Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Reasonable Libertarian Position

Sometimes it can come across that all I do is complain about everything without offering something positive or constructive about a solution to a current problem. Well, I'm not really going to offer something positive here myself but offer a link to an article by Jeffery A. Miron who is an economist at Harvard University (not that being form Harvard makes his argument carry more weight.) 

He argues that the best thing we can do is not bailout these companies, but rather let them declare bankruptcy. 

Bankruptcy does not mean the company disappears; it is just owned by someone new (as has occurred with several airlines). Bankruptcy punishes those who took excessive risks while preserving those aspects of a businesses that remain profitable.

Now I'm not saying that we should follow Libertarian economic principles, but rather here is a Libertarian who is making a good argument for returning to the earlier economic regulations while allowing the market to punish those who screwed up in the hopes that they won't do it again. 

The Rational Moderate

Saturday, September 27, 2008

And the 1st debate winner is...

Polling wrap up on the debate (I'm not linking all of these - feel free to google):

Jon Taplin - Leans towards Obama, but thinks the media will call it a draw.

Media Curves.com - gives it to Obama with Obama sweeping the independents category.

CBS poll gives it to Obama, but in the category of decisions about Iraq, give it to McCain. Uncommitted voters lean towards Obama.

CNN had Obama winning overall and sweeping the categories. 

Fox News - can’t seem to find a straight answer anywhere. If I was cynical I would take that to mean that their polls also show Obama winning the debate. 

MSNBC - polls have Obama

BBC - Their commentator gave it to McCain, but only slightly. Their round up of other commentators ended up as 4 for Obama, 2 for McCain, and 2 a draw.

My Take - I’m not sure. It is hard for me to distinguish between what I thought and what I think other people would think about what was happening. I thought Obama failed in one area I thought he was good at: directly answering a question. He was likely the first politician I had ever seen do this in a debate in the primaries and I was sad to see it go away last night. I thought McCain did well, even if I didn’t agree with many of the things he said he at least seemed to answer the questions a bit more than Obama. I thought that people would lean towards McCain as the winner in this over Obama, as he lead the discussions and put Obama on the defensive to which again, Obama picked up the Biden Bug and just rambled on. But after looking at these polls, Obama seems to have really taken it. Go figure.

The Rational Moderate

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bailout Blitz pt 2

This was Cynical-C's quote of the Day from a Forbes article called "Bad News for the Bailout":

"In fact some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy.

'It's not based on any particular data point,' a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. 'We just wanted to choose a really large number.'"

Remember kids, this is just the bottom figure of what is being proposed, it could go higher.

The Rational Moderate

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bailout Blitz

I haven't posted in a bit because things are economically, really, really ugly right now and I'm not sure I have a handle on it. I do know that the bailout proposed by Henry Paulson is a terrible, terrible thing if passed as is. 

Here is what I know:
1) For one thing it costs at least 700 billion. This is the figure that is being touted around the media but it's important to remember that this is not the cap, it is the bottom number of how much this could cost us, the taxpayer.
2) As it stands we would be buying up this junk stock for at least twice its value and because it is junk we would (as tax payers) lose even more money on the deal. And if by some small miracle there is any profit to be made on these we won't see any of it as it will go to the companies we are bailing out. 
3) Part of this will go to prop up foreign banks who are in trouble.
4) The CEOs of these companies will not be taking any hits as far as their "golden parachutes" goes - that is, when they leave they will still take with them millions to billions of dollars. You destroyed your company and our economy? Here's an extra couple of million to see you home safely.
5) Two of the most left and right polar NY Times op-eders Krugman and Kristol  agree for probably the first time ever that this bailout is a bad idea, thus signaling the apocalypse. I know someone right now is shouting "Fallacy. Argument from authority!" Look, I'm not saying they are right, I'm simply pointing out that this isn't a plan that automatically causes banner waving for your home team. ("Go Independents!") 
6) There is a clause in the bailout that gives Paulson a ridiculous amount of power and a complete blank check (see # 1). It specifically states: "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." Wow. 
7) Democrats have a history of caving to fear mongering politics of the Republican leaders. Right now it doesn't look like they are going to let Paulson have his way thanks to Dodd and Reed, but I'm still worried. 

I will tell you my hope - that this will finally splinter the Republican party into two different political parties. One party, the minority, would resemble the current GOP with strong support from the religious right and corporate welfare proponents. The other will resemble or be subsumed into the Libertarian party as most Republican voters I've talked to actually resemble Libertarians far more than they resemble Republicans. This will then set a precedent on the Democratic party to splinter into two more parties and we will finally have some real choices. Again, this is just my hope.

