The Poor Man’s Recession Bulletin
Your Choice for Usable Information
In This Issue:
· Seed Swaps-become a master gardener
· Obama’s healthcare plans would boost premiums
· Middle Class Angst
· Entrepreneurial startup resources
· Garbage Moguls
"I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary...." --Thomas Jefferson
Us Old Guys n Gals Need to Stick Together!
Although it’s illegal for businesses to discriminate against 40+ workers, we all know they do (because they can get inexperienced kids cheaper). Because it’s tougher for older workers who have been laid off to find decent jobs, many are fueling an entrepreneurial boom in this country.
There is growth in the Baby Boomer industries as well…in-home senior care, home handyman services, medical device delivery and installation and home electronics installation and repair services.
Although a variety of businesses have been launched by those over 40 one of my favorites is that of specialty farming. It’s tough to find good, locally grown produce in many supermarkets today. Organic and local growers sell to local consumers, eating establishments and even to local supermarkets and institutions.
If that’s something you might be interested in take a peek at your local colleges for courses and county extension service offices at:
For other startup resources, use the following sites:
Going green in your business can increase profits
Being environmentally responsible in your business will correlate directly to your profits and potential government contracts.
Many utility firms will perform free energy audits of your home or office to suggest energy/money-saving ideas.
Thanks to new tax laws, you may qualify for Residential Energy Credits, to reduce your tax bill. These credits have been recently improved under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. Under the Act, energy improvements (adding insulation, energy-efficient windows, installing solar panels, etc.) are eligible for a credit rate of 30% of the cost to a limit of $1,500 for all qualifying improvements placed into service in 2009 and 2010.
Check out this free energy saving guide…
'Energy Savings Guide' It's only a few short pages but could save you hundreds of dollars each month.
Give it a read here
Also, check out: http://www.greenandsave.com
Hospital Sticker Shock Relief
Medical costs from a hospital stay can be devastating. Avoid mediation firms as their fee runs an average of 30% of the savings. For a list of approved medical negotiation firms:
How would you like to save $1,176,916?
Good Morning America Consumer Correspondent
Elisabeth Leamy shows you how!
The American Horticultural Society (AHS) Master Gardener program provides avid gardeners with many hours of extensive horticulture training, and in return, they are expected to volunteer in their communities. Master Gardeners assist with garden lectures, exhibits, demonstrations, school and community gardening, research and many other projects. It’s an excellent way to develop superior gardening skills while being active in your community. For more information and the locations of local Master Gardener programs across all 50 states and Canada, visit www.ahs.org and click on "Master Gardeners
New & Noteworthy
Terracycle takes tons of garbage and turns it into usable products relieving landfills of tons of trash. The offer a terrific fundraising program for schools and non-profits and a National Geographic TV show is coming this fall …a hoot to check out and perhaps raise some cash while helping the planet.
I’ve included the NatGeo site as well so you can watch the show.
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has released a Internet speed test service to assist customers in comparing their actual Internet speeds to the speeds advertised by their broadband Internet provider. In preparation for the National Broadband Plan, a program by the FCC to ensure that all Americans, including those in rural regions of the country, have access to broadband Internet. The Internet speed test and information regarding the National Broadband Plan are available at www.broadband.gov
New Rules for a Healthy Credit Score
The rules that credit-card companies have to live by changed dramatically with the enactment of new regulations last month. Now, some of the rules for consumers striving to maintain good credit are changing, too.
For the most part, card holders would still do well to pay on time, keep their balances low and refrain from applying for too many credit cards at once. But some of the old tenets may not always hold up, as credit-card companies continue to adapt to the new environment and look for ways to run their for-profit businesses. More at:
For designs that might move one to contemplation
Resources for Stockpiling and Disaster Preparation
Make Your Own Energy
Step-by-step guide reveals how to
make your own energy for 100$ or less.
How to Organize a Community Seed Swap
Host a seed swap in your area to connect gardeners and help everyone learn more about gardening in your region.
From Mother Earth News, By Tabitha Alterman
HOW SEED SWAPS WORK
The traditional model of a seed swap is an informal local get-together, usually in early spring, where gardening neighbors all bring extra seeds saved from previous seasons — along with any surplus seedlings they won’t be able to use that year — and trade these valuable goods among themselves. Who had the juiciest tomatoes last year? You’ll want a few seeds from those plants. You started too many broccoli seedlings in your backyard greenhouse? Why not spread the love around?
The most valuable aspect of attending a seed swap may actually be the chance to glean local wisdom about what works — or doesn’t work — in your shared gardening microclimate. Christine Sheppard, an organic farmer in Hawai'i, says she has learned a great deal about her microclimate through local seed swaps. "It put us in touch with a whole fund of knowledge about what plants grow well in our varied microclimates here in Hawai'i, most of which are not like anything on the mainland. Which tomatoes stood up to fruit fly, which root vegetables would grow in our very gritty broken lava soil, what to do with the local traditional staple of taro apart from making poi, which greens grow in our humid hot climate. It was "eat local" at its best, and a whole lot of fun too!"
READY, SET, GO! ORGANIZE YOUR OWN SEED SWAP
So now, how about some step-by-step instructions for organizing a seed swap of your own? If you already know other gardeners in your area, you’re well on your way to setting up a fun event that will get everyone in your neighborhood started down the path to Master Gardener!
1. Choose a time and place. Depending on how many people you think may attend, it might be coziest to host the seed/plant swap in someone’s home or garden. (Reserve tables, chairs and tents, too, if necessary.) Or, if you expect to draw a larger crowd, look for free spaces you can reserve, such as a public library meeting room or a church basement.
2. Publicize your seed swap. A good place to start is by notifying local gardening groups and botanic gardens, and you can also reach interested people through classified ads, grocery cooperative newsletters, community bulletin boards and chamber of commerce calendars. Mother Earth News magazine can help you publicize your seed swap. They will gladly e-mail their subscribers in your area to notify them of your community seed swap. Visit www.MotherEarthNews.com/Seed-Swaps.aspx to sign up for this free service.
3. Invite speakers. Contact your local gardening groups to find experts who know how to save different kinds of seeds, and can get folks fired up about why to save and share seeds. Extension agents also can give great tips on gardening in your specific region. Another excellent discussion topic would be about how to start seeds and transplant new seedlings.
4. Request seed donations from local gardeners or seed companies in advance, to bolster the offerings that people will bring.
5. Print off some handy articles about seed-starting, seed-saving and other gardening techniques to distribute at your seed swap. MotherEarthNews.com provides tons of free resources for gardeners, including how-to articles, seed company directories, gardening event listings and more.
6. Label everything clearly. Bring plenty of little dishes, or baggies and markers, to help gardeners divvy up and identify everything. Ask seed and plant donors to write down everything they know about their seed that might be helpful to donees. For example: “Green Zebra Tomato: open-pollinated, heirloom, saved from last season, has grown well in my garden for years, heavy producer, medium-size fruit, indeterminate growth habit, about 70 to 80 days to maturity, good slicer, amazing tart flavor, attractive green and yellow stripes.” It may help to give your donors notecards that they can fill out, with all these variables.
7. Host a contest to make the event more fun! Prizes could go to the gardener with the widest variety of seeds, the attendee who traveled the farthest, the youngest or oldest gardener, etc. And Mother Earth News can help you with a contest, too: The gardener who brings the widest variety of heirloom tomato seeds will win one of their highly recommended ergonomic garden trowels! (Visit www.MotherEarthNews.com/Seed-Swaps.aspx to participate.)
8. When it’s all over, let us know how it went. So you organized a smashing success of a seed swap, right? E-mail your feedback to OrganicGardening@motherearthnews.com for us to post online for other organizers to share.
Excerpted from Mother Earth News magazine, the Original Guide to Living Wisely. Read the full story at www.MotherEarthNews.com or call 800-234-3368 to subscribe. Copyright 2009 by Ogden Publication
NOTE: Stuck with a small area for gardening? Learn about gardening in a 5X20 space and get free spreadsheets to track your garden harvests at:
Check out the Seed Savers Exchange at:
The famous, freedom-loving patriot Benjamin Franklin once said,
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety,
deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Middle Class Money Angst Still Apparent
Fed's Flow of Funds numbers again show average Americans' net worth gaining more by mortgage defaults than asset appreciation.
If there is a recovery in Americans' finances, they don't see it.
The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that the net worth of U.S. "households" increased at about a 5% annual rate in the fourth quarter, a good deal slower than the blistering 20% pace over the two previous quarters, but still a solid increase.
Not long after the news was posted on the Wall Street Journal's Web site early that afternoon, the vituperative comments began to flow. Many simply dismissed the data as inaccurate or worse. The numbers simply didn't jibe with what they were seeing in their own finances or those around them.
