How about a list of constructive things the gov't could do? I'll start with just 2

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How about a list of constructive things the gov't could do? I'll start with just 2

Here's a challenge to the CM Brigade... let's ask the readers to put their best foot forward by making good, well thought suggestions on what we think the gov't could do.  Posters should keep in mind the benefits and consequences of their suggestions and as usual all suggestions should be subject to a solid debate.  In a few weeks, perhaps choose the top 10, repost them for final comment and then have everyone send it off to their local gov't representative.  Here are my 2 basic suggestions:

 1.  If the gov't wants to spend billions on alternative energy, how about spending some of that on subsidizing solar panels for homes/offices to calculation roughly based on PAYBACK.  For example, have some of those bright scientists predict (on average!) the savings a solar panel would provide and have the gov't subsidize the difference between the purchase price and 2-3 years of savings.  Most people would say that they would put in solar panels if the payback was better.  Improvements to the home would help people stay in their homes, save electricity and cut back on oil consumption. 

2.  Regulate the amount of packaging on goods.  I can't think of a worse use of resources than excessive packaging.  I would make the rule easy to follow and easy to enforce.  I would make it weight based and suggest a certain ratio ex. for every 100 grams, you're allowed 5 grams of packaging.  I know, people can probably think of exceptions where something is really light but takes up a lot of volume so you need more packaging but either you think of ways to overcome that issue or, as with anything, you can apply to make some sort of exemption.  This is to stop 99% of the unnecessary packaging out there, yes there will be exceptions but that shouldn't deter from the main goal.  I hate seeing something like a Flash card for sale at Future Shop wrapped in hard plastic packaging that weights more than 5x the actual product...

 

I look forward to a really good list of well thought of suggestions that survive the flames and attacks of other posters... maybe offer an incentive where those who's suggestions make it on the list, get a free 1 yr subscription to CM's site?

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Hey Erik, do you think you could offer a 1 yr CM subscription

to kickstart this thread?  What would your actionable suggestions be?  I'd love to see a formal letter written by the CM brigade for everyone to pass on to their gov't reps and include a CM dvd while your at it :)

 

 

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

Hello,

This is my first post.

1)  A small, constructive idea 

If I could ask the government to do one constructive thing which would have immediate benefits, I would ask that all unsolicited mail (junk mail) be forbidden.  The majority of junk mail (especially catalogs) is tossed straight in the trash.  Think of the energy required to produce the ink, the paper, and the delivery of that junk mail.  There are other solutions now - advertisers can utilize the internet.  This would also apply to phone books - no longer necessary.

2) A large, constructive idea

Hmmm, maybe an investment in algae bioreactors would be a larger solution.  Algae grows amazingly fast, consumes CO2 as feedstock (bonus!), and can be pressed for oil.  (diesel engines can run on vegetable oil in warm weather)  The best part is that the cake-like meal that is formed after pressing the algae is an excellent source of food for cattle or as a soil-enhancer.  (Actually, the best part is that we can keep growing algae forever ... it's sustainable.)

Cheers,

Robert

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

Hello Xflies,

I'm going to cheat ever so slightly and cause my chance of winning to slip to zero by posting up a link to this film :-

The Story Of Stuff

...In my opinion, if the government could implement a way of making all the changes that are highlighted in this brilliant film, we'd be a great deal closer to having something of a future for the generations to come.

Yeah, I know I'm being preachy but, pick any one of the facts brought up in this film to fix and I'll agree with it, just choose a nice big juicy example!!

While on the subject of this, and since I'm fully disqualified, I think this one tops out the first film if you stay with it. Part 2 made me fall off my chair the first time I saw it. If we humans had spent less time playing hide the salami we'd pretty much have all the resources we'd ever need. Maybe if we had less people on the planet in the first place, we wouldn't need to create a government thats so big it carries the cost of Polands national debt to run it per month and we'd actually have people voted in that did for the individual rather than for the banks - oh for some peace of mind - back to reality :-

Immigration By The Numbers

Boy have we got the world governed backward!!

Take Care,

Paul

P.S.

Robert2009email,

welcome to Chris Martenson on your maiden post! I second you that we should make junk mail illegal. I have a little tip for you, since government are always so slow in implementing new laws (except when bailing out their banks and personal stocks and shares). Even though I don't think there is going to be so much junk mail in a little while, what I suggest you do is, if you find they've supplied you with a freepost envelope, attatch that to a box containing 2 house bricks and post it back. With luck, if you could spread this idea to everyone you know and they did the same and so on and so on, within a very short space of time, the companies sending out this crap will go bust from the postal charges - You Heard It Here First!

