Friday, September 26, 2008

ATF allows electronic records. What's wrong with that?

Well, nothing, exactly.The problem is with how the now-computerized records could be misused by an agency that has been called "out of control". The Uninvited Ombudsman has the skinny.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

So...let's talk bailout

Despite all of our super-duper finance people telling us that this bailout is necessary, and if we don't get it the World As We Know It will end, I'm not buying it. After all, it was these people who, by and large, got us into this mess in the first palce.

The financial bailout of Wall Street (and other areas known for financial activity) is a colossally foolish attempt to stop the world from turning. As it would be with an attempt to stop the world, it's going to fail, for one reason or another.

Think of the world of finance as a balloon, and we have collectively blown that balloon up with Stupid. Then someone (with really big hands) squeezes on that balloon, and a part of it bulges out so far it's in danger of popping. That bulge is our current credit crisis.

So our someone pushes that bulge back in, only to have the balloon bulge out somewhere else. He grabs it there and forces it back in, and it bulges in yet another place. He grabs it there, but in his haste he squeezes too hard, and the balloon bursts.

Financial regulators, central banks and others the world over have been pushing the bulges back in for years--stagflation in the 70s, the S&L debacle of the 80s/90s and the credit crunch of '08 are simply a few of the squeezes.

Will the balloon pop this time? Who knows? But eventually, it will. And since we keep blowing in more Stupid at the same time we're pushing in the bulges, when it finally does go "Bang!", it will be a far louder bang than it would have been if it had burst earlier.

Personally, I'm in favor of allowing the markets to simply take their course. At best, they work things out with minimal pain. At worst, they work things out with considerable pain. However, if we keep papering over the problems (by, in effect, forcing the taxpayers to pay above market prices for below market securities), we will, at some point, reach a point where it can't be papered over any longer--and the financial markets will burst just like our balloon.

And the pain will be far worse than if we squeeze all of the toxic debt and foolish decisions out now.

Our best hope is that our politicians spend so much time arguing about how to lard this bailout up with a little pork for everyone that it simply doesn't get passed in time. At least that way the taxpayers don't get screwed any worse that they're already being screwed.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Quick! Call the asylum!

Because the inmates are on the loose--and they've taken charge of our economy.

OK, this is going to be big-time snarkage, because the entire story is becoming more of a farce than necessary.

Traders seems to have finally realized that their precious bailout comes at a cost which the US can not pay in cash. That means we have to borrow that $500 billion $700 billion $1 trillion $1 gazillion that it's going to take to buy ourselves out of this mess, no matter for how short a time. Congratulations, Einsteins. Go to the head of your class. That will make you easier targets when the Revolution comes.

From the "Why Worry Now?" department, we find out that our ever-vigilant government is closely monitoring oil prices for sing of manipulation. Welcome to the party guys--we're all going home now.

The "No Constituency Left Behind" program has suffered a minor setback, but Democrats are sure it's only temporary. If they whine long enough, they're sure they'll get what they want. For the Children or the Poor or who-the-hell-ever this time.

This just in--the glorious bailout plan will be a drag on the economy. Another victory such as this and we may be undone.

Hank Paulson is seeing his chance for shoving this plan through Congress in a hurry evaporating like puddles after a summer shower. See! There's something to be thankful for! Given all the interesting powers granted and the lacks of check and/or balances, this is the first good news I've heard on the subject so far.

And after a crappy day for Wall Street, Asia feels our pain.

It's going to be a long fall and a cold, cold winter at this rate.

The Joys of Cycling

(Forward to me by the Mountain Man, who still doesn't have his own blog)

The Joys of Cycling--in the 50s, in Ireland, no less. The link is to the pictures. You can go here for the full story.

You realize, of course, that we'd all be better off if we still lived this way.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Your Sunday Firepower Video

OK, let leave the normal Sunday big guns for something a bit more...personal.

Rut-Row, Raggy!

It seems like the big dino-wopping Wall Street bailout is running into politics.

Bloomberg notes that"

U.S. Democratic lawmakers said they would act quickly on a $700 billion rescue plan for U.S. financial companies, while demanding that the legislation limit compensation for executives of companies that will benefit.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson urged the measure be passed ``clean and quick'' and Democrats, who control both houses of Congress, pledged not to tie the measure to an economic stimulus plan or slow down its passage.

So much for that quick, clean bill that ol' Hank was hoping for. It seems we are going to need to throw the Left a bone or three. Perhaps Hank forgot that old Washington concept--No Constituency Left Behind. Or something like that.

Meanwhile, CNBC quotes experts who note that the current bailout isn't like the last time:

The Bush Administration's $700 billion financial rescue plan bears little resemblance to the government’s handling of the savings and loan crisis almost two decades ago—and may not be as successful, experts say.

The plan, which is still being hammered out with Congress, raises a number of red flags. First and foremost, unlike the process then, there’s no accompanying re-regulation of the financial services industry.

So we bail them out from a gazillion dollars in poor investments and we don't even get to make an attempt at ensuring we don't have to do it again--at least for the same reasons? Nice.

And as a final note, ol' Hank hates it for us taxpayers:

"I hate the fact that the taxpayer will be at risk, but the taxpayer was already at risk," he said later on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Well, we may have been at risk, but I have to wonder if it was nearly as much as our betters want us to think.

I think this week has the potential to be most entertaining.

Hey Dad, I found this old gun...

(Via The High Road)

...that you carried during the Korean War.

Against some pretty long odds, Virgil Richardson's son Jim found the actual M1 Garand rifle that his father had carried through the Korean War. He's given it to his Dad for his birthday.

That's a heck of a present, and heck of a kid and a heck of a father. Warms my heart, it does.