05
May
08

On air: Are we living beyond our means?

Stories from the UK, Bangladesh, Senegal, America, Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, South Africa, and Tunisia (links below) all point us towards a discussion of how we all hope to live and what is realistic at the moment.

The cost of fuel, food and housing is piling on pressure around the world. Are you feeling it? Is your cost of living going up? We’d like to hear your personal experiences.

Are you having to change your lifestyle? If you are, do you resent the compromise?

And what is behind this? Should we see the variety of rising costs as related? Have we been asking too much of the world for too long? As a race, have we been living beyond our means in terms of wealth and resources?

If that is the case, would it be clearer to say the rich are consuming so much that the poor are paying the penalty?

Or is this actually an unfortunate coincidence of several unrelated events? Do mortgage problems in the UK and the US and the price of wheat in Nigeria share nothing in common beyond the financial strain they’re placing on people? Will current high prices fall as the economic cycle turns?

Factory owners in Bangladesh provide subsidised food

Senegalese president calls for the scrapping of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. It’s making the food crisis worse he says.

‘The frightening spiral in the cost of living’ in South Africa.

Nigerian bakers strike over cost of flour and sugar

Kofi Annan says help Africa to feed itself.

The African Development Bank announced this weekend in Tunis that’s committing an additional $1 billion to fight the current food crisis.

US and European banks move to ease credit crunch

General info on credit crunch

President Bush offers $770m in international food aid

Two people have died in Somalia after troops opened fire to halt riots over rising costs and counterfeit money

Kenya’s Daily Nation warns ‘he rising price of food is sending shivers down the spines of many world leaders’.

UK fisherman struggling with rise in the price of fuel


120 Responses to “On air: Are we living beyond our means?”


  1. 1 steve
    May 5, 2008 at 14:11

    Can’t speak for outside of the US, but here, it’s unreal how beyond our means people live. The worst part is the government is encouraging it too. They drop interest rates so you’ll borrow and spend what you borrow. It’s like a house of cards waiting to collapse. Where I live, a house house, one with three-four bedrooms would cost at least $500,000, most likely more. You’d have to move hours away to get something $200,000 for the same size. People lease cars so they can be seen in a BMW, but couldn’t afford to buy it.. People max out their credit cards, but things they don’t need.. It’s epidemic here. And when you’re that materialistic, you’re never going to be happy anyways because nothing is ever enough.

  2. May 5, 2008 at 14:26

    Are you having to change your lifestyle? If you are, do you resent the compromise?
    Yes I am having to change, and I LOVE it. I am so excited about people being forced by the economy to not live such wasteful lives. It is unfortunate though that people are [or were] too greedy and stupid to change their ways on their own. A little economic pressure does wonders 🙂

    The cost of fuel, food and housing is piling on pressure around the world. Are you feeling it?
    Not really, I’m going overboard with the preparations and revamping of my budget to accomodate higher costs. Things I have meant to get around doing for awhile are now getting done to help reduce my cost of living and be less wasteful.


    Is your cost of living going up?

    See above

    Have we been asking too much of the world for too long? As a race, have we been living beyond our means in terms of wealth and resources?
    Yes yes yes yes and yes.

    Regards,
    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  3. May 5, 2008 at 14:35

    @ Steve

    What gets me excited is all of those people in SUV’s, Hummers, Yukons, Suburbans, Titans, and other massive cars / trucks with massive engines. They’re ignorant decisions of wasteful travel are finally comming back to bite them in the behind.
    Everytime I see gas prices get higher and higher I giggle to myself as one of these mini-busses pass by.
    One can only hope that the suspension of the fuel tax doesn’t go through to continue to facilitate dumb and wasteful decisions in travel.

    Regards,
    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  4. May 5, 2008 at 14:36

    Beyond our means? We are living beyond our grandchildren’s means. Credit and loaning companies are at fault. I would love to live without a credit card. But guess what. I must pit my average salary against the next guys average salary plus his credit.

    If I am looking at a house that I have saved $50,000 up to pay for and at the same time another perspective buyer who has saved $3000 to pay a down payment on a loan with a credit limit of $100,000 and is able to bid $70,000 for it. (The house will eventually cost him $140,000 with interest.) Guess what I have to do if I want to buy that house. You guessed it. I have to get a loan. By giving people who are irresponsible credit affects my right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” directly.

  5. 5 Dan
    May 5, 2008 at 14:42

    Perhaps do live beyond our means but as human beings we do that to stretch ourselves and move civilization forward.
    The failings are that we leave some poor behind. However, when there are poor such as in Africa who are ruled by corrupt dictators how can we allow that corruption to hold the advance of civilization?
    This is a thorny issue with no easy answer.

  6. May 5, 2008 at 14:49

    People of my generation bang on about how we saved to buy necessities, and the young yawn. I was married five years before I got a fridge, had five children before I got an automatic washing machine, saved for holidays in advance, kept the cars until they became a liability in repairs, ate vegetables out of the garden when the housekeeping ran out, made my children’s clothes, borrowed modestly to buy a succession of houses, beginning with one so small I was embarassed by it. Being divorced I lost pension rights and my husband’s second wife now gets his widow’s pension.

    However, I lived frugally, dealt in fixer upper property with my second husband, and saved just enough to retire on. Now alone, I’m watching my investments shrink.

    The younger generation often lives in large houses and drives smart cars, has wine with every evening meal; they update their kitchens regularly and dress their children smartly, all on credit cards. Apparently that is the norm throughout the western world.

    I cannot understand why interests rates are falling while debts and credit crunch are chomping on our assets. Cheap loans mean small returns for savers. Is that fair? Should people be encouraged to borrow YET MORE money? Will someone please explain why savers are the biggest victims of this economic hoo-ha?

  7. 7 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 5, 2008 at 14:52

    Hi Steve and Brett,
    As a British Pensioner (groan) I have just seen my nett income reduced by about £100 per annum. Not a lot to most but a lot for me. I have to live within my means. Our recent budget reduced the tax bill of middle income earners (including MPs) financed in part by low paid workers and many pensioners. I am writing to our local council for a breakdown. Then it’s another hateful letter to my MP. When The Lisbon Treaty is ratified I may disappear?

    As a result of my basic allowance being raised I pay less income tax. This therefore gives me more disposable income so my council tax has been increased. Much of the extra is landfill tax that will go to The European Union. Does that help anybody in The UK or just fill bureaucrat’s pockets in Brusselles?

    It would seem The UK is much like The USA. We used to call it keeping up with The Jones. It isn’t what you have actually got, but what you are perceived to have that seems to matter.

    Good to talk again, thanks.

  8. May 5, 2008 at 14:52

    I agree with Steve. I am only speaking about America where I live. Definitely the majority of America is living beyond its means with the government saying: “Shop, Shop, and Shop”.

  9. May 5, 2008 at 14:55

    Kenya.
    it’s hot here. Prices of wheat, bread, tomatoes, floor,….all have terribly risen, and rising…

    cost of farm inputs help nothing either, months to come, situation will be even worse. Fertilizers (50kg)cost ksh. 4000, up from 2000
    agricultural minister William Ruto has announced some subsidy but in the end, the cost will be wired back to the taxpayer and the cost will rise even higher.

    change of lifestyle is a must, he we come out alive.
    kipsang kerich in bomet kenya.

  10. 10 anonymous
    May 5, 2008 at 14:59

    I am not so excited. What used to cost me $1 now costs $1.50, and I have to re-adjust my budget so that I don’t end up hungry (literally) at the end of the month. I watch the price of oatmeal and other cereals rise – it has been nearly half a year since I have even purchased cold cereal. Eggs are more expensive; I can’t really afford them as more than treats now. I have begun to rely more on what greens I can grow in my backyard so that I don’t go through store-bought lettuce as fast. Living below the poverty line is no adventure. It is hard. One feels as if one were living on the edge of a cold, hard, steel blade.

    When I see others living in large houses where parent could actually lose child, driving SUV’s and griping about the gas expense, and talking about pinching pennies so that they can still buy Gap and Haggar, it hurts. Here I am calculating how much greens are being tossed out when people discard extra meat (animals eat so much food that we could, and their return in terms of meat is a tiny fraction), and others make a show of scrimping to maintain their extravegant lifestyle.

  11. 11 David
    May 5, 2008 at 14:59

    The way we are living, it won’t be to long before we extinct the human race. In the western world they feed the animals better than they consider the developing world. “My neighbour buys steak for her dogs every day and she is passionate about it!!” I recon she could donate the money to the needy which could be a really good cause.

  12. 12 Jared in Kampala
    May 5, 2008 at 15:04

    I don’t know what you mean to live beyond our means when the basics are needed.

    If the rich consume and at the end the poor have nothing, it means, there have been deficiency even before consumption.

  13. 13 steve
    May 5, 2008 at 15:06

    @ Brett

    Well, I don’t see the SUV thing going away, because it’s still a status symbol for them. It’s them shouting “I can afford the expensive gas, hence I’m wealthy, envy me!” and the typical insecurities etc that go along with status seeking. I’m not that big of a fan of trend Prius drivers either, no doubt it’s better, but I hav ea feeling that if gas prices went down, they would go with a gas guzzler. For me, I would get a fuel efficient car ESPECIALLY if gas were cheap. But if it takes being forced to be less wasteful, I’m glad for the high gas prices. I just hope that Ford/Honda etc start bringing their european models to the US. The Honda Civic diesel gets over 50 mpg.

