seems to be taking the high road. As it turns out, Americans love the sucker punch drama Republican propaganda has to offer. They would rather obsess over balancing the budget (after all they have to balance their checkbooks) than bothering to study the actual ramifications of widespread cuts during a recession with no new revenues.

I am hoping President Obama is just biding his time until it is actually time to begin campaigning. Hopefully, he is focusing on the economy rather than focusing on an election that is still so far away.

For more on this, this article is a pretty good read: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/24/opinion/friedman-obama-tiger-golf-and-politics.html?ref=opinion (By now you’ve noticed I am biased toward the NYTimes).

And the final article that caught my eye this week: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/23/opinion/nocera-how-democrats-hurt-job-creation.html?_r=1&ref=opinion The only positive that can come of a country obsessed with balancing the budget in the middle of a recession, when fiscal policy is really our only remaining weapon and it is ultimately proving worthless, is that regulation like the instance cited in the article will be cut back.

I wanted to put these out there, a grab bag of articles offering perspectives from various sides of various issues. I’m just trying to encourage anyone that happens across this blog to educate themselves on the issues plaguing our economy and our policies. If more Americans took time to remember what they learned in Econ 101, or what they learned in high school history about the Great Depression, or even if they recalled lessons about "compromising" and "listening to their neighbors" from elementary, we might find some common ground to begin building a foundation for the future.

p.s. Okay, I thought I was done, but here is one more about some of the options the Fed has to try to ebb the recession using monetary policy since fiscal policy is essentially off the table. http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/24/how-much-more-can-the-fed-help-the-economy/

p.p.s. Please remember, I am very open to all beliefs, opinions and candidates. I know I tend toward certain ideals and ideologies, but I like to consider myself open to any and all ideas to move the United States and the environment toward a healthier future. (-: This is my olive branch! I can't figure out how to get rid of this underline... (-:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Food for thought... well actually a lack of food for thought

Tonight I met with two students preparing to take the Graduate Records Exam, a test required for most Graduate programs. These two young men moved to the United States in November of 2010 from Libya. We briefly chatted about the changes in Libya that have taken place over the past year. They were prohibited from learning English prior to their arrival to the United States.

While I waited at the coffee shop, I ordered them each a cup of coffee. I was thoroughly embarrassed when they arrived and explained that they couldn't eat or drink until sunset because they are currently observing Ramadan.

I asked them a few questions about Ramadan, including the health implications. They told me that Ramadan is healthy for soul; when the rich feel hungry throughout Ramadan, they remember that there are many poor people suffering from hunger and starvation every day.

Their response humbled me and I sat there in silence for a minute as I reflected on the many Americans that might benefit from feeling, and truly considering, what it means to go to bed hungry.... including me.




Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Heart Fad Diets

Bonnie claims that her favorite bloggers are "witty and simple." I can't help but wonder if Bonnie, the girl that made up an entire book- plot, characters, cover, illustrations and all- just to avoid reading a new book, actually follows blogs... but that is neither here nor there.

So Bonz, witty and simple. Hmm....

I can't promise wit but I can promise simple. I want to discuss my relationship with fad diets.

I've dated fad diets on and off for many years.

First there was Atkins. Atkins and I had a great 2 week fling. I looked great with Atkins, but I just wasn't willing to make a long-term commitment to Atkins and neither were my arteries. So after the two weeks, I went to the senior prom and left Atkins for carbs.

Then, I met the South Beach Diet, which is basically Atkins but a little fruitier and with some occasional whole grains. South Beach and I are still good friends.

Next, my mom tried out LA Weightloss. On LA Weightloss you have to eat cantaloupe and beef jerky for a whole day once a week for cleansing purposes. Drew- you thought I just loved the cantaloupe/beef jerky combo... but now you know the truth!

In college, I decided to take a few notes from the wrestlers in my life. I brushed my teeth whenever I was hungry. I lived on water and avoided pickles. I even cut holes in garbage bags and wore them underneath my sweatshirt when I went on morning runs. (I had to run really early so no one would hear the swooshing of the garbage bag under my sweatshirt! haha)

This year I tried out the Healthy Figures Diet, which was one of the oddest diets I've dabbled with. On Healthy Figures you can only eat lean meat, eggs and 500 calories a day; BUT you can eat UNLIMITED sugar-free jello, sugar-free popsicles and pickles! I mean, how awesome is that?

Three weeks ago I signed up for Weight Watchers online. Turns out... that only works if you actually count your points every single day and stay within your daily point allowance...

If only exercise wasn't so much work.
If only wine wasn't so wonderful.
If only fad diets worked!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amanda meets the internet

Over the past few weeks, I have finally joined the world of the internet. After refusing to purchase internet on the grounds that I would rather spending my time reading (cough, see: poor) I have finally taken the leap and joined the wonder of the world wide web.

Now, don't get me wrong. I went to college. I've typed papers on the computer for years. I was emailing and IMing in my teens and I even have facebook. I even thought that I was extremely proficient. I mean, I knew more than my parents and grandparents, and I was able to get by without letting on that I didn't know the difference between Firefox and Safari or MySpace and Twitter. Alas, over the last two years the veil has been lifted and my friends have seen the truth. I'm a troglodyte living in a modern world.

Refusing to be yet another self-righteous, nostalgic luddite, I decided to grit my teeth and give this whole thing a chance.

I started out, childlike and shy, only opening up my computer for a few minutes at a time, then turning it off quickly in angst. Then, I began watching youtube. One video led to the next. How can you not click on a video of a man dancing with a tiger or a baby playing the mandolin?

Then... it happened, I discovered craigslist. This initially began as obsessive searching for things I would never have use for, then it evolved into searching for jobs that might help me earn an extra buck. Next thing I knew I was posting anything and everything for sale on craigslist: a desk, sofas, coffee tables, old winter jackets, and even services. (No no, not those kind of serices. Come on, get your mind out of the gutter people!) I tutored a few people, booked a few weddings (I am a vocalist) and even sang at an assisted living for $75.

I was really getting a hang of this internet thing.

Then, my naivete got the better of me. I nearly fell prey to a common craigslist scam twice. In the past two weeks, I have had two checks FedExed to me in the amount of a couple thousand dollars. The first was issued for my services as a "secret shopper" and the second was someone I was supposed to provide tutoring services for. Fortunately, my charming fiance stopped me before I made my way to the bank and I have assured him I will no longer give out my address unless I am absolutely positive I am not providing my home address to a scamming criminal. Ahem.

By this time I was feeling pretty good and I decided to go where I had never gone before... BLOGGING! I joined a site, goodblogs.com, where you were paid $20 if you made it to the top blogs page. I twisted the arms of my friends and family to please, please, please read my blog so that I might finally make it to the ever elusive top blog page.

After weeks of posting, arm twisting, begging and cajoling, I finally had a decent following- only to learn that goodblogs was broke! All my hard work for nothing.

So here I am. Blogging where normal people blog. Where I should have come first. I am new to the internet, new to blogging and new to blogspot.com.

I was thrilled while creating my profile to see that the number of times my profile had been viewed had jumped from 2 to 6 while I was editing and saving my blog... only to realize that it updated every time I viewed my own profile.

I hope I'll pick up a few readers other than my mom and my fiance... but if I don't, I guess I'll just virtually talk aloud to myself.

That's all for now, Amanda

p.s. I love you Mom! Thanks for supporting me in all my ventures... even the silly ones like blogging! (-: