(C) Joan-Marie Moss July 2001


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Happy Birthday, America! 
Thoughts on Inflation / Recession
Opportunity Is Everywhere
Summer Coolers
Sites Worth Checking Out


"Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision
just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world."

                                                                Joel Arthur Barker



This great land we live in has just celebrated its 225th Birthday. Now that the grand celebrations are over and the fireworks have glazed glorious images in our memories, let's take a moment to reflect.

We live in a great country -- a melting pot like no other -- a land of vision and plenty. It was founded by giants who signed a Bill of Rights and a Constitution that is unparalleled in history. We often take for granted the opportunities we enjoy here...opportunities that peoples around the world still dream about ... opportunities that lure people from other countries even today.

Those great founding fathers fought with all their might to build a land of freedom and opportunity for all. Throughout America's history countless others fought to ensure that their vision would remain true to its intent. 

They've left us a legacy and a challenge. Our job is to ensure that this vision not be eroded. We are charged with the job of making sure that this remains a land where everyone can be the best they can be. Are we doing our part?


Have you gotten your tax return yet? Enjoy! It seems a little ridiculous now, but this country was originally founded as a protest against taxation.



Whatever you call it, the pocketbook is getting stretched thin!

As far back as 1959, the average American's personal savings rate has been an impressive 8.10% of income. However, more recently, the American savings rate has been falling to dangerously low levels. It hasn't exceeded 1% in more than two years. Worse yet, it dipped into negative territory twice during 2000 (-0.10% in February and -0.20% in July).

On average, we spent more than we actually earned during those months.

Our culture encourages us all to be big spenders. If you don't believe that take a look at the towering advertisements that adorn many of our biggest cities' roadways.

And, recall the astronomical increase in costs we're paying for subsistence...

Today    50s-60s
a loaf of bread  more than $2   25 cents
a gallon of gas more than $2     31 cents (in 1962)
postage stamp 33 cents   4 cents (in 1962)
McDonalds double hamburger $2.69   28 cents
Hershey bar $ .75  5 cents

With increases of 850% for a postage stamp and more than 1500% for a candy bar, it's no wonder we're feeling strapped.

But before we start crying the blues, let's remember that everything is relative. Back in the 50s and 60s incomes weren't what they are today.

Many of us are enjoying annual incomes far and beyond what we dreamed possible back in the middle of the 20th century. In fact, it may be sobering to recall that the vast majority of people in the market today don't even remember those days of nickel candy bars and penny candy. From their perspective, that time is no more significant the prehistoric era.

When we talk income, inflation and recession, it's a good thing to remember that all things are relative. Where earning potential is greater, costs are also significantly greater. It costs a lot more to live in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York than it does to live in Gallup, Pagosa Springs and Memphis. But the income potential is greater too.

If we're making more now and enjoying less, perhaps we need to look at our priorities. As long as we buy into the "gotta have it now at any cost" mentality we're never going to be satisfied. And we're never going to be prudent with the wealth we enjoy.

If the commodities we buy on a day to day basis and the extras are costing more now it's because we are willing to pay the price. As long as we can't say "No" to what are excessive prices, we will continue to pay them.

What can we do? If the price is higher than we honestly feel is justifiable, it's time to start shopping smarter. It's time to look for bargains and for substitutes and for alternatives.

It's truly amazing how quickly the market will adjust itself when buyers refuse to buy items that are over priced and when buyers are willing to wait until prices are reduced.

Our market is governed by the consumer. Companies typically price their wares based on "whatever the market will bear"  If the market doesn't buy into that, prices are adjusted accordingly. The balance of supply and demand fuels inflation and recession. All too frequently the supply is deliberately reduced below known demand so that prices are driven upward.

We saw the same gas crisis that we've been experiencing these past few months back in the 70s.

Point being, if we're concerned about the market -- now's the time to act. We can make a difference. Here are a few ideas for significantly improving your economic status in spite of the current glitch in the economy:

* Think twice before buying -- Do you really need that? 
* Get price quotes and shop around before spending 
* Cheaper is not always best -- look at guarantees and warrantees and read the labels to determine what you're REALLY getting for your money

* Watch that waste! The nickels and dimes cost dearly in the long run.

* Consider doing without those items that are overpriced - or at least postpone the purchase a while.

* Look for alternatives.



Don't let the negativity during this time of economic adjustment discourage you. This is a time of great opportunity. Remember the old adage of the wealth builders -- When others buy, sell! and when others sell, buy!

While technology and corporations are cutting back its time for your entrepreneurial spirit to move forward. Those of you who have been -- or might be -- laid off can capitalize on this time to position yourselves for uncommon growth. If you're looking for ways to boost your income or to start your own business, you might want to look at This site has a wealth of opportunities available. And it offers a newsletter. Just be careful. Be sure that you thoroughly research any opportunity before getting involved.


All you have to do to be successful is to follow the advice you give others!



July and August can be unbearably hot. But you can stay cool, calm and refreshed. This time of year, your consumption of liquids is critical to maintaining health and a sense of well-being. Teat yourself! 


Remember that presentation makes all the difference, whether you are entertaining others or treating yourself during a busy day. The idea is to make the drink refreshing and to pamper yourself a little, especially during the hectic days of summer.

* Start with a pretty, chilled glass filled with ice cubes
* Freeze whole strawberries or cherries to add to your drink.
* Freeze edible flowers in your ice cubes. (Not all flowers are edible but violets, barrage, scented geraniums and rose hips are very nice.)
* Add a sprig of fresh mint or lemon balm to your drink
* Add a thin slice of lemon, orange or lime (even to your
iced water) for a delightful pick-me-up.



* 4 black tea bags
* 1/3 cup honey
* 3 cups unsweetened apple juice
* 3 cups boiling water
* lemon slices

In a 2 quart pot, brew 4 tea bags in boiling water. Remove
bags, add 1/3 cup honey and 3 cups unsweetened apple juice. Stir well. Pour over ice. Serves 6-8


* 1 cup honey
* 1 cup orange juice
* 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
* 1 cup fresh fruit, crushed
* 1 1/2 cups fresh, strong tea
* 1 pint ginger ale

Mix 1 cup honey, 1 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, 1 cup fresh fruit (crushed) 1 1/2 cups fresh, strong tea. Just before serving, add 1 pint ginger ale or 7-Up. If too 
strong for your taste, add more ginger ale, 7-Up or iced water to taste.


* 1 1/2 cups boiling water
* 6 Cinnamon Apple tea bags
* 3 tablespoons sugar
* 1 1/2 cups cold water
* 1 cup grape juice
* 2 teaspoons lemon juice
* Club soda, chilled

In teapot, pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over 6 Cinnamon Apple tea bags; cover and steep 5 minutes. Remove bags; stir in 3 Tablespoons sugar and cool. In pitcher, combine tea, 1 1/2 cups ice water and 2 cup grape juice and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Serve in ice-filled glasses with a splash of chilled soda. Garnish, if desired, with lemon slices.


Combine 2 cups Darjeeling tea leaves, 1/2 cup rose hips, 1/2 cup dried rosebuds and 1 vanilla bean. Save in an airtight container. Use 1 teaspoon of tea leaves mix for each cup of boiling water in a teapot. Steep 2-3 minutes. Serve hot with 1 Tablespoon honey and 1/2 teaspoon rose water added to each cup. Garnish with dried rose petals.


Combine 2 cups Ceylon tea leaves with 1/2 cup diced dried apricots, 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger, 2 cinnamon sticks and 1 Tablespoon whole cloves. Save in an airtight container. Use 1 teaspoon of tea leaves mix for each cup of boiling water in a teapot. Steep 2-3 minutes. Serve hot with 1 teaspoon orange marmalade added to each cup. Garnish with 1 cinnamon stick and a sliver of crystallized ginger.


Don't cry because it is over, smile because it happened



Here's an outstanding site both for the message it offers and the technical presentation! It's a don't miss!



Assistance Council provides zero interest financing for land acquisition and site development associated with self-help housing. Loans of up to $10,000 per unit are available on a competitive basis; 75% of each loan may be forgiven once units are successfully completed. Applications due August 31.


CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: Is Justice Being Served? Protect Society through Tough Enforcement; Use Our Crime-Fighting Tools More Wisely, or Reclaim Lives through Prevention and Rehabilitation - A new guide from Public Agenda helps citizens weigh the pros and cons of opposing justice system reforms.

FOR GOODNESS SAKE: The role of religion in American public life has been debated since the Founding Fathers. Just during the past few weeks, the Supreme Court has upheld the right of religious clubs to meet in an elementary school, and upheld an Alabama law allowing students to lead prayers at graduation ceremonies. In our study For Goodness' Sake, Public Agenda set out to better understand what Americans think about religion and how it intersects with public life.

These and other informative articles on the policy options and public opinion can be found at:



five million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 were out of school and out of work at the turn of the 21st century, showing little change from figures a decade earlier, according to the results of a new study of U.S. labor market conditions from Alternative Schools Network in Chicago.



KAIROS USA is A national/international network of groups and individuals, active on issues of anti-racism, economic justice and self-determination, while engaged in a process of theological/political reflection. If you're looking for connections that will enable you to get involved, you might want to check out:



We made a critical mistake in the last newsletter misspelling Ralph Statter's name when crediting him for a contribution. Our deepest apologies and great appreciation for calling this error to our attention!




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Thanks for reading BITS 'N TIDBITS


Copyright (c) 2001 by Joan-Marie Moss 
Phone: 708-383-3065

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