Government competence

Remember, the people who struck this deal are largely the same folks upon whom the salvation of 500 million jobs per month is depending:

A government watchdog group says the federal government overpaid for stocks and other assets from financial institutions under its $700 billion rescue program. The chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the bailout funds told the Senate Banking committee Thursday that Treasury in 2008 paid $254 billion and received assets worth about $176 billion.

Well, at least we know where that 18.4 billion in bank bonuses came from.

Karaoke challenge

The Responsible Puppet throws down the gauntlet:

List the song or songs that you would perform best in a karaoke situation. Note: The songs should be somewhat mainstream.

Extra points for:

– A list of more than one song.

– Songs that you are a bit embarrassed to know that well, or that might surprise others.

– Mentioning how much preparation you would require (i.e – Would require a half an hour to learn the notes/word, would require no time, but you would need the lyrics in front of you, would require no time and you would not need the lyrics.)

With the caveat that I’m not exactly up on most popular music from any era except perhaps the mid-1980s, my list, for which I would not need the lyrics, is as follows:

1. Fuck Her Gently – Tenacious D. I can’t stand campfire guitar music, so I learned all the lyrics to this just in case I ever found myself trapped in another Bible study singalong situation. Also, it’s beyond awesome.

2. Down with the Sickness – Disturbed. This is the only one I’ve actually sung at a karaoke bar. It brought down a house quite obviously more accustomed to serious karaoke practitioners singing Whitney Houston and Dan Fogelberg. Okay, perhaps “left it wide-eyed and shell-shocked” might be a better description. The White Buffalo and Big Chilly can testify; they were there.

3. Orpheus – David Sylvian. One of my all-time favorite songs, although there are two low notes that I’d have to be a bit lucky to hit properly.

4. The Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler. I’m totally kidding. I’m not really sure what song this is, as I tend to confuse it with that “turn around bright eyes” one. Assuming, of course, that they are different songs. They are, aren’t they? Actually this.

5. Save a Prayer – Duran Duran. I sang this one at a concert a long, long time ago. It went down rather well, especially with the young ladies, but then, as you can see, I did have that sweet Nick Rhodes hair going at the time.

A primer on state capitalism

This is an excellent post on political economy that is well worth reading, even if “corporatism” or “faux-financialism” might be more accurate terms for the collapsing system of “state capitalism” it describes.

The current state and the current banking sector require one another; neither can exist without the other. They are so reciprocally intertwined that each is an extension of the other…. It is therefore no surprise that the loudest advocates for the effective nationalization of the finance industry are to be found on Wall Street; at this point, failing financiers welcome any government actions that will socialize their risks. But such actions that socialize “losses while keeping the profits in private hands” are a hallmark of fascist and neofascist economies. They are just another manifestation of “Horwitz’s First Law of Political Economy”: “no one hates capitalism more than capitalists.”

The extent to which belief in this fraudulent form of “capitalism” spreads can be seen in the way that some “conservatives” can be seen on Fox and other networks complaining about the incipient executive compensation caps, as if there is anything at all free market about the government-created, government-regulated, government-funded entities that will be affected by the regulation.

The caps are a minor issue, of course. The much larger problem is the fact that the entire infrastructure built around central finance and debt-back money is inherently flawed and looking increasingly likely to collapse. History will show that it wasn’t ultimately any more sustainable than Soviet Communism, to name one failed political economy of similar duration.