Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Toadying to the Rich Caused Obama to Drop the Ball

Either the realities are more complex than I realize, or the people in charge of the government and big business are there because of nepotism and not merit. At the time that it was happening I railed against the idea of giving the banks money, no strings attached but hoping they would start lending again. Hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars (well, new debt actually) given at 0% interest to the banks, the same banks that are charging most credit card holders near 30% interest. Or perhaps it is the American people who are the stupid ones to put up with this criminal behaviour.

I think the government should have skipped the middle man entirely. The government should have opened up loan offices, charging somewhere around 5% interest. People would flock to pay such low interest, and the big banks would have to lower their rates or lose business. Clearly none of these banks were in any serious danger of going out of business if they are all declaring record profits a year later. Those that do and will fail probably should fail.

So what we have is hundreds of billions of dollars lent to the banks at 0%, which they then refused to lend to people. My solution would have made the taxpayers 5%, opened up credit, and forced the big banks to also lower their rates (or lose business). It seems pretty simple to me, but of course the biggest difference in the two scenarios is WHO benefits. In the current system the big banks got free money to do what they wanted with, to be paid back at some point in the uncertain future, and the American people got deeper in debt as a nation (12 million is the current tally...imagine how much those interest payments are, and how they could be better spent on THE PEOPLE). In my scenario the American people make money and liquidity opens up.

Obama is part of the problem, because he is a much better talker than a doer. He compromises too much and too soon. He telegraphs how the opposition can manipulate his priorities until there is only a muddied mess. But a bigger problem than Obama is clearly the Senate. The very nature of the Senate is conservative in nature. It takes 60% to get legislation passed. That is a very conservative requirement. On top of that the nature of the Senate is disproportionate, so that smaller states have a greater say than their population would warrant. An analysis of the smaller states in the Union shows that they are, generally speaking, conservative in nature.

My conclusion is that progressives have no place in the United States. The system is designed to slow down all efforts at change to the point where the system in place is generations behind where the people are at. Personally, I'd scrap the system, but I am Canadian so it is not my place to do so.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Big Bonuses for "The Best"

One of the many ridiculous things that the American people are supposed to swallow these days is that, if the likes of Goldman-Sachs and the other financial terrorists that have helped destroy the middle class are not paid huge bonuses (enough to finance entire communities), then the "best and brightest" will go elsewhere and the recovery will not happen. This is STUPID on so many levels it is difficult to know just where to start.

One, these losers are the ones that screwed the pooch to begin with. They over-leveraged their companies (it is hard to call them banks anymore, that is just one element of what they do) in order to make greater short-term profits. As a result the odds finally fell against them, as they would over time, and the house of cards is crashing down. How are these people the best and brightest? They clearly know how to play the system, and the nation along with it, but best and brightest? Hardly the best, and I do not even believe they are particularly bright. Excellent at the limited facet of humanity that they have chosen to corrupt, absolutely! Brilliant? Perhaps some, but only a few of the many I have personally met. Frat boy seems a more appropriate term for the majority of them.

Two, where are these best and brightest going to go? People who want to restrict the huge bonuses (not the least of which, the investors, from whose pocket these bonuses come) are not saying that a single investment company should be regulated, but that all of them should. So where are they going to run to? Do they think that foreign companies really want to hire them? These losers are to finance what Arthur Anderson came to represent in accounting...failure. A relative handful of people orchestrated this economic meltdown, and now they expect to be enriched to help fix the mess that they caused. I think they should be held accountable, and forced to work for minmum wage until the economy is back on track. You want big bucks for good work, then except crap money for the shoddy work you have been turning out.

Three, what makes anyone believe that these losers are even capable of fixing the problems? They weren't bright enough to prevent this from happening, and they were the ones closest to the levers of control. They had to have seen this coming long before the majority, or at least they should have, but they seemed just as surprised as many people. Harvard University, the people who produce the "finest business minds in the country" lost BILLIONS of dollars in the past year. I think these people are wresting on laurels earned generations ago. These people do NOT know what they are least I pray that they do not. If they do, then this entire economic meltdown was planned. That sounds like a conspiracy theory, and it is probably nothing more than that. But the options are A) these people do not know what they are doing, or B) they do, and this was their goal, or at least a step towards their goal, all along.

Which answer makes you more comfortable?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Are You Sick Yet?

Run for the hills, the Pandemic of SARS-Avian-West Nile-Swine Flu is coming and NOTHING can stop it! Didn't you hear, almost four thousand people have died from it. Of course nine times as many people have died from normal seasonal flu, but this is a PANDEMIC people. I know, I heard it on TV. I'm not exactly sure how bad a pandemic is, but it sounds an awful lot like epidemic, and I KNOW that is not good.

I think it is time we all turned off our TVs, throw away that rag called a newspaper, turn the dial from Rush to white noise, and get some distance from the insanity that has taken over the media, and apparently, the government and medical community. Every year it is a new disease that is coming to wipe us out. I suppose this is merely an extension of the "Fear Everything" society that developed post-911, but I am bored of it.

