Preferred response to the Paulson plan

01% – Give the bankers what they say they need to rescue the economy. (9)

56% – Ignore the bankers and let the crisis solve itself. (587)

43% – Guillotine the greedy bastards. (455)

1051 votes

Who has questions?

So I got an email from an aide to one of the House Republicans on the Financial Services Committee; apparently he’s available for interviews about the financial situation. What questions would you all like to see me ask him, assuming I can arrange it?

A senator speaks

John Hawkins interviews Sen. Jim Demint about the bailout:

JH: I can tell you that people are furious about this. I know at my blog, I did a poll and 85% of the people opposed this. People think they’re being asked to throw their money away on a massive scale to pay the bills for people who behaved irresponsibly. Are they right?

JD: They’re exactly right. People are mad. I am getting hundreds of calls a day and it’s 100 to 1 against this. …Even banks like BB&T say that they don’t want this because they know what it means: the government is going to get involved in their business whether they take their money or not….

So, people have every right to be angry and that anger needs to continue…. We’ve seen that Americans getting angry and involved helped us defeat this whole amnesty proposal and it helped us spotlight wasteful earmarks, which we’re making some progress on. It has brought the energy issue to the point where we have backed the Democrats down from this drilling moratorium. We’re making progress on this bailout.

…The problem we have politically is that the President wants this so that he’s not the President who presides over a catastrophe. He’s willing to give the Democrats all the regulations and intrusions in the market that they want if they will help him pass it.

Basically, everyone with even a shred of common sense is against the Bailouts for Bankers plan, except, of course, the larger part of the conservative commentariat, which demonstrates once more that it is far too comfortably in bed with Washington to be taken seriously by any actual conservatives. Between the political leadership of George Bush and the media leadership of National Review, is it any wonder that the Republican brand looks about as good as Union Carbide’s post-Bhopal?

How should America respond?

“To preserve their [the people’s] independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our selection between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude” – Thomas Jefferson

I completely agree with Thomas Jefferson; in my view, the attempted bailout must be shouted down. The reckless air of entitlement demonstrated by veteran Wall Street champions like Larry Kudlow – who seriously states that he cannot support a bailout if limits are placed on executive compensation because that would “represent a huge first step into government interference” – is unbelievable. How would THAT be the FIRST step considering that this is the fifth federal intervention this year alone? Keep in mind that the very men demanding that Congress pillage the taxpayers on their behalf are precisely the same men who paid themselves 38 billion in bonuses just last year – let them bail their corporations out of their own pockets, not ours. If they’re so desperate for a bailout, then why doesn’t the government simply take that 38 billion and use it for the initial funding? Taking ten years of bonus money from the Wall Street crew would provide more than half the funds supposedly required.

UPDATE – Britain’s five leading high street banks have as much as £95.3 billion ($175 billion) of distressed assets on their books that may qualify for the American bailout scheme.” I don’t know about you, but I suspect the average American doesn’t truly give the smallest damn that can be detected on a helium ion microscope if a British or Indonesian bank happens to lose money on its investments.

Some begin to wake

A commenter at Megan McArdle’s suddenly begins to grok:

No, the credit crisis has significantly changed my political views. Before, I thought that Ron Paul was a crackpot, that mainstream economists were generally on top of things, and inflation and fractional reserves were healthy and normal aspects of the economy. Now I believe that Ron Paul was mostly right, mainstream economists have systematic blind spots, and consistent inflation is corrosive. I have essentially turned from a Megan McArdle libertarian to a Murray Rothbard/Mencius Moldbug libtertarian.

What I find interesting is that despite the fact that pretty much all of my economic contrarianism has been more than justified by recent events and the more mainstream economists have been shown to have been completely and utterly wrong, just as I have been writing for more than seven years, the large majority of readers are still turning to those who were completely wrong about the situation to explain it to them now. This is as stupid and as unlikely to be effective as, well, turning to expert Wall Street financiers to fix the failure of the Wall Street financial system.

I have to disagree, however, with McArdle’s thought for the day: “Isn’t it marvelous how the financial crisis has been caused entirely by things that you were opposed to before the crisis happened?”

