Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pocketbook poison created by monopolies?

Photo by Alison, Wikimedia Commons, showing young people waiting outside Apple store
Carol Forsloff---Do you search or Google?  Are you convinced that Apple products are more lasting than others?  Do you long for the next great gadget, with all its complexities and promises?  Monopolies created by corporate chiefs bring self-perpetuating behaviors that are poison to the pocketbook and a humanitarian concern in maintaining the gap between rich and poor.

Google has brought a rich array of free and time-saving programs to their search engine and other products around the world. While this benefits consumers, there is a cost to them too..  Ask the Internet user how research is accomplished, and the response is likely, "I Google what I want to find." Search terms create a mindset that continues it be "googling", as people respond to what they learn is the best and most comprehensive search engine.  Competition suffers as a result.

One of the greatest problems brought about by Google's search and use monopolies is how sites are rewarded and punished.  It is often the prosperous who survive  Penguin updates, a terminology used to evaluate sites and demote those operating outside Google guidelines. While these updates are said to be used to prevent unfair competition and toxic material, the net Google uses to catch those who purposefully abuse those guidelines often catches the innocent as well.  The fix costs money, so those who pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for it survive, while those unsuspecting site developers without the right technical knowledge, or money to buy it, may not.  This means Professor Smith's blog on earth sciences may lose ranking and readers, while a political one with factual errors survives.

Google also tracks the way people buy products as well as where and how.  So businesses are provided a mechanism for targeting sales.  This encourages the unsuspecting consumers to buy items they may neither need or want, until some advertisement tells them they do.

When a computer is shown in movies and television  it is apt to be an Apple. The local drugstore reflects the monopoly of Apple as well, with displays for items specific to Apple products over others. These product placements encourage people to believe that to be in step with the rest of the world one must pay the extra fees Apple charges for their products and then the classes necessary to learn them.  The cost to the ordinary consumer is much greater than the costs of more affordable products that may be just as useful and also easier to use.  But it does not stop there, as Apple presents its products in a secretive, almost cult-like fashion meant to create and maintain consumer passion to join its Apple ranks.  And these are often the young or the poor who are more easily seduced into believing that social and financial success comes with Apple membership

Competition thwarted by corporations created by an ever-widening chasm between company and consumer allows money to continue to grow in the hands of the few who support government entities and politicians who keep them in control.

Monopolies in the modern world flourish for lack of objection.  Perhaps it is time to use "search" instead of "googling" and to buy tech products easy to use and not costly to replace.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Aged crippled by home mortgage process

 Photo by Ulflarsen--Senior clients
Carol Forsloff--The mortgage process has been made more difficult in general following the economic stresses that helped to create the downturn of housing values during the most recent recession.  However, the mortgage process is even more of a problem in aging given the fact seniors often differ in how income is calculated and how the issues of time and circumstance are unique for the elderly..

A mortgage broker sees the age on the application.  There is an immediate curiosity when a senior applies for a mortgage.  The older the senior may be, the more apt there are errors in judgment, status and the details that make a difference in the elderly borrowers.

Decades ago mortgages were processed by lenders with an application that showed a financial inventory of assets and liabilities, self-constructed by the applicant.  It was this summary that formed the basis for decision-making, after verification information that was less extensive given the sources of income and liabilities may be more diverse in the era of technology.

VA loans are among the many that are particularly cumbersome and often problematic for the elderly. Again many of the issues related to sources of income and assets.  Some of the concerns can be particularly stressful because the kind of verification process presumes knowledge of the various individuals outside of the applicant who are involved in that process layers down. The fact the applicant can bundle closing costs and down payment offer opportunities for seniors who have been in the military to purchase a suitable home that may be necessary or especially desirable for the elderly with less house and yard to maintain.

The problem with loans from the Veterans Administration (VA) also may come during the final stages of the loan when an explanation may be especially a problem if the senior has another home that may be paid off, therefore a major asset, that the elderly applicant is keeping as income by renting or to pass along to heirs.

The problem becomes the mortgage broker's practices may not include the senior whose tax statements may not reflect assets and liabilities given the fact many seniors and others have savings that could be used to pay off much if not all of a mortgage.  Yet they may choose not to given certain estate issues along with the needs and wishes of the applicant and his or her family.

