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By Nicolle

A friend of mine once told me how disgusted he was with the type of language we use when we refer to our relationships. We “invest” in our friends. We “balance” our relationships. We “budget” our time with our boy/girlfriends.

Referring to our relationships the way we refer to our bank accounts might seem a little cold. But maybe if we started viewing love and marriage as romantic business deals, we’d be able to maintain them more long-term.

The reality is that many parts of marriage revolve around the mundane – Who’ll do the dishes? Who’s going to clean the toilet? Who should cook dinner? Who’s in charge of the bills? How do we decide about finances? Who buys the toothpaste?

Often, we forget that these day-to-day activities make up a large portion of marriage. The mushy-gushy romantics get pushed to the wayside when it come to who’ll keep track of the finances or who’s going to the grocery store this week.

Even people we love the most can be awful roommates, budgeters or cleaners. Just because you’re romantically gooey with your partner doesn’t mean all those boring, everyday things magically work themselves out. They require tedious discussions that make long-term commitment seem like not exactly what we signed up for.

Look at it like this: In choosing a partner to go into business with, would you pick someone who lacks a work ethic, who disagrees with you about how to make financial decisions or who has a knack for spending more than s/he makes? Probably not (and if you did, your friends and family would caution you against it). So why, when so many of the same characteristics are part of what makes a marriage work, would you choose someone you a) hadn’t discussed those things with or b) knew you’d completely disagree with them on?

You shouldn’t. And you shouldn’t let an in-the-moment romantic feeling cause you to make a long-term commitment you wouldn’t make in another area of your life.

When you’re dating, everything is geared toward getting to know each other, spending time together and having fun. When you’re married and living together, things start to shift and become geared toward doing regular life together. Sure, there are special times you plan like when you were dating, but those times aren’t necessarily as frequent because your downtime, your relaxation time, your just “being” time is spent together. None of that is bad; it just represents a shift in the relationship that many people don’t factor in when deciding when or who they’re going to marry.

I’m not proposing that we should rid marriage of romance or completely disregard our feelings. What I do advocate is letting our logic inform our feelings (and if you’re lacking in logic, find someone who can give you that kind of advice, be it a good friend, family member or mentor). We have to strike a balance of head and heart when making decisions that impact our romantic AND everyday lives.

Cold? Callous? Unfeeling? Perhaps. But taking some of the romanticized ideas out of marriage could make us more successful in our relationship attempts.

While our relationships might not be as financially lucrative as a business deal, we will yield a high result if we can recognize that the sense we use when it comes to financial decisions can come in handy if applied to marriage. And a high marriage stock is worth more than any financial stock (especially in this economy).


Collected By Anna

Vodafone’s answer for low sales in Developing Countries = a $15 cell phone

NYC transforms parking meters into bike rakes.

Yoga in prisons

Urban planning curbs obesity

The first Wave Farm off the Oregon Coast (of course)

Montana has third best wind potential, Texas, first

Sometimes we forget about languages going extinct

For the most part these all seem like interesting ideas and stories, but I’m interested in what you think. What are the ecological outcomes if more people own cell phones? But shouldn’t people have the same opportunity to own them, because I’m sure not giving mine up? I think Yoga in prisons could help with a lot of stress and anger, so why not have Yoga in schools and churches as well?

I’m excited about all the potential we have as a nation, but concerned that if we don’t go beyond these small measures to better ourselves we will steer the earth into the sun; and if we don’t take the wheel, China will, and we’ve set a pretty ridiculous development precedent that they’re reaching for.

Find Good on Twitter

By Anna

When humanity’s relationship with the environment is compared to Bernie Madoff and his clients’ relationship, the argument of human superiority doesn’t work anymore.

In the Jan/Feb issue of The Utne Reader David P. Barash said we are all Bernie Madoff’s when it comes to the environment because our economies make us so. The article was originally published in The Chronicle of Higher Education and compares Madoff’s Ponzi scheme to “modern civilization’s exploitation of the environment.”

Ponzi Scheme a.k.a. Pyramid Scheme:

Barash’s environment Ponzi Scheme:

“Nearly all economic models of ‘development’ rely upon an unsustainable assumption: that the discovery of new resources … will always come to our rescue, enabling us to postpone, indefinitely, any final audit … Under capitalism, it has been said, man exploits man, whereas under communism, it’s the reverse. Either way, the environment is the loser.”
He attacks Capitalism and Communism, but shies away from attacking socialism. Though we will never convince our parents of the need for a socialist economy, the independent experts agree it would help the situation we find ourselves in, that of recession and joblessness and environmental damage. As Barash said, “A strong economy is possible when the environment on which it depends is healthy and strong.”