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

In my humble opinion I have two suggestions:

1.   An overhaul of the monetary system putting it back onto the gold standard.    Many economist refer to the start of our current troubles as commencing when Richard Nixon took the US Dollar off the gold standard which no longer restricted the government from printing more dollars than were backed by gold.    Do you think this would be practical today?

2.   Use some of the stimulus monies to rebuild & modernize cities, develop and upgrade mass transit systems, including the railroads, that can operate on renewable alternate energy.   So far, I've only heard President Obama mention rebuilding roads and bridges which doesn't create long-term productivity, and it continues our dependence of fossil fuels.   Such a massive project would create millions of jobs and would help to solve several problems.   We would be upgrading the infrastructure, creating long-term employment, eventually realize a reduction of our usage of oil when the new mass transit system was up and running, and again become a manufacturing nation instead of a consumer nation.   This would also help to boost our trade imbalance.  

How's that? 

 

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

Xflies,

Great idea!

Jared Diamond, in his book Collapse (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collapse_(book)), addresses the problem of forest fires that that wreak havoc out of all normal proportion due to fire suppression policies that were in effect for decades in the U.S. He suggests that what is needed is a culling and removal of the build up of organic material (some live, some dead) that blankets the floors of the nations forests. However, according to him,  the cost of such a program would be about $1000/acre; thus, we'd be looking at a bill of about $100 Billion to return the forests to a state that is more in line with the natural state (that which existed before the suppression efforts).

All that organic material represents energy, though the CO2 emmissions that woudl result from the various ways of using it probably redefine the ends of the spectrum (I have no idea).

Off the top of my head, it seems that when TOWPs (The Obama Works Projects) are considered, there might be an argument for putting people to work in a way where there is actually some EROEI and in a way that, for lack of probable destruction via conflagration, probably has the same effect as creating tangible goods; that is to say, unburned buildings, etc...

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

I suppose DISBAND would not be considered constructive.

Assuming the first suggestion is considered too impractical, I will move slightly (probably only slightly) more toward the practical. How about passing a Constitutional Amendment that mandated that Government Spending of all types was tied to the prior year's GDP and that it could not exceed 10% (or some lower amount) of that figure. A transition period would be allowed where the target would reduce by 1% per year until the 10% was reached. Penalties would be imposed on Congress if the goal was exceeded. These could be monetary (disincentives regarding pay reductions, etc.) or physical (stocks or hangings).

Stimuli will not work and anything short of specific, measurable measures with severe consequences attached will not work. Even these will be emasculated because of "national emergencies." 

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

Welcome Robert!

I am honored that your first post was on this topic :) 

I think the idea about junk mail reflects the fustration most people would agree with but I'll be the devils advocate.  The problem with both your idea and mine about wasted resources on packaging is that it goes against the free market ideology where the purists would say that if there was a demand for packaging or junk mail, it wouldn't exist.  The reality is that advertising budgets in both marketing and packaging have companies 'thinking' that it benefits their sales somehow.  I'm not sure what the answer is and what the gov't would call excessive... the funny thing is that if the market is really there for such waste, packaging and junk mail companies will find their way around things.  I do think junk mail will die on its own, anyone spending money on flyers or junk mail will soon see that they would be better off in spending their marketing money elsewhere.  Part of the problem is that mail service and paper are way too cheap in our society.  Either way, I think the days of junk mail are limited so in the end you will get your wish.  Packaging, on the other hand, may need the help of an 'invisible hand' to make that go away.

 Your algae idea sounds interesting... I'm not a scientist so I can't comment other than that we, as the people, could ask for a certain amount of the budget to be spent on funding scientific research.  There probably are funds set aside for stuff like this but it would be good to know how much it is before I could comment on whether I think it is enough.

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

Thx for posting!  Personally, I do think it would be great to back off the whole fiat currency thing but as much as I think it would be a healthy thing in the long run, I also know that it would be an ice cold day in hell before that happens. Not only are the implications so broad there would be no way I could think of every one of them, but it would be impossible to do with the largest economy/dollar in the world.  One of the reasons why the USD has bucked so many doomsayers is because of the fact that during times of distress/volatility, people look to the largest and most stable as the currency of choice.  When I analyzed the propspects of currencies based on 1.  size of debt/gdp, 2. ability to use effective monetary/fiscal policy, 3. diversity of economy, 4. level of foreign investment, 5. size of overall money supply, then it became clear why the Euro (as a collective, it is impossible for them to issue proper and timely monetary/fiscal policy) couldn't step up as the global currency of choice and it also explains the blow ups of other economies which are dependent on just 1 or 2 sectors (aka baltic states and the collapse of oil, australia and the collapse of resource commodities).

