Monday, September 20, 2010

SAR #10263

Government has been reduced to a public relations exercise,  the Presidency to PR releases.

Sandlot Ball:   The bankers have a new razzle-dazzle play they want to try out on the suckers.  This time they're going to have the mortgage servicers send out invitations for the unwary to refinance their underwater homes at the new low, low, unbelievably low rate of 4.something %.  In return the homeowner will receive a small addition to the principal due – the bribe paid the servicers for this service – so that now they will be even more underwater.  But their payments will be lower.  And the loans would cease to be non-recourse, so the owner could not walk away no matter how much more the price fell.  Heck of a deal.

The Revised Edition:  Justice Scalia says it is a “total absurdity” to claim the 14th Amendment protects the rights of women and gays.  They, and the rest of us, have no constitutional right to privacy, he claims.  Scalia also claims that the Constitution's authors intended for religion to play a large role in US politics – history to the contrary.  He got the 'total absurdity' part right.

Quoted:   “I am not a Democrat, because I have no idea what their economic policies are; and I am not a Republican, because I know precisely what their economic policies are.”

"Things are Going to Happen":  Dr. Robert Hirsch, a man with excellent oil & energy credentials and author of a 2005 DOE report on peak oil, says there was “a conspiracy to keep it (peak oil) quiet” in Washington,  but that “if you’re a reasonably intelligent person, you see that catastrophic things are going to happen to the world.  We’re talking about major damage, major change in our civilization. Chaos, economic disaster, wars, all kinds of things that are, as I say, very complicated, non-linear. Really bad things.”  I can't wait until Christine O'Donnell, Sharon Angle, Sarah Palin, et al. are setting our energy, economic and foreign policies.

Send In The Clowns: Ireland is on the verge of asking the IMF or the EU for 'help'.  The Irish have already suffered one round of belt-tightening austerity insults to the common man and there is some question as to their tolerance for more.

The Dove:  The Defense Department has asked Boeing to develop a surveillance and communications drone aircraft that can remain aloft for five years. It will be controlled from an underground bunker to be called Noah's Ark.

Sound and Fury:  In a fine show of pandering platitudes, the Federal Housing Finance Agency has said that the nation's largest banks should pay some significant part of bailing out Fannie and Freddie because they sold them the bad mortgages.  As though the buyer didn't know there was a pig in that sack all along.

Quoted:   “If taxing the wealthy less were the secret to economic growth, why would we tax them at all?”

Battered Wife Syndrome:    Those who did the most to bring us to this particular barn dance now say that the only way to avoid the dance and more like it is to go home with them.  The tax policies that we've had for the last decade have worked so well the GOP thinks we need more of them.  Odds are we'll keep taking the abuse.

Trade Secrets:  Not only will those purveying frankenfoods not have to tell the unsuspecting experimental subjects that their food has been tinkered with, but also those who don't use GM foods will be barred from telling the customers that their products are not so contaminated.

The Problem:  Too many babies - that's the base cause of our problems. There is no point to recycling, or curly light bulbs, building electric cars and windmills or any of the rest of that as long as the population is going to increase by 50% at any time, much less the next 40 years.

Assigned Reading:  In 1961 "The Image," Boorstin famously predicted that real news and serious discourse would eventually be replaced by a "new kind of synthetic novelty" called "pseudo-events".  He was wrong. It's called Fox News.


lineside said...

re "quoted":

the silliness of this argument (or is it just a quip?) can be shown by simply inverting it: "if taxing (fill in the blank with your favorite target) a bit more is the key to solving the economic crisis, why not tax them at 100%?"

rjs said...

while i was growing up in a middle class industrial suburb, 1950-63, the top tax bracket was 91%, the rich were not suffering unduly, the country was growing, the monetary system was stable with little inflation, and large families were able to be supported by the labors of one point is not nostalgic; it's that the high taxes on high incomes were not in anyway crippling; it wasnt until the OPEC oil price shocks in the 70s that we experienced inflation and subsequent stagflation...

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

I thought it was a fair comment on the level of discussion about taxation these days... Still do.

linside said...

re battered wife syndrome:

someone needs to remind the article's author that there there's a difference between correlation and causation.

of course there's no way that runaway spending (wars, entitlements, etc.), the fed's nutty interest rate policy, outsourcing production to china, or any number of other factors could have contributed to the "lost decade" as he puts it...nah, it was all caused by the tax cuts.

lineside said...


i don't disagree with your point that we did ok with higher tax rates back in the 50s/early 60s, although i'm not smart enough to figure out whether we would have done better or worse had rates been lower. we were at that time certainly still enjoying a major tailwind by virtue of our being the only major industrial power not having undergone catastrophic damage in WWII.

(FWIW, the top rates back then applied to incomes over $400k, which is higher than today's top bracket ($300 something k) in nominal terms and equivalent to over $3 million in inflation-adjusted terms (


kwark said...

Re Trade Secrets Was it 20 or 30 years ago that the FDA ceased to function as the watchdog ensuring food safety and became the watchdog ensuring corporate agriculture profitability? Another reason (if you need one) to avoid chain store produce and buy locally grown from trusted growers . . . if you can.