What if Web 2.0 is not a set of tools but instead a journey to a real New World just like the immigrant journey from Europe to America in the 1890's? What would the value of kids be? If I am right and what would you do?
The overall credit card indebtedness of Americans is less that many fear. But it is still very sizable. A new report suggests that the subprime melt down is working its way into the credit card system as people struggle to keep going. (AP Via Newsweek thanks Matt)
Americans are falling behind on their credit card payments at an alarming rate, sending delinquencies and defaults surging by double-digit percentages in the last year and prompting warnings of worse to come.
An Associated Press analysis of financial data from the country's largest card issuers also found that the greatest rise was among accounts more than 90 days in arrears.
Experts say these signs of the deterioration of finances of many households are partly a byproduct of the subprime mortgage crisis and could spell more trouble ahead for an already sputtering economy.
"Debt eventually leaks into other areas, whether it starts with the mortgage and goes to the credit card or vice versa," said Cliff Tan, a visiting scholar at Stanford University and an expert on credit risk. "We're starting to see leaks now."
The value of credit card accounts at least 30 days late jumped 26 percent to $17.3 billion in October from a year earlier at 17 large credit card trusts examined by the AP. That represented more than 4 percent of the total outstanding principal balances owed to the trusts on credit cards that were issued by banks such as Bank of America and Capital One and for retailers like Home Depot and Wal-Mart.
At the same time, defaults _ when lenders essentially give up hope of ever being repaid and write off the debt _ rose 18 percent to almost $961 million in October, according to filings made by the trusts with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Serious delinquencies also are up sharply: Some of the nation's biggest lenders _ including Advanta, GE Money Bank and HSBC _ reported increases of 50 percent or more in the value of accounts that were at least 90 days delinquent when compared with the same period a year ago.
The AP analyzed data representing about 325 million individual accounts held in trusts that were created by credit card issuers in order to sell the debt to investors _ similar to how many banks packaged and sold subprime mortgage loans. Together, they represent about 45 percent of the $920 billion the Federal Reserve counts as credit card debt owed by Americans.
Until recently, credit card default rates had been running close to record lows, providing one of the few profit growth areas for the nation's banks, which continue to flood Americans' mailboxes with billions of letters monthly offering easy sign-ups for new plastic.
Even after the recent spike in bad loans, the credit card business is still quite lucrative, thanks to interest rates that can run as high as 36 percent, plus late fees and other penalties.
But what is coming into sharper focus from the detailed monthly SEC filings from the trusts is a snapshot of the worrisome state of Americans' ability to juggle growing and expensive credit card debt.
More than half of P.E.I.'s livestock industry could disappear by the spring, says federal Liberal agriculture critic Wayne Easter.
There is an attempt this weekend to showcase PEI meat locally. This is a great start - BUT surely we need to ensure that local meat and other local food gets preference in the mainstream outlets. For the major supermarkets will not carry it - they want more volume.
Our local beef and pork producers produce I hear about 15% of our local consumption.
The key to a healthy farm sector is not support at the farm gate but support to get the product onto the local shelf at a price that the farmer can live with. The key is distribution!
The systemic problem is simple. The major buyer - the distribution chains and the processors - buy globally. They have no incentive to do otherwise. So each producer whether pork, potatoes or apples - whether conventional or organic - has to compete globally.
So the local producer on PEI and in the Atlantic region is effectively shut out.
Oh but the consumer wants lower prices many will say. But the price of having no farmers is too high. What kind of society has no way of producing its own food? At some point soon, the price of oil will prohibit the global market. What then? What will we do when we have no one with the will, the money and the expertise to grow food locally?
The risk is much greater than losing an important sector it is that we risk not being able to feed ourselves.
So what to do?
Make the local market a priority - make a major investment in making it easy for us to buy locally - it is all but impossible other than at the Farmer's market to find local product.
Expand the Farmer's Markets all over the Island to a 5 day operation
Have an Atlantic Alliance with the other Provinces and add a punitive tax to the supermarkets that do not mainly source locally and at a fair price for the grower
Use a facilitating agency - such as the Food Trust - to act on behalf of all our farmers in the market place.
I have been doing my best to show that we would arrive in this place for more than 10 years. My fist work on PEI was to offer an insight into the forces that would take us here. It saddens me that we have indeed arrived here and that all my work has been fruitless.
