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December 05, 2007

as the old saying goes, “it is better to blow out a candle than to curse climate change."

A group of Israeli environmentalists are promoting a campaign encouraging those observing Hanukka this year to light only seven candles instead of the traditional eight, since the burning of these candles can “do significant damage to the atmosphere.”

The_great_menorah_blizzard_of_07 For example, we here at Planet Moron had to drive through an early-season snowstorm this morning which was almost certainly caused by excessive Menorah use. In fact, the celebration of Hanukkah is even interfering with scientist’s desperate attempts to understand the problem, most recently when frostbite (a very common side-effect of global warming) forced the suspension of an Arctic expedition meant to call attention to our worsening climate crisis. 

However, we can’t let the Jewish people bear the full responsibility for saving the planet from humanity, and so we propose that we all pitch in and find ways to fundamentally alter our deeply held traditions, the practice of which threatens the survival of the earth.

For starters:

When singing the traditional Christmas carol, “Deck the Halls,” you can cut down on your personal carbon dioxide output by only singing every other “la.”  

Like this:

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly
Fa- -la- -la- -la- -la
Tis the Season to be Jolly
Fa- -la- -la- -la- -la

It is estimated that the CO2 saved would be enough to offset several minutes worth of the emissions produced by Al Gore’s private jet’s electric martini shaker.

Yule_cfl_2 Yule log? We don’t think so. A single Yule log puts out enough carbon dioxide to bury one 12-year-old Maldives boy under 20 meters of rising seawater. Instead, you can simply gather ‘round the ol’ hearth and bask in the  warm glow of a festive compact fluorescent bulb.  

You say that’s not same thing? Fine. How about you just go fly to the Maldives, find a 12-year-old boy, and drown him in the bathtub, because it’s pretty much the same thing.

Outdoor displays consume enormous amounts of energy. But you can cut down on your electric bill this holiday season by making a few simple changes. For instance, you can swap out your old, power-hungry light bulbs with more energy efficient bits of chalk. Festive_compost_pile And you don’t need a big inflatable snow globe in your front yard to show off your holiday spirit, not when you can start a compost pile in the same spot instead!

When setting up your Christmas Crèche
, you can conserve resources by “reimagining” the traditional nativity scene. One way would be to cut back on the cast by trimming out Mary, Joseph, the three wise men, various farm animals and so on, and take a minimalist approach: “Jesus: A One Man Show.” (Limited engagement.)

Finally, if you feel you absolutely must send out Christmas cards, a sure-fire way to cut back on the waste is to send them out only to people you really like. That’ll save a forest or two all by itself.

And no, we’re not sending you a Christmas card.


December 5, 2007 at 03:03 PM in Global Warming with CONSENSUS WATCH | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 02, 2007

when just being "good" isn't bad enough

While regulators and lenders alike turned a blind eye, a looming crisis in the housing market has been allowed to grow to such a magnitude that it now threatens to derail the American dream. What great tragedy has a cabal of mortgage lenders and real estate developers managed to bring to our very doorstep?

The grim reality that literally tens of millions of Americans purchased homes that were not only within their means, but were financed with mortgages THAT THEY CAN ACTUALLY AFFORD. 

Those looking for a simple, easy answer to this sorry state of affairs will be disappointed to find that that there are as many reasons as there are frailties of the human heart. Some just got caught up in the hoopla about personal responsibility while others believed in the virtue of forgoing immediate gratification. Still others engaged in a willful refusal to involve themselves in speculative real estate deals while many more insisted on wasting everyone’s time by reading the legal documents they were asked to sign. (Yes, it was that bad.) Regardless of their reasons, one thing is clear: 

Something must be done. 

While they were slow to act initially, government regulators are now working with lending institutions to make sure that a message is sent to those Americans who were careful to stay within their household budget: There is no such thing as a paid lunch, not in the America we know anyway.

Currently, the United States Treasury is working on a plan to suspend changes in adjustable-rate mortgages which are now contractually set to increase from economically unsustainable “teaser” rates. In this way, homeowners won’t have to pay what their loans actually cost, but only what they can currently afford.  As this program should make clear, Americans must stop adjusting their expectations based on what they can pay, and instead let the government do its job and adjust what they pay, based on their expectations. 

Yes, there are those who insist on dragging out that tired old canard, “Let the free market work.” But what’s “free” about making mortgage payments? NOT making mortgage payments, now THAT puts the “free” back in “free market!”

And we can expect that there will also be some complaints heard from those who bought the securitized instruments that lenders packaged up and sold to investors but there’s no need to worry about them, these are mostly “fat cats,” sitting back in their expensive leather chairs and chomping on big cigars they probably lit with $100 bills.

Or possibly hard-working teachers, firefighters, and police officers trying to save for retirement. 

You know, either, or.

Of course, someone has to make up for the cost of these sudden, unscheduled reductions in mortgage payments, whether it’s through higher taxes, higher fees and interest rates or reduced access to credit due to shrinking market returns. Fortunately, these costs will mostly be borne by the very same Americans who got us into this mess in the first place with their years of reckless frugality.

Now, we would be remiss if we did not concede that while these and other efforts to address the mortgage crisis clearly penalize those who deserve it, a gratifying side benefit is that they do offer some real, tangible relief for those who find themselves in desperate need this holiday season:

Large multinational financial institutions and the executives who run them. (Hey, do you have any idea how much a decent private preschool costs these days?)

Are you one of the unfortunate many who can afford to live in the home you are in now? Then you are a clear victim of your own insatiable responsibility. But you can certainly avoid this unfortunate situation in the future if you are willing to make some of the following changes:

  1. Stop making those foolhardy down payments. All those do is reduce your monthly mortgage leaving you unqualified for a government bailout. 
  2. Just sign the papers. You can use the time you save by not reading them to hit a no-money-down, no-payments-‘till-2009 furniture sale on your way to your new home and start living in style right away! 
  3. Make sure you buy the house you really want. Don’t worry whether or not you can really afford it, Uncle Sam will be there to help out if it’s a problem.  
  4. Always assume your house value will rise forever. Even though that has never happened before, it probably will this time. 
  5. And finally, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But it doesn’t matter!


December 2, 2007 at 12:01 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack