April 29, 2008
Taxes & Investments
The first thing to understand about your money is that's not really just your money. If no one accepts your money as valuable, it's not money. Your money, like mine, can be money only because we all use it that way. Money is just the poker chips we have all agreed to use to play the game of life as we know it, even though it's pretty tough to make any other choice.
Anyway, most of us will get some kind of tax rebate to be saved or spent on gas and food. Is the government giving us our money back? Not exactly, because the government gets to print money, and control certain limits on money. To create more money, the government buys assets and makes loans based on collateral. So then the money is backed by the quality of the assets and collateral.
So to keep the economy going, the government (that's us) has to invest in assets and loans (ours). So, we can save on transaction costs by doing this locally, investing some of our tax rebates or retirement funds directly in local projects. For example, we could invest in better food markets in unhealthy neighborhoods with too many junk food stores. Or we could invest in passive solar construction and renovations.
Some say that Fresh & Easy will be a good healthy market for Oak Park, so I went online to check them out. I think they are aiming at the Trader Joe's market niche, plus perhaps more produce from local farms. But I saw way too many packaged products with their recipe suggestions. I also saw that they offer $1000 to every community where they open a store, but they didn't say exactly who gets the money.
The affordable way to eat healthy food is to buy basic ingredients and make it yourself. It can be super-simple. If you're stumped, ask friends who do make good food for just a few tips. The truth about eating your vegetables is it takes a bit more time to prepare them than simple stuff like eggs or cheese toasties. But think of it as health insurance. And they can taste great. Oils, maybe butter, are an important part of a balanced diet. If you want to lose weight, just don't eat white flour/rice/pasta/sugar/etc., and do get more exercise.
If I lived in Oak Park and wanted to buy healthy food, I would go to the Co-op and to the farmers markets, and occasionally to Trader Joe's. I like to play the field. But transportation can be a problem for moms or bus riders. When the city was looking high and low to find a grocery store at Stockton & Broadway, I suggested the neighborhood consider organizing a consumers' cooperative store. And there is nothing stopping them from doing this now, investing their rebates in themselves.