Oct 25, 2010

Making Do

One motto of the Frugalista is "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." This is good advice, not just during a "Great Depression," but for any working (or unemployed) folks in today's economy.

Let's face it. The rich are the only Americans getting richer. The rest of us are on the hamster wheel, spinning ever faster just to keep up with what we had years ago. Forget getting ahead - some of us are happy just to keep the electricity on for another month.

Our children are seeing what happens when the magic money tree dries up. No, Honey, no electronic toys for Christmas. Would you like a new pair of school pants? And Honey better be grateful that the school pants are new, not holey, patched hand-me-downs. That's about as good as it gets.

Turn out lights. Use both sides of the paper. If you break a pencil, you sharpen it, not throw it away. You wear one pair of shoes until you can see your socks through the bottom. You learn to live without. How did our grandparents live their whole lives without cell phones, but our kids can't go 14 minutes without one?

I haven't had an oven all summer. We still ate. We just didn't eat things that had to be baked. I have a stove top, crock pot, microwave - wouldn't Ma Ingalls have loved those conveniences? How spoiled do you have to be, to not be able to function without a gas range? Yet some are so spoiled. Freezer-to-oven is the only way they know how to cook. They don't realize that doing without is a great opportunity to try new recipes and techniques.

We made do. We ate. We tried new things. Truth is, you'd be amazed to learn what you can do without. If you don't believe me, ask the Hurricane Katrina survivors. They, and other disaster survivors, have learned what is really important in life.

Making do is a good lesson to teach your children.

What will you teach yours today?

Oct 15, 2010

Something for Nothing

I read in the paper where the Mobile County Public School System mandates that teachers give students at least a 50%. No student can get a zero. They get numerous opportunities to take and retake tests. The catch phrase is "No Student is a Failure."

Depends what the meaning of "is" is.

The administration has confused their "who" with their "do." If I do not work, I do not get paid. It does not mean I'm a failure as a person and have no right to oxygen. It means that I have done nothing and my reward equals my effort. This is how the real world works. Should we not be teaching this in school, or has common sense and logical consequences taken a back seat along with fine arts, Family & Consumer Science, and other necessary (elective) classes so that more time can be spent raising standardized test scores?

Kids learn that showing up earns them a passing grade for no or next to no work. You show up, you pass. You're "entitled" to a diploma.

Next thing you know, they'll be handing out Nobel Peace Prizes just for showing up.

Oh, wait. Never mind.

What will your children earn by working today?

Oct 4, 2010

Six-Day Mail Delivery

Here are some (excerpted) stats from usps.com

1775 - Benjamin Franklin appointed first Postmaster General by the Continental Congress
1847 - U.S. postage stamps issued
1855 - Prepayment of postage required
1860 - Pony Express began
1863 - Free city delivery began
1873 - U.S. postal cards issued
1874 - First commemorative stamps issued
1896 - Rural free delivery began
1913 - Parcel Post began
1918 - Scheduled airmail service began
1950 - Residential deliveries reduced to one a day
1963 - ZIP Code inaugurated
1970 - Express Mail began experimentally
1974 - Adhesive stamps tested
1982 - Last year Postal Service accepted public service subsidy
1983 - ZIP+4 Code began
1992 - Self-adhesive stamps introduced nationwide
2007 - Forever stamp issued
It seems to me that if the USPS were to stay viable into the next couple of hundred years, a few things need to change. If the last public subsidy was 1982, why weren't the federal mandates ended at that time, too? They tell USPS what they must do, and what they can charge, but won't subsidize the mandates? And people get mad when stamps go up two cents?

Congress mandates universal delivery (even to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, which has to be done by pack mule.) If delivery were privatized, only people in cities would get delivery at all. Those in remote areas would have to come to town to get their mail.

Congress mandates 6-day delivery. I still can't figure that one out. 200 years ago, US Mail was the only means by which people communicated with loved ones far away. Today we have options about which Benjamin Franklin didn't even dream! My daughter texts me from a mile away. One friend phones me from 3 miles away. I get emails from another friend a thousand miles away. I'm on Facebook with a friend across the Atlantic Ocean. My daughter Skypes with her friend in Japan.

Do we really need six day mail delivery? Congress, it seems, is still in the 18th century by refusing to repeal this archaic regulation. (Speaking of archaic, we won't even get into the fact - right now - that the USPS still uses carbon paper.)

I love stamps. They're like little works of art. I love finding a handwritten note in my mailbox. I want the USPS to succeed. I want Congress to back off and let them do so profitably. I think I'll write my Congresscritters a handwritten note and ask for their cooperation in this matter. I'll mail it via USPS.

To whom will you write a note today?

Oct 2, 2010

The Walmartization of America

Walmart hires inexperienced part timers. Pay is low. No insurance. No retirement. No unions. The goal = maximize profits.

Charter schools hire inexperienced teachers. Pay is low. No insurance. No retirement. No unions. The goal = maximize profits.

USPS has a hiring freeze on "career" positions. Only hiring part timers. Pay is low. No insurance. No retirement. No unions. The goal = maximize profits.

Anyone else seeing a pattern here?