Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

There was an op-ed by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal today entitled "A God of the Copybook Headings" in which the Author discussed Wall Street Journal editor George Melloan:
[A]s George Melloan reminds us in "The Great Money Binge: Spending Our Way to Socialism," just as bad ideas never quite go out of fashion, neither do good ones. Readers looking for an antidote to this season's political gloom will find more than the full dose in this splendid book.
Mr. Melloan was, of course, the writer of this column for many years, one of the labors in a career at the Journal that spanned 54 years as a reporter, editor and commentator. Among the benefits of a long career is a long memory and an imperviousness to intellectual fads. In Kipling's terms, he is one of the Gods of the Copybook Headings—the unfashionable keepers of hard truths about which we must occasionally be reminded.
In Kipling's day, a copybook was a book which students used to practice penmanship.  The book comprised a series of blank, usually lined pages each of which was headed by a maxim or proverb that the student was expected to copy.  The maxims and proverbs preached common sense and reality.

The current unreal behavior of the politicians in Washington has sparked a number of commentaries referring to and quoting the poem.

This from Lisa Shifferin, writing for the National Review Online:
Alas, I seem to have dour temperament of a liberal to go with conservative convictions. So from me you get Rudyard Kipling, explaining here why, even if we lose today, even if our worst fears of impending socialism and apocalyptic doom descend upon the land of the free, the eternal realities of life will bring us back to basics.
 And from NRO's John Derbyshire, "Reality doesn't go away just because you stop believing in it."

Please enjoy the poem, linked here, and take comfort in the inevitable truth that if you ignore reality, the truth will come back to bite you.

Monday, December 14, 2009

State of the Union: Not Good

Nathan's Economic Edge in a post called "The State of the Union - in charts" has compiled a series of charts from the Federal Reserve and the Bureau of Labor Statistics that is quite revealing. See http://economicedge.blogspot.com/2009/12/state-of-union-in-charts.html Read Nathan's post. His comments are instructive. You can scroll through the charts more easily on these pages:  (Banking and Labor).

The state of the Union is not so good.

The stock market apparently believes that we have started a recovery and that the future will be better. But history reveals a pattern that might predict a another downturn in the economy. See the Morgan Stanley article linked by Nathan: "Here comes a brutal 2010" (http://www.businessinsider.com/morgan-stanley-here-comes-a-brutal-2010-2009-11#when-will-tightening-occur-when-jobless-claims-hit-the-350k-400k-level-5) Morgan Stanley's prediction is based on the notion that the Fed, after goosing the economy with low interest rates and easy money to move things out of a recession, always tightens money and credit and raises interest rates once the economy starts to pull out. And that is exactly what Ben Bernanke has signaled that the Fed would do. See, e.g., http://www.forbes.com/2009/08/10/federal-reserve-policy-business-oxford.html

However, this is not a typical recession and recovery and there are some good reasons why the Fed might not tighten any time soon.

The economy is in a very fragile condition. Banks, especially, are in bad shape and it could take years for them to get healthy. (Their balance sheets do not show how bad because the Financial Accounting Standards Board has recanted their proposal to make banks mark their bad loans and securities to market value -- so many banks are hiding insolvency.) The banks consequently are conserving their reserves and are not yet lending, impeding the Fed's plans to print their way out of a deflation. And another wave of defaults in home commercial real estate loans is fast approaching. Consumers have adopted, perhaps permanently, a new, prudent approach to personal finance, reducing their use of credit. Easy money from home equity loans, taken out on constantly rising real estate values, is gone forever. Deflation remains a serious problem for an economy that was based on easy credit. And it will take time for businesses to adjust to a new paradigm in which they will have to fund much of their growth from earnings and what credit they do receive will be based on a higher standard of financial wherewithal.

Businesses will suffer whose sales depend on consumer discretionary spending and spending that can be postponed, which includes almost all businesses. Those businesses which provide essential goods and services will suffer less, but they also will suffer as consumers turn down the heat and shop more carefully for food bargains and otherwise seek ways to economize.

There is also the problem of the politicization of the Federal Reserve System. Ben Bernanke seems to have been more responsive than his predecessors to the political winds that blow and he does not appear to have the will to oppose them. And the passage of a bill that would explicitly make the Fed more politically responsive means that the Fed will not be able to independently act to tighten money and threaten a recovery when the time to make hard decisions comes. Even if the bill does not become law, the mere threat that the Congress can reduce the Fed's independence, is sufficient to make the Fed more politically responsive. And while some predict a robust recovery, that does not mean the Fed will raise interest rates any time soon. See http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a7yHrrr_Vklo&pos=4 And that is why the stock market has not yet dropped in anticipation of another downturn in the economy. The market believes that the recovery will continue but others do not. See http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/12/yield-curve-steepest-since-1980-hard.html.

And all of this ignores the international scene. See http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/12/eu-ready-to-bailout-greece-debt.html.

Is there any way out of this mess? Maybe. This fellow thinks that there is no alternative than resurrecting the gold standard: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/OpEd-Contributor/Interest-increases-central-to-looming-debt-crisis-8648650-79004147.html

Many say that there is not a practical way to return to the gold standard. But others have plotted a course to do so. The biggest problem is persuading the population that there really isn't a way to have your cake and eat it too. Some day, somehow, everything has to be paid for from real wealth, not printed paper.

Monday, November 30, 2009


For years we have known that some members of the scientific community who receive government funds have pursued a political agenda and suppressed an objective appraisal of the influence of man's activities on the climate.  But clear, hard evidence of their bias did not achieve widespread public notice until this month when a hacker penetrated the computers of the Climate Research Unit and published the dirty details.  The CRU e-mails, which have been verified as authentic, confirm a scandal of science that rivals the suppression of Galileo.  Despite much of the main stream media's attempt to ignore the issue, the fallout thus far has been significant.  Here are a few of the comments and reports identified by Robert Bidinotto, Breitbart and the Drudge Report:

Even those who believe that objective evidence supports the notion that mankind's commercial activities are altering the climate deplore the suppression of opposing views.  See Pretending the climate email leak isn't a crisis won't make it go away.

But President Obama, Al Gore and others continue pretend that the e-mails and evidence of doctored statistics have not surfaced. And they continue their efforts to create expensive systems of government constraints on commercial activity using global warming climate change as a pretext.  Gore is explicit in his anti-capitalist objectives: " . . . we have placed too great an emphasis on outdated modes of distilling economic value," citing Joseph Stiglitz's work in the Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress.  (As I revealed earlier, Stiglitz confuses "capitalism" with a corporatist/fascist economy, which he believes needs more regulation.)  Gore's motives are more nefarious.  He is out to both line his own pockets and facilitate global governance, the ultimate consequence of which would be to supplant the form of government bequeathed to us by our forefathers with an omnipotent superstate. 

