Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ignorance Bliss, Also Dangerous

Published: February 26, 2008

My start as an opinion columnist was quite unintentional. Nearly 25 years ago, a naïve, liberal staffer, for a Georgia newspaper, authored a feature story about pitiful starving residents of her city, whom couldn't possibly exist on the $1,000 a month they received from welfare.
She was obviously irrationally and emotionally involved with the subject, when she wrote that the starving persons would have expired, had she not saved them with "a sack of peanut butter, crackers and tuna fish." That grabbed my attention, so I wrote a letter to the editor, detailing why "It's a good trick to starve on $1,000 a month" (Keep in mind that we're talking 1984 prices here).
My letter easily showed how irresponsible and emotionally directed that neophyte reporter had been, because if used responsibly, the $1,000 would have paid all of any average family's necessary bills (in that location), while leaving $464 for discretionary spending. The paper was so impressed that they ran my letter as a feature, and asked if I would provide similar opinion on a regular basis.
Well, things haven't changed much over the years: Far too many of us are still so unbelievably ignorant of the most basic elements of economics that we are, literally, incapable of managing a simple, family budget.
Look, for example, at a case recently reported in the crusading St. Pete Pravda. In this instance, a pitiable woman, whose husband is forced to quit his job because of a life-threatening illness, has a major gripe against the Verizon communications company. As reported, the woman, knowing that her husband would likely soon lose his job, signed a new contract with Verizon to provide high-speed internet service, along with multiple cell phone service, which even included (so she thought) unlimited text messaging for her teen-aged daughter. The distraught woman was shocked by her first bill — well over $200 — and immediately attempted to have the contract revoked. Unsuccessful, she turned to the Action editor of the paper, to which she wrote, "(Although Verizon did make some changes once my husband died)…my bills are still more than $200 a month…I'm barely making my mortgage payments. Where do I go from here?"
That is an appropriate example of why so many of us are now defaulting on loans, while blaming everyone but themselves and expecting the good ol' gubbermint to bail us out.
Clearly, the subject woman was grossly irresponsible in signing a contract for any cell phone service, at a time when her husband's income was in question. That she eagerly opted for just about every costly extra (especially text messaging for her 14-year-old daughter, for whom "texting is a way of life", is particularly telling.
It's interesting to review budgets of persons who're either already in bankruptcy, considering going there and/or are expecting government aid; I've done that, on numerous occasions. Here is some of what I have been discouraged to discover. Most of them were living in homes they never were able to afford. Usually they had at least two motor vehicles, none of which were paid for. They had cable TV with several monitors, cell phones and computers with high-speed access to the Internet. They dined out several evenings each week and ordered pizza delivered at least once on most weekends. When they did eat at home, the avoidably expensive meals were often semi-prepared by the grocery store's delicatessen department or else they used their new microwave to nuke those awful frozen TV dinners. Beer, soft drinks, bottled water (even the new "power" drinks) were always available. Children wore $100 sneakers, and other "must-have" fashions. And the family occasionally bought tickets to movies, sports or other entertainment events.
When I sat down with such a family and began suggesting ways to cut their expenses (e.g., Get rid of all but the oldest motor vehicle; close cell phone accounts; stop cable TV; eat only at home and fix all meals from scratch, using healthy but inexpensive ingredients) they inevitably exclaimed, "But we need that!"
It is that erroneously perceived "need" that is at the bottom of many of our economic woes today. Some "needs," such as that for multiple motor vehicles, are self-imposed when families choose to live far from their places of work and where there is no public transportation. Others, such as cell phones and television, are simply "wants": No one needs television; almost no one needs a cell phone.
It seems to me that there is one pressing "need," which is not being filled. Our public schools must teach financial responsibility to children in the final years of high school. Even exposing children in grade school to the subject would be beneficial. Reportedly, most children now have their own cell phone before the fifth grade.
We may not be able to educate adults already convinced that they need the unnecessary things they can't afford, but perhaps their children may accept the message — may!
The great philosopher/humorist Will Rogers once observed that: "We are the only nation in the history of the world to go to the poor house in an automobile." To update that perceptive comment, we would today have to add that said automobile would be equipped with television, telephone service and a mini-fridge filled with bottled water from Fiji.

John G. Nash is a widely experienced and traveled journalist and photographer. His works are regular features in this paper. He welcomes applicable comment, which may be sent to

Reader Comments

Posted by ( Dittomom ) on February 27, 2008 at 11:30 a.m. ( Suggest removal )

You are so right on! On a related matter, I have a pastor friend that has spent the last 10 years in our inner city ministering to the "homeless" population. He has told me that he prays often that God would not allow him to become cynical because he knows that these men (most of them) are offered jobs and places to stay but they refuse. The "homeless" guys that stand at our freeway entrances with a sign make up to $300. a day, he has told me! We cannot address the homeless "crisis", or "poverty", without also addressing the moral implications of the choices these people make.

Monday, February 25, 2008

You are what you eat, so eat well.


A stupendous insight of civilizations past has now been confirmed by today's investigative, nutritional sciences. They have shown that what was once called "The Doctrine of Signatures" was astoundingly correct. It now contends that every whole food has a pattern that resembles a body organ or physiological function and that this pattern acts as a signal or signs as to the benefit the food provides the eater. Here is just a short list of examples of Whole Food Signatures.

A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye...and science shows that carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.

A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart is red and has four chambers. All of the research shows tomatoes are indeed pure heart and blood food.

Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows that grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.

A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds are on the nut just like the neo-cortex. We now know that walnuts help develop over 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.

Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.

Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet the body pulls it from the bones, making them weak. These

foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

Eggplant, Avocadoes and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats 1 avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight and prevents cervical cancers and how profound is this? .... It takes exactly 9 months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).

Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the motility of male sperm and increase the numbers of sperm as well to overcome male sterility.

Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.

Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries.

Grapefruits, Oranges, and other citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.

Onions look like body cells. Today's research shows that onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells they even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes.

"The news isn't that fruits and vegetables are good for you, it's that they are so good for you, they can save your life." David Bjerklie, TIME Magazine, Oct. 2003

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Please join us this Saturday for the anniversary events.
Check it out at

Become a Friend of the market and register at

Read the page to become a member of the market and get some added benefits.

Support your hometown market.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Celebrating two of my favorite things

75 degree weather and the new Vanilla Bean Olive Oil from Queen Creek Olive Mill, available at the Downtown Phoenix Farmer's Market Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons. My other favorite is blood orange olive oil. Try it too!

Lemon Arborio Soup

The delicate lemony flavor of this Italian-rice soup is subtle and wonderful. Kim was inspired to create this soup after taking a cooking class with Joann Weir at Les Gourmettes in Phoenix. This is also a great first-course soup for entertaining.

2 lemons

2 cups half and half

2 shallots, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil w/ vanilla bean

1 cup arborio rice

8 cups chicken broth (divided use)

Sprig of fresh basil

8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast meat, cubed

12 ounces frozen sugar snap peas in the pod

With a vegetable peeler, peel rind from the lemons taking care not to get any of the bitter white pith below the peel surface. In a small saucepan, heat the half and half until tiny bubbles appear around the edges of the pot. Add the lemon peels and remove from the heat. Let sit 1 hour. Repeat the process for extra lemony flavor.

In a soup pot, heat olive oil. Saute the shallots for 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook, stirring to seal each grain of rice with the oil, until the shallots begin to carmelize, about 3 minutes. Add 6 cups of the chicken broth and the basil. Simmer about 30 minutes, until the risotto is tender.

While the rice is cooking, microwave the chicken cubes until just white (about 4 minutes in the microwave). Add the sugar snap peas and 2 cups of chicken broth to the soup and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and continue to cook until tender, 3 to5 minutes. Reduce the heat and strain the lemon infused half and half into the pot. Stir gently and serve immediately or reheat in the microwave just until warm taking care not to boil the soup.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ethereal High Performance

Presidential Politics is such high theater. Long on fluttering speeches and short on solid statements.

As you know I voted for Fred from my kitchen over three weeks ago. He dropped out after I voted. That could be seen as a wasted vote; I disagree. I still feel very happy that I went with the guy because I think he ran the best campaign.

As a logical person I have never understood this business of garnering name recognition and developing an on-stage personality for the sole purpose of getting votes. It is completely stupid to decide to vote on the basis of vapid oratory and shiny commercials. It is a huge money waster (we can always find dough for this stuff but can't repair the infrastructure or fund enough cops). Not only that, but it can be dangerous. The founders, who never cease to amaze with their far-sightedness, must have understood this would be an even greater risk in the presidential races than most others and hence derived the electoral college at the antidote. I think Fred agreed with me on this and simply saw 10 minute coffee klatches and half hour rallies as an endurance race for the windy and, therefore, a waste of time. He would make a perfect VP, though.

Here are my recent observations:

Barak-- charismatic, eloquent, beautiful-- gives us nothing if not a humongous hope for change, and we swoon at the very elocution. He makes you feel like he knows you think he is your best friend. He speaks of unity. But if you look at his record he is much farther from the middle in his direction than W was in his. Barak takes Hillary to task on every compromise she has ever struck. An inherently inconsistent stand, but he does it so well we don’t even notice. He is like the pickpocket who smiles and gives you a hug you while his hand is on your wallet.

Hillary: she is hearing voices. This might be worrisome enough but now she is professing to speak in these various voices. In most circles this makes you certifiable. She admits she is suffering from multiple personality syndrome in attempting to speak for us all. That does not make any sense at all. If you listen to the words instead of checking for wrinkles and tears, you may be shocked to realize that she resembles someone very near a nervous breakdown. And the numbers game that we call the primaries is giving her more opportunities to apply those voices to interpret the facts as she runs neck and neck with the adorable change agent.

McCain: Once a hero, always a hero. Now, he is playing the Mom card and is committed to dragging the 96 years old tomorrow woman around with him from here on out. This makes him look young in comparison and gives us the sense that he has tremendous longevity potential. He considers all of us his friend and I really think he means it. While he has not shown much of his temper lately, the tales of it are legendary and quite frankly I don’t find that so troubling. (But then, those of you who know me would understand that. )He seems to be keeping it in check by retelling the joke about the difference between a catfish and a lawyer. I don’t think this is playing well with the ABA and he better watch it because I am getting madder and madder each time I hear it. But as an outlet for his anger, it seems to be working for him.

Huckabee: Huh?

Romney: Perfect in every way and determined to a fault. Too conservative for the moderates and too newly conservative to have any appeal to the far right, he is out there in GQ country without a cocktail, like a catfish out of water. People just don’t trust a person with that much personal discretionary income. (And just think, he would have tithed 10% of it!) He is always smiling and always on his game but there is something about his desperate desire that is unnerving. Some say the Mormon thing is holding him back; I think we just don’t get why he wants it so bad. He just needs to relax.

I find the conservative reaction to the McCain thing the most amusing. Surely they do not think W is a conservative? He grew government more than just about any President on record and ran it in a classically bureaucratic way. How could McCain be any scarier than that? What in the world do they want and how are they going to get it by saying things like I would vote for Hillary over McCain? It just keeps getting more and more illogical on both sides of the "debate."

I heard the TV writer’s strike may be ending soon. They should be back on the air just about the time we run out of entertainment in November. Good timing.