  14. May 5, 2008 at 15:11

    This is 2008. Mankind has enough technology to ensure that every one of us in every country can live a comfortable life. But the problem is ensuring that the right goods and services are produced and ensuring that people have enough money to buy them. It is now becoming increasingly obvious that our modern commercialised world is apparently incapable of getting it right without some regulation. And especially with the resource and environmental constraints which are now coming to light, it is obvious to intelligent people that the purely commercial world-bank-and-us-type creed no longer holds water. A solution is possible without reverting to some kind of unworkable communism, but the solution will be anathema to the rich and famous, who regrettably control just about everything which happens and which appears in the media. Fortunately these same rich and famous cannot yet control everything which we think, although they are working on that. Mr Alex Weir, Harare, Zimbabwe, Africa.

  15. 15 Anthony
    May 5, 2008 at 15:16

    It’s not hitting me hard in L.A., allthough its hitting everyone else. I am a pretty froogle guy who would rather get a $1.00 shirt at a thrift store than get a trendy one at Nordstroms for $70.00. Some of my buddies are getting made cuz they cant buy as much stuff, but for basic people like me, its not effecting me that bad. I havn’t been shooting my guns as much since the range I go to is far, but thats about it. I’m still not standing in lines for a single piece of bread, sifting through trash for recyclables, nor do I have to carry a gun to protect my clean water and food, so I can’t complain. 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  16. May 5, 2008 at 15:34

    Our bloated cabinet, fat salaries to members of parliament, millitary budget that passes without scrutiny, bad leadership and poor policies on agriculture……. The masses are despairing, and soon riots and class struggles may soon be on the way.

    let us reconsider our national budgets….address the helplessness of the masses in the face of political, economic social and cultural upheavals….

    a change of lifestyle, a cut in our daily budget and alot more study into changing world economy may help ease out some pressure

  17. May 5, 2008 at 15:42

    If that is the case, would it be clearer to say the rich are consuming so much that the poor are paying the penalty?

    Yes, and this is what’s really sad. The rich again are too stupid and stubborn to curb their consumption until forced to do so either by law or by sheer cost. The problem with the latter is that at that point, when the costs begin getting too high for the rich to continue their wasteful ways; It has already had an massive impact on the poor on a much larger and devastating scale.
    So while rising prices are great to help teach the rich and wasteful a lesson, it is at an even greater cost to the poor that this lesson is learned 😦

    As for the simple penalty of the rich consuming too much, yes, the majority of the downsides to their consumption falls on the poor. But then again, in a capitalistic society, unchecked and irresponsible consumption drives the economy.

    Regards,
    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  18. May 5, 2008 at 15:47

    Hi WHYS,

    Of course in most African countries like Uganda poverty is biting but then we have enough folks who spend a lot of their money cruising very expensive cars yet failing to buy themselves the most basic of things let alone living a healthy life coupled with a good diet! Pastors, for example drive the latest fuel guzzling SUVs at the expense of their flock. And that’s living within your reach? I doubt!

    Walter in Entebbe, Uganda.

  19. 19 Cheburet John
    May 5, 2008 at 15:57

    Cheburet John. Nairobi, Kenya.

    In Kenya, the cost of living is proving to be too high for a majority of the middle class and the poor. While a lifestyle change is advisable, I am wondering what I will change to. I have been living on a string budget for as long as I can remember.
    The prices of farm inputs have shot the sky. I was only able to plough 5 acres instead of the usual 10.
    And as schools opened today, I was torn between shopping for my sister and paying her school fees. Last year, I could do both tasks comfortably. I can only hope that inflation doesn’t rise above the current 26%. Otherwise, I may be forced to strike some essentials out of my struggling budget. It’s serious.

  20. 20 steve
    May 5, 2008 at 16:00

    Actually Brett, most of the problem is with the not rich, spending money they don’t have. People are trying to behave as if they are rich by spending with debt. You’d be shocked driving by low income housing areas and seeing all the BMWs and Mercedes’ that are parked in them. The entire subprime mortgage thing was people buying homes they couldn’t afford, a domain of the not rich. Credit gives not well off people the mistaken belief that they are wealthy, and enables them to be materialistic, leading to massive debt and unhappiness.

  21. 21 Will Rhodes
    May 5, 2008 at 16:03

    From what I was watching last night – Americans, on average, buy a house for a 9/10 year investment to sell and move up the property ladder and are now going to have to call a house a home – well for the medium term anyway.

    I would suspect this is the same in most European countries as well – I can’t understand it but people want wealth as they see what money can buy. I think I would be justified in saying we all live beyond our means.

    As always in a recession – it will be the countries that supply the west who will feel it worse, but there lies an opportunity for them to develop their own internal market. But you have to have leaders in those nations who are willing to make less for a while until the recession ends – as it always does.

  22. May 5, 2008 at 16:14

    Steve
    You’d be shocked driving by low income housing areas and seeing all the BMWs and Mercedes’ that are parked in them.

    Haha, welcome to Richmond! Horay for credit and welfare abuse!

  23. 23 Anthony
    May 5, 2008 at 16:16

    @ steve. You are SOO right. In my apartment complex, you’ll see 2 BMWs, a Turbo charged Audi, and a tricked out truck (and the guy doesn’t even use the truck function even though its a V8), and they wonder why they never have cash (they also have LV purses and 170 dollar sunglasses), and complain about wanting to own a house. Its INSANE!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  24. 24 anonymous
    May 5, 2008 at 16:20

    When we treat food as other than food, cotton as other than fabric, etc. the investment prices of those commodities spiral out of control. I wish that corn were produced to feed people, not cattle (for whom the corn is an unnatural food source, anyway). I wish that soybeans were produced for food, not fuel. I am very discontent with the entire concept of commodities investments, as if they were (potential) money and not food or other consumable goods. We who pay through the nose to eat, clothe and shelter ourselves, and try to scrape together a living are the ones who pay the price.

  25. 25 gary
    May 5, 2008 at 16:24

    Hello Mr. Atkins,
    In every age, some percentage of the world’s people has been, is, and will be living beyond its means. Sure, some of us live more richly than others; but the population trends suggests technology has benefitted most everyone on the planet. We are many, and we are healthy enough to make many more. The downside of this is simple: We’ve converted fossil fuel, through the technology it drives, into people. Currently, there exists sufficient energy production capacity to easily feed, clothe, and house everyone on the planet. That this isn’t happening suggests “life after oil” will be more interesting even than it is now. Maybe not beyond our means; but certainly beyond our wisdom.
    later,
    g

  26. 26 steve
    May 5, 2008 at 16:27

    @ Anthony:

    Actually I was referring to low income housing, like where it’s subsidized by the government. I live in an apartment, for the area it is “cheap” meaning I pay a little less than $1400/month for a 1 bedroom apartment. The going rate is around $1700/month here. In the parking garage you don’t see that many outrageous cars, but if you’re renting, why are there Mercedes and BMWs in their? Simply living beyond their means, which is the definition of what a car lease really is… It gets worse, the people that live with their parents drive luxury cars. Instead of using the money saved for something important, they spend it on cars. All about showing off. Problem is, when you meet a woman, driving her in your BMW, back to your mom’s place. That must really impress women. heheh.

  27. May 5, 2008 at 16:31

    yes, we are living beyond our means.
    I have seen people take out huge loans in the bank I work for_ to do what? buy expensive car, fuel guzler that leaves him strained, drained and eventually ruined economically.
    reason? to fit into class!
    kipsang kerich in Bomet, kenya.

  28. 28 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    May 5, 2008 at 17:03

    Hi WHYS!

    @ Jared.

    I could not agree with you more! I am never sure what it means to “live beyond your means” as I think that the credit driven economy creates a whole new set of players, including buyers and sellers, as well as rules of engagement. Most people, I think, recognise that in order to actually own things there is a need to pay on credit where you are not able to do so with readily accessible capital, or where altogether capital does not exist.

    The problem is not so much that people are “living beyond their means”. Rather, I think it is more to do with high prices for which goods and services are sold relative to what people percieve they will be able to afford, whether immediately or long term, in addition to the stagnation of incomes in places like Jamaica, where I live.

    Traditional economic theory holds that “all things remain equal” – a basic contradiction about life which is constantly changing. In fact, that is the only constant. It is hard, as a result, to determine whether people cannot trully afford an item purchased on credit, as they do so with the notion that their source(s) of income will not dry up and hence, they will be able to finance their loans and other obligations over time. Hence, living within their means.

    The truth, however, is that reality changes and all sorts of unplanned for variables crop up, which even if you were aware of them at the start would not be a sufficient deterrent as you plan with the view that these incidents might not occur, but if they do, you take your chances.

    “Living beyond your means”, in a previous dispensation, probably meant being extravagant and purchasing items which we could either do without or did not have much use for. I rather suspect, however, that in our high stressed, demanding, postmodern realities, this is not quite the same as it used to be. Indeed, I am quite certain that there is a way in which most of our needs – vacation, homes, cars, health insurance, entertainment, etc., etc., are all VERY necessary!

    The problem sets in where there are people at the higher end of the spectrum who seem able to consume much more than those without the means by which to hinge their consumption to the market, who, more often than not, are at the lower end of the market or outside of it altogether. By which is meant, these people still consume and perhaps have the capacity to consume much more of the market, but only insofar as they have the means by which to enter into and participate in the market. This perhaps explains the increased consumption of the growing middle classes in China and India and, hence, part of the reason for the world food crisis, as well as the extreme levels of poverty in some parts of the world.

    So, no I am not sure we are “living beyond our means” in the traditional sense in which an expression like that is to be understood. More to the point, I believe that the variables have changed so radically over time that consumption and credit go hand in hand, especially as economic factors allow non-capitalists to also participate in the marketplace.

  29. May 5, 2008 at 17:07

    No, we are not living beyond our means but the hierarchy that controls what the people hear and are prompt to say as socially correct wishes us to say we are.

    The financial aspect of our civilization, the power of economics does not rest in the peoples hands. Governments dominate the economy of a country. We are always left wanting more. We are not being given by majority the worth of our work and we are pushed to even preform more.

    Todays governments own the currency, the thoughts you think and will think also are provided. Society is formed by a government, for their people.

    Humanity is feeble and becoming even more so. The chemicals the brain uses are not being produced. Specific brain wave patterns are not being created nor that needed to be cognitive maintained.

    Todays humanity is by majority a drone, a empty vessel and the governments media provide the thoughts, forming a repetitive collage of preordained thoughts.

  30. 30 Justin from Iowa
    May 5, 2008 at 17:12

    Yes, we are living beyond our means.

    At the same time, I would like to respond to one of your entry questions… whether the rich are consuming so much that the poor are paying the price:
    I think that rather it would be better stated that the rich are consuming so much that they are oppressing the poor, while driving the middle classes ever closer to the poverty level.
    I know that in the United States… in the 1940’s, the most wealthy carried a large portion of the tax burden. Now in the United States, the most wealthy pay a pittance of that burden. What are they doing with all of that money? Why do we squeeze the middle class and the poor so the wealthy can live it up?

  31. 31 Justin from Iowa
    May 5, 2008 at 17:16

    @Lee Roy:

    How is that any different than the drudgery of the middle ages, the religious fervor of the period from rennaisance to modern age?

  32. 32 steve
    May 5, 2008 at 17:22

    @ Justin

    What do you mean by “wealthy?” My marginal tax rate is one of the highest there are. I don’t get a penny from the tax rebates, and becuase my student loans are so high, I cannot afford to buy a place, yet according to an Obama definition of rich, I would fall in that category, and get taxed even more. Right now, after all withholdings, I lose 40% of every pay check to taxes, medicare, social security. Please tell me how I’m not overpaying my share?? It’s funny, had I spent money on a mortgage instead of an education, I’d be able to deduct the interest, but since I make more than a public school teacher does, but with 3x the student loans, I cannot deduct the interest.

  33. 33 Des Currie
    May 5, 2008 at 17:24

    I had no money yesterday and I have no money today. And with any luck tomorrow I also will have no money. A good system for keeping your budget on an even keel.
    And of course, I do believe in considering the lillies in the field as they grow, they toil not, and neither do they spin….

    Des Currie

  34. 34 Ana Milena, Colombia
    May 5, 2008 at 17:26

    Hey, everyone! 😉

    In my country, I think we ARE living beyond our means. I shall say, however, something’s happening here:
    The poorest families are suffering this deep impact of the situation regarding economic, health and social issues. The richest – which are fewer but of course more powerful – are enjoying more than 2/4 of the money and the resources of this country.
    And, finally, the working class… This sandwich – which is most of our population – who are struggling against a government which wants to get rid of them. Of course, most of them go for a lifestyle like wealthy families, asuming incredible debts they shouldn’t.
    They ignore, however, that in 2 years it will be harder to keep this way, they’ll be in the red out of the blue. I have to say Colombian people are gullible, so we do believe in these ads of flexible and friendly credit plans, and all this stuff. The consequence? We’re on the way to be flat broke. Oh! And we’re a silent culture in which prices raise and we say nothing… Just a whisper to complain.

    My conclusion: Because of ‘living beyond our means’, Colombia’s working class will fade away.
    This is my country.

  35. 35 Janet T
    May 5, 2008 at 17:26

    For many years we would see people drive around in their new huge expensive cars and think- how do they do it, and why can’t we??- we didn’t know that they couldn’t do it also- so my paid off 2002 van and 1999 Taurus look pretty good to me- we did end up with a mid-size truck, after hauling stuff between 2 locations and almost trashing the inside of the van, a truck seemed like a smart investment. With summer coming the van will go into the garage and the Taurus will get used more- better gas mileage (but the heater is not great)
    We have a house that is just the right size, it was a pretty trashed when we got it and we work on it constantly- so it is cute now- but we plan on staying here- the kids are leaving soon- who needs more house?
    And another bathroom to clean??
    What do people do with those huge 3500 square foot houses? That seems to be all they build anymore.
    I mostly shop Wal-Mart and Penney’s for clothes and such- I get these catalogs in the mail- skirts for 129.00, blazers for 249.00. What?? I’m thankful my kids are not brand name crazy- we raised them to NOT be billboards for clothing companies- I think if someone wants me to wear something to advertise for them it should cost me less, not more!
    We all covet-but restraint is the lesson to learn from it.

  36. May 5, 2008 at 17:28

    I believe that what’s happening today, is going to help build the future that we’ve been craving for but never saw it to be attainable do to a government built on pulling the wool over our eyes. I personally am considering many options. One is looking into owning my own power through solar. Two is looking into divorcing myself from oil and owning an electric vehicle with solar as a charging mechanism. Three…buy what I need instead of what I want.

  37. 37 Anthony
    May 5, 2008 at 17:29

    @ steve. The funny thing is, there are multiple couples and multiple families living in a couple of the 2 bedroom apartments, but they’d rather live in these cramped conditions than part with their “nice cars” and “nice things”. That’s what makes me sometimes embarrassed to be an American, which is sad, but true. Oh well, that’s why I’m teaching my son what’s really important in life. People laugh because I say “John, where do we go first when we go to the market?” and he replies, “clearance, in the back!”, hehe, lol. 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  38. 38 Janet T
    May 5, 2008 at 17:32

    @Steve-
    what is a moderate wage where you live is wealthy elsewhere, or many other places at least- we used to live in Los Angeles- with both of us working we were barely making it, and yet whenever politicians talked “rich” we were included in their figures- sure didn’t feel rich to us!

  39. 39 Scott Millar
    May 5, 2008 at 17:34

    + If we are living beyond our means it is partially a result of striving for social equality, the shattering of class hierarchy and globalization. Most of the comments here declare greed, while this has some truth, it is also true that because of more global transparency people want what others have—and why shouldn’t they! Class is unfair, inequitable and nefarious; people are tired of it. Living beyond our means may be a fallacious and irresponsible way of life, but it is also a shout for something more.

    + If you notice the tone of many of these posts it is one of condensation. We can’t stand the idea of others getting things we feel are undeserved, especially if we worked hard to get them. But is this mode of thinking smart? Will it ever promote equality? Because bottom-line people are not equal intellectually, genetically or otherwise! So how can a pure democratic world ever promote equality for all?

    – Portland, Oregon

  40. 40 Jens
    May 5, 2008 at 17:39

    justin,

    the rich still pay a significant load of the overall taxes. just think about somebody earnin 1 million and paying 20% tax, which is 200’000 bucks….. that is more than what i make a year

  41. 41 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    May 5, 2008 at 17:40

    @ Lee Roy, I am not sure I understand where you are going with the feudal analogy – a la Justin from Iowa. Please clarify. at the risk of seeming too simple, how does that relate to whether we are living beyond our means, or not?

  42. 42 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    May 5, 2008 at 17:44

    Des Currie, you are funny! So, am I to assume that the question does not apply in your situation? LOL!…(Sotto voce: personally, I think we are all living outside of our means! whether that is above, or below though is another matter all by itself!)

  43. 43 steve
    May 5, 2008 at 17:51

    @ Anthony

    Wow, too bad not everyone is like us. I went on this date, and I don’t know why I didn’t end it sooner, but I picked her up, and she is all shocked that I was driving a Ford at the time, and she said, “Steve, I thought you were a lawyer. Why are you driving a Ford?” and I asked her why not? And then she responded “How is everyone supposed to know that you are a lawyer if you aren’t in a BMW?” I was rather dumbfounded and I realized immediately she was bad news, incredibly insecure, but so typical of this area. It seems in major US cities, being insecure actually “pays off” if you can view it as getting a golddigger as paying off.. But you “need” to show off status in this sick society. How best to do that? Spend money you don’t have.

  44. 44 Katharina in Ghent
    May 5, 2008 at 17:53

    My husband and I had to learn over the last ten years to live within our means, by now we’re like recovering alcoholics “Hi my name is Katharina, and I haven’t done excessive shopping in 6 months.” Our problem was that during college we didn’t have much money and when we finally made some money, we “caught up”. One of the many problems when you’re a shopper is the feeling, that “you’ve done good” when you come home with a couple of bags. By now though we’ve smartened up quite a bit, three years ago we went to Japan on credit card, this year we wanted to go to Canada but we’re moving to a new house instead, and so we decided to stay here. And we’re debt free.

    Now the bigger question here is of course, if we can do this, can other people as well? It’s like any addiction, big or small, you have to recognize the problem first before you can tackle it. Most people probably think that “next month” everything will be better, and if not, they can still get a second/third job to pay for all the bills. in the meantime, their quality of life goes down the drain and they’re too busy making ends meet to notice.

    Personally, I don’t think that the credit crisis and the food crisis are directly related, but in one newspaper I read that investment bankers advise their customers now to invest in grains rather than mortgage bundels, and if the ordinary Joe starts trading in this, than most certainly the grain proces will similarly go through the roof like the oil prices already did – which were also to a big extend driven by pure speculation.

  45. 45 steve
    May 5, 2008 at 17:54

    @ Janet. I cannot imagine living in the DC area, anywhere within a 2 hour commute that is in a safe area where I could imagine being able to live on $120,000 a year and have student loans to pay off. You’d be much better off never having gone to college nad making $50,000 then spending half of your takehome pay on student loans every month. But yes, according to Obama, I’m wealthy, despite living a frugal life because of my student loans. I bring lunch to work, I never go out to eat, I drive an econo box, and all I’m doing is paying down my student loans.. but I am considered “wealthy”

  46. 46 Jens
    May 5, 2008 at 17:57

    steve,

    what kind of circles are you moving in. even at times when i did not have car, i never had a girl come out with such drivel. and i mean i was driving a beat up 185 cc honda trials bike……but then i had the over 6′ 3″ and english accent going for me 😉

  47. May 5, 2008 at 18:01

    @ Daniel KALW
    Two is looking into divorcing myself from oil and owning an electric vehicle with solar as a charging mechanism.

