Thursday, December 15, 2005

Voluntary simplicity courses

In the holiday season it's worth considering whether the holidays are supposed to be about consumerism or...? I don't see in the source of the season, namely Christs teachings, that it's about consumerism. In fact Jesus is known for living in a simple manner (though, as Ron Roth points out, there was enough money among Jesus's associates they needed a treasurer).

Voluntary simplicity is about choosing to own fewer things. There's a whole slew of benefits to voluntary simplicity from having more time in your life to having extra money that you can use to create financial security.

Both and offer training and other resources on voluntary simplicity.

Saturday, December 3, 2005

The Christmas Resistance Movement

Christmas is coming, making for another round of obscene consumerism. For those of you Christians, let me ask this: Did the teachings Jesus gave have anything to do about shop til you drop?

Let me introduce the Christmas Resistance Movement

You know holiday shopping is offensive and wasteful. You know Christmas "wish lists" and "gift exchanges" degrade the concept of giving. You know Christmas marketing is a scam, benefiting manufacturers, stores, and huge corporations, while driving individuals into debt. You know this annual consumer frenzy wreaks havoc on the environment, filling landfills with useless packaging and discarded gifts.

Yet, every year, you cave in and go shopping.

The relentless onslaught of advertising exerts constant pressure. So do the unified bleatings of herds of shoppers, who call you "Scrooge" if you fail to enthusiastically join their ritual orgy of consumption. Friends and family needle you with gift requests, store windows beckon with shiny colorful packages, the same "classic" holiday jingles are piped constantly through every speaker in town.

How can you resist?

Join the Christmas Resistance Movement!

It's great fun. Two thumbs up!

Failing car companies means the car companies failed

What's good for General Motors is good for America, eh? At least that's what they used to say. But is it? This is an especially poingant question right now as the car companies are seeing slowdowns in their sales.

Another Crummy Month for American Cars (By Seth Jayson (TMF Bent),, December 2, 2005)

He points out the 3 major car companies are all seeing drastically declining sales. And at the same time Toyota was seeing a jump in sales.

According to Seth the pundit class is clamoring for the government to do something about this. In other words some sort of handout from the government to prop up the car companies.

In my view that's the last thing the car companies need. If the car companies are seeing a decline in sales, well I can point to something Seth did not. Namely, the price of oil coupled with the dependance by the car companies on SUV sales.

The price of gasoline went over $3/gallon over most of the U.S. for a period, however it's since fallen again to where it was before the jump (in California it's around $2.40/gallon). This sent shockwaves around the country, people looking to dump their SUV's, and looking to get transportation that doesn't use so much gasoline. This of course would cause a shift away from SUV's.

Seth talks about a price war fooling the public into thinking the price of cars would always be dropping. I don't know about that. What I do know is the people I interact with got alarmed over the price of gasoline.

I wish to repeat something ... long term, the price of gasoline is only going up.

The recent price hike had to do with scares over the war in Iraq and damage done by the hurricanes this summer. However at the same time the oil production system is running at full capacity, AND at the same time demand is only going up. Oil demand doesn't come just from the U.S. but both China and India are seeing a surge of their middle class, and a shift from owning two-wheelers (bicycles and motorcycles) to owning cars. As China and India do this their demand levels will go up.

Further there is the Peak Oil scenario to consider. The idea is that at some point discoveries of oil reserves will not be able to keep up with the demand. At that point there will be a peak in oil production capacity, and assuming demand continues to rise oil availability will only fall. Market forces will make sure the price goes up, and up, and up.

Now, let's get back to the major car companies. They've been riding high on a binge of SUV's for years. In a way they were just responding to customer demand, but at the same time those car companies could have done as Toyota did and looked into the future to see the oil picture. The public obviously doesn't understand the oil picture, or they wouldn't be buying gas guzzling SUV's. But the car companies have a lot of smart people in them, obviously the car companies are capable of seeing the real oil picture.

The real oil picture is that the long term trend for the price of oil is upward. And that any time the price of oil gets "high" the public panics and switches to small cars.

The car companies don't deserve any handouts ... they don't deserve sympathy ... nor pity ... they need to take their lumps and change their business. Toyota and Honda have both been pursuing the high efficiency concept for years, and they're doing wonderfully.