The cast of characters supporting the increasingly shrill cries of alarm about global warming climate change, alone, is sufficient to raise questions about the motivations of those who assert that "science" justifies relinquishing the beneficence that free enterprise bestows on us.  The biggest question is why, when climate change is a phenomenon that occurs over centuries, millennia and eons, is there is such an all-fired rush to diminish and dismantle mankind's progress?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Going Rogue

No, this is not about Sarah Palin's Book.  It's about the United States Congress.

As if cap and trade, perpertual bailouts and nationalization of everything from health care to General Motors were not enough, the usual suspects, Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd, are proposing to give a new regulatory agency sweeping powers to regulate non-bank financial activity in the name of avoiding "systemic risk."  Please read Peter J. Wallison's  The Permanent TARP in the Wall Street Journal.   [Update 11/23/09: Also see No Bondholder Left Behind.] 

Clearly, the Congress is out of control.

We are staring straight down the barrel of a paradigm shift -- from the age of caveat emptor, due diligence, prudence and personal responsibility to the age of government paternalism, bailouts, and shifting the cost of an individual's misfortune, stupidity and vice to his neighbors.  Despite the many voices objecting to their creation, the Congress and its willing accomplices in the Administration proceed deliberately to institutionalize moral hazards at a pace that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. 

This is not what the people who pay the bills and vote want.  Consider the following letter, which was apparently sent to Glen Beck, now circulating around the internet:

GLENN BECK: I got a letter from a woman in Arizona . She writes an open letter to our nation's leadership:

"I am a home grown American citizen, 53, registered Democrat all my life. Before the last presidential election I registered as a Republican because I no longer felt the Democratic Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. Now I no longer feel the Republican Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. The fact is I no longer feel any political party or representative in Washington represents my views or works to pursue the issues important to me. Instead, we are burdened with Congressional Dukes and Duchesses who think they know better than the citizens they are supposed to represent.

There must be someone. Please tell me who you are. Please stand up and tell me that you are there and that you're willing to fight for our Constitution as it was written. Please stand up now.

You might ask yourself what my views and issues are that I would feel so horribly disenfranchised by both major political parties. What kind of nut-job am I? Well, these briefly are the views and issues for which I seek representation:

One, illegal immigration. I want you to stop coddling illegal immigrants and secure our borders. Close the underground tunnels. Stop the violence and the trafficking in drugs and people. No amnesty, not again. Been there, done that, no resolution. P.S., I'm not a racist. This is not to be confused with legal immigration.

Two, the STIMULUS bill. I want it repealed and I want no further funding supplied to it. We told you No, but you did it anyway. I want the remaining unfunded 95% repealed. Freeze, repeal.

Three: Czars. I want the circumvention of our constitutional checks and balances stopped immediately.. Fire the czars. No more czars. Government officials answer to the process, not to the president. Stop trampling on our Constitution, and honor it.

Four, cap and trade. The debate on global warming is not over. There are many conflicting opinions and it is too soon for this radical legislation. Quit throwing our nation into politically-correct quicksand.

Five, universal healthcare. I will not be rushed into another expensive decision that will burden me, my children, and grandchildren. Don't you dare try to pass this in the middle of the night without even reading it. Slow down! Fix only what is broken -- we have the best health care system in the world -- and test any new program in one or two states first.

Six, growing government control. I want states rights and sovereignty fully restored. I want less government in my life, not more. More is not better! Shrink it down. Mind your own business. You have enough to take care of with your real [Constitutional] obligations. Why don't you start there.

Seven, ACORN. I do not want ACORN and its affiliates in charge of our 2010 census. I want them investigated. I also do not want mandatory escrow fees contributed to them every time on every real estate deal that closes -- how did they pull that one off? Stop the funding to ACORN and its affiliates pending impartial audits and investigations.. I do not trust them with taking the census with our taxpayer money. I don't trust them with any of our taxpayer money. Face up to the allegations against them and get it resolved before taxpayers get any more involved with them. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, hello. Stop protecting your political buddies. You work for us, the people. Investigate.

Eight, redistribution of wealth. No, no, no. I work for my money. It is mine. I have always worked for people with more money than I have because they gave me jobs -- and that is the only redistribution of wealth that I will support. I never got a job from a poor person! Why do you want me to hate my employers? And what do you have against shareholders making a profit?

Nine, charitable contributions. Although I never got a job from a poor person, I have helped many in need. Charity belongs in our local communities, where we know our needs best and can use our local talent and our local resources. Butt out, please. We want to do it ourselves.

Ten, corporate bailouts. Knock it off. Every company must sink or swim like the rest of us. If there are hard times ahead, we'll be better off just getting into it and letting the strong survive. Quick and painful. (Have you ever ripped off a Band-Aid?) We will pull together. Great things happen in America under great hardship. Give us the chance to innovate. We cannot disappoint you more than you have disappointed us.

Eleven, transparency and accountability. How about it? No, really, how about it? Let's have it. Let's say we give the buzzwords a rest and have some straight honest talk. Please stop trying to manipulate and appease me with clever wording.. I am not the idiot you obviously take me for. Stop sneaking around and meeting in back rooms making deals with your friends. It will only be a prelude to your criminal investigation. Stop hiding things from me.

Twelve, unprecedented quick spending. Stop it now.

Take a breath. Listen to the people. Slow down and get some input from nonpoliticians and experts on the subject. Stop making everything an emergency. Stop speed-reading our bills into law. I am not an activist. I am not a community organizer. Nor am I a terrorist, a militant or a violent person. I am a parent and a grandparent. I work. I'm busy. I am busy, and I am tired. I thought we elected competent people to take care of the business of government so that we could work, raise our families, pay our bills, have a little recreation, complain about taxes, endure our hardships, pursue our personal goals, cut our lawn, wash our cars on the weekends and be responsible contributing members of society and teach our children to be the same all while living in the home of the free and land of the brave.

I entrusted you with upholding the Constitution. I believed in the checks and balances to keep from getting far off course. What happened? You are very far off course. Do you really think I find humor in the hiring of a speed reader to unintelligently ramble all through a bill that you signed into law without knowing what it contained? I do not.

It is a mockery of the responsibility I have entrusted to you. It is a slap in the face. I am not laughing at your arrogance. Why is it that I feel as if you would not trust me to make a single decision about my own life and how I would live it but you should expect that I should trust you with the debt that you have laid on all of us and our children. We did not want the TARP bill. We said no. We would repeal it if we could. I am sure that we still cannot. There is needless urgency and recklessness in all of your recent spending of our tax dollars.

From my perspective, it seems that all of you have gone insane. I also know that I am far from alone in these feelings. Do you honestly feel that your current pursuits have merit to patriotic Americans? We want it to stop. We want to put the brakes on everything that is being rushed by us and forced upon us. We want our voice back. You have forced us to put our lives on hold to straighten out the mess that you are making. We will have to give up our vacations, our time spent with our children, any relaxation time we may have had and money we cannot afford to spend on bringing our concerns to Washington . Our president often knows all the right buzzwords like unsustainable. Well, no kidding. How many tens of thousands of dollars did the focus group cost to come up with that word? We don't want your overpriced words. Stop treating us like we're morons.