    Do it! I LOVE my EV! I found mine being stored for 12 years after its exhibit at the Richmond Science Museum and was able to pick it up for $100 with 4,600 origional miles on it 🙂 It’s been a little work and still needs some, but I can’t get enough of it.
    It’s also wonderful to think that when all of the roadways are free and clear of the gas guzzlers because they can no longer afford to drive, that I’ll be zipping around still and with less traffic to boot hehe.

    Regards,
    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  48. 48 steve
    May 5, 2008 at 18:05

    @ Jens

    It’s washington, DC. A status town. Yes, being 6’3 and an english accent in DC and you could have leprosy and women would still throw themselves at you here. Being a 5’10 manlet, maryland accent, it doesn’t work the same way… I once had a woman tell me she’d introduce me to my friends if I earned over $200,000. It’s actually pretty bad here, but hey, that’s why you develop hobbies. Starting late may, I go rockclimbing! That with biking and kayaking should keep me busy all summer. Then again, this show is about the costs of food in other countries going so high that they riot, while I buy a $250 plastic boat.. It’s funny to hear Americans claim about how things suck, when they simply take for granted everything they have.

  49. May 5, 2008 at 18:06

    Steve
    if you can view it as getting a golddigger as paying off

    *Busts out in some Kanye*

    It is a shame that women and men act in such a way to foster consumerism. But then again, we are just animals… And plenty of males in the animal kingdom show off to attract females… But at least they own the things they show off to attract a mate.

  50. 50 Justin from Iowa
    May 5, 2008 at 18:06

    @Steve

    I think you answered your own question to me by describing your income situation. By your economic self description you would probably fall in upper-middle class?

    Income levels as a means of judging wealth is a bad way to look at things anyways, because people who quote yearly income usually disregard where those incomes are being earned and cost of living adjustments. 100,000 dollars in urban new york probably isn’t much different than 40,000 dollars in rural Iowa.

    That’s what I mean about the middle class getting gouged though. How much of your income is getting siphoned off, yet how much of that went towards your education, towards your health care? Towards transportation network upgrades and repairs near where you live? I know around here, it was zero, zilch, and not nearly enough.

  51. 51 Jens
    May 5, 2008 at 18:08

    Steve,

    you forget that your earning potential is only going to increase, whereas the guy without degree is pretty much stuck on 50000 bucks a year. i know according to Obama i am wealthy, but put hand on heart I can afford to pay a little more tax to ensure that less well off people have health insurance. you know i do relay on less well off people taking away my trash, fix the roads and many other service industries…..

  52. 52 anonymous
    May 5, 2008 at 18:11

    RPJS,
    I see things in a different light. I see people buying furniture that costs 4-digit amounts apiece while other furniture that is just a functional would cost hundreds or thousands of dollars less. I see people buying 4,000 and 5,000 square foot houses so that they can have two living rooms, a den, huge bedrooms, and more bathrooms than they could hope to use in a week, when they could fit that same family into a 2,000 square foot home. I see people chasing sale after sale so that they can get the latest fashins from classy stores, when that same amount of money could have clothed the entire family for a year with clothing that is slightly less fashionable. I see people decorating their homes with several pieces costing at least a hundred dollars each. And the money that all of these people are throwing away on their class status could have gone towards the employment of others who would dearly like to work honestly to afford the things that they truly need. It could have gone to charity organisations, food pantries, etc. It could have been invested in community organisations through donations. Instead, that same money was thrown off so that so many people could keep up with the proverbial Joneses. Why don’t more people consider the potential good that would result from causing their money to flow in their communities, rather than hoarding away wealth for only themselves and their children and grandchildren to enjoy, while others struggle to escape the destitution that literally results in hunger, inadequate clothing, poor health, lack of education to get decent jobs, and inefficient shelter?

  53. 53 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    May 5, 2008 at 18:13

    Steve, I am sure you are in a much better position than most others without a college education. In fact, I read on the Blank Page yesterday where Jade was saying that that is worth much more than wealth – knowledge, that is. Cause, if nothing else it can be translated into some type of wealth or anything else that you want it to.

    @ Kath,

    In terms of the link between the food crisis and whether we are living above our means, I only intended to say that the extent to which people consume does have an impact on things like food. Where demand outstrips supply, or there is an increase in demand then prices usually go up. In the case of the emerging middle classes in China and India, the experts tell us that their consumption patterns have helped to push up the price of wheat and other basic food supplies, in the process placing it out of the reach of poorer consumers around the world.

    Indeed, I do think it is possible to live and not accrue debts but that takes a great deal of discipline and, in some instances, might not even be as useful given the credit driven nature of economics these days. I am not saying we are to go out and “shop till we drop” but surely one has to plan with the likely possibility that credit is part of our modern realities – for better or worse.

  54. 54 Sulayman Dauda
    May 5, 2008 at 18:14

    Despite all cry on Economic crisis and the increasing economic comogenization in my country Nigeria and with the growing increas in Trafic and expensive cars on the road as well as the increased in building construction, One begin to ask why the cry about puberty. the fact is that the global leadership is in disaray and no true Democracy in existence.

  55. May 5, 2008 at 18:17

    @Steve,

    Don’t know how much you are hauling in. I know that Obama does use the figure of $150,000 as the definition of “wealthy”. In Ohio, you are living really well on a $150,000 taxable income. The highest tax bracket is 35%. That is on taxable income above $357,000 per year! Then there is an additional 12.4 % on taxable income up to $102,000.

    If you pay 40% it means you fall in that awful bracket of 80 to $165,000. Obama is targeting the reinstatement of taxes that target people making more then $150,000. The same taxes that Hillary also said she would reinstate. The same taxes McCain said were unfair to the American people at first. While I agree. I am a huge fan of lower taxes, but only in exchange for less separation in wages.

    However, Steve, your problem seems to be with paying off student loans. This is partially your fault. Very much so your parents and guidance counselors fault. They needed to sit down and look at your career choice and what it was going to cost to get it. Then a comparison to what you can expect to make. So many things we are willing to put so much time into considering, yet nobody puts merit in choosing their career. (Of course I must include a personal note I left school with the sole intent to either become a rock star or a pirate. It too has been a costly mistake.)

    Lawyers are to suburban boys what drug dealers are to inner city boys. They seem them roll by in their nice cars, live in their nice go to their nice houses. They don’t see the reality and cost hazards of getting to that position.

  56. 56 Janet T
    May 5, 2008 at 18:18

    @ Steve- I do sympathize- we did the same thing- making 120k and barely being able to get by (and this was 15 years ago) – everything in cities is so expensive: rents, insurance, car repair- as I said we never felt rich- even though our income level was always included in the rich demographic- I guess you should be thankful you don’t live in NYC, can you imagine?
    Just remember one day you’ll be out from under those loans!

  57. 57 Anthony
    May 5, 2008 at 18:19

    @ steve and Jens. Its hard to find a non-materialist female in Los Angeles or Orange Counties. I went out with a young lady the other day. I asked what her dreams were, and she said that someday she wanted to own an escalade. I thought she was messing around at first, but I guess that is success to her. I stopped talking to her. Its amazing what the average American thinks is success. I asked my brothers high school friends what they wanted to do when they grow up, one said to win the lotto, the other said was to get hurt and sue a big company. I WAS AMAZED!!!!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  58. May 5, 2008 at 18:19

    I appreciate your coverage of the world food crisis.

    In a civilized world, the developed countries would stop diverting agricultural land to biofuel production and even consider food rationing if a large number of people in the underdeveloped world were threatened with starvation.

    Unfortunately, the world is not very civilized. I am not only worried about people in third world countries, but I am worried that we might have people starving to death in the United States — the people might just accept that some people in the U.S. starve, just as we accepted having a large number of homeless people.

    Keep up the good coverage!

    — George
    — San Francisco

  59. May 5, 2008 at 18:20

    Many developed countries like France are living beyond their means – and generating huge budget deficits, basically living on credit, and passing on the debt to future generations.

    But developing countries are just as bad: a couple producing eight children it they can’t even feed one is also blatantly living beyond its means, incurring debts (or commitments) they never will be able to honour.

    Mankind as a whole is living beyond its means, producing many more people than it can feed.

    Robert
    Paris, France

  60. 60 Aloice Kiplimo Rugut
    May 5, 2008 at 18:21

    The price of every commodity in kenya is going up, day by day. The price of fair has gone up. The price of travelling between our local towns i.e. kapsabet and eldoret was at ksh.150, today it was hiked to ksh. 200.
    Today we had a discusion with the village elders about the food crisis and many were of the idea that we plant vegetables since it matures faster that grain crops, and that this will sustain the people till the next harvest. We are having chance of climate, the rains are not predictable, the cost of planting maize is up since the fertilizer has gone up from Ksh. 2,000 to Ksh. 4,000 per 50 kg bag.
    The world is becaming an expensive place to live in!!!

  61. 61 Lynn West
    May 5, 2008 at 18:24

    Are you having to change your lifestyle? If you are, do you resent the compromise?
    Yes. I don’t mind changing, reducing waste dramatically, etc. I like it. It’s Road Warriors all over again! HOWEVER, I must say that I do resent the fact that we as first world citizens are not holding the wealthy elite of our respective countries more accountable. It is clear that they have been extremely successful in figuring out how to exponetially increase their wealth at the cost of everyone else, with little or no paper trail. There should be something akin to RICO laws in the ICCJ in order to prosecute these crimes.

