10-15-08 9:14McManslums

Soon neighborhoods across this great land will be paying the price for evicting all of the borrowers from the McMansions they could not afford.

If someone has a mortgage on a house, they are apt to try to protect their investment. Even if they weren't the world's most responsible borrowers, they will at least be likely to tend the lawn, keep the house in repair and try to show a modicum of respect for their property.

However, there are neighborhoods all over this country which now have more huge houses standing empty than are occupied. And when the northern winds start to blow, those big empty houses are going to look pretty attractive to all the newly homeless walking around out there. People will break in and squat to get out of the cold.

Only this time, they will not own the property. They will not respect the property. They will not tend the lawn or keep the home in good repair. They will break and smash without concern. And, they will not have the electricity or the water turned on. They will burn the solid oak cabinetry in the fireplace for warmth, tear up the carpets for bedding and throw their refuse into the street.

Welcome to the land of McManslums. Forclosure, anyone?

JRW: Wow...haven't thought about that. That is scary.

But, it's not all on the mortgage companies. Simple personal financial responsibility is a place to start.

Of course. But part of being financially responsible is to consult with an expert. The loan officers and the mortgage brokers are supposed to be the experts. If the loan officer or the mortgage broker told someone they qualified for a loan when they didn't, the expert bears part of the responsibility.

And, anyone can apply for a loan. The bank doesn't have to accept any particular loan application. They are supposed to examine the risk, accept some applications and and turn down others. If the bank examined the person's assets and income and could clearly see that they did not qualify for that much money they should have said "No." Or "Less." The lender also bears part of the responsibility.

Keep in mind, the actual money that was borrowed for homes in the subprime mortgages is maybe 10% of the money involved in the crisis. Most of the money involved was being traded by Wall Street billionaires dealing in mortgage-backed securities.

The actual borrowers just aren't a large enough percentage of the totals to cause this much havoc. Magical money multiplication schemes are what made this crisis so huge. The securities firms created 90% of this money out of thin air, so they should get 90% of the blame.

Actually, I hadn't been planning to rail on about Wall Street culpability again. I can't believe I hijacked my own thread! :-)

My point was, we should be helping the homeowners to keep the homes.

1) The banks can't do anything with these big empty houses. They aren't going to be able to sell them and get their money back. Nobody could afford these houses before the crisis without subprime lending. Now, really nobody can afford them.

2) People need places to live. The banks want to use the houses as money now that the money is gone, but houses are meant to shelter people from the cold and become a home, not to be traded amongst mortgage security brokers as a commodity.

3) The empty houses are going to deteriorate quickly. If there are a lot of homeless they will become sqatters pads. But even if that doesn't happen, they will still fall to pieces with no one taking care of the yard, making sure the plumbing doesn't freeze, etc.

Maybe some people would get to keep a house they don't really deserve. But I'm not obsessed with everybody having only what they have slaved for and not a penny more. The alternative is far worse.

10-14-08 9:14Whose Thread?

JRW: What? I can't delete my own posts, for whatever reason I want, because it's "inconvenient" or "annoying" to others in the group?

It's my post, and If I want to delete it, I shouldn't risk being kicked out of the group because of it.

If the government made abortion illegal, it would be the same deal.

It's minor on the scale of comparison, but it still stands behind the same principal.

This is a really fascinating take on the situation and I admit this prompted me to think it over.

I guess I would conclude that once a thread has a number of contributions to it, it really belongs to more than just the original poster. I would say a thread belongs to each of the participants, to the extent that they have participated.

And, some people might spend quite a bit of time and energy putting together a well-thought-out response that they want others to see, only to have it disappear, and that would be a shame. It clearly causes a lot of consternation in the group when that happens.

Like most of these situations, it's not black and white. Thanks so much for presenting such an interesting quandary to consider.

JRW: You never fail to impress me. you seriously make feel like such a dolt when you say these logical things (that obviously never crossed my mind) :P



10-14-08 8:14Socialism and Infrastructure

Water Mary: Just say no to socialism! I don't want to be owned by the government!

I think a lot of people hear the word "Socialism" and just have a knee-jerk reaction to it. There are a lot of aspects to our society which are already "socialized."

We have "socialized" emergency services like fire and police departments. We have "socialized" education through the high school level. We have "socialized" public works for building and maintaining roads, bridges, dams, etc. These "socialized" systems exist side-by-side with the "capitalist" systems we use for just about everything else and it doesn't seem to bother anyone or create any difficulty.