I am sorry but Swine flu lacks the sex appeal that something like an Ebola or Flesh-Eating disease. If the contaminated do not bleed out of their eyes or become rabid psychopaths, how am I supposed to get all worked up about it? What is the death rate on this thing? 1 in 100 000 or something so abstract I find it hard to take seriously. I am sure that those affected by this do not agree with me, but that does not change anything. Somewhere along the line people lost any rational link to risk management. Long odds are played as the apocolypse while very real and dire problems are downplayed.

This would make an interesting book were it not true.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Supermajority of Wimps

Despite controlling the Executive and Legislative branches of government, the Democrats are incapable of doing what they promised. The blame can be spread around, but it is clear that there is a problem in the Democrat party.

President Obama can, and should, be blamed for engaging in the Health Reform campaign in an ass-backwards fashion. He should have started with an information campaign, to educate the populace on how wasteful the current system is, and how much more expensive it is projected to get in the near and long term. Educate people on the myriad examples of people who were denied coverage because of the most inane reasons. Those stories are coming out now, but they should have been part of the information campaign. It would have made it much more difficult for the Republicans to use the line "Do you want government bureaucrats making your healthcare decisions for you?", which they have been able to effectively do so far. The worst thing Obama did was to start the negotiations from a position of moderation. You start with everything you want under the sun, knowing that you will not get most of it. If you start with the bare minimum you are willing to accept you are guaranteed to get next to nothing.

The real culprits, though, are clearly the Democrat Senators and Representatives who will not vote for this much-needed (and popular) reform if it is anything close to real reform. These Senators and Representatives need to be singled out and the spotlight shone upon them. Come the next election the Democrat party should put large resources towards removing these people in the Primaries. Hurt them in the only way that makes sense; politically. Find good people who will run against them, and then provide huge funds from the party coffers (or whatever mechanism is legal), and have popular Democrats campaign for the challengers. Democrats like Joe Lieberman have proven that they are really Republicans in Democrat clothing. It is time to chase the conservatives out of the party, because they are creating a situation where a large percentage of the population has no voice at all, and the big-mouthed minority seems to get their way whether they win or lose an election.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Is it time for a third party?

It does not take a rocket scientist to see that a third party does not make much sense in the American electoral system. At least, this is true by conventional wisdom. The logic is simple, a third party would take votes away from the party most closely aligned (politically speaking), and ensure that the party that is least aligned with the new party would win. Therefore the worst possible scenario is created if a third party enters the picture. Ross Perot did it, and to a lesser degree, Ralph Nader did it. It is difficult to even argue against this, but I will attempt to do so here.

The problem that a lot of people have with the Republican party is the meddling in social policy. I think most people under the age of 60 are pretty liberal minded, on the social level. Each successive generation is more liberal than the previous one, so clearly society is moving in that direction, at least in the near future. It has been moving in this direction for some time.

Now when it comes to fiscal policy, most people would prefer a small government that focused on a few key issues, and handled them efficiently. Common sense regulation is called for, but no undue interference in the economy. The reaction to the bailout of banks, insurance companies, and car makers, is evidence that people do not want the government getting involved in these areas, and rightly so.

It is time for a third party to emerge, one that has a fiscally conservative nature, but is also socially liberal. I think the Libertarian party comes closest to the mark on this, and I hope to see a serious influx of cash going into the Libertarian coffers, as well as some legitimate candidates running under that banner. I can think of no time better than now for a legitimate and viable third party to emerge as a serious contender, but that party would need to be well organized.

People are tired of the Elephants and Jackasses that are the current choices out there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How can they blow it, let me count the ways.

I knew that passing effective common-sense healthcare reform was going to be difficult. I least of all expected the Democrats, even with total control of the government, to be able to pass the kind of legislation that the USA needs. Even my low expectations are unlikely to be met. The Democrats are buffoons, and the "Blue Dogs" are clearly conservatives in Democrat clothing. It would be wise to purge them from the party by throwing lots of money and talented candidates at the Blue-Dog seats during primary season.

So far the ridiculous Baccus, I mean Baucus bill, creates a government requirement that everyone who does not have health insurance will have to purchase it or be fined up to $3800. I am not sure what percentage of these people cannot afford insurance versus those who choose not to purchase it (people in their twenties, for instance), but it sounds excessively cruel, even for the United States. Even car insurance is not a requirement, unless you own a car. Those who cannot afford it do not buy cars. Those who cannot afford health insurance get fined money they cannot afford, and their standard of living sinks further still. This is at a time when 80% of the population has actually seen their income level drop in real dollars.

I did not expect the healthcare reform to go anywhere near where I think it needs to go, but I did think people would finally be open to Regulation again. It is clear that the nation is entering into a Depression BECAUSE of the financial industry, an industry that has been deregulated over the past 20 years, courtesy of conservatives (Republicans mostly, but the Blue Dogs sure helped out). Instead of that Presidents Bush and Obama decides to give the wealth of nations to banks and insurance companies, no strings attached. It is now being reported that Obama is planning to borrow money from the banks we saved, at interest I am sure, to bail out other failing banks. Here is a wacky idea, let the failing banks fail or be bought out. That is how capitalism works.