    The cost of fuel, food and housing is piling on pressure around the world. Are you feeling it?

    Yes. Unfortunately, I commute to my job and therefore drive 200 miles a week. So my gas budget has increased as have my food costs at the grocery store.
    I am now looking for a job within the reach of public transportation.

    Have we been asking too much of the world for too long?

    Definitely. But let’s consider who “we” refers to, and apply moral responsibility where the greatest harms are initiated.

    Have we been living beyond our means in terms of wealth and resources?

    If we means the wealthiest 1% of the population in the world, yes. I think that studies by many different sources (Pew studies, HBS, etc.) show that the wealthiest 1% of the world are deeply responsible for the crisis abroad. If these CEOs and Political Elites would be more rational in what they think they are entitled to, there would be no food crisis, etc. Of course, we can blame the entire US or 1st world citizens, but really, who are we kidding? It’s the top echelons of our global society that are raping the world, and the middle class is getting the blame. Moderation in all things, my friends.

  62. 62 michelle
    May 5, 2008 at 18:27

    I’m a middle class full time working mom, putting my husband school to get his masters and paying for part time daycare.
    Yes – the price of food and gas has changed the way I live. I now try to ride my bike at least three times a week instead of driving and I’m growing a much larger garden this summer than I had planned. I’ve given up red meat and am cutting back on other meats because of the cost – not because I’m a vegetarian.

    I’m frightened we are headed to a global famine (more than likely not in the US) but from what I hear about other countries – we’re on the brink of disaster. The idea of using corn for fuel is so ridiculous I can’t believe we are supporting this plan. We need to look at algae, solar and wind power.

    Thanks
    Michelle
    Vancouver, Washington, USA

  63. 63 Ariana
    May 5, 2008 at 18:28

    I think this is all about the control of the Agri-businesses and mega food corporations and Pharmacuetical companies. They want the monopoly in the food industry. They have entirely too much political power and influnece in the US as well as the UN. I think the FAO, WHO and WTO are all supported by these companies and are promoting their own agendas. They are not looking out for the best interest of the citizens of the world. I belive the healtiest thing for human kind is to know how to grow and eat our own food. The Most nutritious food comes from near-by. Each country, State, provence,city, community and household should be self sufficient in their food.

  64. 64 Blair Macdonald
    May 5, 2008 at 18:31

    Beyond Means, no.
    Badly managed, yes.
    Do away with trade protectionism – we (EU) should be buying African sugar and the like.
    Calm the Climate Change hype: the hype has lead to this rush on Biofuels.
    Send them food, put on trail the Climate Change hypests for crimes against humanity and the environment and start buying our goods from Africa.

  65. 65 keith in PA, USA
    May 5, 2008 at 18:33

    the news is full of the economic doom and gloom reports and speculation, but few people are talking about what root cultural decisions and trends could have gotten us to where we are.

    My theory is that while capitalism was at once a lovely ideal that was inspirational and encouraged the notion that everyone was equal and could pursue their dreams, etc..great philosophies and or systems are only as good and valuable functionally speaking, as the people who are responsible for for maintaining them. In this case, those responsible are millions of (mostly western, and especially from the U.S.) people who have spiraled in an addiction to having what we want, lots of it, anytime. .

    this desire to purchase things, indeed a believed happier existence, has given rise to credit that has gone out of control and ruined lives as people can’t pay their debts, this in turn is threatening the banks who also succumbed to greed as they saw a spiraling desire to spend on the part of the consumers. People have felt entitled to drive an 8 cylinder truck around with no passengers in their pursuit of happiness…and now the oil prices have them feeling desperate. This cultural ideal has spread globally, I think, so that the feverish pursuit of “things” at all costs, beyond one’s means, have threatened the global economy.

    We won’t have hope of correcting the disastrous problem unless we (and, yes that is mostly those in the west who have been on a prolonged spending spree) own up to it and admit, like any addict that we have a problem. We need to re-learn a contentment and a way to live life that draws on relationships and “simple” pleasures and experiences for fulfillment instead of things that ultimately moth and rust will destroy.

  66. May 5, 2008 at 18:34

    It’s impossible for any sane person to deny that parts of the world consume too much whilst others are barely surviving. Some of the inequalities can squarely be blamed on the inequality of global currencies operating in unregulated global markets. Only once we have addressed this problem will we be able to control over-consumption by the wealthy and the ongoing exploitation of the poor. As Europe is now successfully demonstrating however, the introduction of a regulated trade zone combined with a universal currency eventually creates a more level playing field for all. Let’s hope the idea continues to expand…

    Douglas,
    Canada

  67. 67 Omunyaruguru
    May 5, 2008 at 18:34

    Some of the world is living beyond their means. this means that the westerners are not as prosperous as we thought they are. They have lived on credit for a long time. in Uganda, 75% of the population grows it’s own food and so do not feel the soring food prices.

  68. 68 Justin from Iowa
    May 5, 2008 at 18:35

    As an american living in rural america, I am lucky enough to have a strong family support structure. My parents sacrificed to help me through college, so I only have $20,000 dollars of debt instead of $50,000 to pay off. Even more, they allow me to live with them now as I pay off the loans and look for the right place to settle down. I and my parents are both now working to support my sister through college… I don’t think that many americans can count on that much support. I make $35000 a year, gross… which is solid middle class here. I drive a small suv, which gets 22 mpg… middling I think? I drive very little other than to work and live frugally. If I had a family to support I don’t know how I would make it, which makes me thankful I have made the decision not too.

  69. 69 Vijay
    May 5, 2008 at 18:40

    Your guest Davinder Sharma is wrong to say that India is in a comfortable position as far as Food security is concerned; Pulses production deficient Edible oils deficient,three states have been told to import wheat .
    At a time of world food crisis what does the Punjab Government do ? Stop farmers from producing two crops of rice.
    There is a constant chopping and changing policy position on exports of agricultural products which means farmers are unable to get good prices for their products,this depresses agricultural entrepenurship.
    The Government of India would rather import wheat for Rs 1600 per quintal (£200 per tonne)than pay Indian farmers more than 1000 rs per quintal(£125 per tonne).

  70. 70 Lynn West
    May 5, 2008 at 18:41

    If anyone would like to see some commentary on what I’ve stated about the uber riche, just google “rich pay less tax”. For example, a (July 2007) NY Times article cites billionaire Warren Buffet as saying that rich guys like him weren’t paying enough. Mr. Buffett said that his 2006 taxes equaled only 17.7 percent of his taxable income, compared with about 30 percent for his receptionist.

  71. May 5, 2008 at 18:43

    Why aren’t we having the painful discussion about population control…there MIGHT be enough food for everyone, the trouble is getting it to them and at what cost. Why don’t we stop having families in the poorest nations with 5, 6, 7 children? It is no coincidence that fully developed nations have stable populations that, for the most part, are well taken care of.
    Jeff
    Cleveland, Ohio

  72. 72 safeta
    May 5, 2008 at 18:45

    I think the greed of our world policies is now going through a “correction.” Those CEO’s who get million/billion dollar bonuses in my country, USA, are scratching their heads and asking what can we do to make people spend money. I say that we the people, need to teach them a lesson and stop spending and putting money in their pockets and put the money in our own pockets. Americans need to downsize their way of living. People have been talking of downsizing for the last 20 years and those who haven’t are now feeling the crunch.

  73. 73 Chen
    May 5, 2008 at 18:47

    The food shortage is not a mere economic problem, it is a basic human rights problem. Why the frequent
    “human rights advocates” rarely if ever raise the question about the rights of people to food, to house, and to cloth? It seems that those human rights champions assume that humans do not need to live to be “free.” The heart of this mystery seems to be this: the right to food and survival contracdicts and reveals the economic policy designed by those very countries that often cry for the right to “freedom.” By imposing the “forget about food — you can buy from us” policy on developing countries, while closely guarding their own agricultural industry, the West shows a understanding of “human rights” fundamentally different from of those who are starving to death.

  74. 74 Anthony
    May 5, 2008 at 18:48

    Well, at this rate, the only thing that will be able to fix our worlds problems of the now and the future will be a huge world war that wipes out most of the earths human population.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  75. 75 Fred
    May 5, 2008 at 18:50

    I did live beyond my means. Now I’m knocking down my debit, putting a bit in savings. Riding my bike, and just “buying what I need” seems to be working well for me.

    Fred in Portland.

  76. May 5, 2008 at 18:51

    The government of Tanzania should step in and import rice, maize, flour and sugar and make the price affordable to people at this crisis time. The situation in so bad in Tanzania and the standard of living among many has become so abysmal.

    Abdalla , Texas

  77. May 5, 2008 at 18:51

    Corruption would not allow for revolution in african agriculture. from usman nigeria

  78. 78 steve
    May 5, 2008 at 18:55

    I’ve love to know if sales of designer handbags has taken a hit. You know you are being financially irresponsible if you spend $400 on a bag because it says “Prada” on it (probably cost $2 to make the bag anyways). If sales of that junk have fallen, then I’ll have newfound respect for Americans. I’m never shocked at how people will spend spend spend, especially for such stupid things.

  79. 79 Thea Winter - Indianapolis
    May 5, 2008 at 18:56

    People have too many people on the earth. Because of that we have a supply and demand issues. As I learned at university classes in economics, as demand goes up so does prices. The issues is that the pay of most people is not going up a the same time.

    I changed my consumption is several ways.
    I drive less
    I do cut off my cable TV
    I walk more often
    I do not eat out much
    I have two jobs
    I turned down the heat this winter
    I do not use the Air at all.