I would say the one thing our "socialized" systems have in common is that they are part of the infrastructure. People have discovered over time that systems which are vital to the stability of society are better handled 1) as a group undertaking where the costs are shared, and 2) as an endeavor where providing the service itself is the main purpose rather than pursuing a profit motive.

If I was to make a change to our existing system, I would suggest that there are a few other things which should come under the classification of infrastructure. I would say that our health care system is just as vital to maintaining our public health as the Highway Department is to maintaining our public transportation systems. And people's health should not be a secondary consideration after profits. As infrastructure, our health care should be socialized.

I would also say that socialized education that cuts off at the high school level is no longer sufficient for a complex technological society. Socialized education should be available through the college level to ensure that a vital part of our infrastructure - the capacity of our citizens to reason and make informed decisions - is available to every single citizen.

On the other hand, there are some things which are publicly subsidized now which I think are NOT infrastructure and should not be built with tax dollars - like sports stadiums, for example.

I think we could re-evaluate a few industries without damaging the essentially capitalist and democratic nature of our country. Certainly the Swedes don't report feeling "owned" by their government. They report very high levels of satisfaction with their social systems. I think they might even describe it as the opposite - that they are the owners of their government and fully enfranchised in their own vital infrastructure.

10-14-08 4:14Mo God

Jovaiel: You seem to believe that science has all the answers we need to the big questions about the possible existence and nature of a god.

Wrong. As long as you keep assigning this position to me you can keep rebutting it but it is pointless because this is not my position.

Jovaiel: My point was simply that agnosticism - the only scientifically provable position so far - is not a solid enough foundation upon which to attempt to build a philosophical understanding of our existence.

You can only work with what you've got. If "I don't know" is what you have, that's where you have to start, and if "I don't know" is the truth, then all the stuff you arbitrarily choose to add on top of it is hardly any more "solid."

Jovaiel: Yet you seem to assert in other posts that until science can offer solid, physical proof of a god (who, by the way, is often considered a "spiritual" being), you will not believe in a god.

Wrong again. I told you science had nothing to do with it. I would consider anything that I could personally experience. Anything. But it has to be MY experience. I will not go on hearsay.

Jovaiel: If you choose to dismiss the possibility of anything non-physical...

I have not dismissed any possibilities. I would consider anything non-physical that I personally experienced.

Jovaiel: This seems to demonstrate an underlying belief that only the material world is real and nothing purely spiritual can exist.

I said, as far as we are able to discern. That's not a belief, it is a description of what has been reliably observable. I also specifically stated that I did NOT dismiss the possibility of non-physical intelligence.

Jovaiel: Science, therefore...

You need to get past this habit of conflating me with science. That is not my position.

But, I was NOT trying to say why there could not be any kind of God. I was saying why "God" is not considered reasonable. However, as I have already explained, God doesn't have to be reasonable. Just because it isn't reasonable doesn't mean it isn't real in some way.

If there is a God performing miracles like virgin birth, it is defininitely operating unhindered by the physical laws that govern the rest of the universe. That makes it unreasonable. That doesn't make it false and I never said it did.

Jovaiel: Certainly the concept of the Christian God, whom you seem to be particularly trying to disprove, denies that assertion.

No. A "concept" does not deny an assertion. But I am not trying to "disprove" anything. In an existential posit the burden of proof is on the one who posits existence.

Jovaiel: This is followed by some wild assertions that modern theories in astronomy, paleontology, physics, etc. are somehow drawing closer to disproving the Biblical understanding of God.

Wrong. I did not present this as an assertion.

However, the discoveries of science - that the earth is millions of years old, that the terrain is shaped by geological processes, that the earth revolves around the sun, that humans and all life evolved, etc. certainly have chipped away at the traditional teaching of the Church, and given God a lot less to do.

Jovaiel: While there are some theories that question Biblical-based beliefs...

I am not particularly concerned with Biblicalness. The Bible is not the only holy text and the Abrahamic faiths are not the only religions.

Jovaiel: The bottom line, of course, is that you will believe what you want to believe.

This is again completely wrong. I do not have a fixed belief one way or the other. I am content to wait and see.

Of course, Christians tell me that's not good enough. They say I have to pick, NOW, right NOW, before it's too late! Panic button!!

But Christians are not the only theists in the world. The Hindus, for example, are a lot more laid back and are not putting pressure on anyone to make a stand. The Buddhists are saying that the question itself is completely irrelevant. I don't have any reason to think that the Christian rush is a more appropriate approach than the Hindu or Buddhist approach.

I'm not in any hurry to make a determination. Time will tell and that is fine with me.

Jovaiel: You don't have to share theistic beliefs to allow that they can be "reasonable."

I don't see why you would even want a God that is "reasonable." It's not exactly miraculous if it isn't magic. Give your God some credit for being able to do the impossible.

Jovaiel: If you are truly sincere in wanting to know how and why others hold different beliefs and are not just out to "Christian-bash" then I hope you will consider this approach.

I do not consider questioning Christians to be "Christian-bashing." I know some Christians do, so I make it a point to be polite, cordial and adult about my communications. What more could you ask?

Lastly, I am learning a lot about how you and others here think so my current "approach" seems to be doing the job. Thanks for engaging with me.

Jovaiel: The problem with agnosticism is that you can't move in either direction from that point without agreeing to make an unproved assumption.

It is not necessary to move from that point.

Jovaiel: The only experience you seem willing to trust is something through your five, physical senses.

No. Where are you getting this? I stated straight out that I am willing to consider any kind of experience.

Jovaiel: If God spoke to you directly - a gentle voice inside your soul that did not come through your ears - would you listen or would you dismiss the wisdom, warnings and love He whispers to you as nothing but your own imagination?

When that actually happens I will let you know.

Jovaiel: I do believe God can manifest physically but I wonder, if He did so for you, if you would be able to recognize that He is still, in essence, greater than the physical or if, rather, you would recognize only the physical aspect and, based on that, reject Him as truly God.

It doesn't sound like you wonder about that. It sounds like you have assigned me the "rejection" position to serve your rhetorical purpose. However that is not the case.

I will consider any God that approaches me in any fashion.

Jovaiel:Until you find or develop a spiritual sense or tool you can trust to explore the spiritual, you are limited to the physical, even though the spiritual remains a very real possibility.

I do not accept the premise that I am lacking a "spiritual sense." I am not different from anyone else.

As for "exploring the spiritual," I am familiar with many different spiritual practices such as mediation, trance states, visioning processes, etc. and I employ them on a regular basis. My exploration of the spiritual has not led me to your conclusion, but that certainly doesn't mean I don't have a spiritual sense or I don't explore the spiritual.

Jovaiel:So for you "not reasonable" = "miraculous" or "supernatural?"

Yes. Here is the dictionary definition:

1. agreeable to reason or sound judgment; logical: a reasonable choice for chairman.
2. not exceeding the limit prescribed by reason; not excessive: reasonable terms.

I would say the supernatural exceeds the limits presecribed by reason, that is why it is "super" natural. The "super" is the exceeding part.

Jovaiel: The point about the Christian God concept is that if you are trying to prove or disprove a concept then you must deal with the concept.

Since I am not trying to prove or disprove anything I am not at all worried about it.

Jovaiel: Your arguments are flawed! They don't serve your point in this thread to disprove the Christian God, in particular.

My arguments do not make that point because that is not the point I am trying to make. I never said there was no Christian God or tried to prove it.

Jovaiel: Just an FYI - many do not consider Buddhism a theistic faith.

Buddhism is not a faith at all. There is nothing in Buddhism which requires "belief." If you would like to know more about it you can check out a recent thread I started to answer questions about Buddhism:

Questioning Buddhism

In the meantime, did you actually read what I wrote? I said that in Buddhism the question is considered irrelevent. My point was that I have no reason to think that the Christian approach is better than the Buddhist approach.

Jovaiel: You're just like my father. He stubbornly dismissed all arguments against his statement with little more than "No." "You're wrong." etc.

I am not your father.

When you are attempting to describe my views and you are describing them innaccurately, I am certainly entitled to tell you that you are wrong. It's my call. I also explained why.

Jovaiel: Well, if that's how you are going to be, I hope it works well for you.

Seems to be.

10-12-08 4:44Buddhism Questioned

Jedi Princess: Why do Buddhists believe it's not right to kill another living being, when it's been part of nature, both animal and human, to kill other beings???

First of all, vegetarianism is not required for Buddhism. Some Buddhists have added the requirement, but the Buddha himself was not a vegetarian. In fact, he explicitly rejected a suggestion from Devadatta to proclaim vegetarianism as a requirement.

The first precept states, "Refrain from destroying living creatures." It is in place because killing, especially killing of humans by humans, can create great suffering. The precept is to let people know that it is a good idea to avoid killing when you can to avoid the suffering that arises from it.