We want all of you to stop focusing on your reelection and do the job we want done, not the job you want done or the job your party wants done. You work for us and at this rate I guarantee you not for long because we are coming. We will be heard and we will be represented.. You think we're so busy with our lives that we will never come for you? We are the formerly silent majority, all of us who quietly work, pay taxes, obey the law, vote, save money, keep our noses to the grindstone... and we are now looking at you.

You have awakened us, the patriotic freedom spirit so strong and so powerful that it had been sleeping too long. You have pushed us too far. Our numbers are great.. They may surprise you. For every one of us who will be there, there will be hundreds more that could not come. Unlike you, we have their trust. We will represent them honestly, rest assured. They will be at the polls on voting day to usher you out of office.

We have cancelled vacations. We will use our last few dollars saved. We will find the representation among us and a grassroots campaign will flourish. We didn't ask for this fight. But the gloves are coming off. We do not come in violence, but we are angry. You will represent us or you will be replaced with someone who will. There are candidates among us who will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes that you have made of our constitution.

Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian. Understand this. We don't care.. Political parties are meaningless to us Patriotic Americans are willing to do right by us and our Constitution, and that is all that matters to us now. We are going to fire all of you who abuse power and seek more. It is not your power. It is ours and we want it back. We entrusted you with it and you abused it. You are dishonorable. You are dishonest. As Americans we are ashamed of you. You have brought shame to us. If you are not representing the wants and needs of your constituency loudly and consistently, in spite of the objections of your party, you will be fired. Did you hear? We no longer care about your political parties. You need to be loyal to us, not to them.. Because we will get you fired and they will not save you.

If you do or can represent me, my issues, my views, please stand up. Make your identity known. You need to make some noise about it. Speak up. I need to know who you are. If you do not speak up, you will be herded out with the rest of the sheep and we will replace the whole damn congress if need be one by one. We are coming. Are we coming for you? Who do you represent? What do you represent? Listen. Because we are coming.

We the people are coming."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Time to Shrug?

Peggy Noonan, who writes on the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal online, today posted a thoughtful article entitled "We're Governed by Callous Children."  The article is well-worth reading.  The following portion of her article was especially interesting:
And so the disheartenedness of the leadership class, of those in business, of those who have something. This week the New York Post carried a report that 1.5 million people had left high-tax New York state between 2000 and 2008, more than a million of them from even higher-tax New York City. They took their tax dollars with them—in 2006 alone more than $4 billion.

You know what New York, both state and city, will do to make up for the lost money. They'll raise taxes.

I talked with an executive this week with what we still call "the insurance companies" and will no doubt soon be calling Big Insura. (Take it away, Democratic National Committee.) He was thoughtful, reflective about the big picture. He talked about all the new proposed regulations on the industry. Rep. Barney Frank had just said on some cable show that the Democrats of the White House and Congress "are trying on every front to increase the role of government in the regulatory area." The executive said of Washington: "They don't understand that people can just stop, get out. I have friends and colleagues who've said to me 'I'm done.'" He spoke of his own increasing tax burden and said, "They don't understand that if they start to tax me so that I'm paying 60%, 55%, I'll stop."

He felt government doesn't understand that business in America is run by people, by human beings. Mr. Frank must believe America is populated by high-achieving robots who will obey whatever command he and his friends issue. But of course they're human, and they can become disheartened. They can pack it in, go elsewhere, quit what used to be called the rat race and might as well be called that again since the government seems to think they're all rats. (That would be you, Chamber of Commerce.) 
The sales of Atlas Shrugged remain high after more than 50 years.  Ayn Rand intended the book as a warning, so that the conditions compelling the producers, carrying the world on their shoulders, to shrug would not happen.  The import of the book now is that those who have read it understand and recognize that it is already happening.  Whether they can be energized by Ayn Rand's message to turn the tide remains to be seen.

Soon, very soon, those of us who have struggled for decades to fight off tyranny and exploitation will simply vanish (poof! -- like that!), flip hamburgers like Hugh Akston, or retire to our fishing boats and no longer build our wealth that incidentally supports "society."

So I have a question for Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi:  I am a rich guy who produces, who generates beau coups jobs and creates wealth for myself and others.  What are you going to do when I and my kind decide that it isn't worth it any more to suffer your crap, to give you any kind of sanction to steal from me?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Corruption of Rights

Welfare rights, animal rights, health care rights, and, now, a "right to housing." If we are not careful to call people out when they misuse the term "rights," the term will cease to be useful for its original meaning and our real rights will become fair game for demagogues and tyrants.

Even this self-styled progressive emergency room physician recognizes the dangerous trend to corrupt the language:
Fellow bleeding heart (and shyster) JimII said it well in the comments the other day: rights are limitations on government power. Exactly. When we use the language of "rights," we are generally discussing very fundamental liberties, which are conferred on us at birth, and which no government is permitted to take away: free speech; religion and conscience; property; assembly and petition; bodily self-determination; self-defense, and the like. Freedoms. Nowhere in that list is there anything which must be given to you by others. These are freedoms which are yours, not obligations which you are due from somebody else. There is no right to an education, nor to a comfortable retirement, nor to otherwise profit by the sweat of someone else's labor.
Even though I disagree with the fellow's politics and some of his opinion, especially his comment about Objectivists' being hopelessly muddled (follow the link he provides and decide for yourselves), the entire post is worth reading.  Also see David Kelley's work on this subject, A Life of One's Own and "Is There a Right to Health Care?"

Friday, October 23, 2009

Where is the Inflation?

With so much money-printing at the Federal Reserve, one wonders.    Professor Alan H. Meltzer has some explanations in his Wall Street Journal op-ed, "Preventing the Next Financial Crisis :"

Many market participants reassure themselves that inflation won't come by noting the decline in yields on longer-term Treasury bonds and the spread between nominal Treasury yields and index-linked TIPS that protect against inflation. They measure expectations of higher inflation by the difference between these two rates, and imply long-term investors aren't demanding higher interest rates to protect themselves against it. But those traditional inflation-warning indicators are distorted because the Fed lends money at about a zero rate and the banks buy Treasury securities, reducing their yield and thus the size of the inflation premium.
Further, the Fed is buying massive amounts of mortgages to depress and distort the mortgage rate. This way of subsidizing bank profits and increasing their capital bails out these institutions but avoids going to Congress for more money to do so. It follows the Fed's usual practice of protecting big banks instead of the public.
He states what many economists know:  Public perceptions are being manipulated by government intervention in and influence over a variety of markets.  The results (suppressed prices in this case) are not substantive and fundamental.  Rather, they postpone the day of reckoning.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Still No Outrage

Mike ("Mish") Shedlock, whose site, "Mish's Global Economic Analysis," is linked below in the left column, has been discussing the origins of the financial crisis for years in strong terms.  He now asks, "Where the Hell is the Outrage?" in which he identifies the principal culprits and summarizes the cases against them.