Capitalism is not about unending and constantly growing profits as far as the eye can see. Industries fail. Companies fail. If you truly believe in Capitalism (which I do NOT), then you have to let things play out. If you believe that the government has to intervene now and then to correct the market, you are not a Capitalist, you are a Socialist (not a Communist). If you believe in using the taxpayers dollars to correct the market, you should also believe in using taxpayer dollars to help absorb the corrections of the marketplace. At least, you should if you believe in a Just Society.

I have come up with a great solution to the failing banks problem. Let the banks that we have saved from destruction lend the money to the failing banks to save them. Keep the taxpayers out of it. We certainly aren't given part of the profits when these guys succeed, so why should we have to pay for their failures. Let the chips fall where they may, or the coming fall will be FAR FAR worse.

Monday, September 21, 2009


There is a new virus that is posing as virus protection software. It is called Green AV, and here is how it works.

A message is sent that appears to come from your own computer, warning you that a virus has infected the computer. If you click their OK button you are giving a company called Green AV access to your computer. Files are installed that allow them to take over a small section of your internet explorer window, the size of a pop-up blocker warning. The only thing you can do to remove this button is either A) buy the recommended internet security software that Green AV sells, or B) uninstall the program that you never realized they had installed to begin with.

I went to the Green AV website, found their Contact Us section, and sent them an email threatening them with legal action if they did not remove the virus they installed from my computer. No sooner had I hit the "send" button but a reply came back with a link to quickly uninstall the virus. Clearly they had anticipated people demanding that they remove the virus.

The really funny thing is that, while writing this post, perhaps five minutes after doing a google on "Green AV", and coming up with their website in the first five results, this time there is no sign of the Green AV website, but plenty of security warnings about this new type of virul marketing. I sure hope the government gets involved, because this clearly fits the definition of a virus, and they should be fined for each and every computer that has been infected. Create a site for people to add their names to the list of infected, and I imagine that would be the end of this egregious of a disregard for both the letter and intent of the law.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Status Quo, Disappointed with the Dems Again

Even when I was getting excited about an Obama Presidency, in my heart I knew that the Dems were going to get in the way and prevent a solution that I could stand behind from succeeding. Baucus proved my point. I think it is absurd, in the extreme, to financially penalize people who cannot afford healthcare. True, some are choosing not to purchase health insurance, but many just cannot afford it. Robbing them further by fining them for not having health insurance is cold, even for government.

Why is it that the United States spends more money, covers fewer people, and has a mediocre system to show for it? People need to wake up to what is in their best interest. Allowing corporations, whose only goal is increased profits, to determine health policy borders on lunacy. There is a place for a free-market economy, and there are places where the free-market has no business. Healthcare, adoptions, prisons, and regulatory systems are places where the free-market has no right to be.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Eye of the Storm

I think we are currently in the eye of the economic storm that has ravaged not only the United States, but the global economy at large. Some of the top experts are saying it, and soon that will filter down into the general subconscious. The fundamental problems that lead to the crash of '08 are still there. If anything, they have gotten worse. The big banks and insurance giants have been told that they are too big to fail. That means they will be bailed out time and time again. Knowing that it is merely "good business" to ignore the risks to maximize the profits. After all, profits are privatized, but losses have been socialized.

Now there seems to be a lot of chatter about the next wave of housing foreclosures, this time in the commercial sector. The fickle public, which had been lulled into thinking the worst was over, will once again run around like chickens with their heads cut off. It will take consumer spending, which accounts for 2/3 of the economy, to pull the economy out of the dung-heap it currently is, but with more and more people losing their jobs it seems unlikely that consumer spending will have the money to achieve this, and credit has dried up to a trickle, with rates far beyond what it makes sense to pay. More and more people are going to decide that bankruptcy makes more sense than paying the leeches 30% interest on a debt that will never disappear. Take the first shot like a man and begin the healing process.

Tie down anything that is loose people, the winds are picking up again.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Finally, the Moral Argument

It took President Obama a while to make a case that strikes home, but I think he finally did it in his big speech, charges of lying notwithstanding. Instead of merely making this about good economic sense, which healthcare reform definately offers, President Obama turned it into a moral debate, which is something it has always been.

There is something unappetizing about the wealthiest society the world has ever known letting millions risk bankruptcy because of bad health. The number one reason people go bankrupt in the United States is due to medical bills, and two-thirds of those people actually have health insurance. This is a cause that should have been dealt with decades ago, and it is troubling that so many are willing to stand in the way of progress merely to score political points.

This should have been an easy sell...certainly easier than giving hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to the same people who are protected by golden parachutes. Let everyone hope that the American people start to realize what is in their best interest, instead of constantly cutting off their nose to spite their face.