But this is not a commandment. It's just a guideline. And any Buddhist worth his salt would understand the indemic nature of predation to the food chain. It's a natural part of life on this earth. It's a fact of life. Trying to change facts of life are likewise a ticket to suffering.

Some Buddhists do insist upon vegetarianism, but this is more of a monastic tradition than a direct Buddhist principle.

AL_Mom: Do you think what we are seeing now is the result of Bush's akusala?

Akusala, or unwholesomeness - "bad karma" - is just a way of saying that actions have consequences. The negative effects of unwholesome actions are not routed to you by a mystic force of the universe - they arise directly as a result of the actions. So, the negative effects that we are witnessing which are a direct result of the decisions made by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, etc. are the consequences that stem directly from their poor choices.

Karma is not a magical retribution machine. It just says that conditions arise as a result of your choices. In other words, you reap what you sow.

AL_Mom: What can be done, besides ending his rein, to get this country back together in accordance with your beliefs?

People are going to love this. :-)

In my opinion, many of the problems in our society are caused by attachment, particularly attachment to wealth and to things. In our country we place a tremendous emphasis on financial capability. Status and rank in our society are almost entirely determined by a person's net worth.

However, spending your life focusing on what you can get leaves you less time to focus on what you can be.

If people chose to practice a bit more non-attachment, they could weather the current crisis with a lot less heartache. It's only money. Money is just a thing. (In fact it's not even that, it's really just an idea.)

If our culture as a whole did not focus almost exclusively on acquiring ever-larger quantitites of wealth, we would not see greed and unscrupulousness driving our economy into continuous high-stakes boom and bust cycles.

Additionally, if we threw a little of the first precept onto our policy decisions we would not cause so much turmoil and create so many enemies out in the world. That's my take on it.

AL_Mom: I would agree with you...thanks for giving your insight, interesting what chaos want can cause.

StepMom: what do buddhists believe about abortion?

Buddhism is not a monolithic belief system. Different sects of Buddhism and and different Buddhists are free to make their own determination as to what constitutes "sila" - appropriate morality.

I would say the decision about having an abortion would stem from an evaluation of the suffering involved in the available choices.

The Dalai Lama has said, "I think abortion should be approved or disapproved according to each circumstance." This would suggest to me that the Buddhist stance would be a cautious and qualified pro-choice. But other Buddhists might feel differently.

StepMom: what is the standard for "good" or "bad" actions?

No action is inherently "good" or "bad." Those are judgements made by humans.

But in choosing right action, the criteria is to evaluate the consequences of the actions. Will this action bring about the desired result in a manner which is appropriate, or will it cause suffering and ill? That is the evaluation. It's not usually that difficult to figure out.

And in the meantime, the Five Precepts can be relied on as a pretty good guideline to keep you out of trouble and limit unnessary suffering until you figure it out.

Just for reference, here are the Five Precepts:

StepMom: how do buddhists determine that?

Trial and error. You examine your successes and your mistakes and learn what works and what doesn't.

AL_Mom: I'd say that it is akin to plain common sense. I'm impressed.

StepMom: what is sexual misconduct?

Sexual behavior that causes suffering. Rape would be an example of sexual misconduct.

There are lots of ways that inappropriate sexual activity can cause suffering, but it's not absolute. If your spouse is expecting you not to sleep with anyone else then adultery might qualify. If your spouse is not troubled by it then it might not qualify.

Again, the key is to evaluate the situation and the potential consequences and make a determination with regard to the effect on unnecessary suffering.

10-12-08 3:44God and The Authority

Jovaiel: Can you build a life saying simply "I don't know if God exists or not?" It's possible. There are people who focus on the mundane aspects of daily life and never question the reasons for their morality or their acceptance of authority or the deeper impulses beneath their choices. For them religion answers questions they don't ask.

I was hoping I would get a chance to come back to this, because it is one hundred percent completely wrong. There is no reason to assume that only theists ask these questions, or that theism is the only possible answer to these questions.

Jovaiel: Other people, however, seem compelled to make a choice and establish foundational beliefs for their understanding of themselves, their relationship with others, their relationships with society, their understanding of the forces of the world, their morality, their reasons for accepting or denying authority, etc.

Again, there is no reason to assume that theism is the only possible way to establish a foundation for understanding oneself, others and the world. A pragmatic foundation of evaluating what works and what doesn't work is a great way to start, and it's not the only non-theistic one.

Jovaiel: If the truth is that some sort of god or gods exist and you deny his or their authority, what will happen to you?

That is a pretty big fucking if.