  80. 80 selena
    May 5, 2008 at 18:58

    Why do we say poor people are living beyond their means? Whenever the poor begin to catch up with the rich, something always happens to bring them down a peg or two.

    There is something wrong with the picture.

  81. May 5, 2008 at 19:07

    We are certainly living beyond our means. Most Americans are alarmingly ignorant and/or unconcerned about how their lifestyle affects their environment, as well as the rest of the world. Hitting them in the pocketbook is the only way to get their attention, so I would be happy to see prices continue to rise here. Even though it’s difficult, it’s what we need to make a difference.

    -R, in California

  82. May 5, 2008 at 19:08

    Almost everything has increased in cost in the States. As a resident of Houston, a commuter city with gigantic urban sprawl, fuel costs are of the most concern. I am preparing to change my commutting habits tremendously as we cannot afford the fuel costs, and we do not expect them to decrease in cost. As a result, we travel much less and spend a lot less money on goods, as the costs have caused us to save the money to pay for transportation and for increased food costs. I will likely sell my cars and buy a motor scooter. These U.S. cities will face a need to stop building giant highways and start really investing in effective public transportation…or they will face massive problems.

  83. May 5, 2008 at 19:10

    My fiancee and I are Americans, earning at the low end of the middle class. I can assure you – we are feeling prices rise much faster than our incomes. We are going to trade in our pickup for a small car to save on fuel. Food prices are higher almost every time we go to the grocery store. While housing prices are starting to drop, we still cannot afford to consider the purchase of a home or condo.

    The only Americans not feeling the rise of prices are the uber-wealthy, who are sure to take advantage of the economic downturn to snap up on real estate and other commodities that the middle and lower classes must sell to stay afloat. The divide between wealth yand average to poor in the US will continue it’s growth – it’s just business as usual.

    Frank, Portland, OR, USA

  84. May 5, 2008 at 19:12

    The global problems of rich vs poor will never change until we elect governments that are prepared to turn away from the current economic models. We have to move away from our obsession with growth and the creation of wealth and concentrate instead on social justice. Socialism is unfortunately a dirty word in the US, but as their global power continues to wane hopefully we will see a resurgence in the concept of equality for all.

    BC
    Canada

  85. 85 Anthony
    May 5, 2008 at 19:16

    The only real “stupid” things I spend my cash on are Video Games or DVDs. I don’t buy trendy things, I’d rather buy guns, ammo, water and food rations, and electric generators, just incase our economy collapses, I’ll be ready. 😉

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  86. 86 Chen
    May 5, 2008 at 19:28

    The current food shortage shows a absurd “consensus” on the meaning of “freedom:” I am free to consume the Earth resources as much as I can buy (or to get by other means), while others are “free” to die from starvation. Economic freedom is sacred. Those huge SUV and Hummers on the street are nothing but symbols of freedom and patriotic tribute towards domestic auto industry.

  87. May 5, 2008 at 19:29

    Of course people are living beyond their means. It is encouraged by the Debt Based Economy we live in! I order to live beyond your means you must be in debt. The economy requires ‘the population’ to be in debt in order for it to survive. Even ‘rich’ people are in debt. It is the way it is designed to work. No debt = no economy, and that would be a fine mess.
    Malc
    Berlin

  88. 88 keith in PA, USA
    May 5, 2008 at 19:36

    I agree with “R” in California, that this will be hard and admittedly very painful for some, but this hit is the only wake up call people are likely to understand.

    In my small city of Lancaster, PA the new home construction business had been booming for decades – the beautiful farmland (much of it Amish who could teach the rest of us a thing or two about living within our means) is being sold and subdivided to developers who put up mcmansions that people probably couldn’t really afford half the time – meanwhile in the city itself there are tons of available charming historic houses which are of far greater value and better constructed, half the price, and living in them leads to greater ease of responsible decisions – biking, walking, public transport, buying locally grown produce at the farmer’s market, etc.

    I realize that the jobs of good hard-working construction workers will be one of the casualties of the market-crunch, and this is sad, but necessary for things to shift in a more sane and sustainable direction. I think this is likely the case nationwide.

  89. 89 steve
    May 5, 2008 at 19:40

    @ Brett

    Ugh, it makes me sick. I Just heard a coworker talking to another female coworker about how she was upset on friday, so she left work early and decided to go out and buy shoes and dresses and more stuff that made me want to jump out of the window.. Then she went into how she drank all weekend long….. ugh.

  90. 90 Joseph Ubek
    May 5, 2008 at 19:41

    Its terrible how the price of commodities keep getting higher everyday. A bag of rice here in nigeria used to go for 6000 nigerian naira, but its now 12,000 naira. Now the value of a dollar to the naira is 120naira equals 1dollar.
    Its like the common man’s really feeling the bite.
    God i believe is the only solution as man has totally failed in his efforts to balance world conditions.
    Joe
    Nigeria

  91. May 5, 2008 at 19:51

    Here in the IDP camps, people have been living on the margin of the world, surviving on wfp food distributions. But now that there seems to be world wide food shortages, i can only feel sorry for my people and other people in similar conditions. If possible let wfp give seeds for planting instead of food.
    lutto

  92. May 5, 2008 at 19:51

    more reliable agricultural practices must be promoted go third world countries to give farmers a reason to continue farming

    Africa must learn to ask for trade and not aid

    democracy must be active to facilitate real, meaningful growth …….. otherwise we die kipsang kerich in kenya.

  93. May 5, 2008 at 19:52

    The cost of living is unbearable, as prices keep rising. Just over the weekend the price of fuel has increased again in Sierra Leone just after about three months. This means that even home grown products like hot pepper and cucumbers will sky rocket. Poor people in poor nations like post-war Sierra Leone are heading for limbo.

    Rev Bosco
    Freetown, Sierra Leone

  94. 94 Jens
    May 5, 2008 at 19:57

    frank,
    “Food prices are higher almost every time we go to the grocery store.’

    how often do you shop? man my food prices have pretty much stayed stabe for years. i buy my food whenever seasonally and/or when on special offer. i paid a special offer of 4.99 per pound for porthouse steak just last week, a sales price which has not change significantly in the last 6 years. this weekend i cooked countrty style pork ribs at 1.29 a pound REGULAR price. chicken is sold for 99 cents a pound. food in the usa is in general increadibly cheap, with some exceptions like quality whole grain bread. funny that unprocessed quality food cost more than the processed corn syrup and salt crap.

    yes preprepared food has gotten more expensive, but then nobdoy forces you to eat this stuff.

  95. 95 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    May 5, 2008 at 20:01

    Annonymous:

    I am not sure what part of my comments you were referring to in your entry above, however, I do not wish to give the impression that I am into wasting money. Hardly! Indeed, if I had any waste, I would feel very privileged!

    But, seriously, the truth is I think that the culture of excess in which we live compounded by the greed of deciding whether one wants or needs the things to which you refer. From where I am sitting I see no problems with wanting to live a “good life”, such as it is, which may or may not be defined by a $400 handbag; that is, if you can afford it. I think the problem sets in when there is no real way in which you can afford to pay that much for a bag and still live.

    Nonetheless, in the western capitalist economics we are all encouraged to consume, as if by doing so we are somehow made into more wholesome human beings. I think one has to make an educated wager in terms of how much risk is an acceptable level at which to live with some amount of your dignity; that is, if you do not own capital to purchase everything cash. Otherwise, everything in moderation…So, we are agreed…I hope!

  96. 96 selena
    May 5, 2008 at 21:11

    Do you ever think what it means when you cut back on your spending? As long as we are operating under the current economic model, it means people lose jobs. You cut back and another person is out of work.

    So, while you are congratulating yourself for not spending or cutting out plastic bags, or whatever, others are suffering because of your decisions.

    It is not enough not to spend. We can’t just stop spending and think that lack of spending is solving the problem. Lack of spending is, in reality, creating a bigger problem. The whole system has to change, starting with putting the brakes on the obscene rich, who live off the backs of others. And maybe things will change, as more people become more desperate.

  97. 97 Jonathan Rasmussen
    May 5, 2008 at 22:23

    “Unfortunately, socialism is a dirty word in the U.S.?”

    Not nearly so much as it is in the countries that have escaped its grip and proceeded to improve their standard of living and their freedom.. Heck, the only socialist countries left anymore are, what, Burma, Cuba, and Berkeley.

  98. 98 selena
    May 5, 2008 at 22:42

    Dickens’ Mr. Micawber mused that an annual income of pounds 20 coupled with expenditure of only pounds 19 19s 6d was happiness itself. But spend say pounds 20.50 and it’s misery.

    Has Xie_MIng been around today?

  99. 99 ama49
    May 6, 2008 at 00:16

    We are living beyond our means for sure. If you think that just 20 years ago it was a requirement to have 20% down on a house and now you can see the results of giving credit to people who don’t have the actual money to back it up…we’re suffering from our own greed.

    http://www.graceforgrace.com

  100. 100 viola anderson
    May 6, 2008 at 01:10

    No, I don’t live beyond my means. Many do, I suppose. But just consider this: If you have the means to borrow money for that SUV and that great big house, in what respect is that living beyond your means?

    People, having credit is the same as having cash money in your pocket and that is exactly how people utilize it.

  101. 101 Debbie
    May 6, 2008 at 01:12

    We are living beyond our means and we need to stop. The super rich need to stop flying private jets, while some people on the planet are dying of hunger!!!!! We all need to begin asking how can I live more simply? What can I do without?

    I am talking here to those who are consuming too much, not to those who can barely make ends meet…
    Make no mistake, the market system( which I hate) is going to correct itself. One day, we will wake up to a Depression so deep, this financial crisis will look like a storm in a teacup. Sadly, people who are at the bottom will suffer the most!