Please revisit my July 2008 post, "How Can They Do This??!!" in which I submitted James Grant's answer to Shedlock's question and suggested that they can do this because you let them.

I agree with Mish that these people are criminals and wonder where are the indictments.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Crisis, Emergency and Devastation

"It is no exaggeration to say that unless we act, [health care] costs will devastate the U.S. economy," President Obama asserted yesterday in his weekly address.  When the government leaders apply such rhetoric, either there is an actual and obviously immediate emergency, or there is not.  If the alleged problem is not imediate, you should be almost as worried as you would be if there were a real emergency.  Why?  Because the government is preparing to move immediately on an issue that requires deliberation and debate and they wish to avoid any studious evaluation of what they are up to.

Emergency power is something we identify with the two-bit banana republic dictators who regularly "suspend the Constitution" when faced with dissent.  There everything becomes an emergency with the fate of the nation at stake -- like when when the Hilton will not let the Presidente use the premises for a conference (just nationalize the hotel).

In the U.S.  it is not so easy to suspend the Constitution.  More subtle measures are necessary to circumvent the charter developed by the founders.  Yet it its done.  The time proven measure to avoid Constitutional constraints is to argue that the Congress can do anything that is not expressly forbidden in the Constitution -- despite the fact that the 10th Amendment reserves to the states and the People all of the powers that are not expressly granted in the Constitution.  The power granted the Federal government "to regulate commerce among the several states," originally intended to assure free movement of trade between the states, has morphed into the power to control all commerce, and commerce touches almost everything.  And the Constitutional power to enact any laws "necessary and proper" to support the other powers granted by the Constitution has been used as the back door to justification for all sorts of legislation that has only an arguably tenuous connection to any power enumerated by the Constitution.  Thus, rather than suspend the Constitution, Presidents and legislators alike simply argue that the Constitution authorizes their action.  That is how they rationalize an omnipotent United States government.

Those in power realize that if they can enact legislation, it is especially difficult to repeal.  And in the case of entitlements programs, it is well-nigh impossible to undo.  Moreover, under today's Constitutional jurisprudence, it is even more difficult to get the legislation struck down in its entirety by the courts.  The only real threat to the designs of omnipotent government here is opposition by the voters before legislation is enacted.  And the way to avoid that threat is to treat the voters like mushrooms (keep them in the dark and feed them cow manure), and to move fast before the voters realize what is happening.  So, it is an emergency.  Earth altering consequences will occur.  Populations will be wiped out.  The economy will be destroyed.  The government is all-powerful; they should dooo something -- quick!

Here are some examples:

The Health Care Crisis:

One wonders why, after more than 200 years as a republic built on individual rights, we are just now realizing that government mandated health care is an "right"?  Why, now, is it such an emergency that 15% of the economy needs to be set on the inevitable road to nationalization? Why is it such an emergency that Congressional leaders oppose giving Congressmen and the public 72 hours to read legislation before calling for a vote?  Why was it such an emergency that the leaders of Congress strove mightily to ram through an unread 1000 page bill only a few days after its introduction?

The real emergency was that the Congress and the Administration all knew that if the American people had time to understand what was really being done to them, a majority of the voters (those whose wealth was being redistributed) would oppose what the lawmakers were doing.   Fortunately, the tactics attempted by the Congressional leaders to eliminate due deliberation about health care legislation failed.  And we now are beginning, after careful and public analysis, to understand the logical consequences of the legislation being proposed.

And who caused the so-called problems with the health care system in the first place?  Who placed an army of bureaucrats and clerks between doctor and patient and caused the individual to become disconnected from the cost of his own care?  Who is forcing hospitals to take people into their emergency rooms who will not pay?  Who has allowed a legal system that encourages medical malpractice suits and causes doctors to take extreme and costly measures to protect their reputations?

The proponents of change do not appear to have studied the reality of the "high cost of health care" in the U.S.   Some of the costs reflect beneficial contributions to the quality of health care (See "Health Care Mythology").  Perhaps as advocates for a certain result, they conveniently overlook these separate elements in the overall health care costs.

Global Warming

The proponents of global governance and those who see an opportunity to line their own pockets with a new government tax and bureaucratic system, have attempted to create a panic about global warming (now called climate change because no one could see any warming), rushing to draw conclusions from pseudoscience and theories about data that support a variety of conflicting conclusions, none of which seem to establish scientifically that reduction of industrially-created carbon dioxide will have any significant influence to cause the climate to remain the way it is now.  The viciousness with which scientists who disagree with the proposed government control are attacked smacks of postmodernist tactics, which are used when a proponent knows he cannot prove his case by civil discussion and debate.

The Credit Crisis

You have read enough on this blog and its links to the commentaries of others to know that the so-called credit crisis is a circumstance that was caused by The Creature from Jekyll Island and other monsters and policies created and imposed by the Federal government, described in detail here.  The debacle which the Bush Administration predicted would happen unless they were given a blank check to bail out anyone without oversight was one that should have been allowed as a catharsis to purge the financial system of toxic assets and practices.  Instead, we have zombie banks and a central bank that now has toxic assets on its own books, circumstances that guarantees low real economic growth for a decade or more.  The "crisis," which was an economic event that should have been left alone to cure itself quickly, has instead been used to justify the nationalization of all sorts of private businesses. 

The Next Crisis:  The Swine Flu Pandemic?

To defend the right of individual citizens not to be subjected to outside exposure to disease, governments legitimately have a public health function.  Part of the proper implementation of that function is to be a competent gatekeeper at the nation's borders.  The U.S. government in the enforcement of its immigration laws has not been adequate.  As in earlier cases like the bird flu, U.S. public health officials have taken the usual precautions thus far, even though U.S. Homeland Security has declared an emergency.  A serious epidemic is always a possibility, and stringent public health measures, such as quarantine and government school closings might be necessary.  But look out:  the people populating the Obama administration are well schooled in the technique of capitalizing on real emergencies to expand government powers far beyond what is absolutely necessary to deal with the emergency and to integrate the new-found powers permanently into the fabric of government.  [UPDATE 12/5/09:  See Swine Flu Hoax Exposed:
The majority of the world's population refuses to take the swine flu vaccine. The climategate scandal and hacked emails proving that climate change is a hoax and the realization that those in power are totally corrupt and tyrannical has led to the massive awakening throughout the planet that has the scumbag elite shaking in their boots. People all over the world are shattering the left/right paradigm and realizing that both parties are controlled by the same corporate interests and the same global elite who have the objective for a totalitarian one world government. The people are waking up and reclaiming their individual sovereignty, freedom and taking back their own personal power refusing to sit idly by while their liberties are being stripped away day by day by those who consider us their slaves.