The Rational Moderate 

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lex Luthor Thwarted Again

On June 24, 2008, it was discovered that the prominent fictional villain Lex Luthor had been thwarted in his plains to tamper with the water supply of Rockwell County in North Texas. Luthor's plans were disrupted by the geniuses of the county who turned off the water supply to all of the fire hydrants forcing Luthor to abandon his idea of placing liquified kryptonite (deadly to Kryptonites and harmful in large doses to humans) into the water supply. One minor downside to this was the loss of a home, as when the fire department came to douse the flames there was no water in the hydrant to put out the fire. Clearly a small price to pay for putting a stop to the fictional antagonist in the manner of the DHS and TSA.

When Lois Lane interviewed a local official he told her that next they were planning on removing all of the county's food to ensure that Luthor wouldn't be able to poison them through their love of "eats".

The Rational Moderate

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Good Thing/Bad Thing... Sarah Palin

Just as I did with Joe Biden, the point of this exercise is not to argue whether or not Palin is good for McCain to win the election, but rather is she a good choice for us/US. 

Good thing... She’s a woman. Sorry, this does matter. It will be the first woman vice president in United States history. The fact that either side winning will be an momentous historic event is a great thing. 

Bad thing... the Economy.

1) Tax and Spend: Check 

Alaska, No 1 in taxes per resident and No 1 in spending per resident. Remember kids - being a hypocrite doesn't mean you're wrong.

2) Doesn’t get the current crisis: Check 

Thought Frannie Mae and Freedy Mac were a drain on taxpayers money before the government stepped in. In other words,  privately owned business was a non existent drain on tax payers before, so the current Republicans shouldn’t step in now when it actually will cost taxpayers money?

3) B.S. on past Finicial Dealings: Check

a) Ebay plane was not sold on ebay, and ended up losing money on the deal when it finally was sold. (Not surprised McCain got this one wrong since I doubt he could spell ebay let alone know what it is.)

b) Her comments on the Bridge to Nowhere, despite media and bloggers saying otherwise, was dead on. She did say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” She said “Thanks” and took the money to build it. Then when the pressure was on about it being a colossal waste of money she said “No Thanks” and then KEPT THE MONEY!!!

c) She took a $60 dollar a day per diem (supposed to be used for staying overnight at hotels when traveling) for 312 days she spent at home. Ahh, to make $60 a night off of the taxpayers to sit around and worry about the end times...

d) Doesn’t get how oil that comes from the ground gets to your car. Opening up areas in Alaska and off shore drilling will not help the current gas situation for at least a decade and it’s likely it won’t even help then. You don’t just dill in a post attach a hose and pull up your car. Paris Hilton is wrong - don’t follow her advice.

Good thing... Ties to the Alaskan Independence Movement. A group of people who want to vote on whether or not the state of Alaska should secede from the USA. Don’t worry, they make too much money off of the rest of us to leave. Still, me as a 17 year old would have thought  that was pretty cool, and I guess I still do. 

Bad Thing... Religious Fundamentalist. Anyone who thinks we are living in “end times” (the view that the apocalypse is imminent and all good Christians of the very specific and narrow correct kind will ascend to heaven while everyone else will be screwed) and is a) sincere in this belief and b) happy about it should not be running for political office. The point of such positions as President and Vice President is to lead the country towards a better future than the past. But if you sincerely believe that the future is going to be coming to an end very soon then you don’t really have that motivation, do you? So the best thing to do is to make the few remaining days you have on this earth pleasant for you and your buddies before thing get really awesome for you and your buddies. And those others, heck, their lives right now will seem like a dream compared to what’s in store for them. Moral of the rant: Don’t elect any religious fundamentalist who thinks the end of the world in Thursday. And don’t forget that these two will be picking Supreme Court justices. Goodbye freedom and choice, hello social conservatism and state-sponsered religion. Frankly, this should be enough to make Libertarians take another look at Obama (though they still shouldn’t vote for him). 

Good Thing... Outed corrupt politicians who were members of her own party. She basically got Randy Ruedrich and Gregg Renkes to resign for conflicts of interests after she resigned her post as Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in protest. 

Bad Thing... It’s clear she doesn’t know anything necessary about being VP because the Republicans have taken her and hidden her away to prep her before she has any real interactions with the press or with Biden at a debate. The Republicans are trying to sway this into an anti-media hoedown, saying that she will when the campaign feels she will be treated with dignity and respect. Just like the speech she gave at the RNC (written well before they knew who the VP choice would be), she won’t speak until she has all of the lines memorized and the campaign is certain a reporter won’t ask anything that will throw her off the script. 

