February 20, 2010
You carry one with you all the time. You may have more than one. Your cell phone is indispensable. It keeps you in contact. It is the center of your social life.
And it could be dangerous. Cell phones put out radiation. If you hear a computer, a radio, or a television set make strange noises, that’s some of the power the cell phone is throwing out.
How much radiation? Well, sometimes cell phone companies tell you. It can be on some inconspicuous place on the box or in the manual.
That’s really not fair. We have a right to know what we’re being exposed to.
One California legislator is trying to change that. Mark Leno has introduced a bill that requires disclosure of the radiation level. I like the idea. Other states, federal regulatory agencies and our fairly useless Congress ought to be protecting us.
February 19, 2010
Alain Sherter’s work appears on BNET. He is a great writer and thinker whose work often points in original directions. His outrage over the ethical shortcomings of American business mirrors my own.
Here’s a sample of his writing -
Banks that foreclose on a home must first prove they own the mortgage. So affirmed the top Massachusetts court today in ruling against U.S. Bancorp (USB) and Wells Fargo (WFC) in a decision could boost homeowners fighting foreclosure and end up costing banks billions.
One financial expert told Bloomberg the ruling could “open the floodgates” to similar suits in the state and bolster cases around the nation. Financial pundit Barry Ritholtz also called the ruling a victory for the rule of law and property rights, noting in a related post discussing the case:
This is more than a technical issue; at risk is whether we, as a nation, are going to allow corporate entities to violate existing law, or even worse, attempt to create their own, extra-legal, non democratic policies.
Certainly investors seem worried. U.S. Bancorp and Wells shares immediately dipped on the news, with broader bank stocks also tumbling. It’s no secret why. As the “robo-signing” furor has shown, banks for years have flouted legal requirements to document their right to seize homes. Foreclosure affidavits were rubber-stamped or even faked. Local laws regarding property transfers were ignored. Financial firms eager to mince mortgages up into securities violated rules intended to establish a clear chain of title in foreclosure cases.
Alain Sherter’s regular column, Financial Folly, is an invaluable guide to the shenanigans of the financial world. I recommend him to you.
February 19, 2010
Yes, it can. Ira Hecht proposes the creation of an online market for troubled mortgages to be called: Mortgage Crisis Solution Program. The program would allow those with troubled mortgages to enter their data onto the database, (with privacy protections of course), and lenders would be able to find troubled mortgages worthy of re-financing. Obviously, this would not solve the mortgage crisis. But it would allow those who have short term difficulties to negotiate to keep their homes. Many people with good credit and properly valued homes deserve an opportunity to refinance.
This is an idea that should be developed. In this country much of the devotion to the free market is the most shallow of lip service. This would be government service to put lenders and borrowers together. If it’s socialism to put these people together, we need more of it. We should be encouraging this type of exchange, allowing individuals to profit while saving people’s homes.
Andrew Caplin has been writing about problems in the mortgage market for years. He is an economist and important author in the field. He thinks this is a good idea.
Let’s let the free market help this country in its time of need.
February 19, 2010
Consumers continually suffer under the depredations of banks and credit card companies. But they are not the only sufferers. Margot Dorfman, President of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce, says that banks have cut lending to small business by 14 billion over the last year.
Small business often relies on credit cards, home equity loans and personal loans to finance their businesses. They are just as much as the mercy of the financial institutions as any individual.
Listen to what Ms. Dorfman has to say:
February 4, 2010
A Georgia Legislator has introduced a bill to allow school districts the choice of buying electronic media instead of text books. (from the article) - …the state Board of Education would have to sign off on the change to give local school boards the option of buying Kindles, iPads and other next-generation devices in lieu of bound books.
My question is not whether or not that this is the way children communicate now but whether or not it cuts cost. My principle concern is to cut the costs my students pay for textbooks. In Community College with relatively inexpensive tuition, textbook can account for more than a fourth of student costs. This is not fair.
I would like for the State of Arkansas to consider allowing the replacement of textbooks with electronic media with just such a measure but not just for school districts but for public colleges across the state.
Look at this news article:
February 3, 2010
It seems that Kentucky lawmakers are upset with the President’s new budget. It seems that every year, the government of the United States has brought Kentucky a pretty pony, 230 million dollars subsidizing the coal industry! Wow, can we in Arkansas get a pretty pony like that one? I’m sure we produce something that destroys the environment, we claim is a competitive industry and is in reality dependent on taking public money and converting it to private use.
Oh, but let’s not forget the oil and gas industry. They stand to lose 3.6 billion a year in subsidies. That’s right. When you go to the gas pump, think favorably of the federal government because they use your money to help that industry. Thus, when you buy gas you save money because the pass the money back to you. Wait a minute! Good Lord!! They don’t have to give the money back. They can keep it. Well, then what are we getting here? A single oil company, Exxon Mobil, made only 19.3 billion dollars last year. So we know as Americans we need to stand up and be counted to keep that company from going under. Nineteen point three billion dollars is chicken feed. So, we need to keep that money rolling in. We must not let the charitable institutions represented by the American oil and gas industry suffer economic loss (or a cut in profits!). Think of their children!
February 1, 2010
It seems that both major political parties are unable to cope with any form of reality. Both cannot solve the nation’s problems or in fact make any kind of intelligent decisions. These are bad times. People are short of jobs, money and hope. I share this malaise. I’ve thought about this and I have come to a decision. For thousands of years, people have lived through terrible times, many have died but the rest persevered and through luck or work or intelligence, we go on. Whatever is going on in the larger society, I still have my duty to my students and my duty to myself and my country.