Sep 302009

Question:  When Barak Obama goes to Copenhagen to use political clout (as opposed to the merits of the case) to get the Olympics for Chicago, would that be an example of unilateralism in foreign policy?   Isn’t this something that should instead be left up to the United Nations?   (Or united nations without uppercase capital letters?)

Sep 302009

A Leviathan Ankle-Biter award to these health care workers in New York:

New York is the first state in the country to mandate flu vaccinations for its health care workers. The first doses of swine flu vaccine will be available beginning next week. Much of it is reserved for state health care workers, but there is growing opposition to required innoculations.

Health care workers in Hauppauge screamed “No forced shots!” as they rallied Tuesday against the state regulation requiring them to roll up their sleeves.


Sep 242009

And to think, Gibbs works for the guy who is asking for the power to shut down the internet in case of emergency. He tells people what information sources they shouldn’t use.

“I think this is media generated,” Gibbs told reporters on Air Force One. “Stop reading those London tabloids.”  [URL here.]

There are lots of things politicians can say to deflect issues (or non-issues) like that. Maybe Gibbs ought to try a wording that’s a little less thuggish given the sensitivity about Obama’s attitude toward free speech.

Sep 232009

What a deal! I can upgrade FeedDemon 2.7, which I got for free, to a new version, also for free!

The disadvantage: The new free version displays advertisements.

The advantages: None that the Newsgator people are telling me about. No new features that they’re bragging about.

I would be glad to pay $10 and get an ad-free version, except there is no reason to that I’m aware of.

I used to synchronize with the Newsgator service so I could use the web product to synchronize my feeds and read them when I was away from my home computer. Newsgator discontinued that at the end of August in favor of Google Reader. Maybe I’ll use Google Reader some time in the future, but I’m happy now to do without synchronization and to read the feeds only on my home computer. I haven’t suffered any withdrawal symptoms at all. Life is less hectic this way. I guess I owe Newsgator some thanks for taking their service away and making my life simpler. So maybe I’ll buy a new version of FeedDemon at some point, but upgrading software for no advantage would be adding a complication to my life that would nullify some of the gains.

Sep 212009

I posted the following comment on Banion King’s blog at SCSU Scholars:

I used to hear that kind of talk a lot back in the 1960s about how private charity was demeaning. But now that we have govt entitlements, note what happens when recipients show something less than fulsome gratitude toward the government. See Clarence Thomas, for example. Or the townhall protestors who accept Medicare but who speak ill of government involvement in health care. The left treats them as a pimp treats a prostitute who tries to get free of his control.

It was in response to an article that included the following passage:

What caught my eye was this passage:

Bachmann’s assumption that the poor should be happy in their hearts to rely on religious charity is simply laughable.

It ignores the fact that, to many people, charity is ingratiating — and it is always undependable and inconsistent.

Is it really such a beautiful thing that a family trying to treat a member’s terminal illness is ingratiated to begging money off “the generous public” at car washes and charity suppers?

Now a woman who’s studied “feminist rhetoric”, whatever that is, didn’t use the same word “ingratiate” twice without a reason. What would be her reason? The word “ingratiate” simply means to bring someone into the good graces of another, most often yourself. Its etymology contains the Latin word “gratia” for “favor, grace.” So shall I understand that this woman believes you should be able to get something from another without exchanging anything in return? What does she want in lieu of gratitude?

Sep 212009

This could end up being the equivalent of Jimmy Carter’s rabbit.   I literally LOL’d when I got to this part.

Mr. Obama: “George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. . . .” (URL)

Sep 202009

I wonder if this is what John Maynard Keynes meant when he said, “In the long run we are all dead.”

From the Washington Post: “Despair in Once-Proud Argentina : After Economic Collapse, Deep Poverty Makes Dignity a Casualty” by By Anthony Faiola

Argentines have watched, horrified, as the meltdown dissolved more than their pocketbooks. Even the rich have been affected in their own way. The tragedy has struck hardest, however, among the middle class, the urban poor and the dirt farmers. Their parts of this once-proud society appear to have collapsed — a cave-in so complete as to leave Argentines inhabiting a barely recognizable landscape.

With government statistics showing 11,200 people a day falling into poverty — earning less than $3 daily — Buenos Aires, a city once compared to Paris, has become the dominion of scavengers and thieves at night. Newly impoverished homeless people emerge from abandoned buildings and rail cars, rummaging through trash in declining middle- and upper-class neighborhoods. People from the disappearing middle class, such as Vicente Pitasi, 60 and jobless, have turned to pawn shops to sell their wedding rings.

What a way to go, though!

Sep 202009

Politicians say the darndest things. And that goes for their messengers, too, like Christopher S. Rugaber of the AP. The following paragraph contains two of those things:

The report shows jobs remain scarce even as most analysts believe the economy is pulling out of the worst recession since the 1930s. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said earlier this week that the recovery isn’t likely to be rapid enough to reduce unemployment for some time.

Most analysts? Who are these mysterious people called analysts. On their IRS 1040 form do they report their occupation as “analyst?” Are they Mr. Rugaber’s beer drinking buddies? Are they the people who write partisan opinion articles for the newspaper when they’re supposed to be giving us news, and cover themselves by putting the word “Analysis” in the headline? We deserve to know. And what is “most”? 51 percent?

The second point is the one about needing a rapid recovery to reduce unemployment. I wouldn’t be surprised if a rapid recovery reduces unemployment at a fast rate while a slow recovery reduces it at a slow rate. I could even see that there would be a hysteresis effect. But here we’re being told that unless the recovery isn’t rapid, it won’t reduce unemployment at all. Weird. I wonder what makes that.

Sep 182009

This is too weird to take at face value. Obama wants to control compensation policies at banks to prevent those employees from taking too much risk. I don’t for one minute believe it.

Here’s the way the WSJ describes the Obama administration’s plan:

Policies that set the pay for tens of thousands of bank employees nationwide would require approval from the Federal Reserve as part of a far-reaching proposal to rein in risk-taking at financial institutions.

The Fed’s plan would, for the first time, inject government regulators deep into compensation decisions traditionally reserved for the banks’ corporate boards and executives.

Under the proposal, the Fed could reject any compensation policies it believes encourage bank employees — from chief executives, to traders, to loan officers — to take too much risk.

For one thing, risk isn’t something that’s necessarily bad. There are good risks and there are bad risks. It’s hard to tell upfront which are which, which is why they’re called risks. The government itself encourages risky banking when it backs up student loans or housing loans. Sometimes we might consider it good for a bank to take on a risky borrower that other won’t touch. On the other hand, we might not want banks risking all their reserve capital to make risky investments.

If there are certain risks that we don’t want banks to take, the way to do that is to prohibit the behavior, not go about it by such an indirect means as employee compensation.

What if we approached safety regulation the way Obama wants to regulate banks. What if we said that instead of enacting safety standards, we’re going to review compensation policies to make sure businesses don’t reward employees who create unsafe workplaces or produce unsafe products? That’s going to give regulators a lot of work to do, but safety isn’t going to be the outcome. For one thing, it doesn’t even define what sort of safety the law requires.

Obama and his crowd may not be the brightest kids on the block, but I don’t think they’re so dumb as to think that’s the way to accomplish what they say they want to accomplish. Being a skeptical, cynical person, I suspect two things are going on here.

1. The Obamanites have no idea how to regulate bad banking behavior without undermining their own party’s programs that are designed to encourage bad banking behavior.

2. Obamanites don’t like people making their own decisions. People who do that are a threat to the role they envision for government.

So naturally, the thing to do is to take decision-making power out of people’s hands and turn it over to the government.