 Your suggestion of rebuilding more things than just bridges and roads is probably on the list but to be honest, how many people would retrain to do manual labour?  I guess if you're desperate enough, a banker who is 45 years old might retrain to become a pot hole fixer, but I have a sinking feeling that the average North American citizen is spoiled and wouldn't get their hands dirty.  In the end, I think if people are hungry enough they'll do it but I also think this type of spending program would take too long to implement.

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

Thx for posting!  Personally, I do think it would be great to back off the whole fiat currency thing but as much as I think it would be a healthy thing in the long run, I also know that it would be an ice cold day in hell before that happens. Not only are the implications so broad there would be no way I could think of every one of them, but it would be impossible to do with the largest economy/dollar in the world.  One of the reasons why the USD has bucked so many doomsayers is because of the fact that during times of distress/volatility, people look to the largest and most stable as the currency of choice.  When I analyzed the propspects of currencies based on 1.  size of debt/gdp, 2. ability to use effective monetary/fiscal policy, 3. diversity of economy, 4. level of foreign investment, 5. size of overall money supply, then it became clear why the Euro (as a collective, it is impossible for them to issue proper and timely monetary/fiscal policy) couldn't step up as the global currency of choice and it also explains the blow ups of other economies which are dependent on just 1 or 2 sectors (aka baltic states and the collapse of oil, australia and the collapse of resource commodities).

 Your suggestion of rebuilding more things than just bridges and roads is probably on the list but to be honest, how many people would retrain to do manual labour?  I guess if you're desperate enough, a banker who is 45 years old might retrain to become a pot hole fixer, but I have a sinking feeling that the average North American citizen is spoiled and wouldn't get their hands dirty.  In the end, I think if people are hungry enough they'll do it but I also think this type of spending program would take too long to implement.

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

hmmm, I'm not really one of those tree hugger types despite being a scout leader and one who does a lot of camping and outdoor activities... an interesting suggestion but perhaps I could rephrase it.  If the US passes some sort of carbon credit, this project oculd get the funding it needs if it can prove that this effort is increasing the health and efficiency of our forests which would result in profitable carbon credits :)

 

 

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

hmm, all I will say to this is that there are some issues with planning and spending.  Timing differences between the revenue/production side of things can be very different than the planning/capital spending timeline so I'd just be wary of those issues

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Come on guys/gals, no other constructive suggestions? CM/Erik?

the response so far has been pretty limited... why are there always more posts complaining of something rather than posts that refer to constructive suggestions?  Is it such a bad idea to put together a well thought through list and send it to gov't reps?  Man, I'm about ready to give up on this site... I'll give it a few more days to hopefully see some more activity but I haven't heard from anyone if the CM brigade would even support this effort and if not why.  I'd like to offer posters a chance to win something like a 1 yr subscription just for their time...

This reminds me of what I was thinking after that inspiring Obama acceptance speech.  I was sincerely hoping people were listening to the real message he was trying to convey.  He spoke of the US being the land of opportunity but that it's completely useless unless people take up the challenge to embrace that opportunity and do something with it.  What a shame lost opportunity is... I'm sure citizens of other less fortunate countries would die (literally) for this type of 'opportunity'.  *sigh*  I hope his words didn't just rally someone's thoughts for a few hours, only to be wiped out by other, more pressing matters like wondering if the Steelers will cover the spread...

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...
robert2009email wrote:

Hello,

This is my first post.

1) A small, constructive idea

If I could ask the government to do one constructive thing which would have immediate benefits, I would ask that all unsolicited mail (junk mail) be forbidden. The majority of junk mail (especially catalogs) is tossed straight in the trash. Think of the energy required to produce the ink, the paper, and the delivery of that junk mail. There are other solutions now - advertisers can utilize the internet. This would also apply to phone books - no longer necessary.

Hmmm  obviously you haven't seen this......

 



The power-hungry internet: energy use keeps rising






As internet use grows, the power used to run computer servers is concerning US and European
policymakers1. A recent survey estimates that electricity consumption by data centres, which house
servers, doubled between 2000 and 2005. They accounted for 2 per cent of global electricity usage in
2005. Western European consumption accounted for a quarter of this figure and was growing slightly
faster than the global average.






The study calculated growth in power consumption by data centres in the period 2000-2005. Direct
consumption was calculated by multiplying the number of servers by their typical power consumption.
Indirect power consumption, i.e. air circulation, cooling, communications and power transmission losses,
was estimated to be about the same as direct usage.






For the years 2000 and 2005, trade data were used to calculate the numbers of servers in use, and
power consumption per unit of the six most popular servers was obtained for each major type:






High end servers. There were 66 in use worldwide at around 5000W per unit in 2000. At 59, there were
fewer servers in 2005, but they consumed a little more electricity at 8000W per unit.


Mid-range servers. There were 1800 at 425W per unit in 2000, and 1250 at 600W per unit in 2005.


Volume servers. The number of these doubled from 12250 (185W) in 2000 to 26000 (at 225W) in 2005.






Almost 80 per cent of the increased power usage was caused by the sharp increase in the number of
local, low-end servers, as individual modern units use slightly more power than older models.






Over the 5 years, total global electricity use rose by 19 per cent, and the proportion used by data centres
doubled. In 2005, the total demand from energy centres was equivalent to the output of around 17 power
stations. The US and Western Europe account for two-thirds of this consumption, but growing Asian
economies such as China and India saw annual consumption increasing by 23 per cent, compared with
the global average of 16.7 per cent. Western Europe accounts for 27 per cent of global energy
consumption by data centres, and annual consumption increased by around 18 per cent.






More use of 'blade' servers is expected to decrease the power consumption per unit, as these all-
inclusive units provide services such as cooling and networking, which have previously been provided
separately. More efficient server configurations should also reduce the physical number of servers
required.






Even so, as demand for IT services increases, a 76 per cent increase in global power consumption at
data centres is predicted by 2010. Significant reductions are possible but may require changes to market
and industry practices, possibly legislated, to emphasise cost savings made by using an energy efficient
unit over the immediate purchase and installation cost of new equipment.






The author stresses that the study only looks at the direct electricity used by data centres, and does not
attempt to assess changes to economical structures enabled by internet use, which can be substantial in
many cases.






See:
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/sustainable_growth/docs/com_2008_241_1_en.pdf


Source: Koomey, J.G. (2008). Worldwide electricity used in data centers. Environmental Research
Letters. 3:1-8.
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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...
lpowell23 wrote:

In my humble opinion I have two suggestions:

1. An overhaul of the monetary system putting it back onto the gold standard. Many economist refer to the start of our current troubles as commencing when Richard Nixon took the US Dollar off the gold standard which no longer restricted the government from printing more dollars than were backed by gold. Do you think this would be practical today?

2. Use some of the stimulus monies to rebuild & modernize cities, develop and upgrade mass transit systems, including the railroads, that can operate on renewable alternate energy. So far, I've only heard President Obama mention rebuilding roads and bridges which doesn't create long-term productivity, and it continues our dependence of fossil fuels. Such a massive project would create millions of jobs and would help to solve several problems. We would be upgrading the infrastructure, creating long-term employment, eventually realize a reduction of our usage of oil when the new mass transit system was up and running, and again become a manufacturing nation instead of a consumer nation. This would also help to boost our trade imbalance.

How's that?

Not good.

The problem with the monetary system is not that it's no longer gold backed, but debt based.

All that stuff in (2) is just more growth, unsustainable, and not even possible.  Please re-do the Crash Course.  Especially the bits about exponential growth.

IMHO, governments cannot do anything, constructive or otherwise, about these problems we now face, all the solutions go against everything they believe in, like shrinking the economy and deglobalisation of everything. 

We the people must take over, and relocalise everything....  we are on our own.  After reading today's digest, it's obvious to me the economy is now out of control.  The party's over.

Mike 

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

     A lot of us know the problems, that's why it's easy to complain.  Greed, corruption and lies from our leaders.  If Geithner can't even do his taxes, how can he run our economy?  That's what this Joe Six-pack wants to know!  I've got one idea, but it involves a lot of stuff.

    We all bite the bullet with higher taxes, skeleton crew the Federal Government, flat tax with no IRS, combine Medicare/Medicade/SocialSecurity into a universal health care plan, stop subsidizing anyone for anything, let the insolvent banks die and END THE FED to go back to at least a partial gold standard.

     Besides, if you ask for ideas, you shouldn't just shoot them down out of hand.  Good luck. 

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

I saw this as a basis for a story done on CNBC where they were questioning how 'green' Google was.  It's very interesting to say the least but as one who owns natural gas storage and who watches the infrastructure needs of the US power infrastructure, I can say that much would be accomplished with the inevitable growth of natural gas power generation.  Cutting back consumption is a key concept but it is good to know that natural gas power generation is a viable source of cleaner power and they can be created relatively easily.  No one is building coal fired facilities anymore and nuke takes too long.  With gas prices down under $5, power should be relatively available at a cheap cost.  Alternative energy will never be a large part of the system because it isn't reliable.  One lesser known fact is a few years ago when there were brown outs in London, the power authorities actually cut wind generation even though it was a source of power because of the unreliability of the source and it made planning/daily budgeting more difficult.  In addition, as we have seen in oil, the demand destruction from the economic crisis has cut demand in our estimates by close to 10% which is a huge number.  We are looking at exiting this winter with relatively high inventory levels which should keep prices low for some time especially when production is up in North America to the point where we no longer need to import LNG.  There are some who actually see the US exporting gas next year and some importing LNG facilities are building infrastructure to allow them to export LNG.  The one exception to this trend is in that the recent growth of supply has been from unconventional gas (tight gas) which has a much higher decline rate and drill rig counts are down to record lows ... all pretty interesting stuff.

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Re: Come on guys/gals, no other constructive suggestions? ...

OK, how about this then:

WHEN the big three go belly up in a couple of months, retool their car factories to manufacture wind turbines and solar panels.  Obama might even have this in mind already....

Stop building roads, and build railways instead.

and my faves..

Cancel all debts

Shorten the working week to two days

Remove income tax, and tax carbon ONLY. 

Make Permaculture a compulsory school subject

Restructure child endowment or social security for parents or whatever it is you call this in America so that you get $2x for the first child, plus another $x for the second.  If you have a third, no additional payment.  If you have a fourth, you're down to $2x.

After the birth of your second child, you're encouraged to have a free vasectomy, paid for by the government.

That'll do for a start....

Mike 

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

If you've read my prior posts, I would never shoot down ideas. My call for a list of solutions is just the opposite but I do want to see people post opinions and rebuttals so that good suggestions stand the test of scrutiny. Think of a few good ideas, post them, discuss them, document them into a plausible, constructive action plan and let's send them to our local gov't reps. This is a good project for the CM brigade, one which I hope will bring about further awareness and keep open communication between the people and government.

Your suggestion to let insolvent banks die and goto a partial gold standard is interesting, I agree with letting insolvent banks die but it must be done in an orderly fashion. Capitalism isn't or shouldn't be a purist concept and the government's role is to step in to mitigate volatiltiy when it can for the greater good. If let totally up to the free markets to decide how quickly and how drastically resources needs to be reallocated, such imbalance and destruction may lead to a quicker recovery but may do so at a much greater cost to the average citizen. I believe there's no one way to solve the problems we face and in the end, the solution may be the same... one path may take a bit longer and the pain spread over a larger network, the other path may be shorter but the pain taken among fewer but in a more drastic scenario for those affected. Just some things to think about the next time you see a recently purchased Porsche lining up at a red light beside a winter beater driven by a single Mom taking her kids to hockey practice. I'm no socialist, I was a hedge fund manager and I see the indifference in capitalism. I am calling for change and am just asking for a few smart people on this board to come up with a few good solutions that the gov't may not have the vision to see. We can't assume the gov't doesn't need help nor should we close the door on an opportunity for open communication. When you say 'good luck', I hope you don't mean it sarcastically because I am one of the fortunate few who have built up a good net worth... I truly say 'good luck' to those who are facing foreclosures and wanted to use this board to try and come up with actionable change.

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Re: Come on guys/gals, no other constructive suggestions? ...

wow, some pretty cool suggestions...

I was actually laughing because there was a time where I was thinking that if the gov't lets the automakers go down, so many people fail to see that this represents not just an industry making cars but that it represents a large part of the production base in North America which can be retooled to do other things.  If you let them go into liquidation or mothball them due to 'short term' economic destruction, it could permanently affect the ability for the economy to recover in the future.

 Cancelling debt is definitely high up on my list but there are interesting ways to do it.  One thing I was thinking of is that there should be some sort of national registry of mortgages where we can undo all the 'financial packaging' that has gone on so we can allow homeowners to deal with their individual mortgages on their terms.  If most banks have written down subprime mortgages to 40 cents on the dollar, what if we went to the individual mortgager and offered to wipe out 60% of their mortgage in return for recourse debt?  The banks would be not affected as they have already written down the asset but the debt cancellation would go towards the homeowner.  In Canada and other countries, there's no such thing as a non-recourse mortgage...

Self sustenance and sustainable living practices is definitely somnething that should be taught in home ec!  Great suggestion!

I had the big "V" after my second boy but selfishly that was becase I just couldn't take the risk of having a 3rd boy add to the havoc :)  ... I would loved to have a girl, they're so much easier!  :)

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Re: Come on guys/gals, no other constructive suggestions? ...

One thing I should mention is that in Canada, vasectomies are paid for by the gov't :)

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

   Already had a vasectomy.  A Canadian friend of mine said that because I didn't have any children that I shouldn't 'take my genes out of the pool'.  Anyway, I meant good luck as just that.  Sincerely, I hope there are a lot of creative suggestions along these lines.