I think and write about war because I think that it is part of who we are - it is an unavoidable paret of being human. But I also know that it is not a game and that it is a terrible thing not to be undertaken lightly. My dear sister Diana is writing a book about Canada leading up to WWI. One of her characters is a poet. She of course is the poet. As we too appear to be stumbling into a terrible time, I would like to share now and then some of her poems.
Here is the first. It is called "My Love"
Oh, My love, how I hunger for thee here within my bed of mud
Not your arms so sweet and soft that stretch to me in the night
In my grasp instead of you, I hold a spade unto my breast.
It is cold and hard like the frost above that lays on top of me
My feet curl up, not entwined with yours so warm and slight
They live inside my boots at night and they feel nothing at all
as they do not belong to me.
My hands grip this ice -cold thing, as I am afraid!
What if my cold mud bed instead of embracing me my love
Should fall around me like a tomb, and with out this cold hard companion
I would be buried alive, and never come home to thee.
Oh how I long for thee and the touch of your breast in my hand.
My chest pressing against your back and our hearts so close
Oh how I long to feel our hearts beat as one, and my face
buried in your long dark hair, like silk against my cheek
Shall I whisper to you so close to me, good night my love?
Only the sound of your breath at night, only you and me.
All snug and tucked up in bed are we, and our love to keep us warm.
And the birds in the day do wake us up, all twittering and free
Oh my love, I shall come back to you, if God spares me just one night.
If a shell shall find me in the night, do not cry for me!
I shall be all curled up in my hole of mud and my heart shall fly to thee
Carried on a flame so bright and warm to you so sweet and clean
I shall enter thee when you are fast asleep and forever live in thee
For I can live in this bed of mud because I live within thee every night.
Oh! My love, do not cry for me. For I shall watch over thee, my love.
Today war is founded on symbols. It was no accident that AQ chose the World Trade Centre on 911. Not only were Americans killed on American soil - worse than Pearl Harbour - but the WTC was THE symbol of the American way of life.
This was no accident as was the attack on Ms Bhutto.
The "plan" for 911 was to get America so angry that it would "Go to war" - by sucking America directly into conflict the US would be both enmired and weakened because it would lose support in the rest of the west and would be split in two at home. This has happened.
Now in Pakistan, a country on the edge of chaos but with many nuclear bombs, Ms Bhutto is an equal symbol. She is first of all a woman. Woman in the new theocratic order cannot have any power or voice. She is a symbol of a movement to democracy. What can be predicted?
* Musharraf will be blamed both in Pakistan and more importantly in India - we will see a lot more violence - chaos will break out
* India will have to react to the risk of chaos and the bomb - the Indian people will demand that they are being protected
* The US will be caught in a bind - how can they support Musharraf but how can they stand by and let chaos reign? The US cannot win - all their moves are bad
* Europe will wring its hands in impotence - but as the violence in Pakistan builds, Europeans will look at their expanding Muslim populations - populists will fan the flames - look to France as the tinder box -
* All the worst of how we as humans can be can be unlocked after a 60 year sleep
But why would anyone want to see the 4 horseman unleashed? It helps to recall Lenin. The early revolutionary leaders in Russia wanted to have a new democratic government - in effect they wanted to replace the Tsar with a kind of English system. Ms Bhutto = Kerensky.
Lenin had no ambitions to simply take over the existing state - he wanted to create a Theocracy - a new ideal state based on a religion. AQ have the same desire.
AQ do not want to take over the existing state of Pakistan. They want to set in motion events that will dismantle all states. They want chaos in Pakistan that will lead to conflict with India. They want the US to back order and Musharraf so that when M falls, the loss for theUS will be even greater. They want Euopeans to fear the Muslim immigrants and to have a reaction thus building up the tension inside Europe.
This creates the ideal conditions for a tribal theocracy.
I think that we have been checkmated - I am not sure what we can do but to play out the end game.
All this happens in an election year, during the greatest financial crisis since the depression, while the US forces are overstretched. Also expect oil prices to go through the roof and expect what that will do to our economy to layer onto all of this.
The one state that I think will do very well - Russia. They have the oil and the money. They also will have no compunction in cracking down on their own internal Muslim threat. China is very vulnerable. Their leaders depend on a vibrant world economy. What will happen to them as this falters? Maybe they will have to break with a history of isolation and find a foreign adventure to keep the masses happy?
The brilliance of this move is that while I think I can see how it can all turn out, I can't think of how I would do anything but follow the script that they have forced upon us. Like in 1914, the powder charges have been laid over 40 years. Now the fuse is lit - the bang is inevitable