More at: http://finance.yahoo.com/loans/article/109071/middle-class-money-angst?mod=loans-home
History is full of proof that no country ever became great because of all the money it owed.
--James Dale Davison
Social Security to start cashing Uncle Sam's IOUs
The retirement nest egg of an entire generation is stashed away in this small town along the Ohio River: $2.5 trillion in IOUs from the federal government, payable to the Social Security Administration.
It's time to start cashing them in.
For more than two decades, Social Security collected more money in payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits — billions more each year.
Not anymore. This year, for the first time since the 1980s, when Congress last overhauled Social Security, the retirement program is projected to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes — nearly $29 billion more.
Sounds like a good time to start tapping the nest egg. Too bad the federal government already spent that money over the years on other programs, preferring to borrow from Social Security rather than foreign creditors. In return, the Treasury Department issued a stack of IOUs — in the form of Treasury bonds — which are kept in a nondescript office building just down the street from Parkersburg's municipal offices.
Now the government will have to borrow even more money, much of it abroad, to start paying back the IOUs, and the timing couldn't be worse. The government is projected to post a record $1.5 trillion budget deficit this year, followed by trillion dollar deficits for years to come. More at:
U.S. to roll out major broadband policy
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. regulators will announce a major Internet policy this week to revolutionize how Americans communicate and play, proposing a dramatic increase in broadband speeds that could let people download a high-definition film in minutes instead of hours.
Dramatically increasing Internet speeds to 25 times the current average is one of the myriad goals to be unveiled in the National Broadband Plan by the the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday…
“I think everyone should have healthcare, but it shouldn’t
run this country into the toilet.”--Stuart Kupferman, Retired Scientist
FACT CHECK: Premiums would rise under Obama plan
Hey…just give us the same plan as Congress! Average annual premium for a single payer is $4,824
WASHINGTON – Buyers, beware: President Barack Obama says his health care overhaul will lower premiums by double digits, but check the fine print.
Premiums are likely to keep going up even if the health care bill passes, experts say. If cost controls work as advertised, annual increases would level off with time. But don't look for a rollback. Instead, the main reason premiums would be more affordable is that new government tax credits would help cover the cost for millions of people. More at:
What Happens If Greece Really Defaults?
Most Americans don’t give a hoot about Greece and its debt – we have enough of our problems many will say. However, our economy is tied into the world economy and the fallout for America is apparent…
Earlier this week, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou traveled to the United States to promote a message: We're in this together. The debt crisis that has threatened the Greek economy and the stability of the European Union's monetary policies "very much involves America's interests," Papandreou stated in a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
The prime minister--who was born in St. Paul, Minn.--even connected the current crisis to the Great Depression as well as the Great Recession. "If the European crisis metastasizes, it could create a new global financial crisis with implications as grave as the U.S.-originated crisis two years ago," he said.
NOTE: If you think that America's federal deficit is turning into a non-issue ... or that we can just go back to business as usual ... you'd better consider the drama now unfolding in the hard numbers just released last week:
February deficit: In February alone, the official U.S. federal deficit was a monstrous $221 billion, far greater than anything we have ever experienced in history.
The president and Congress are making America's problems worse by exceeding the limits of their constitutional authority.
Parting shot-the older I get, the dumber I feel
I used to be a whiz at fixing VWs – now like many men, if there is a problem with the car, I still open the hood knowing full well, I won’t have clue as to what’s wrong (it’s a guy thing). I used to be a whiz at fixing computers, now, half the time I don’t even recognize the registry errors or other problems. I used to be a whiz at marketing (I wrote a best selling book on the subject) and promotion. Now, I can’t figure out how to promote this newsletter or blog well. Guess I’m a ‘socializing dud’ when it comes to social networking sites.
When I was younger, I had all the answers. Now, I cannot figure out my biggest challenge of all…how to take over the world. (must have watched too many Pinky & the Brain cartoons). So when Pinky (my wife) asks me what are we going to do now…I still respond with “the same thing we do everyday Pinky, figure out a way to take over the world.”
Yours for better living,
Bruce “The Poor –and dumber- Man”
P.S. Got my Census form in the mail this week – addressed to “occupant,” which is how I placed my name on the form! Also, thanks to all who wrote me about our “Pipe Dream” of a teaching farm.