Examples from Earlier Times

From almost the beginning of the Republic a titanic struggle has been waged between those who wanted limited government and those who felt that government could make decisions for citizens better than the individuals could make for themselves.  The people thought that the words in the Constitution would protect them; but history shows that eternal vigilance, not words on paper, is the price of liberty.  Here are just two historical examples of significant power grabs in an emergency.

The Tonkin Gulf Resolution

The Congressional Resolution that effectively enabled Lyndon Johnson to undertake a war in Vietnam, was justified by the attack by 4 North Vietnamese patrol boats on a U.S. destroyer, which was damaged  by "a single 14.5-millimeter machine gun bullet."  No Declaration of War, as required by the Constitution, was ever passed by the Congress.  Ultimately, over 58,000 American troops died in the conflict, which ended with the total withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam.

FDR's Confiscation of Gold from All U.S. Citizens

From Confiscation and The Gold Clause:
"Even knowing that it actually happened, it still is almost unthinkable that the United States government would nationalize the personal assets of its citizens, give paper in exchange at 60% of the value of the assets - and book a profit. The public begrudgingly recognizes that the government can take private property as long as the taking is accomplished by due process (such as an eminent domain proceeding) and the owner receives just compensation. However, we expect those cases to be relatively isolated and infrequent. In 1933, the U.S. government devalued the dollar by 40% in less than eight months, but not before it ordered a docile population to exchange their gold for paper and banned gold ownership and transactions in gold to keep citizens from escaping the devaluation. The combined actions operated as a confiscation of the property of every citizen, all at once, with no compensation."
Apparently working behind the scenes with the Fed, knowing that he could very quickly secure the legal support from the Democrat Congress, he declared a bank holiday on March 6, 1933, two days after his inauguration. (Proclamation No. 2039). Three days later, without seeing the bill and with only 38 minutes of debate, Congress ratified the new President's Proclamation in the Emergency Banking Act, 48 Stat. 1, and amended section 5(b) of the Trading with the Enemy Act to read as follows:
(b) During time of war or during any other period of national emergency declared by the President, the President may, through any agency that he may designate, or otherwise investigate, regulate, or prohibit, under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, by means of licenses or otherwise, any transactions in foreign exchange, transfers of credit between or payments by banking institutions as defined by the President, and export, hoarding, melting, or earmarking of gold, or silver coin or bullion or currency, by any person within the United States or any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof; and the President may require any person engaged in any transaction referred to in this subdivision to furnish under oath, complete information relative thereto, including the production of any books of account, contracts, letters or other papers, in connection therewith in the custody of or control of such person, either before or after such transaction is completed. Whoever willfully violates any of the provisions of this subdivision or of any license, order, rule or regulation thereunder, shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $10,000, or, if a natural person, may be imprisoned for not more than ten years, or both; and any officer, director, or agent of any corporation who knowingly participates in such violation may be punished by a like fine, imprisonment, or both. As used in this subdivision the term 'person' means an individual, partnership, association, or corporation. [Emphasis added.]
Thus, what was solely a wartime measure that many believed had expired was converted into a statute granting war time powers to the President in times of "national emergency," a term which was not defined in the law (and which, if such an emergency existed in 1933, itself had been precipitated by government mismanagement). This law identified a new "enemy" - domestic "hoarders" who would be subject to imprisonment for violating any rule laid down by the President at any future time during a period of national emergency declared by him based on undefined criteria. Professor Henry Mark Holzer's monograph "How Americans Lost Their Right To Own Gold And Became Criminals in the Process" catalogues the events of 1933, and more.
Since Thomas Jefferson first lost the debate with Alexander Hamilton over the use of the Necessary and Proper clause, it seems that, to a greater or lesser degree, there has been an unrelenting trend toward more government.  It did not start with Bush or Obama.  And it will not end without changing the prevailing attitudes of the voters who accept the role that the government has taken in our lives and the futility of changing that role.   To do nothing is to join them.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Debating Charles Manson

Leigh Scott opines that Debating Leftists is Like Debating Charles Manson.  His point is that they are so disconnected from reality that rational people cannot engage them in meaningful discussion or debate:
For an actual debate, two things are needed.  One, there must be a logical and factual distinction between two separate positions.  Two, there must be equally matched participants, each one prepared and versed enough to intelligently present their side of the issue.
We don’t have that.  We have one group of people who live in a fantasy world, full of twisted facts, backwards logic and wishful thinking.  You can’t debate that. There is no factual, honest, or logical way to support their positions.  It’s like arguing the best way to take a cross-country trip with a delusional Dungeons and Dragons geek.   You want to reroute to avoid traffic on the I-10.  He wants to  “avoid the realm of the Bugbears.”
The other side of the “debate” isn’t operating in the same reality.  They do not operate in reality at all.
You should read the entire post.

Now you know why this blog is devoted to evaluating history, philosophy and economics as part of reality. Otherwise, there is nothing worthwhile to say.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Murkey Deception by Paulson and Bernanke Revisited

Neil Barofsky, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (the "SIGTARP") issued an audit report Monday, Emergency Capital Injections Provided to Support the Viability of Bank of America, Other Major Banks, and the U.S. Financial System, October 5, 2009
in which, according to CNN Money, the SIGTARP said that "officials painted an overly rosy picture, creating 'unrealistic expectations' when they called the first bailout banks 'healthy' institutions that would be able to lend more with government help."

What an understatement. As I discussed earlier, Bernanke and Paulson intentionally mislead the American Public regarding the true financial conditions of the banks, preferring to shore up a failed system rather than allow banks to come clean about the nature of their assets and allow individuals to protect themselves.  They are criminals who strong-armed and colluded with banks to conceal the truth in violation of the securities laws.  Now, adding insult to injury, the Fed continues to fight a court disclosure order, with the "You can't handle the truth!" argument.

The SIGTARP Report concludes with the following statement:
It is apparent …  that senior government officials had affirmative concerns, at the time the nine institutions were selected, about the health of at least some of those institutions: the Federal Reserve had concerns over the financial condition of several of these institutions individually and for all of them collectively absent some governmental action; and former Secretary Paulson noted concern about the potential of an outright failure of one of the institutions.  In addition to the basic transparency concern that this inconsistency raises, by stating expressly that the ”healthy” institutions would be able to increase overall lending, Treasury may have created unrealistic expectations about the institutions’ condition and their ability to increase lending.  Treasury and the TARP program lost credibility when lending at those institutions did not in fact increase and when subsequent events – the further assistance needed by Citigroup and Bank of America being the most significant examples – demonstrated that at least some of those institutions were not in fact healthy. [In other words, they lied.]

