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Archive for November, 2009

Having been exposed for engaging in a pervasive pattern of scientific fraud, this his has not been a good couple of days from the global warming alarmists. So this is a perfect time to add some insult to their injury, and a group of Minnesotans (I think that’s what they’re called?) have put together a very funny Christmas video.

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Here’s a very clever video from the Ladies4Liberty. It’s funny, but the lesson about what will happen to our healthcare system is deadly serious.

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We’ve all heard the joke about the guy who gets convicted of murdering his parents and then asks a judge for mercy because he’s an orphan. That same kind of chutzpah was displayed in a recent column by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is the Washington Post. In an attempt to preserve some of the Fed’s regulator powers (which are not necessary for, and may be harmful to, the central bank’s ostensible mission of price stability) and dodge accountability and oversight, Bernanke warns that, “These measures are very much out of step with the global consensus on the appropriate role of central banks, and they would seriously impair the prospects for economic and financial stability in the United States. The Fed played a major part in arresting the crisis, and we should be seeking to preserve, not degrade, the institution’s ability to foster financial stability and to promote economic recovery without inflation.” These two sentences would be laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that Fed policy mistakes have caused so much misery. At the risk of stating the obvious, the Fed’s easy-money policy was the main reason for the financial crisis. Bernanke’s argument is akin to an arsonist expecting praise for calling the fire department after setting a house on fire. But Bob Higgs, the highly-regarded economic historian, had the best analysis:

And about this “economic and financial stability in the United States” that a Fed audit would threaten: Is Bernanke thinking about the stability we enjoyed between the world wars, when the Fed managed to bring about the onset on what proved to be the greatest depression in world history (an accomplishment for which he has previously accepted responsibility on behalf of the Fed)? Or perhaps he is thinking instead about the stability we enjoyed since 2001, when the Fed pushed the Fed funds rate quickly from 6.5 percent to 1 percent, held it at a negative real rate for several years, then pushed it up quickly to 5.25 percent in 2006-2007, then shoved it down quickly to almost zero in the past year? Zounds. It would certainly be tragic if the American people had to give up such remarkable stability. Or perhaps he is thinking about the fact that before the Fed was created, the dollar had retained its purchasing power more or less constant for more than a century, except for transitory war-related ups and downs, but since the Fed’s creation, the dollar has lost more than 95 percent of its purchasing power. Who calls this degree of debasement stability?

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Here’s a dog-bites-man story. Politicians in Washington decide to squander $787 billion of other people’s money, and it turns out that a lot of the money is being diverted by crooks. USA Today reports:

Federal prosecutors are investigating a dozen cases of possible fraud involving the $787 billion economic stimulus package, a USA TODAY review of government records shows. There are an additional 88 active investigations of potential misuse of that money, according to reports filed by internal watchdogs at 29 federal agencies managing stimulus funds and the congressional Government Accountability Office. Separately, GAO criminal investigators are reviewing nine cases, acting GAO head Gene Dodaro has said. …Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board Chairman Earl Devaney said the allegations involve contract and grant fraud and include filing false statements and attempts by ineligible firms to get funding. “This is a pretty tempting pot of money for people to go after,” Devaney said of stimulus funds.

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Even though Pat Buchanan sometimes veers into big-government populism and has odd theories on things such as World War II, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for him – perhaps because he featured one of my Wall Street Journal opeds in a 1992 campaign commercial when he challenged President George H.W. Bush. But he’s also a crisp writer, and his Townhall.com column on education is right on the mark:

As George W. Bush famously asked, “Is our children learning?” Apparently not in the twin capitals of liberalism, D.C. and New York. In a ranking of 50 states and D.C. by how much each spent per pupil in public schools in 2005, New York ranked first; D.C. third. The state spent $14,100, and New York City just a tad less. And the bountiful fruits of this massive transfer of taxpayers’ wealth? In D.C., nearly half of all black and Latino students drop out. Of those who graduate, nearly half are reading and doing math at seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade levels. D.C. academic achievement ranks 51st, last in the U.S. Yet last week came a report from New York that makes D.C look like M.I.T. Some 200 students, in their first math class at City University of New York, were tested on their basic math skills. Ninety percent could not do basic algebra. One-third could not convert a decimal into a fraction. …As 70 percent of all CUNY students are graduates of city schools, a question arises: What are the taxpayers of New York getting for the highest tax rates in the nation? If a private business annually turned out products that were of inferior quality than the year before, management would be thrown out by the board. Yet, the education racket has been shaking us down for four decades, and turning out graduates that know less and less. Scholastic Aptitude Test scores peaked around 1964. Ever since, the national average has been in an almost unbroken descent. So embarrassing did it get that, a few years ago, the SAT folks retooled the test to produce higher scores.

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I don’t get it. How can Georgia lose at home to an unranked Kentucky team, but then beat #7 Georgia Tech on the road the following weekend? Just a rhetorical question, of course, but it sure felt nice. Georgia 30 – Tech 24!

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Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute has been one of the few sane voices in the fight over bailouts, regulation, and the financial sector. His new column in the Wall Street Journal exposes the White House’s misleading arguments for more government control of an already over-regulated financial sector:

…the government’s case for bailing out AIG has rested on the notion that the company was too big to fail. If AIG hadn’t been rescued, the argument goes, its credit default swap (CDS) obligations would have caused huge losses to its counterparties—and thus provoked a financial collapse. …The truth about the credit default swaps came out last week in a report by TARP Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky. It says that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, then president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, did not believe that the financial condition of AIG’s credit default swap counterparties was “a relevant factor” in the decision to bail out the company. …The broader question is whether the entire regulatory regime proposed by the administration, and now being pushed through Congress by Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd, is based on a faulty premise. …The administration’s unwillingness or inability to clearly define the problem of interconnectedness is not the only weakness in its rationale for imposing a whole new regulatory regime on the financial system. Another example is the claim—made by Mr. Geithner and President Obama himself—that predatory lending by mortgage brokers was one of the causes of the financial crisis. …At the end of 2008, there were about 26 million subprime and other nonprime mortgages in our financial system. Two-thirds of these mortgages were on the balance sheets of the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the four largest U.S. banks. The banks were required to make these loans in order to gain approval from the Fed and other regulators for mergers and expansions.

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