Like many people, I don’t have a strong understanding of the relationship between weather events and our food supplies. And, like most Americans, my food comes in plastic bags and shrink-wrapped Styrofoam trays, completely divorced from the farmers who grew it. The ups and downs of the cost of food are a mystery to me.
Environmentalists rejoiced in late August when the Obama administration announced the new fuel economy standards for auto manufacturers. These new standards will increase the average MPG to 54.5 by vehicle model year 2025. According to the White House’s statement on the new standards, “In total, the Administration’s national program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels.”
In June of 2010, my husband and I relocated from Columbus, Ohio, to Lafayette, Indiana, so that he could start a new job. Our house in Columbus was in a well-established and highly attractive neighborhood that had historically been immune to dips in the housing market.
Despite the fact that we were placing our house on the market after spring – the prime real estate season – and the fact that the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit had expired two months before our move, we were certain that we would sell the house within a few months.
Boy, were we wrong.
Years ago, when online shopping first became a popular way to do business, I remember being one of the many cynics who thought it would never catch on. I was certain that most people would be wary of giving websites access to credit card and financial information when there was always a possibility those sites might be hacked.
Fast-forward a decade and a half, and I and the other naysayers are happily partaking in mobile banking and one-click shopping. In some ways, this is the story of how technology disarms even the most nervous critics.
Traditional economics assume that human beings are rational and will make the best choice available to them after carefully considering all of their options. Theoretically, stopping to do a cost-benefit analysis with each decision we make is the smart thing to do. Unfortunately, as behavioral economist Dan Ariely points out in his book “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions,” human beings cannot be counted on to act rationally. In fact, our irrational behavior is so ingrained, it’s possible to predict individuals’ illogical reactions in almost any dilemma.
The unemployment rate numbers are still startling, even after so many months of recession. A reported 9.1% of Americans are out of work, and this percentage does not include those who have given up looking for a job. Look more closely at the Hispanic and African-American populations, and the unemployment numbers rise even more: 11.3% and 16.7%, respectively. Clearly, we need to do something.
And that is where Howard Schultz, CEO of coffee retail giant Starbucks, has seen a way to help. He has partnered with the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), a national network of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) serving all 50 states, to start the Create Jobs for USA program.
I remember learning about factory-farmed turkeys for the first time several years ago. I was just out of college and living on a very tight budget. It was eye-opening to discover how farms raise and treat the typical Broad-breasted White turkey – the bird that is on nearly 99% of Thanksgiving plates each November.
Birds in factory farms have their upper beaks snipped off shortly after hatching so they can be more easily force-fed an antibiotic-laced corn diet instead of hunting and pecking for the seeds, grasses, insects, nuts, and fruits that constitute their natural diet. In addition, these turkeys are kept awake as much as possible through the use of 24-hour lighting, so as to disrupt their natural sleeping, roosting, and mating rhythms. This is done to ensure that they eat almost nonstop and fatten up.