Now, I’m opposed to the Green Bay Packers. I’m opposed to Manchester United. I’m totally and utterly opposed to Juventus and Bayern Munich. I’m also opposed to the Federal Reserve, fiat currency, and politically-driven financial incentives to commit economic insanity. But one would have to be truly and deeply stupid to fail to recognize that the latter three were primary contributors to the credit meltdown regardless of whether one approved of those things or not. That being said, she’s largely correct here: “The Paulson plan is not a plan. It’s a plan to maybe have a plan at some unspecified point in the future. The basic idea seems to be that we give the Fed a big pot of money, which it hands over to banks in exchange for illiquid securities. Essentially, we’re recapitalizing the banks with federal money.”

No, it’s not federal money. It’s money that belongs to American individuals. But it’s true, it’s not a plan, it’s an attempted robbery under the color of crisis.

The irrationality of faith in reason

These scientific studies are one reason I find the atheist enlightenmentals and their irrational belief in reason as a logical basis for ordering society to be so amusingly ironic:

Saying that correcting misinformation does little more than reinforce a false believe is a pretty controversial proposal, but the claim is based on a number of studies that examine the effect of political or ideological bias on fact correction. In the studies, volunteers were shown news items or political adverts that contained misinformation, followed by a correction. For example, a study by John Bullock of Yale showed volunteers a political ad created by NARAL that linked Justice John Roberts to a violent anti-abortion group, followed by news that the ad had been withdrawn. Interestingly, Democratic participants had a worse opinion of Roberts after being shown the ad, even after they were told it was false.

Over half (56 percent) of Democratic subjects disapproved of Roberts before the misinformation. That rose to 80 percent afterward, but even after correcting the misinformation, 72 percent of Democratic subjects still had a negative opinion. Republican volunteers, on the other hand, only showed a small increase in disapproval after watching the misinformation (11 percent vs 14 peercent).

Along those lines, a pair of political scientists, Brendan Nyhan of Duke and Jason Reifler of Georgia State, have shown a similar effect, this time concerning misinformation surrounding the presence of WMDs in Iraq, tax cuts, or stem cell research. Participants were shown news reports that contained inaccuracies, followed by a correction. The news reports were not real, but were presented to the volunteers as coming from either the New York Times or Fox News. Again, the findings suggest that facts that contradicted political ideology were simply not taken in; if anything, challenging misbelief with fact checking has the counterintuitive effect of reinforcing that misbelief.

Of course, one has to consider the source. The idea that the news media is a reliable source of facts is in itself a very questionable assumption. Given the vast panoply of inaccuracies reported by both the New York Times and Fox News, a refusal to accept their reporting as fact is a logically defensible position. I further note that these material reductionists often staunchly cling to a belief in the supreme importance of “equality”, a manifestly non-existent immaterial object.

Also, declaring a belief in Obama’s Muslim faith to be an example of being misinformed is pretty poor example. There is, after all, considerable reason to doubt the media attempts to define his faith for him, especially considering that the man has publicly referred to “my Muslim faith”. Perhaps it was, as George Stephanopolis helpfully suggested, a misstatement. And perhaps it wasn’t.

McCain suspends presidential campaign

In order to concentrate on helping La Cosa NostraWall Street bankers rob American citizens:

John McCain announced that he will suspend his presidential campaign on Thursday to return to Washington to help with bailout negotiations. He urged his opponent Barack Obama to do the same. The Arizona senator also asked the Presidential Debate Commission to postpone Friday’s scheduled debate with Obama so that he can work on the financial crisis bailout plan now on Capitol Hill.

If either McCain or Obama knew what they were doing, they’d be thundering against the extortionbailout and calling for fines and jailtime to be handed out to every executive at every financial institution responsible. And that would be every bit as Constitutional as what George Bush and his boy Paulson are trying to pull. Whoever champions the people against the bankers would win in a landslide… Ron Paul could have actually won this year if he’d only been able to claim the nomination.

Thanks ever so much, pragmatists.

Summa Elvetica: the first review

A first review of Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy:

Theodore Beale’s Summa Elevetica is a guy book. It’s stuffed with manly men fighting gory battles, braving supernatural beasts, and recounting past glories. The women are lithe and lovely and mostly in the background. Even though it takes place in an alternate history, the overall tone is Ancient Rome meets the Age of Chivalry.