    One solution to everyone on this website…. lets begin changing by eating one tasty meal each week which has no dairy, meat, chicken or fish in it!!!!!

    Growing food for animals is not logical. It takes 8 kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef. Chicken isnt so bad as the ratio is 2kg of grain to produce 1kg of chicken. Then we use scarce fossil fuels to transport this meat halfway around the planet! Are we thinking at all??????

    Then there is the water these animals need…. water is becoming a scarce resource in many countries…..

    We also overeat meat and sugar products, drink alcohol, smoke and then running up the healt costs in our countries in order to cure us of obesity, cancer, diabetes, etc, etc…..

    Lots more we can do…..lets begin to think of others…. and give up the “me first” culture…..
    Lots more I could say but I am sharing a computer with others….. But let each of us begin to really think of ways that we can make our lives more simple so that crises will not have to force us to tighten our belts….

    We cannot live on the Moon nor Mars…. so lets take care of the Earth and the beings on it. Lets not overburden the planet with our selfish wants……. One love to everyone..

  102. 102 Sami
    May 6, 2008 at 01:55

    The country i have lived in eversince i’ve opened my eyes is a place where people more than the majority suffer from this disease called “Wasteful Life”. Credit Cards are like tissue paper, people use them senselessly. and as we all know, this dark world is like a quick sand in which u keep sinking.

    People here waste not only money but food as well. They are in this habit of buying everything that looks good to thier eyes at that minute when they shop, whether or not required. and yes this includes buying stuff to eat, which in the end sees the bin. Sometimes i just sit to think had those grains of rice could have probably been a savior to a starving stomach somewhere in the world. And why go any further out of this country. Some people living here itself sometimes dont get to eat even 1 meal in a day.

    But the sad part is, with the rising cost of everything around, only the ordinary man suffers. People like us get effected the most. The salaries are barely enough to keeps the dogs away. The rich man doesnt get effected much because the richman here are mostly the nationals who do not have to pay most of the stuff. We the service people get our fingers burned.

    One very small example to this would be, someone i know used to ealier manage his finance keeping a scale of 15 bucks for food every day, then 250 bucks for fuel in a month(i.e if he drives only from home to work and back) and some 500 bucks for other stuff. i just happen to see him the otherday at work with a foodbox in hand and asked what was so special that he brought food from home. His reply was realistic yet something that made me sit an analyze things. Despite a slight increase in his salary (a very insignificant amount) he stopped buying food from outside stating that he could save money on that too since the cost of everything has doubled but the salary was just a few percent increase.

    If a man cant afford to eat when and what he wants, sleep when he is tried and wants to, is bound to think even to spent a penny, has a restricted budget and cant spent an extra shilling then my question is, what are we doing all this for?? Just the word survival?? what are we going to achieve if we dont have anything to preserve?? Despite having been born in a primitive era werent people before us hand less to worry about??

  103. 103 anonymous
    May 6, 2008 at 01:55

    RPJS,
    We are, more or less, agreed. While I fail to see any legitimacy in buying a $400 handbag, I do think that there is a certain balance that can be struck between living comfortably within one’s means and living ostentatiously by using credit and huge loans. It does help that I re-read the post of yours to which I originally responded.

    By the way, has anyone heard of certain anti-money movements? There are people out there who exchange goods and services with each other rather than pay each other with mainstream currency as an anarchist way of ridding themselves of dependency on the dollar. I do not think that many people actually live without using currency, but the trend to set up a network with others to trade and exchange is increasing.

    At the same time, I also see the sense in making one’s money flow within one’s own community so that as many people as possible can attain gainful employment and afford at least a basic level of living (until we can succesfully and completely kick the dollar to the curb, that is).

  104. 104 Debbie
    May 6, 2008 at 02:15

    Debbie, Jamaica…

    Yes we are living beyond our means. One idea I have had is that we could start eating less meat. It seems simple but such a change would have a huge effect on our planet. It takes 8 kg of grain to produce 1 kg of beef. It also takes fuel we dont have to get it to the consumer.
    Eating meat also contributes to diseases so changing our eating habits would reduce the money spent on health services…..
    If we begin adjusting now we can slowly over time begin to change our world….Lets work together to live more simply and efficiently. One love !

  105. May 6, 2008 at 03:32

    Selena, you are right. Except most of what we are buying these days doesn’t come from our economy. We do more contributing to the rest of the worlds economies then we do our own. By not contributing to their economies, it makes ours stronger. More companies can afford to higher more people. I guess what I am trying to demonstrating is that there is no straight line cause and effect.

    I have a theory I have been shopping around to fix much of what ales us. Getting rid of minimum wage and replacing it with a minimum percentage. The idea would be that if a company pays it’s CEO $10 then it has to pay it’s least paid employee at least 1/10th of 1%. This idea would give the legislators greater control over the economy. It would also fix a lot of problems using the free market against itself. This is opposed to a minimum wage with is a socialist idea injected into a free market economy.

    People need to stop getting sold on ideas that are unhealthy for them. Don’t want national healthcare, want to be able to aford to pay the doctor. Don’t look wish for a profitable 401K, look to make a system that you can save enough for your retirement.

  106. May 6, 2008 at 03:49

    I care not for silly games or need to debate. How can you honesty write such a question? If you read and have new thought from the results of what you read, there would be no question but out of malice to put forward.

  107. 107 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 6, 2008 at 05:08

    Yes, my family is living beyond our means!

    With the increasing cost of Petrol [Gas], food and related expenses……

    I have to use coupons for the groceries i purchased every month…..and i also pick up groceries when i am in the store….to remember to have an extra gallon of milk and a loaf of bread.

  108. 108 Jared in Kampala
    May 6, 2008 at 06:55

    @ Rawpoliticsjamaicastyle

    I accept the interplay of demand and supply.

    In this case, talking about basics more so food, scarcity dominates thus inflating the prices.

    When it comes to basic needs like food their is nothing like extravagance. It means if you lack it you die, there is no alternative for food.

    There are repeated incidences of food shortage in the African continent and the world in general and focus should be on how to enhance supply.

  109. May 6, 2008 at 08:33

    The cost of fuel, food and housing is piling on pressure around the world. Are you feeling it? Is your cost of living going up?

    Here are some raw hard facts from the heart of 2008 America. I live in government subsidized housing. Otherwise I’d be in the streets. To qualify for subsidized housing my annual income as a single person must be under US $27,300. Somewhat higher for a couple. Mine tops at 11,000 per annum–considerably UNDER the poverty line! Go figure! In America today, US $27,000 a year IS BELOW the poverty line. At $4 a gallon of gasoline, fun trips to the beach or elsewhere are now a rare treat. I walk to the park instead–which excellent for my health. As for food, I eat simple meals twice a day–which is excellent for my health.

    Are you having to change your lifestyle? If you are, do you resent the compromise?

    My lifestyle suits me fine. I’m old now. But I intensely resent that, in America, a family of four with an income of $50,000 is poor and cannot make ends meet and, while precious few US Congressmen are worth millions, the majority are multi-billionaires! Worse. They regard their wealth much as once upon a time kings regarded their divine rights! Meanwhile, children die of malnutrition and millions subsist on $1 or less per day.

    And what is behind this?

    What is behind this is the raping of the Earth, of its resources and living space by the boundless greed and profiteering of the corporate-industrial-military cartel that runs the world. Their rapacity knows no bounds. Self-indulgent and self-seeking, their leaders twist language, meaning, morals and intent. Only one purpose motivates them: power and profits regardless of the price the world and its peoples must pay. And WE ARE PAYING IT.

    Should we see the variety of rising costs as related?

    YES! We should examine relationships. Related to what, where, why? We should look at causes and effects. In some cases the rises are manufactured. If biofuels were not THE rage within the halls of governments, grains would not be in short supply and prices would not have risen. Had Monsanto not been allowed to alter corn and cotton seeds, the cotton crop in India would not have failed, repeadtedly, nor would thousands of farmers have committed suicide. Nor would the corn strains in Mexico, tried and tested over centuries dating back to Cortez and the Spanish conquest, have begun to fail due to contamination with Monsanto’s GM corn, its so-called ;pig corn.

    Have we been asking too much of the world for too long?

    Asking? Has any one person, has the world leadership ever conceived the notion, the need much less the duty, of asking? And asking what of whom? Remember Copernicus, Galileo and those before them? They knew that not Earth but the sun was at the center of the universe. Christian hubris, however, saw it otherwise, didn’t it? And it wasn’t safe back then to contradict the Roman Church, was it? And while the Roman Church finally caved in and acknowledged the conceptual/scientific fact of solar supremacy, in reality the mind-set has never changed. Man always has dealt and continues to deal with the Earth and its creatures as HIS own personal god-given possession. WE own the Earth by divine right! “Go forth and multiply…” Right! We have. And we have dug, paved and built, cut, poisoned and dammed, polluted, pillaged and raped this planet…, and still there’s no end in sight! And except for a handful whose urgings and warnings have been consistently ignored, the world never thinks and never asks. IT TAKES. It never measures. IT DEVELOPS. It never looks ahead, EXCEPT TO PLAN FOR GREATER GAINS, PROFITS AND POWER. Its leaders–political and economic, military, religious and social–are busy planning, taking, developing, raping nations and ecosystems. AND THE WORLD PAYS. The world and its creatures. The bears, the whales, the worms, You and I.

    As a race, have we been living beyond our means in terms of wealth and resources?