The broker, not seeing the usual documentation received by someone with a salary, or income used outside of savings that are not reflected on tax returns, is more likely to make major errors in determining qualification for loans.  The concepts used in the kind of financial statements once required by lenders and from which decisions were made is lost in the bureaucratic snafus.  Add to that any prejudgment or misconceptions by one of those involved in approving a loan, and the senior is left with a far more complicated process than necessary and potentially the refusal of a loan.

Besides the paper work errors and misconceptions about the elderly, or the requirements of a loan that may not reflect a senior's situation and information, the entire mortgage process can take more time for them than for other applicants.

There is also the possible assumption that asks the question: why does the senior need to borrow and why do they not pay in cash, as some others often do.  Again the reasons are often personal and may be because of estate planning needs, the need to maintain other property as income or the applicant's concerns about future health care costs that increase during advancing age.

An example may illustrate some of these issues.  A couple with net assets of $625,000 nearly is refused a loan because of tax statements that allowed deductions for medical expenses that were short term and other unique expenses during the two years prior to the application.  During that time two years, and to the date of the application, the elderly couple had substantial savings to augment income that could pay the requested $150,000 loan in full.  Still loan administrators continued to labor over income sources because of the income limitations on the application.

The elderly are among those who have been bankrupted by poor decision-making, or who have health problems and other issues.  It might be sad that the more streamlined the process of buying and selling a home can be, by using thoughtful measures applied to elderly groups whose needs are different than others the less strenuous and stressful the results might be and the more likely they will be just. .    Ulflarsen ,

Friday, March 13, 2015

Ebola epidemic increases susceptibility to measles

Ebola cycle
Experts from John Hopkins have found the Ebola epidemic has increased susceptibility to measles, with the rate of increase seen to potentially double in the wake of the problems related to the virus that continues to spread in parts of Africa.

The principal problem related to the Ebola virus is the disruption in the health care system, according to the experts.  Much of the public health focus in areas of Africa is on Ebola, so that fewer people are being vaccinated against measles.  This problem may increase the rate of measles as a consequence of resources having been diverted to the greater problem faced by Ebola.  But measles also has the potential to disable and to cause death, so health authorities are particularly concerned about the problem.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Leeward 'watering hole' offers Hawaii's best of aloha

Spinners cafe on the Waianae Coast
"Come on and sit down and join us here.  We have plenty of food to share after you have picked up your plate.  Lots of people to meet, and just sit and watch the ocean with the rest of us."
The friendly greeting from the group echoes through the small cafe, the Waianae 'watering hole' that is the best kept secret of new and old visitors, in the traditions of many places around the world.

The sun streams through the windows, with its diamond-like spears coming in with its warmth even as it touches the ocean in the near distance, as strangers and friends gather around a table, sharing what is called "empty your refrigerator" time, as a prelude to friendly chatter and great food.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hawaiian ethics leads to understanding the nature of human love

Gardens at Waianae Comprehensive, a healing center with the Hawaiian touch found in the essence of love
"She probably did not have much when she was a kid.  Women her age were raised to have babies and be quiet.  And she is poor, and her kids don't take good care of her either.  So we need to understand."

Michelle Perez is Hawaiian and then some.  The "then some" are those mixes with various cultural groups that make up most of the Hawaiian population in modern times.  Her philosophy represents the best of Hawaiian ethics, which means to look at all people with the eyes of ohana, or family.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

'That Liquor Ain't Good for You'

Carol Forsloff--While some music performers use their talents to denigrate specific politicians in a toxic way, as does Kid Rock and Ted Nugent, others find ways to elevate one's thinking by examining social issues and elevating the ideas about what matters most in life, as is done often by Gene O'Neill.

O'Neill has the skills of guitar, vocal performance and writing that fuse ideas into songs that entertain while giving us that something good that makes us feel like we have learned, expanded our hearts and minds.  We soar with O'Neill on the wings of the good, looking at man with eyes that see the story and the whole of us, the very heart and soul of us as well, while using a variety of musical techniques and themes as the mechanism for the flight.