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Thursday, April 23, 2009

 

Nationalization musings

I hope everyone is getting an inkling into what nationalization of businesses is really about. So when the administration tells banks they can't repay TARP money (which some didn't want in the first place) and when they start mapping bankruptcy strategy for Chrysler, you start to get the idea that maybe somebody is using the economic downturn as the excuse for implementing Dems' longstanding agenda. So the hapless Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner explains how this is the worst economy ever, etc. Now we have Obama, after first vowing not to prosecute those who followed the last administration's directives regarding questioning of AL Queda prisoners, caving in to the Move.on.Org crowd and threatening to hold "show trials" and prosecute Bush officials.

I commented about how embarrassing and insulting it was for Obama to be grinning and hugging Chavez and Castro last week, but the people who should really be insulted are the Venezuelans and Cubans, since it is we who are acting like the banana republic.

Meanwhile, how stupid can you be to let the country's defenses against terrorists down. Can you imagine the poll numbers for Obama if there is a successful terrorist attack? You couldn't elect another Democrat for 20 years.

Someone should tell Geithner that, the lagging indicators notwithstanding, we are already emerging from the recession, business activity is perking up, and the only thing that can short circuit the recovery is for the administration to keep talking the economy down, and to pass its moronic budget, with the cap and trade, the rest of the global warming nonsense, and the takeover of the health care system.

Really, I wanted to give this administration a fair chance, but only three months in, their bumbling, fumbling and socialistic agenda is just too much. My prediction is that, similar to Bill Clinton, this President is probably looking at an impeachment before he is done. It may be during a second term, as it was with Clinton, but I can see it happening. This time it won't be about sex. It will be about the constitution and the national defense.
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Of course, the Republican opposition is performing about as well as the administration. If the Dems in congress and the administration are operating without brains, it seems the GOP is trying to perform without backbone. Thank goodness for the few effective media voices such as the WSJ editorial page or there would be no meaningful opposition at all.
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Though I admit to neo-con tendencies, I am really a libertarian at heart, and there is an issue where I part company with the WSJ. One of the really weird things to watch is the quadrennial Libertarian Party National Convention, where hard line, right wing, anti - tax, anti government types somehow coexist peacefully with leftist refugees from the SDS, pot smokers, and various sexual deviants. Needless to say, on certain policy issues (especially abortion), these folks have some trouble getting together. The one reliable, sure fire line that is guaranteed to get them all cheering is to "stop the insane war on drugs." The insanity of it must be clear by now to anyone watching what is going on in Mexico, with all its ramifications for the southwestern U.S.

Why we insist on trying to eradicate recreational drugs (which are admittedly harmful) when every other analogous effort at prohibition has failed is beyond me. Look, I was never stupid enough to get involved with drugs, and I feel sorry for those who get hooked, but if the cokeheads insist on ruining their health, losing their sense of smell, etc., well it's ok with me as long as they refrain from operating motor vehicles, heavy machinery, or doing their tax returns while under the influence. People who insist on self-destruction should be left to their own devices, whether it be nicotine, alcohol, or hallucinogens. What must be illegal is any forced distribution, such as to minors.

Actually, drugs are one area where nationalization might be a good idea. Publicly controlled distribution might be a good middle ground between prohibition and wide open distribution complete with profit orientation.
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Another recent thought I have concerns elections, especially of the inordinately close variety, such as Coleman vs Franken, the currently contested NY congressional race upstate, and the still hard fought, disputed Bush vs Gore (2000) in Florida. It seems to me that the problem is the insistence on an exact count. The fact is that there will always be subjectivity when it comes to absentee ballots, and even over the question of voter eligibility. How about let's agree that if the winning margin is within a certain parameter, say .2%, we declare a statistical tie and have an immediate revote.

What does this mean? In Florida, if you have, say 9 million votes, you've got to win by 18,000. Not really very much. But if you are 18,0001 ahead, I think we might agree that's enough to assure a majority even after exhaustive recount.

In a Congressional special election, you might only get 100,000 votes. So you have to win by 200 or it's a tie. Isn't that reasonable? Let's end this nonsense of having every close election decided in court.
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So if this administration is taking the country to hell in a hand basket, why am i bullish? Americans still have a pretty good work ethic (maybe not as good as it once was) and we all want to succeed economically to the extent we can. Cal Coolidge was right when he said the business of America is business. We have overcome administrations before that pursued lousy economics. For example, see Nixon (wage and price controls), Carter (stagflation), Ford (whip inflation now), and Clinton (tax increases). Obama is a smart politician if nothing else, and he will know his political limits. Once he sees the left wingers taking him down, he will move to the center.

More important, major change happens slowly in this country, and it does not happen without the acquiescence of the important economic players. As long as we remain a capitalist system, government will not repeal the business cycle. But the qualifier clause in that last sentence is important. Socialism would lead us down the sclerotic path of Euroland and other underachieving corners of the world. If that happens, all bets are off.
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Speaking of lousy bets, Met fans must be wondering why their team stinks. It's early, but this team is playing fundamentally bad baseball with terrible starting pitching to boot. Their young leftfielder can hit, but he has already lost two games with defensive blunders, and that's a position that is supposed to be an afterthought. If I were Jerry Manuel I would be worried about keeping my job until the All Star break.

Right now, this team looks like it blew it when it failed to sign Manny Ramirez, who currently has the Dodgers comfortably on top of their division. Rumor has it that Mets' ownership lost too much money in the Madoff scandal and could not afford Manny. So instead we wound up with Gary Sheffield, a 40 year old future hall of famer who can no longer hit, field, throw or run. Now that Gary hit his 500th dinger, he should hang 'em up, like Kevin Costner's character in Bull Durham.

Hopefully, this team will emerge from its funk before it's too late, and it is helpful that its main rival, the Phillies, are also playing awful. But so far, no good - that's my assessment.

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On Monday, I bought 400 shares of Home Diagnostics (HDIX) at 6.16. Yesterday, I bought 700 more shares of Petroquest (PQ), a zero buy, for my IRA. The price was 2.91.

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