   As Damnthematrix says, and I paraphrase, education needs to be retooled, in a major way.  I don't think we need to worry too much in America about population, but Big Brother needs to stop paying people (via tax breaks, refunds, unemployment, etc.) for them.  

   I acknowledge the fact that the 3 e's are intertwined, but do you mean in your initial question, immediate help for the economy, or long term change.  Refining the scope, if you don't mind.

    BTW,  I've actually been waiting for a page like this for months.  GOOD LUCK! 

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

ahh my apologies for misintrepreting you... you bring up a good point about the timeline.  I sat and thought about this for a while and I do think we need to have long term plans but I'm just not good at predicting issues in the long term.  Yes, I can see long term trends that are disturbing but politicians are funny people and not sure they would see the value in their constituents suggesting what they should do over the next 20 years as most wouldn't be in power that long.  If I looked at this effort as a marketing piece, I would say that it needs to be focused, shown that it is coming from an educated and large constituent base and that it is in the realm of possibility... something that they can take action upon, not just ponder.  I would make it so that reads to be more insistent than suggestive, if that makes any sense.  I don't know what the final product should look like but I'm hoping the CM brigade would have some good suggestions.

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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

   I'd think most all of us here are agreed that long term sustainable energy, food production and consistant dependable money, at the least, are desirable. How to get there is the problem.  This is nothing new.

   To date myself, I'm 39 and grew up in Alaska.  As a kid singing 'yellow submarine' in elementary school (now that I look back on it) I kind of just assumed that all the Flower Children had us pointed in the right direction and I trusted that the 'Green Effect' was a given.  I've always recycled and conserved (please forgive me my youth, I know I left the light on at least once!), but somewhere the ideal got lost.  I've got two teenagers who still can't turn off the damn lights off!

   Back then, I assume the near riots got everyones attention, but the magnitude of change, once achieved, resulted in a big exhalation and return to 'normalcy'.  Cars haven't changed in the last 30 years, in fact, nothing really has.  The 'nuclear umbrella' I grew up with has just mutated and the teens of our day just don't care anymore.  They, and some of us older folks are just plain inured to the fear and threats.  We go on.

    I'm sad to say I believe things will have to get bad enough that protests start up again.  Otherwise there will just be talk... and more talk.... and then some.  For real change to happen, someone in power has to be scared. Did I hear something about another Tea Party?

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Sandman3369
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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

   Sorry, got off subject a little bit.

 Best idea I can think of...  the old acronym KISS.  Dumb down the government to necessary functions and constitutional requirements.

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
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Re: Come on guys/gals, no other constructive suggestions? ...

I had the big "V" after my second boy but selfishly that was becase I
just couldn't take the risk of having a 3rd boy add to the havoc :) 
... I would loved to have a girl, they're so much easier!  :)

Ah Xflies.....  because I have been population aware for a very long time, I told "she who must be obeyed" that we should only have one child, even though she wanted two.  So she had twins!

So now you know why I went to the vet......  I couldn't take a chance on another set of twins!

Enjoy your boys...  we had one of each, and our girl, even now she's 21, is STILL giving us hell.....

The grass always looks greener....

Mike 

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Posts: 2606
Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

lpowell -

Going back on the gold standard would be tough.  The US has about 261 million ounces of gold reserves.  Just to zero the ~$53 trillion debt would mean gold would have to be close to $200,000.00 per ounce.  And long before it ever got to that price you could expect another Executive Order 6102 seizing all privately held gold.  Back in 1933  I think around 500 tons of gold was turned in at about $21/oz.  Try to do that today and I think a lot of folks would be turning in copper jacketed lead.

Now for my way out of the swim lane idea:

Issue an Executive Order immediately cutting the price of all domestic goods and services by 50%.  Everything, bar none.  Milk, gas, eggs, Mustangs, massages, Coach purses, C F Martin D28 dreadnought guitars, tickets to a movie - everything.  Overnight you have just doubled the domestic buying power of the dollar.  The smart consumer purchases what they need, saves half of what they otherwise would have spent and can apply that to paying down existing debt.  The stupid people buy twice as much crap as they normally would have - we don't care about what happens to them and can only hope that Darwin takes care of them and any of their progeny that have leaked into and contaminated the gene pool.

Not feasible?  Impossible to accomplish?  The Cardinals are in the Super Bowl!! 

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

 Why lenders might forgive your debt

There was a time when lenders didn't want to work with you if you couldn't pay. Now they want to avoid foreclosure, lawsuits or repossession almost as much as you do.

People who overdosed on debt in recent years learned the paradox of easy credit: While lenders were willing to let you borrow copious amounts, they weren't particularly interested in helping you work out a solution if you fell behind on repayment.

