Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Fairness Doctrine

One of the items on the Congressional agenda is the Fairness Doctrine, where the Government would require broadcasters to provide equal time for both sides. While it sounds good at first listen, the Fairness Doctrine is, to borrow from the Jurassic Park movies, the dumbest idea in the history of dumb ideas!! First, the government mandating coverage flies in the face of the First Amendment. Second, who gets to decide if something is a liberal/conservative view point or a balanced view point? Some bureaucrat gets to decide if Wolf Blitzer is being a liberal or just a neutral commentator? Come on!!

It appears to me that if there is any place for the Fairness Doctrine, it should be NPR and PBS, which are directly funded by taxpayers. And yet, any unbiased listener recognizes that these organizations are loaded with liberals. Virtually every show at these networks, with the exception of the Newshour with Jim Lehrer, takes a decidedly biased view on the issues. Maybe we can start with dictating that such organizations need to be more balanced or lose taxpayer funding?

Full Disclosure: I listen to NPR and PBS extensively, and have contributed to NPR in the past. I have however decided against further support for NPR until their editorial content changes to present more view points.

The Peg is Here to Stay

Hillary Clinton urges China to keep buying US debt. I'm no economist, but does this signal a strong dollar policy with respect to the yuan? After all, the reason China buys US debt is to finance the US trade deficit with China. That deficit is an artifact of weak US exports relative to US imports. For China to continue to buy US debt, the trade deficit must be sustained, China must maintain the peg to the dollar, for if the yuan appreciates relative to the dollar, there are smaller deficits to finance!

Video of the Day: Santelli Goes Ballistic

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quote of the Day: Eric Cantor on the Stimulus Bill

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) on the haste in voting on the $800 billion or so stimulus plan less than 24 hours after being released. (If you're counting, it was released at 9 pm, contains 1,1419 pages, and is being tabled at 9 am, but what's a few hours between friends!)
Those in favor of speed over commonsense may just be afraid of letting the People know what they are ramming through.

Monday, February 09, 2009

What a Bank, What a Bank ...

At a time when it takes a little inner saint to not cuss at banks, I stumbled on a bank that actually makes the world a better place. Now, now, in this day and time, that almost seems impossible, unless you're talking of some international microfinance bank like the Grameen Bank, which isn't the type of bank you or I would necessarily do business with (although we might chose to give our charitable $ that way).

But skepticism step aside - here's the Shore Bank of Chicago. It's a bank formed with an express motive of achieving social and environmental goals while making a profit. Now, normally when I see something like that, I think it's a tired cliche every business now uses nowadays, but turns out the Newshour with Jim Lehrer did a piece on them. Watch the piece and become a convert!

Oh, one more thing - they currently offer one of the highest yields on online savings in the country! Make money and help disadvantaged communities ... God, I feel like Superman!!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Daschle Fiasco Finally Ends

Today was not a good day for the Obama White House. Two candidates for senior cabinet positions resigning. But while much of the coverage has claimed the two resigned for "tax reasons", like this one, that's not quite true in Daschle's case. No one thought Daschle's tax problems were a dealbreaker - what was was that his appointment flew in the face of Obama's pledge to not hire any lobbyists.

As Time magazine reports:
According to the White House, the important thing is that Tom Daschle is not technically a lobbyist. "If you're not registered to lobby, you can't be a lobbyist," explains White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. And Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader who is up for the top health post in the Obama Cabinet, never filled out the paperwork to register.

Of course that's baloney, since Daschle effectively acted as a lobbyist. From the Time article:
Daschle, for instance, was a high-paid "policy adviser" at Alston & Bird, a lobbying firm with dozens of brand-name pharmaceutical and health-services clients. "Senator Daschle focuses his services on advising the firm's clients on issues related to all aspects of public policy," boasts the firm's website. One of Alston's clients, EduCap, a nonprofit student-loan company that spent six figures lobbying to change federal loan laws, took Daschle on two cushy overseas trips, one to the Bahamas for a board meeting and another to the Middle East to meet with foreign leaders.

What's particularly disturbing about this, if you were swept by the Obama hype of change, is that Obama supported Daschle despite these facts, and trying to spin the unofficial lobbyist status. Turns out he's just another politician - who would have thought?

Adding insult to injury is that the WH now argues that this will be the cleanest administration to date. That's a bit like arguing that a thief who didn't mug his victim because a cop showed up isn't a thief after all!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Enjoy Stimulus Now, Pay Your $14,000 Share Later

Kevin Hastett wrote a incredible must-read piece on Bloomberg titled 'Enjoy Stimulus Now, Pay Your $14,000 Share Later'. Really, you must read it to understand the fiscal implications on your household budget are.

An excerpt:
Under President George W. Bush -- a big spender in his own right -- the federal budget deficit reached a record $455 billion in fiscal 2008, more than double a year earlier. Government bailouts of banks and other industries that started under Bush, and may accelerate under President Barack Obama, will help push the deficit toward that $1.7 trillion mark.

And just what does that mean for your personal finances?
If your family income in 2006 was between $75,000 and $100,000, the extra taxes that you will have to pay at some point in the future add up to about $14,000. If your income was between $100,000 and $200,000, your future tax hike will be about $28,000. If your income was between $200,000 and $500,000, then your future tax bill just went up by $90,299.

The longer the deficits last, the larger those numbers get. And all for what?