Or perhaps Tolkien meets the Inquisition. In Beale’s world, the Roman Catholic Church still rules the world, and Rome never fell. At least that’s how I saw the gladiators and slaves, politics, and Latin as the vernacular. For humans, that is. Elves, dwarves, orcs, trolls, and werewolves all have their own native speech. The premise is intriguing: the Pope sends three Church scholars to decide if elves have souls. The stakes are high: If the committee decides in the negative, it’s war against the elves….

If you like long journeys on horseback, swords, sorcery, political intrigue, battles, explosions, and breathtaking rescues, this compact book is for you.

As has become my custom, I have arranged with the publisher to make free ebook downloads available here upon release. Those interested in receiving a PDF before October 1 for blog-review purposes should contact Marcher Lord Press.

The NFC North just got more competitive

The Lions have finally removed team president and GM Matt Millen from his post, FOXSports.com has learned, unseating one of the most criticized executives in Detroit sports history.

Did they finally find the pictures of Millen driving a Japanese hatchback? What could possibly have been the final straw? I couldn’t believe it when Millen got the job in the first place; his continued survival over the years has been one of the great mysteries of sports. But I’ll always remember the good humor of the Lions taking eight consecutive wide receivers first in the draft….

"Under no circumstances"

TMQ on the Washington-Wall Street attempted shakedown of America:

[O]n Sept. 12, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the financial system had been fixed and “under no circumstances” would there be further bailouts; on Friday, Paulson said the system was collapsing and another $700 billion was needed. Suddenly Paulson is insisting the country has no choice other than immediately to hand over $700 billion to Wall Street fat cats, with barely any debate or even explanation of the plan. Why should anyone believe this guy, when just one week previously he said no further bailouts would occur? It seems clear Paulson had no idea what he was talking about then, while if the problem is really as bad as Paulson says now, his past delay in facing the problem has made the cost far higher. With such a poor track record, why is the treasury secretary suddenly viewed as a superbrilliant genius whose marching orders must be followed?

The only responsible answer, the only intelligent answer, to King Paulson’s demands for $700 billion for his corrupt buddies, is UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES will any money be given to Wall Street. The proposed plan simply will not prevent any of the problems that Paulson falsely claims it will prevent; the man has ZERO credibility in these matters.

J. Goldberg wisely concurs:

Paulson’s plan basically says, “I am the Lord thy God,” and that’s crazy. Also, it seems to me that Newt and the editors of NR are right when they worry that the Paulson plan essentially opens the door to unending government control of capital markets and that, too, is just crazy. Even if I completely trusted the wisdom of Paulson and his bureaucrats — which I don’t — there’s no way that I trust the Dodds, Franks or the next Treasury secretary. Every day the markets don’t go off the cliff suggests to me that we can do this in stages and that Paulson’s do-it-my-way-or-it’s-the-Dark-Ages-for-us-all argument doesn’t hold water.

I hope everyone doesn’t mind if I remind them once again that the “Dark Ages” were a myth. As is the idea that Henry Paulson’s just slightly self-serving assertion that giving him Caesar-like power and trillions of dollars is all that stands between American and economic catastrophe.

UPDATE – Unbelievably, Wall Street IS ATTEMPTING TO PLAY THE FREE MARKET CARD in defense of wildly overpaid executives:

Wall Street, its lobbyists and trade groups are waging a feverish lobbying campaign to try to fight compensation curbs. Pay restrictions, they say, would sap incentives to hard work and innovation, and hurt the financial sector and the American economy.

“We support the bill, but we are opposed to provisions on executive pay,” said Scott Talbott, senior vice president for government affairs at the Financial Services Roundtable, a trade group. “It is not appropriate for government to be setting the salaries of executives.”

Some corporate governance experts say hastily devised compensation curbs in the bailout package would be a mistake and perhaps open the door to unintended consequences.

Clearly the Indians have the correct view of how to reward these disgusting and shameless creatures. Americans should tell George Bush, Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke and all of Wall Street to go to Hell without passing Go or collecting $200, let alone $700 billion. Their exercise of power has been the problem, so giving them more will only exacerbate it.