    Whose wealth? corporate wealth? the oil cartel’s wealth? developers’ wealth? people’s wealth? the IMF’s, the World Bank’s? the wealth of the US members of Congress? the wealth of the poor? Or the Earth’s wealth? Ultimately, the only wealth that is real and counts is the Earth’s wealth. And I think Earth itself is now answering this question.

    If that is the case, would it be clearer to say the rich are consuming so much that the poor are paying the penalty?

    Yes, but this has always been so throughout human history. Now, however, it is no longer a matter of simple consumption. We are confronted with activities made possible by wealth and power that carry the potential to destroy civilization as we know it, and to do so in short order. Wanton, uncontrolled, unexamined activities designed for the acquisition of corporate, military and/or personal power and wealth have entered the world’s arena carrying a threat and potential for destruction worse perhaps than nuclear power and unique in all of history. I refer specifically to Monsanto’s Terminator technology for sterile seeds and, generally, to the bioengineering of food plants and animals carried out without testing. These, when seen in the context of a global population run amok and a global leadership bereft of inner or outer vision, innocent of restraint, and incapable of statesmanship, then spell civilization’s forthcoming global collapse.

    No, technology won’t save us. Technology is part of the problem. Mankind is lost. Torn loose from all its grounding, it floats as the winds flow, abandoned by both, its materialistic gods and its frightful demons. Mankind could well be outliving itself. As the Anasazi, the Mayas, the Easter Islanders, the Tokugawa and others did before us. They too thought they owned the Earth, the small piece of it they inhabited. We, however, know we OWN THE LOT.

  110. May 6, 2008 at 09:18

    It won’t matter if food prices fall or rise… We could eliminate biofuels, support the small farmer, restore soils, get rid of gm seeds. We could return our farmlands and soils to health and natural productivity, we could… but 77 million new mouths + every year will nullify all efforts and negate all progress

    Given all current world conditions and the fact that none of them is being effectively tackled much less lessened much less reversed, that is, given the road we travel and the direction it follows, we will arrive at its destination. Probably sooner rather than later. Minor blocks, detours and stops along the way change nothing.

    As long as human population continues to increase at the annual rate of 77 million births, all other problems and crises will likewise continue to increase. There is an optimum for each species beyond which decline sets in. We humans are no exception and our optimum was long ago transcended!

  111. 111 Dennis Cote
    May 6, 2008 at 11:33

    Having things on credit is the American way. Now it’s time to pay, and dearly, for it.

  112. May 6, 2008 at 13:18

    Debbie
    One solution to everyone on this website…. lets begin changing by eating one tasty meal each week which has no dairy, meat, chicken or fish in it!!!!!

    Growing food for animals is not logical. It takes 8 kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef. Chicken isnt so bad as the ratio is 2kg of grain to produce 1kg of chicken. Then we use scarce fossil fuels to transport this meat halfway around the planet! Are we thinking at all??????

    Then there is the water these animals need…. water is becoming a scarce resource in many countries…..

    We also overeat meat and sugar products, drink alcohol, smoke and then running up the healt costs in our countries in order to cure us of obesity, cancer, diabetes, etc, etc…..

    Amen!

    http://thoughtsfromrva.wordpress.com/2008/04/30/america-and-other-western-countries-need-to-reduce-their-meat-consumption/

    There’s a WONDERFUL article / brochure, and a little bit I wrote on it about this problem with America and the Western Diet.
    It’s great to see someone else on the board with a bit of common sense in regards to diet 😉

    Regards,
    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  113. 113 Justin from Iowa
    May 6, 2008 at 15:50

    @Lee Roy Sanders:

    If you don’t like discussion, then get off the blog and don’t come back.

    Perhaps my question required more explanation, rhetorical as it was. Society has always been directed by some means by its leaders. The catholic church directed much of the thinking of Europe through the middle ages and rennaisance. I’m sure, that if the peasantry of the day looked at things from our perspective some would have seen humanity as an empty vessel. I was just pointing out that this might not be something all that new.

    On a side note, your original entry was quite alarmist without any facts to back it up… If you wish me (us?) to take such statements seriously please give us something to back them up.

    Sorry, I am just incensed by someone posting on the blog and then responding to questioning by saying they don’t discuss or care about other’s points.

  114. 114 Justin from Iowa
    May 6, 2008 at 19:01

    I think an important point that should be made, is that the amount of grain devoted to raising livestock is in some cases a comment on HOW our society raises animals rather than that we raise them.

    Feed lot livestock operations feed cattle a high-grain diet. The result is quick weight gain and meat with a lot of marbling (fat). That is not the only form of livestock husbandry (at least in cattle).

    Open range livestock management is also possible. More grass in the diet, less grain. Leaner meat, arguable healthier for consumption. It requires more space though. And it requires changes in how people approach livestock raising…

    USA Great Plains region, for example. The prairie environment/rangeland is actually quite delicate. Rotation of cattle throught he prairie environment, keeping over-grazing from happening, are important aspects to keep ground fertility. But it is possible.

    Actually, if you take a deeper look at it, American Bison as a raised meat source was taking off for a while in America. The way that they graze and their hooves mean that they manage a prairie much better than cattle, with correct rotation. And their meat is very much healthier from the primarily range grass diet.

    Anyways, my point is, that simply saying MEAT is one of the cores of our problems is really incorrect. Moreso, its how our society approaches things- grain has been so cheap for so long in the US that of course feedlots and high-feed meat became the norm. With high-grain prices, maybe this is an opportunity?

  115. 115 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 7, 2008 at 06:36

    i went shopping on the 1st of May and it cost my family approximetly $ 400.00
    for a family of 3…..i am a constant coupon shopper and i look at many
    of my local stores sales ads……..

    at least the electric bill has been going down because of a gas dryer and gas
    hot water tank……

    in the winter we will be burning our wood stoves….and getting state assistance for heating oil.

    ~~to our good friend Brett! i agreed with his comments regarding
    one meal a week without dairy, meat and eating things that can be
    gotten at the local farmers market.

    –Dennis
    from Madrid, United States of America

  116. May 7, 2008 at 12:09

    Hard to simplify here, but I think we’re living beyond our means because of a global systemic pressure that forces us to live that way. We’re stuck in outdated economic, social and political models which bar the way to establishing a new, creative approach to production and consumption; an approach that is friendly to living beings instead of compliant with system-mindsets.

    I’m thinking of searching along a paradigm that runs: Rousseau-J.S.Mill-Matthew Arnold-Emerson-Gandhi-Derrida, and all the likely and unlikely inbetweens.

    Everything’s open to deconstruction, if we only have the guts to deconstruct. If you can peform a derridan operation on “Paradise Lost” (yes, it’s been done), then you can perform it on anything, especially on systems in need of radical transformation, or even abandonment.

    We’re facing system meltdown with all that that implies of suffering, destruction and violence.

    The problem cannot be solved by tweaking the details. The whole thing has to be overhauled, and soon. James Martin (Oxford School of the 20th Century) gives us around 15 years to shift the paradigm.

    This is a crisis of history. It’s a question of living, not beyond our own means merely, but consistently beyond the means of the planet.

    What isn’t wanted are some new models of social engineering. All of these have failed. We need to look at real alternatives of the kind that seem cranky or naive, with the stress on individual creativity and responsibility. A good start would be to pay serious attention to the socio-political and economic insights of someone like the Dalai Lama. Looked at closely, these ideas reveal themselves not only as valid, but vital.

  117. 117 Shirley
    May 7, 2008 at 13:54

    Justin, I cannot believe that you beat me to the punch. I know that you generalised when you referred to grain, but my focus has been corn. I wasn’t fuly aware that grains in general are not part of a cow’s natural diet.

    Keep in mind that we also stuff dairy cows with alfalfa, a form of clover grass, and other plants to increase their milk production. *I* eat clover that I grab from the back yard. Along with danelion greens, it is one of those free foods that I can grab without anyone complainaing. Now that flowers are in bloom, I have been asking neighbours if I can have access to this and that medicinal plant. Being a newbie to medicinal plants, I still have a hard time identifying which plants are listed in those books of mine. I have also been googling backyard edibles and edible weeds. Any and all help is certainly appreciated. I have noticed how I don’t need to eat (and therefore purchase) as much food when my belly is full of free greens. I have become curious about the possibility of edible grains from backyard grasses that are allowed to grow.

  118. May 8, 2008 at 12:06

    what i think is yes we are living above our means.people all around world nuw wnt to use big cars ,live in comfortable homes,eat more meat.this have lead to more forest being cut for agriculture,more cars means more oil.many more cars but not increase in production leading to more increase in petrolium price leading to industrial instability.this all is leading to a very caotic circle which will lead to many conflicts in coming days.

  119. May 9, 2008 at 10:07

    Hi Ros, I am delighted this issue has been raised to solicit the views of people. As a matter of fact,I must admit that people are really suffering. Why should this be so? Generally speaking,the living standards of the developed world are gradually dwindling,not to talk of the developing and the under-developed. I do share the same sentiments with my brothers and sisters who have shared their views as well as their problems. Don’t you think that the current crisis,especially the rising food prices is as a result of fulfilling the prophecy of the Bible. I will not comment much,but I will advise all and sundry to tighten their belts because much difficult times and hardships are yet to hit us. I will advise people to get committed to the course of God and save their souls.

  120. 120 mike3
    September 24, 2008 at 22:22

    @Alma Cristina:

    The problem is not the technology itself, the problem is the *people* who have it in their hands. The problem is that we don’t have the responsibility we need, and we let egotism and hedonism drive our doings. If we were wise, the technology would not be “bad” at all. The problem is spiritual, not material: we (or at least those who do these things) lack the necessary goodness that is required. And that is what we must get. So technology won’t save us nor is it even the problem. It is just a thing, another thing, whereas the problem is much, much more fundamental.


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