Monthly Archives: April 2011

Reading for Everyday Success

Most people realize that reading leads to success in schools, but continued reading can lead to everyday successes. We should never stop learning. Honestly, we never stop experiencing life, so we should take the effort to learn from it. Reading allows us to expand our thinking, feed our imaginations, learn from others and move us toward successes. I like reading inspirational and self-improvement books. I also read magazines, internet news and articles and just about anything else I can lay my eyes on.

I found a great way to read throughout the day. I use Overdrive Media app on my droid phone to download library books both readable and audio. I use my wait time, down time, break time and other opportunities to take out my phone and read a few pages. I am currently reading The Next 100 Years; A Forecast For the 21st Century, by George Friedman and The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura.

Reading allows you to learn differing points of views, new points of views and escapes to fantasy worlds. Reading can also sharpen your thinking and reasoning skills, especially material that is designed to provoke.

National Assessent of Adult Literacy reports that for 2003, 14% of American Adults read below the basic level of prose literacy. The inability to read even at the basic levels can mean dire consequences on our citizenry. 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate. More than 60 percent of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate. Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help. It is not only important for adults to read better but we should encourage children to read better as well.

Reading may even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. David Snowdon, in his study into Alzheimer’s (The Nun Study) discovered that the grammatical complexity and idea density of autobiographies written by nuns in their early twenties reflected their potential for Alzheimer’s late in life. The nuns studied were at least 75 years old.

So, regardless of how well you read, pick up a book, a magazine, download an e-book, and exercise your mind.

Government Budget Blame Game

Who is to blame for the budget troubles our nation faces? It is not an easy question. The current budget problem took decades to create. It is a result of mostly good intentions, compassion and over-promised services. It is easy to blame politicians but the will of the people generally dictate how they act. They hear what we say.  We say, “I want cuts in the budget as long as the things that benefit me aren’t cut. I think taxes should be raised just not my taxes. I want things to be different just not different for me. I don’t want less, I want more.”

We reward those politicians that promise us more, that give us more. We punish those that might want to take anything away. Politicians know this. It is the nature of the beast, they do what needs to be done in order to be re-elected.

There is new talk about making tough decisions, but yet I am still unsure. The entitlements will demand more and more of our budget until there is very little for anything else. The government will have to borrow more and more until it is unable to even pay the interest on the money that it owes. Our government will loose the respect and admiration of the global economy. I am very much afraid that the U.S. dollar may fall away from being the reserve currency of the world. That would be devastationg to our economy and lead to runaway inflation.

I sincerely hope that it never comes to this. I believe that we should gradually reduce entitlement provisions over the next 20 years. It will be painful but not as painful as the implosion of our economy if we do not take action soon. I hope that we will have some young, idealistic leaders who will manage to make tough decisions regardless of the political fallout, or maybe it will be the mature politician who wants to leave a mark on history and save the world from itself.

We are a resilient people. I believe our leaders will make the tough decisions and preserve the future not only for ourselves but for our children and our grandchildren.

Inflation Grows as Packages Shrink

It really isn’t new, ice cream containers were reduced from a full half gallon to 1.75 quarts several years ago. Some have shrunk again to 1.5 quarts. Packaging is shrinking everywhere and at an increased rate. Yogurt containers hold just 6 oz instead of 8. Cereal boxes are getting smaller. Snacks are lighter in weight but not in calories. It is part of the hidden inflation that affects us as well as the more obvious forms of inflation. Inflation is growing everywhere despite assurances from the Federal Reserve that inflation either does not exist or is transitory.

With real annual income reduced for most households, manufactures have to be more creative in meeting their costs. By keeping the prices relatively the same but decreasing the volume, weight or count, improves their revenues. Many manufactures alter the physical size of the package little or create new internal packaging, such as changing the spacing so that a package now holds only 22 cookies instead of 24. Most of the time this is subtle enough to be easily accepted by the consumer.

So, if you think there is less in the package than before, you just might be right.