Lenders often found it easier and cheaper to write off delinquent accounts as bad debt than work with you on a repayment plan. After all, they could get a tax break on the loss and then get on with the profitable business of extending credit to the next guy.

Lately, however, lender perspectives have changed. Soaring default rates, a weakening economy and the credit crunch have rewritten the rules.

  • Credit card lenders charged off 5.47% of the total amounts owed on cards as bad debt in the second quarter, according to the Federal Reserve. A year ago, the charge-off rate was 3.85%.
  • Consumer bankruptcy filings in October topped 100,000, a 40% increase from a year earlier and the highest level since the federal bankruptcy reform law took effect in October 2005, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.
  • More than 2.2 million homeowners are more than 60 days late on their mortgage payments, according to the Hope Now alliance of lenders and credit counselors, and one in six homeowners owes more on a home than it's worth.
  • With home prices plummeting, every foreclosure now represents a loss of 44% of the original loan amount, up from 29% a year ago, according to data from LPS Applied Analytics.

That's why lenders are now looking for ways to keep people paying their bills, even if it means forgiving some of their debt. Now the paradox is that in order to qualify, you must be struggling, but not so much that a change in terms wouldn't help you. 

  

How the new programs work

The most sweeping new program was announced Nov. 11. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the government agencies that guarantee 31 million U.S. mortgages, will begin paying the mortgage service companies that maintain the loans $800 for every loan they modify. Borrowers would get help in several ways: Interest rates would be reduced so that borrowers would not pay more than 38% of their gross income on housing expenses. Another option is for loans to be extended from 30 years to 40 years, and for some of the principal amount to be deferred interest-free. (You can find more details here.)

The same day, Citigroup announced it would halt foreclosures for borrowers who live in their own homes, have decent incomes and stand a good chance of making lowered mortgage payments. Ultimately, it plans to modify the repayment terms on up to $20 billion in loans.

 

Late last month, JPMorgan Chase expanded its mortgage modification program to an estimated $70 billion in loans, which could aid as many as 400,000 homeowners. The modifications were to include reducing amounts owed or the loans' interest rates, and replacing so-called "pay option" loans that typically resulted in mortgages growing over time.

Bank of America, meanwhile, has said that starting Dec. 1, it would modify an estimated 400,000 loans held by newly acquired Countrywide Financial as part of an $8.4 billion legal settlement reached with 11 states in early October.

Loan forgiveness is a key part of the Hope for Homeowners program. This is the foreclosure prevention program that Congress created as part of the $700 billion Economic and Housing Recovery Act of 2008. Lenders that want to participate typically must agree to reduce borrowers' principal to 90% of their homes' current value. 

  

But wait, there's more

In late October, a coalition of lenders and consumer advocates asked banking regulators to approve a pilot program that would allow struggling borrowers to pay off, over time, less than they owe -- as much as 40% less. Under current rules, any repayment plan has to be for the full amount owed.
Though the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency rejected the first draft over how banks would book the resulting losses, backers of the plan say they're committed to finding a remedy for overtaxed borrowers that's short of bankruptcy -- which would likely mean the banks see no repayment at all.

In the first proposal, a joint project of the Financial Services Roundtable and the Consumer Federation of America, applicants would have been evaluated by certified credit counselors; those who couldn't pay off their debt under a regular debt management program would have been placed in one of four repayment plans that would reduce their principal by 10%, 20%, 30% or 40%. Only consumers closest to bankruptcy could have qualified for the biggest reduction.

 Hope for housing
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unveil plans to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Travis Plunkett of the Consumer Federation of America said his group would continue to lobby regulators "to do everything they can, within bounds of the safety and soundness of the financial system, to help consumers," but that ultimately consumer advocates may have to turn to lawmakers for help.

"It may be Congress that has to step in, and I think there's a lot of interest there" in doing so, Plunkett said. "We've got a train wreck coming."

Student loans and car debt

Meanwhile, makers of student and auto loans haven't announced any new plans for forgiveness. In recent years, in fact, both groups made escaping their debt more difficult. But:

  • Certain borrowers can still get portions of their federal student loans forgiven through volunteer work, military service and teaching in low-income communities. And Congress passed a law in 2007 that wipes out federal student loan debt for people who work in certain jobs and who make 10 years of on-time payments. Plus:
  • Auto lenders are stepping up their education efforts to let troubled borrowers know they have alternatives if they fall behind on their car payments. According to credit bureau Experian, more than 500,000 borrowers are 30 days or more overdue on a car loan.