I will evaluate the authority of any deity that approaches me and attempts to establish it. In the meantime, I will not grant you, or the Church, or the Bible, or any other person the authority to decide for me whether a God exists or not. You are not one iota more qualified to make this determination than I am.

Jovaiel: If you insist that you know only what science has proved, then you know absolutely nothing of the big questions about God, the creation of the world, the creation of mankind, etc.

You do not know any more about these things than anyone else.

Jovaiel: With due respect, what you have said about yourself leads me to believe that you are out of touch with this fact.

With due respect, it's not your call, and I do not accept that your opinion of the issues constitutes a fact.

Jovaiel: You have gambled that God does NOT exist.

You are completely wrong. I never put my chips on the table either for or against.

Jovaiel: To claim, however, that our current scientific knowledge backs you up in this decision...

I said that science does not address the issue of the existence of God. I did not make the claim you are attributing to me and you are misrepresenting my position.

10-12-08 3:44Explanation of Eightfold Path

Wisdom right knowledge (or understanding, or view) Grasping the teachings of the Buddha; seeing the world as conditional and impermanent.
right intent (or right aspiration) Approaching any task with intent to eliminate grasping, without ambition, greed, lust, violence.
Meditation right effort Constantly fostering good states of mind and constantly releasing bad ones.
right mindfulness (or attentiveness) Awareness of the functioning of the body and mind; attention to content of one's thought.
right concentration Development of the focussed state found in meditation.
Morality right speech Speaking little and then only truth, quietly and with compassion.
right action Behaving selflessly, constructively, and harmlessly to all living things (including yourself).
right livelihood Choosing a livelihood that permits you to follow the Way.

10-12-08 3:44Bible Free Will

BJ: There is no problem of evil, because god created man to have free will.

Is free will mentioned in the bible?

BJ: yes it is. many times.
Acts 13:48
2 Timothy 1:9
Epqhesians 1:4
2 Thessalonians 2:13
Jude 4
Romans 9:11
and the two verses that will explain it in the simplest words yet:
Joshua 24:15
DT 30:19
For angels:
Isaiah 14:14
Revelation 12:4
Genesis 3:5
First Timothy 3:6
First Corinthians 11:10
Jude 1:6
Mathew 21:41

I'm not sure which part of these passages you are referring to. Could you provide a few actual quotes? I'd appreciate it, thanks!

BJ: ok, sure!

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+24:15 for joshua 24:15
http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Isa/Isa014.html for isaiah 14:14
http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/2Th/2Th002.html for 2 Thessalonians 2:13

you can google all the verses, and it will give you the scrupture.

Yes, I did google the verses and got the exact same links that you posted. But, as I said, in most cases I wasn't sure what the relevence of the passages you linked to was.

For example, Isiah 14:14 is just this:

"I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High."

And 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says this:

"But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:"

So I was hoping that if you actually quoted the part you were talking about then you could explain the relevance to free will.

BJ: in order for this verse to make sense, you have to read the chapter. i should have clarified. Thessalonians 2:13 is a plea, to seek salvation of the lord. you have the free will to do so or not; this is a plea to find faith in god.

This is like saying that the ten commandments are actually a discussion of free will because you have the free will to follow them or not.

So for the most part I wouldn't say the bible is actually discussing free will as a concept per se. It seems like there's a bit of interpretation required to wring the free will out of some of these passages. Of course, I can certainly see how these can be interpreted as free will examples, however I am not seeing how most of them are explicitly free will examples. In fact I did a search of several versions and the term "free will" does not appear as such in the bible at all.

The fact is that "free will" as we understand it is primarily a philosophical concept which was conceived by the Greek philosophers, rather than a biblically derived principle.

Either way, as I have mentioned in the past, I'm not sure that deciding between eternal reward and eternal damnation really represents free will.

That's like saying, "The rape victim had a choice! She didn't have to have sex with the guy. She could have chosen to let him kill her."

10-11-08 2:22Screwed by Who?

Karen: Raver, I've watched you debate a few times and it scares the hell out of me that I'm actually disagreeing with you right now :) I'm not sure what I'm getting myself into here, but here it goes.

Thanks for considering what I have to say, I appreciate it a lot.

Karen: I agree that the poor are not the ones responsible for ruining the economy. They are not responsible, but they are not helping the economy either.

True, but they are not representing a significant drag. All the poor in America only represent about 4% of the economy.

It is a fact of human life that the young, the old, the infirm, the unlucky and the stupid are always supported by everyone else. Fortune can turn on a dime and we never know when we might be the ones who need help. But humans have always been very nurturing of each other, and help each other to get by. This is one of the greatest things about us.

