April 5th, 2009

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Dealing with the Depression

This article does a good job of describing why the current economic slump qualifies as a depression, and it has some interesting ideas for addressing some of the problems.

It's a Depression
The March employment numbers, out this morning, are bleak: 8.5 percent of Americans officially unemployed, 663,000 more jobs lost. But if you include people who are out of work and have given up trying to find a job, the real unemployment rate is 9 percent. And if you include people working part time who'd rather be working full time, it's now up to 15.6 percent. One in every six workers in America is now either unemployed or underemployed.


Also bear in mind that the number of jobs is not equivalent to the number of workers, because many people are working 2+ jobs in attempt to make ends meet.

"Hire Americans to weatherize and insulate homes across the land."

This is a great idea. It would make our increasingly expensive energy go farther through efficiency.

" Don't encourage General Motors or any other auto company to shrink. Use the auto makers' spare capacity to make busses, new wind turbines, and electric cars (why let the Chinese best us on this?). Enlarge public transit systems."

This would avoid destroying current industries by refocusing them. It would also reduce demand for gas, saving money for individual drivers, and would reduce pollution.

"Meanwhile, extend our educational infrastructure. So many young people are out of work that they should be using this time to improve their skills and capacities. Expand community colleges. Enlarge Pell Grants. Extend job-training opportunities to the unemployed, so they can learn new skills while they're collecting unemployment benefits."

This is a good start, but really -- emphasize free education. If you have no job and no way of getting one, then try to learn some skills that could become job-useful later. Trade knowledge with other people. Trade skills too, if there are things you can't afford to pay someone to do, but you can find someone who needs what you can do.
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Holiday: Pesach

Common Tables sent this lovely description of the Jewish holiday, Pesach (Passover). It's a good idea to understand the traditions of many different religions beyond what you practice (if any). Consider baking a batch of unleavened bread for this occasion, and meditate on whatever aspects of the holiday resonate with your experience.

Pesach (Passover) - Jewish

Pesach (PAY-sakh) begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan and celebrates the Exodus of the Children of Israel from ancient Egypt after generations of slavery. This year Pesach (known as Passover in English) begins on April 9th (see note below). It is observed for either seven days (Reform Jews) or eight days (Orthodox, Conservative and Reconstructionist Jews).

Pesach is the one most commonly observed of all the Jewish holidays. Nearly all American Jews (including many who are otherwise non-observant) celebrate Passover to some extent, even if only to take part in a ritual dinner called a seder (SAY-der) on the first and/or second night of the holiday.

One of the noteworthy observances is that nearly all Jews abstain from eating bread and other foods made with yeast during Pesach. This in remembrance of the Jews having left Egypt quickly - without time to wait for their bread to rise. For many it is also considered a symbolic way of removing the "puffiness" (arrogance, pride) from their souls.

Orthodox Jews in particular do not work, go to school or carry out any business during the first two days and the last two days of Pesach. The same is true of many Conservative Jews. Reconstructionist and Reform Jews may abstain from work on the first and last days only.

NOTE: Pesach, like all Jewish holidays, begins the evening before the date given in this eLert and before the date that it appears on your calendar.

Traditional greetings: Happy holiday, in Hebrew Chag samayach (hahg sah-MAY-ack); or Happy Passover.

The American Jewish Year Book (published in 2007 by the American Jewish Committee) reports that the Jewish population in the United States is currently between 6.0 and 6.4 million and the world's Jewish population is estimated at 13.155 million. During this special time of Passover, we ask that each of you pause for a few moments and, in a manner appropriate in your faith tradition and/or belief system, join with us in sending thoughts of love and good will to all of our Jewish brothers and sisters.

Shalom Salaam Peace

Kay & Dave Corby, Founders
Common Tables now has members in 32 states and in the US Virgin Islands.

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To learn more about Judaism, we invite you to consider the books suggested in our online bookstore: The Higher Shelf.
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Cybersecurity and Defense

This post bothers me. The main defense against tyranny and oppression is information. Cut off the flow of information and it becomes a lot easier to quash resistance. Thus I am leery of giving anyone the power to shut down large parts of cyberspace. The argument about it being necessary for safety is not altogether reassuring: most things that can be used for safety can be horribly abused, and are unless people to go great lengths to prevent that.

Fortunately, there are hackers. I'm pretty confident that in the case of berserk government blackout, there would be some people with the skills and determination to build a ghostnet.