Yet fewer than half of consumers in a recent poll knew that auto financing companies often worked with troubled borrowers, said Eric Hoffman, spokesman for the Aware, an education group set up by auto dealers and lenders that commissioned the survey.

Auto lenders may be able to modify a loan to stretch payments over a longer period or allow borrowers to make up missing payments, Hoffman said.

"We tell people, 'Don't ignore the situation if you're having trouble,'" Hoffman said. "Get in contact with your lender and see if there's a way to work out a different payment plan."

The same advice holds true for student loans. You may be eligible for income-sensitive or graduated repayment plans or, if you're facing economic hardship, forbearance or deferment that would allow you to skip payments for up to three years. 

 

Here's what to do about other debt:

Credit cards. If you're already behind on your credit card payments, you shouldn't wait to see if you'll qualify for any loan forgiveness programs. Make two calls: one to a legitimate credit counselor and another to an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Between the two, you'll get the information you'll need to decide whether you should continue paying your debt or have it "forgiven" by the U.S. bankruptcy court.

Mortgages. Gather your paperwork -- your mortgage documents, last year's tax return and some recent pay stubs -- and call a HUD-approved housing counselor to evaluate your situation and your options. If you qualify for a loan modification program, the counselor can help you get through to your lender's loss mitigation department, which will evaluate your application.

A lender will want evidence that you're in trouble -- and assurances that any changes will keep the payments coming. Don't expect that it will immediately hack your loan balance to what the house is currently worth; it won't.

Your lender has only a few ways to help you: It can reduce your interest rate, defer payments, extend the length of the loan or forgive some part of your principal.

With your counselor's help, you should decide what solution you want before approaching the lender. If you have a temporary situation such as an illness that will be resolved soon, for example, ask for deferred payments. If your adjustable-rate mortgage is about to reset, use MSN Money's Mortgage Calculator to see if a reduced interest rate could keep you in your home.

You may have trouble getting your lender's attention. That's particularly true if you haven't already fallen behind on your payments, something you should try to avoid, because late payments can kill your credit scores.

Hope for housing
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unveil plans to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

In that situation, consider getting an attorney's help, said lawyer and mortgage broker Alan Jablonski, author of "Successfully Navigating the Mortgage Maze" and operator of the AJ Consumer Watch Web site.

Unlike some of those who advertise loan modification help, attorneys have a fiduciary duty to put their clients first (and clients have many remedies, including lawsuits and disciplinary complaints to the bar association, if the attorney fails to fulfill those duties).

That's a far cry from many of the fly-by-night outfits that demand big upfront fees and then fail to act, or disappear with the money.

If you decide to hire an attorney, you'll have to find one on your own, Jablonski said; anyone legitimate has a full workload and isn't proactively contacting potential clients.

Your state's bar association may offer referrals. In any case, you'll need to confirm that the attorney is in good standing with the bar, and that he or she has experience with loan modification.

Liz Pulliam Weston's latest book, "Easy Money: How to Simplify Your Finances and Get What You Want Out of Life," is now available. Columns by Weston, the Web's most-read personal-finance writer and winner of the 2007 Clarion Award for online journalism, appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. She also answers reader questions on the Your Money message board.

Published Nov. 17, 2008

 

Not my original idea, so I don't score any points in the theme of the thread, but good food for thought IMO. 

It will be interesting to see if this generates any traction in the coming months.

Xflies's picture
Xflies
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Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

Fantastic post, informative and actionable... thx!

pjc's picture
pjc
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Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 30
Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

The govt could invite house-design competitions for size-reduced homes and yards so ingeniously creative,

practical, attractive and environmentally-geared they magnetize buyers away from "size and enhancements."   

bearing01's picture
bearing01
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 8 2008
Posts: 153
Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov't could ...

The only way gov't can constructively spend money is to not spend any.  Downsize the government and their inefficient non-productive gov't programs.  While balancing their budget they cut taxes.  Give the people back their money and let them (the free market) determine where the money should be spent.  No one can decide better where money needs to be spent than by the citizens themselves.  This way the necessary and desirable businesses, services & products will flourish and prosper while the non-necessary inefficient businesses & lines of production will be liquidated.  This is how a true capitalist society functions and brings full employment and prosperity.  We haven't had true free capitalism in the USA since the creation of the Federal reserve in 1913, and then president Hoover's economic intervention policies he introduced have been around to hinder capitalism ever since.

The government is only a burden on society.  Their spending is only what is collected / taken from the productive members of society so they can channel it toward the loudest lobby groups. Of course, it's for things like Police, prisons and Firemen, which are true necessary services.  As for Medicare and Social Security, there is no fund for that. That money is spent on other things.  That's where 50 trillion dollars of the gov't debt is.

 

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