It is not our intent to suggest that Government officials should make public their concerns over the financial health of individual institutions, but rather that government officials  should be particularly careful, even in a time of crisis, of describing their actions (and the rationales for such actions) in an inaccurate manner.  [I.e., they should not lie.] Ultimately, the lesson is straightforward: accuracy and transparency will enhance the credibility of government programs like TARP and restore taxpayer confidence in the policy makers who manage them;  inaccurate statements, on the other hand, could have unintended long-term consequences that could damage the trust that the American people have in their government.” [I.e, don't lie; it's stupid.]
Barofsky is wise beyond his years. 

In a former life, I had occasion to study the methods of the investigators and prosecutors of white collar crimes.  One technique was going after "the highest indictable officer."  They would chase the evidence up the chain of command, giving immunity to lesser employees in return for their testimony until they reached the culpable individual in the highest position; and that's who they would charge with the crime.  Barofsky is a ninny if he pulls his punches and does not seek indictments of Paulson and Bernanke.  Hey, they are Republicans after all.

Barofsky seems to be doing a yeoman's job ferreting out the fraud being perpetrated on the public.  Do follow his progress.  Other inspectors general have been fired for doing their job.  If that happens to Barofsky, you will know, for sure, that - Republican and Democrat - your government is corrupt to the core; and you should run for cover and protect your own.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

In Defense of Glenn Beck

Jonah Goldberg written and editorial in USA Today: In Defense of Glenn Beck.  Even if you haven't experienced Glenn Beck, Goldberg's view about the lack of good humor on the left is worthy of consideration.  Beck presents important public issues from a mostly libertarian perspective at a level that most folks can appreciate.  And he is entertaining.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Paying for Your Own Propaganda

What with political correctness and speech codes on campus, legislative and regulatory moves to shut down talk radio, introduction of vague legislation to control speech on the internet, suppressing information about Wall Street bailouts, and attempts to ram through legislation before it can be read much less studied, it is clear that the left and people running the government have no respect whatsoever for the First Amendment.  The latest assault is the Administration's attempt to use taxpayer dollars for partisan political gain by propagandizing the sheeple.  See http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/pcourrielche/2009/10/05/the-big-truth-selling-white-house-policy-through-art/#more-240146.

No matter how distasteful it is to put up with people whose opinions are offensive, you need to defend their right to express them because by doing so you are protecting your own right to speak out.  The other side of this coin is your right not to be taxed (coerced) to subsidize the political speech of those who are out to shut you down.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tax and Spend

Despite the Bush Administration's profligate spending, the Democrats have now rehabilitated their traditional role as the party of Tax and Spend.  Their bailouts of Wall Street dwarfed those of the Bush Administration (which were supported by a Democrat Congress).  The so-called reform of the health care system will impose huge taxes on anyone with income marginally capable of coming up with the cash and heap huge unfunded financial burdens on States that are already bankrupt, causing more taxes from governments that can't print money.  Any doctor who accepts Medicare or Medicaid will see his already inadequate income from these sources nosedive, yet another tax.  And now, according to Democrat Senator Ben Cardin from Maryland, the Democrats will pass cap and trade, "the most significant revenue-generating proposal of our time,"  No wonder it's called "Cap and Tax."  Oops, I forgot newspeak.  Freedom is Slavery.  War is Peace.  And it's not a tax.  Taxes are voluntary.

[Update 10/5/09] Senator Boxer says that , cap and trade will create jobs by creating an entirely new industry.   She is unquestionably correct: full employment for pseudo scientists, bureaucrats, and eco-freaks and their ilk whose strange religion casts mankind and his reason as the evil destroyer of morally superior plants and fish.  Of course, we know who will profit.

Congress Has Their Own Health Care

ABC News has published an expose on Special Health Care for Congress, detailing the health care perks for the lawmakers. (Hat tip to Robert Bidinotto.)  This information probably will not set well with the public.

In fairness, there is some validity to the idea that special care should be taken to assure the good health of Congresspeople.  But when those Congresspeople then presume to pass laws that are intended to keep you from securing similar care for yourself, it is outrageous.

When many of the tyrannies we see around us are totalitarian governments run by single dictators, it is easy to forget that the population can be oppressed by any form of government.  Athens, a democracy, deteriorated into tyranny by the majority.  The French revolution resulted in a republican form of government that tyrannized the population with purges.  Our founders crafted a unique republican form of government that they attempted to preclude from tyranny by limiting its functions to avoid the scope of damage it could do to the people.  But, as Ron Paul notes,  it ultimately is the responsibility of the people to protect themselves and preserve the original intent of the founders:
Mr. Franklin in his plea to those attending the Convention also issued a warning which we have not heeded. A Constitution is only as good as the people who administer it. If the people become corrupted, the government will become corrupted, and the Constitution will become a worthless piece of paper. The wisdom and integrity of the governors of the Constitution are the strength that makes the document so powerful. The American people have failed to take note of Benjamin Franklin’s warning.
Have a majority been so dumbed down by a government education system designed to produce a nation of sheep, so ignorant of the principles on which our freedoms are based, and so misled by corrupt politicians and their surrogates, that they have been rendered incapable of defending their own liberties?  Will the great American experiment implode suddenly like the Soviet Union?  Or will it just slowly slide into historical oblivion as a temporary anomaly, with neither a bang nor a whimper?

It will take more than you and me to change the trend.  So if you care, you need to persuade others to get politically involved and work to limit government to the defense of our individual liberties, not to curtail them.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Benevolence: Health Care and More

This summer while vacationing I had a civil, back-and-forth discussion with a neighbor about the raging health care debate:  I maintained that charity should be left to the charities.  His response was that the resources of the charities would be inadequate to provide health care to the truly needy.  I replied that an inadequacy of private benevolence should be no justification for coercing one's neighbor and further damaging the dreadful financial condition of the country.  It seemed a pretty harsh response to him despite the fact that for most of mankind's history, the poor have had to survive on their own, supported only by their wits and the voluntary benevolence of their neighbors.  (The discussion never reached the stage where we might address the factual assumptions supporting the argument for any legislation.)

My neighbor's position was a variation of the moral duty and "but what about . . ." arguments.  He did not understand why I felt no moral duty to coerce my neighbor to be benevolent, even though I patiently explained that there is nothing moral or benevolent about coerced giving.  His starting point was that society ought to take care of the poor, and he seemed blinded to any challenge to that assumption and was incapable of evaluating it on a deeper level.

A large part of the support for universal, taxpayer-funded health care is the prevailing notion of moral duty held by both the left and the right:  They believe that benevolence is something that is owed the recipient.  The difference between the left and the right seems to be that the right is inclined to limit the duty of benevolence to that which is practical.