No longer can we excuse our Ponzi Scheme with the environment because, like Madoff, there are bigger forces that will imprison us eventually.

By Ryan

NobelAlfredEFSWith all the controversy surround President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize win, little discussion has taken place regarding the other 2009 Nobel laureates.  This is surprising given that not only is the Nobel the most distinguished award in Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Medicine, and Economics, but that, as usual, most of the winners are from the United States.  Yes, those United States.  Come on, Europe, what are doing over there?  Let’s break it down.


Willard S. Boyle (dual citizenship—Canada, U.S.) and George E. Smith (U.S.) “for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit.”  This sounds pretty good, until you realize that Boyle and Smith invented their charge-coupled device at AT&T in 1969.  Really, no one did anything more impressive in physics last year?  Or the last 40 years?


Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (India, U.K.), Thomas A. Steitz (U.S.), and Ada E. Yonath (Israel) “for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.”  A female winner from Israel?  Now, we’re talking.  I guess technically Ramakrishnan works in Cambridge, but he was born in India and educated in the U.S.


Herta Müller (Germany) “who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed.”  Alright, finally, a true European.  This category is usually pretty favorable to Europe, with Toni Morrison (1993) the only U.S. writer to win the award in the last twenty years.

Physiology or Medicine

Elizabeth H. Blackburn (U.S., Australia), Carol W. Greider (U.S.), and Jack W. Szostak (U.S., U.K.) “for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by miniature bodyguards trained in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu .”  I did not make that description up, I promise.  It makes sense that the U.S. would lead the way here, due to our heavily-funded medical research, about the only part of our healthcare system that’s worth celebrating.


Elinor Ostrom (U.S.), and Oliver Williamson (U.S.) “for analysis of economic governance.”  This one really gets me fired up.  The U.S. has had this category on lockdown since 2004.  Does the Nobel committee even read the newspapers?  If the U.S. has the best economists in the world, we’re surely misusing them.

In some ways it’s comforting to know that the rest of the world thinks we’re doing better than them.  But mostly it’s pretty disturbing when a country embattled in multiple wars, struggling with one of the worst health rates in the developed world, and scrapping by on poor economic indicators can take home the highest awards for peace, medicine, and economics.  If this is the best of what humans did in these fields last year, we’re all in serious trouble.

By Anna

welfare_reformTwo things need to happen in the fight against poverty: individuals have to make rational decisions and institutions have to shape human behavior for equal opportunity.  Though to me they are obvious factors that equally contribute to individuals living in poverty, many people blame one or the other, not understanding the particular situations, or why something is a stereotype.

Without boring you all to sleep with economical jargon let me just say that there are two schools of economic thought: one Republicans follow (the neoclassical view), the other Democrats adhere to (the institutional view)-yes, I realize I’m stereotyping, but it’s a stereotype for a reason.

1. Neoclassical: the individual must decide to stay in school and not do drugs because that is the most beneficial to “succeed” in this American society.  Individuals must act in self-interest (not to be confused with selfishness) and use rationality to decide what to do.

For example: For a high schooler in a low-income family this could mean going to school from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., working from 3:30 p.m. – midnight and then doing homework from midnight – 2 a.m., so there’s not a lot of time to do drugs (or to sleep).  These are the “working poor,” and there is a high probability that they may still need welfare to make ends meet.

2. Institutional: the system evolves with passing policies and shapes human behavior.  The institution can be formal (government laws and regulations) or informal (learned behavior, like giving people personal space).

For example: Traditionally, families could be on welfare from birth to death, but in 1996, welfare was reformed so someone could only be on federal welfare for five years, yet could still qualify for state welfare for a longer period of time.  Because of the institutional set up, it functions as a charity system today and does not act in developing the families to be able to get a higher education so that they have an opportunity to be paid enough to get off of welfare.

Four hundred words barely begin to address the issue of neoclassical and institutional economics.  It has taken hundreds of years for white men to get where they are in the world, and it has only been about 50 years since the United States has started to address its issues of race.  So how can we expect to see equality for all lived out in America for another hundred years?