Karen: The middle-class folk are the ones that are keeping what's left of this economy alive.

This is very true, and I really despise the royal screwing they are getting from the greedy a lot more than the minor annoyances presented by the poor. The poor are asking for help just to get by. The rich are robbing everyone else blind to fund their indolent luxury, their naked political power grabs and their imaginary financial multiplication schemes.

Karen:I can relate with the OP. I'm not against for helping those who need it.

Most people aren't. But everyone has a different idea of what constitutes "need."

Karen: It just seems to me, and this is from personal experience, that middle class gets screwed in everyway possible; from the wealthy and the poor.

The middle class is definitely getting squeezed. There's a lot more pressure from above than below.

Karen: And I have to say that I am tired of it.

You and me both.

Later in PM:

Karen: You made some very good points that have caused me to re-think my beliefs. I am in a struggle with myself right now and honestly trying to find who I am. Maybe Im just whining.

Karen, I didn't think you were whining at all and I feel honored that you would share your story with me. Here's my take on a couple of the points you mentioned:

Karen: I work in health care and it seems all I see are those who abuse the system.

This is not unusual. A lot of healthcare professionals have made this observation. But usually, most of the people who are "abusing the system" are not really asking for anything outrageous. They just want to have their wounds treated and their illnesses cured, like anyone else. It is perfectly understandable that the ill and infirm would wish to be made well, regardless of their financial status.

Karen: At least I would feel appreciated.

In my experience a lack of appreciation is not the exclusive domain of the rich or the poor or anyone in between. A lot of people fail to appreciate the help they get! But even if you don't always feel it, if you are tending the ill you are doing a beautiful service for humanity and I appreciate your sacrifice. Thank you.

Karen: I am also in school right now and cannot get financial aid because my family makes too much; so I'm racking up our debt through student loans.

I am dismayed by the massively convoluted system we have in place for both tending to the sick and educating our populace. Student loans, in particular, seem a terrible way to burden our young people, just starting out their careers, already tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

If I had to point to the most problematic aspect, I would say that the "for profit" nature of our current system is in direct odds with providing these services well. Having to make every decision with dollar signs in our eyes just blinds us to the humanity we are meant to be serving.

I would hope that someday we could see these endeavors for the vital, life-giving services they are instead of just another scheme for enriching a few at the top. I don't know exactly how this can be done, but if you take an objective measure of the countries in our world with the healthiest, most educated populaces, they are invariably countries like Sweden and Denmark where the systems are maintained as a social service and made available to everyone.

Karen: But where is the help for us to make life a little easier?

I know it seems impossible sometimes. The middle class are working harder than anyone else in the system - why do they see the least return on their work? It's not fair. But the capitalist system in general has no moral compass nor any innate sense of fairness applied to it.

There may not be much we can do, other than working with others to steer our system in a better direction. There are other countries who are doing a better job than we are and their model is available for us to learn from.

On a personal level, however, there is a lot you can do, and one of the first things is to get a little perspective. Money and wealth come and go with the tides, but really, as long as you have food and a place to get out of the weather, you have absolutely everything you need.

It's hard to believe, because our culture puts so much emphasis on having shiny new things, but longing after some glittery bauble that you can not afford creates a tremendous amount of suffering. There is so much more satisfaction in looking around us at all the things we do have, and even more importantly, to all the wonderful, irreplaceable people in our lives, and appreciating how lucky we already are.

Lastly, worrying about money doesn't bring more money. It only brings suffering. You shouldn't ignore money - understand it for the tool it is - but you only need to give it enough thought to figure out the plan, and then you can put it aside. You don't have to spend your precious time dwelling on it.

Actually, this works for any kind of worry. Your worries are created by you thinking about them. If you think about something else, they disappear until you remember them. Taking an active role in deciding for yourself what you want to think about is one of the most valuable life skills you can develop and it will pay you back a thousand-fold.

Karen:Anywho, I apologize for dumping this on you. You seem like a very insightful person and an extremely kind person. I was hoping that you had something insightful to say that would make me feel better or at least make me a little more understanding of other's. :)

Again, I apologize and will not be offended if you choose to delete this letter!

Karen, you seem like a caring and intelligent person, and I appreciate the chance to share my ideas with you. If you have any questions about what I've been trying to say, or if there is anything I can do to help you, please don't hesitate to contact me. Take care!

Your friend,

"The RaverLady"

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