As Stephen Hicks succinctly explains in "On 'Giving Back'," the origin of this idea lies in philosophy.  And it is their implicit philosophy which forms the foundation for the left's fervent belief that they are doing justice by imposing on "society" the cost of caring for the poor, the disadvantaged, the needy, the victims, etc., terms which seem to have floating definitions.  (As an aside, note that the health care bill proposed by the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee proposes to raise the definition of the poverty level by 50% in order to impose on the States the financial obligation for the new regime under Medicaid.  So much for the idea of the truly needy.)  This is an intractable problem for those of us who prefer to practice benevolence on an individual level and who object to bearing the cost of someone else's notion of social justice.  The problem is exacerbated by the lack of any serious public opposition to this dark concept of duty.

The idea that benevolence is "owed" has spawned a welfare state of gigantic proportions and an entire class of people (swiftly becoming a majority of voters) who believe that they have a rightful claim to society's surplus (whatever that is), and more; and the mere fact that they are victims or disadvantaged gives them that right. 

The claim to your "surplus" (and more) is facilitated by the collectivist fiction that it is not an individual that owes the duty, but the anonymous, faceless, collective "society." While many recipients of this kind of "benevolence" would shrink from pointing a gun at me and taking my money, they have no qualms about doing the same when they do not have to face me but use the guns of a surrogate (the government) and pretend that it is voluntary.

For decades few have effectively protested the coerced benevolence of the welfare state, probably because it was not sufficiently painful and because, frankly, many people don't mind parting with a little here and a little there to help the truly needy -- and the fact that taxation was involved didn't seem to bother them much.  But the foot was thus in the door.

Finally, however, people are becoming agitated about the size of "society's" recent and proposed  benevolence.  The government bailouts of private enterprise were justified by our presumed duty to keep people from suffering the consequences of risky behavior, poor judgment and fraud (rather than leaving them to seek recourse from the culpable).  The government's attempts to make housing affordable to those who could not afford it has crashed the economy.  And huge sums were paid to murky leftists with questionable backgrounds to assure that people had full access to the benefits of the welfare state and the ballot box, with predictable results: embezzlement, voter intimidation and fraud, and a takeover of neighborhoods by political outsiders.  Now comes the proposals to "reform" the entire health care system, with a huge price tag, justified by our "moral duty."

A great many people are aghast at the sweeping health care legislation being proposed and a majority of the voters are against it.   But, still, few challenge the basic justification underlying the entire matter, that "we" owe a duty to provide health care to those who cannot afford it (whatever that means).  Without such a challenge, opponents  of the legislation are left only to dicker about the price.

Further reading:  David Kelley, "Is There a Right to Health Care?"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Coercion, Pure and Simple

The Wall Street Journal today has more about health care legislation:

Chairman Max Baucus's bill includes the so-called individual mandate, along with what he calls a $1,900 "excise tax" if you don't buy health insurance. (It had been as much as $3,800 but Democrats reduced the amount last week to minimize the political sticker shock.) And, lo, it turns out that if you don't pay that tax, the IRS could punish you with a $25,000 fine or up to a year in jail, or both.

Under questioning last week, Tom Barthold, the chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, admitted that the individual mandate would become a part of the Internal Revenue Code and that failing to comply "could be criminal, yes, if it were considered an attempt to defraud." Mr. Barthold noted in a follow-up letter that the willful failure to file would be a simple misdemeanor, punishable by the $25,000 fine or jail time under Section 7203.

So failure to pay the mandate would be enforced like tax evasion, but Mr. Obama still claims it isn't a tax. "You can't just make up that language and decide that that's called a tax increase," Mr. Obama insisted last week to ABC interviewer George Stephanopoulos. Accusing critics of dishonesty is becoming this President's default argument, but is Mr. Barthold also part of the plot?
More . . .
Coercion, pure and simple (unless you agree with Harry Reid that paying taxes is voluntary).

Those with a thirst for detail will want to study the Kaiser Family Foundation's side by side comparison of the health care bills being proposed.  Seek truth from the facts, not from the statements of politicians.  Despite the shrill screams from the left,  Obama lies.  Look and see for yourself.

Racial Politics - The Double Standard

Mark Steyn discusses the double standard in racial politics in the National Review Online. (Hat tip to Robert Bidinotto.)

How can the left veer so far from their avowed principles and stretch the truth to paint conservatives with the racist brush?

It all boils down to philosophy.

It is really difficult for us regular folks to understand how all of this political correctness and interest groups based on race and gender came about.  How did this stuff suddenly appear on the scene, giving such far-out and/or corrupt people political power over us, our freedoms and our pocketbooks?  How do the member of Congress and their supporters justify what they are doing?  Where did the crazy ideas that they promote come from?  And make no mistake, it is the ideas and their unchallenged belief in them that energizes them -- the philosophy energizes them and gives them the conviction that they are "right" -- and deludes them into believing that they are entitled to subjugate the rest of us, like Martin Heidigger's philosophy justified the Nazis and gave the moral sanction for what they did.

You might remember that a couple of hundred years ago the fortuitous conjunction of grievances against English colonialism and the ascendency of Enlightenment philosophers such as John Locke produced a revolution and the construction of a limited government by united states in America based on individual rights.  Historians of philosophy have deemed that the "Modern" period.  But, it did not end there.  There is a subsequent "Postmodern" period of philosophy which now drives the humanities, journalism, political science, and related departments in our formerly great universities, who fill our children with twisted ideas and leave them with "mush for brains."  Modernism in these departments has been supplanted by Postmodernism. 

But what is "Postmodernism?"  To you, I am sure, the entire question is pretty much irrelevant and invisible.  But believe me, it is the fundamental thing that is driving us to ruin and placing us and our grandchildren on the Road to Serfdom.  You need to understand it in order to decide whether you ought to oppose it.  

A few years ago The Atlas Society funded a project by a young philosopher, Stephen Hicks, to write a book explaining Postmodernism.  It is remains in my top 10 books on philosophy -- of course behind Aristotle, Locke, Rand and some others, but there, nevertheless -- because it is both comprehensive and succinct.  It has been available on Amazon and elsewhere for a few years, and I have passed out many copies on my own.  You need to read and understand it.  

Dr. Hicks is posting the book on the web for free at http://www.stephenhicks.org/2009/09/18/explaining-postmodernism-chapter-one-online/.  Please explore what he has to say about the development and nature of Postmodern philosophy and the left's use of it as a pretext to gain political power.  The philosophy is seriously flawed, yet it forms the unstated basis for the development of a very, very dark political and financial future for us, our children, our grandchildren and beyond.  We don't want that to happen.  And we need to gird ourselves, intellectually, for a major battle so that we can recognize and credibly oppose government encroachments cloaked in language such as "diversity" and "equality" when they are intended only to suppress and tax people who produce better than others and to distribute their hard-earned wealth to the favorites of government – a captive population of ignorant followers.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Which is More Unreal?