And the winner is.... Bad Thing. Really, really, really bad thing. Seriously, did you look at the superficial garbage that makes up anything on the good list. Sure, they are good - I didn’t write things there that I didn’t think were actually good points, but jeesh. There are two main areas to asses a political candidate: their social policies and their economic policies. She fails, spectacularly, at both. Some of the other positives that are running out of the mouths of Republican pundits like pus from the drain hole from my dog’s operation (don’t worry he’s on antibiotics) are: 1) She has executive experience. Yeah, as Mayor of a town 7000 and as Governor of a state with 670,000 (for only 20 months) that is about as much experience managing people as I have running the high school marching band. 2) She’s had international experience in fending off the unwanted advances of Russia. Anyone who seriously thinks she has had any real dealings with Russia is a political hack.   3) She was in charge of Alaska’s national guard so she has military experience. The one does not lead necessarily to the other. She is in charge of Alaska’s national guard for state issues, but not in charge of them for national issues. She doesn’t really get to decide anything of importance about them except in how to get them to clean the local memorial statues. She is a terrible, terrible choice. 

The Rational Moderate

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Ann Coulter Effect

First of all, what happened to Coulter? I haven't seen her making any idiotic statements for awhile now. Isn't this her time to shine?

But on to the heart of the matter: Something very strange is happening with the Republican Party. The latest example is this ad. What is basically happening is that the Republicans are taking the slogans and arguments of the Democrats and using them against the Democrats. Obama's main points are we need change and not more of the same which McCain will bring. Here the Republicans are saying we need change and not more of the same which Obama will bring. 


They are so unoriginal that they cannot come up with their own message? What does that say to people about their ability to come up with new and innovative ways to help the economy or to think beyond 1950's Lex Luthor comics to figure out how to actually prevent terrorism rather than dehydrate me on a plane. 

But this ad really reminds me of the arguing tactics of one Ann Coutler. If you've never read any of her writings you should because 1) it is a great way to start learning about logical fallacies and 2) those times when she isn't butchering logic she has a very simple strategy - take the opposing argument against yourself and adopt it as your own. Don't change anything, just switch the names. If the Democrats are arguing that Republicans are trying to hurt endangered animals by messing with the endangered species list, the Coulter method would argue the Democrats are trying to hurt endangered animals by messing with the endangered species list. Now it seems clear that the Republican strategists for McCain are followers of Coulter's methodology. I really think they ought to reconsiders this approach, but I supposed if you only ever hear one side of a situation, such as only hearing Coulter and watching fox news (or only listening to Olberman and watching MSNBC), then you can get away with this. 

The Rational Moderate 

Friday, September 5, 2008

An Interesting Take on the RNC

via Boing Boing

Douglas Rushkoff has written an interesting piece on his reaction to the Republican National Convention. While I did not watch all of it myself (I can only stand so much banner waving - rah rah rah go team go!) some of what I saw did mirror Rushkoff's sentiments. I couldn't believe that they were making fun of community organizing. Isn't that what the Republicans are supposed to want? Don't they want less big government and more small local communities taking care of each other. Or was that just the Regan and prior eras of the Republicans? Despite their evangelizing about Regan (some compared Palin to Regan which is ludicrous) I actually doubt that they would have Regan as their nominee if he came on the scene today. 

One of the biggest problems the Republicans have as a coherent philosophy is the clash between social conservatism (read religious), economic conservatism (read invisible hand), social libertarianism (read mind your own business), and corporate conservatism (read corporate welfare). When your party is composed of some clearly contradictory foundations it's no wonder they can perform the verbal acrobats they do to convince voters to look their way. I'm no fortune teller, but if the individual voting Republicans start to realize that half of the party fundamentally does not agree with them we could finally see the multi-party system we so desperately need. 

The Rational Moderate

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Media Apologizes to McCain/Palin

While I am at work on the next installment of good thing/bad thing for Sarah Palin, here is an apology from the media to the Republicans. If you haven't heard, the Republicans have decided that the war on drugs, the war on terror, and the war on education (No child left behind = everyone graduates whether or not you deserve to) should also expand to the war on journalism. Not only have the Republicans been badmouthing the media because they have actually asked questions about Palin's experience - something that wouldn't have been as big an issue if McCain et al. weren't running mainly on that idea - but they have also been arresting them along with protesters at the GOP convention.

I love Huckabee's line about the media uniting all of America behind McCain and Palin. Wow. I must have missed that shift in the polls. 

The Rational Moderate