Saturday, June 27, 2009

Just Say No

I haven't posted for quite a while, due to a number of issues that took some time to deal with. And we were pretty much finishing the Food Storage year. Now that the CSA has started, I plan to post more recipes to use that wonderful produce.

But today, I just want to discuss getting our power back.

1. I read recently that the airlines have reconfigured their planes to give you even LESS legroom than before. There are no meals, except that you can pay money for a little tray of junk food. You pay for checking luggage, which must be causing even more problems with oversize carry-ons. Many flights are being cancelled so that the remaining flights are even more crowded, if possible.

The answer: Just Say No. Don't fly, unless it is an absolute necessity. Don't play their game. Wait until they price their flights fairly to cover their costs and don't try to nickel-and-dime you to death. Wait until they treat you like honored customers instead of suckers.

2. I've stopped donating to many of the nationally-known nature and wildlife organizations. I've gotten terminally tired of getting unsolicited calendars, greeting cards, address labels, keychains, postcards, etc. etc. etc. The first calendar is OK. The 7th one is just a disposal problem. Just think of the forests that are cut down, and the petroleum wasted to get this unsolicited stuff mailed to you in order to pry some more money out of you.... Certainly at the costs of mailings, and the pounds of it I receive, they have spent five times my donation just asking me for more money.

The answer: Just Say No. I have stopped donating to these organizations. I save my donations for the few that don't continually dun me for more money. I donate to smaller groups, local groups, our food bank, Spikenard Farms to help save the honeybee, and similar organizations.

I wouldn't mind donating to the larger well-known organizations if they had a class of membership where they would ask you once a year for a donation, and tell you what they did with last year's donations, and leave you alone the rest of the time. I could feel good that my hard-earned donations are actually going to help the egret or the sea turtle or what-have-you, instead of wasting resources.

3. Credit cards. Congress can't seem to pass meaningful credit legislation that takes effect this year when people need it. The financial industry lobbyists are pretty powerful. Even the weak bill that did get passed, to take effect in 2010, caused tremendous threats and fulminations from credit card companies.

Now they're threatening to add yearly or monthly fees to every card, to punish those who pay their balances each month. Do you know what they call people who pay their balance every month? Deadbeats. I'm proud to be a deadbeat!

The answer: Just Say No. Put your credit card in your dresser drawer. Keep one or maybe two going by charging a few small items each month. Pay off the rest and let them go. You can get along with cash or checks for practically everything you buy. Vacations can be a problem booking airfares (Just Say No) or rental cars, I know, but for daily life you really don't need a credit card. I'd like to see the credit card throughput in the U.S. drop to about 1/4 or less of what it is now. Perhaps then we would be regarded as valued customers instead of suckers. We have the power; let's use it.

4. The statement: If you save and don't spend, you're contributing to the recession. I get highly annoyed at these claims that you encounter every day in the news. "We could get over the recession if only the consumers would open their pocketbook." This is worse than idiocy. It is self-serving commercialism plain and simple. Media needs to sell advertising. Advertisers need to sell products. So if they can guilt-trip you into buying more stuff you don't need and going further into debt, it'll help THEIR bottom line. Not yours, obviously.

The answer: Just Say No. I'm gratified to see that savings is way up in this country. It shows that we can take back our power. When unemployment is high and looks to get higher, saving is the only sensible thing to do. If you save enough, by not buying useless consumerist schlock, then you may be able to weather a spell of unemployment or, the latest, furloughs.

I'll tell you a secret. Money that you put into banks and safe investments (there are a few) actually goes to work in the system. Deposited money will eventually go out in loans to those that can use them. That's why banks were invented.

I recommend locally-owned and financially-stable credit unions. They tend to lend in your local community, benefiting your neighbors and your local merchants. Just Say No to those national bank conglomerates. They're too big already. They don't need your money, either as a depositor or a taxpayer. If a financial organization is too big to fail, it's too much of a danger to the country. So, help them get smaller by removing your money.