Mark Steyn in the Orange County Register offers the answer to this rhetorical question when evaluating the speeches of President Obama and Moamar Gadhafi at the U.N. this week:
Barack Obama is not to blame for whichever vagary of United Nations protocol resulted in the president of the United States being the warm-up act for the Lunatic-for-Life in charge of Libya. But it is a pitiful reflection upon the state of the last superpower that, when it comes to the transnational mush drooled by the leader of the free world or the conspiracist ramblings of a terrorist pseudo-Bedouin running a one-man psycho-cult of a basket-case state, it's more or less a toss-up as to which of them is more unreal.
Read the entire article here.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Moral Duty

Politico reports the latest tag team effort between Bill Clinton and Al Gore to drum up support for Obama Care. Speaking at the Tennessee Democratic Party's annual Jackson Day dinner, Gore, "Playing off the focus of the Kennedy funeral on the Gospel of Matthew’s parable of Jesus taking care of “the least of us,” thundered that the country has “a moral duty to pass health care reform. This year.”

A moral duty.

Last year I warned you not to let the political left claim the moral high ground. So here we are at the point where they are attempting to do exactly that. It is their ultimate argument. Those who are not armed with an understanding of morality are defenseless. And that is likely to include the Republicans and conservatives who are not able to see that there is no morality in being your brother's keeper if you are forced to do it. To the contrary, it is coercing your neighbor into being his brother's keeper that is immoral.

The health care debate can only be won permanently if it is taken to the fundamental level. Gore's assertion provides the opportunity to do that. If it remains unchallenged, a defeat of the current proposal to have government controlled health care will be only a temporary bump on the road to serfdom.

Please study "Let's Have Some Real Change for a Change" and confront this issue directly and publicly.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

You Are Still the Enemy of the State

In November, I advised you that you are the enemy of the State (the Government). Please revisit that post. Nothing much has changed.

The U.S. District Court in New York has now ruled that the Fed must disclose the recipients of its loans and also identify the garbage assets that it swapped at par for Treasuries. Predictably, the Fed is still resisting disclosure (belying its lip service to transparency), arguing that they don't want depositors to know how bad off their banks are and they don't want the banks' shareholders to know either. See Quelle Surprise! Fed Uses Scare Tactics to Try to Forestall Loan Disclosures by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism. These people have no shame. It is like the postmodern criminal who killed his mother and father and threw himself on the mercy of the court because he was an orphan.

And now the Obama Administration has announced that it will appoint Helicopter Ben Bernanke to another term as head of the Fed. This guy is a criminal who, you may recall, I suggested, should be accorded the same status in society as a child molester, robber or rapist who preys upon the innocent and unsuspecting. And apparently he and Henry Paulson are being given a pass by the SEC. Bernanke's reappointment is consistent with other Obama appointments.

Some in the fawning media are saying that President Obama should inherit the Camelot mantle. Even if you were one of those who pines for the return of the glamor and mystique of the Kennedys, you ought not to buy in to this suggestion. First and foremost, President Obama has not surrounded himself with the intellectual firepower that John Kennedy did. To the contrary, Obama has surrounded himself with second-rate radical left-wing ideaogues bent on ending economic and political freedom and growing the size of the federal government and its power over the individual.

Consider, for example, Ezekiel Emanuel, an Administration health care policy advisor. This person is truly scary. He would have a government board place the interests of "society" over the interest of an individual and have the government makes the individual's health care choices. This is what socialism is all about: elevation of "society" over the individual. But to articulate the interests of "society" you need an authority, a leader. While the promoters of socialism believe that such authorities will be benevolent, we know better -- they will be benevolent to some at the expense of others. Now you know why protesters are worried about "Nazis" in the Administration.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Raw Footage Exposes AARP and Many Others

Please See AARP Organizers Cancel ‘Listening Session’ After Participants Refuse to ‘Keep Their Comments Quiet’

The headlines in today's Drudge Report reveal more than a few nationwide grumblings about proposals to nationalize health care:

Tampa: Protests, passions roiling town hall meeting on health care
St. Louis: Six people, including P-D reporter, arrested at Carnahan meeting
Little Rock: Rowdy crowd grills congressmen over healthcare reform
Miami: Tempers flare in South Florida over healthcare overhaul
Simsbury, CT: Protesters Confront U.S. Representative At Simsbury Supermarket Meeting
Utica: Man Yells "You're A Liar" To House Leader Steny Hoyer: *** "You're lying to me," said Don Jeror as he loudly interrupted Hoyer. "Just because I don't have sophisticated language, I can recognize a liar when I see one." *** "Why would you guys try to stuff a health care bill down our throats in three to four weeks, when the President took six months to pick a dog for his kids?!"
Houston: Physicians speak out on health care bill
Michigan: Tempers flare over health care plan
Denver: Pelosi's visit to Denver a lightning rod

A man in Little Rock raised the John Galt solution: "You Need To Get The Government The Hell Out Of Our Way."

The politicians are fighting back. President Obama has launched a White House Program, which is probably illegal, to identify the individuals who send suspicious e-mails opposing the Democrats’ health care proposals, by asking citizens to rat out their fellow citizens. The White House Press Secretary accused a reporter who asked about the program of “hatching a nefarious plot.” The Democratic National Committee has launched a media (propaganda) campaign, including ads that attack the protesters at town hall meetings. And they have been controlling the debate by retreating from town meetings in favor of conference calls.

It seems that, rather than selling their health care on the merits of change, the Democrats are attacking the opponents of government control with a well-worn but deplorable debating tactic: when you have no arguments on the merits, attack the speaker personally. Nancy Pelosi complains that the opponents of government health care are “carrying swastikas.” (There were some swastikas but they were used by the protesters to compare ObamaCare to Nazism. Pelosi was insinutaing that the protesters are Nazis.). Rep. Brian Baird also conjures up Nazis by accusing protesters of using “Brown Shirt” tactics. Harry Reid “accused the protesters of trying to "sabotage" the democratic process.” And others go after the usual suspects:

The White House and Democrats have called the protests an orchestrated "mob" driven by Republican- and industry-backed groups and conservative talk radio and television hosts.

"They have been sent by their corporate and lobbyist bankrollers to disrupt, heckle and block meaningful debate. This is a desperation move, meant to slow the momentum for change," said Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO labor group.

But the discontent is neither faked nor staged by the GOP.

Aside from the merits of any proposal, the level of complexity and the vast implications of changing 15% of the economy in a rush by government fiat with an unread 1,000-page Bill – especially the one sector of the economy that is the most personal – simply unnerves people. Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal, seems to have put it succinctly: “You are terrifying us.” In the same article, she also makes an astute observation:

In an odd way [President Obama] sometimes seems not to have fully absorbed the awesome stature of his office. You really, if you’re president, can’t call an individual American stupid, if for no other reason than that you’re too big. You cannot allow your allies to call people protesting a health-care plan “extremists” and “right wing,” or bought, or Nazi-like, either. They’re citizens. They’re concerned. They deserve respect."