The Practical Philosopher's Blog

Using the practical application of timeless wisdom to address modern issues

Geithner and Dodd Ensure AIG Got Its Bonuses

The Obama administration and Democrats pretend to be outraged by the very situation they created or approved. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was the original architect of the bailouts including that of AIG. When it came time to exercise ‘oversight’ of this government owned means of production -oops! I mean oversight of government ‘investments’ in ‘private’ business- he was for the bonuses before he was against them:

But it wasn’t until last week that the hapless court jester of the Obama administration, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, scrambled to rein in the payments. [AIG CEO] Liddy basically told him to buzz off. Geithner, the primary architect of the original $85 billion AIG bailout last fall, “reluctantly” approved the bonuses anyway. And now his outraged boss has ordered him to scour every legal nook and cranny possible to get the money back.

But why would he approve something that he and the Obama administration were so against? Turns out, Democrat Senator Chris Dodd made it the law of the land:

Fox Business reporter Rich Edson pointed out that during the Senate porkulus negotiations last month, Dodd successfully inserted a teeny-tiny amendment that provided for an “’exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009,’ which exempts the very AIG bonuses Dodd and others are seeking to tax.” Pay no attention to what his left hand was doing. Dodd’s right fist is pounding mightily, mightily for the sake of the taxpayers.

But c’mon, don’t be hard on Dodd, Democrats, or the Obama administration. None of the rubes (AKA American citizens) are smart enough to pin this bad decision on them, let alone remember it a week from now. Wink, wink. As they say in New York: Forgedaboudit!


Filed under: Economy, Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,

Climate Alarmists Increasingly Shrill in Attacking Opponents

It used to be, in the enlightenment of rational, Western civilization, that we could debate differences of opinon without coming to blows and we believed in the objectivity of the Scientific Method. So how is it we’ve come to a new low in the rationality of those who are proponents of the human-driven ‘global warming’ theory? 

Initially in the 70’s, given our complete lack of scientific understanding of extremely complex climate systems, we openly debated the science of how and why nature would cool, then warm, then cool and so on.

Then came the bastardization of science for political and social activism in the 90’s. The irrationality of the debate worsened when those biases became the major conduit for scientific research funding in this field. Under this political-activist approach, skeptics of the unproven, human-driven climate theory were labeled ‘deniers’ and ‘stooges of Big Oil’. This was further reinforced by the ridiculous claim that ‘the scientific debate was over’ and that their was a ‘scientific consensus’ on the causes of climate change. 

As objective reality causes the activist warming theory to crumble, climate alarmists have now escalated to calling their opponents mentally ill:

“This weekend, the University of West England is hosting a major conference on climate change denial. Strikingly, it’s being organized by the university’s Centre for Psycho-Social Studies. It will be a gathering of those from the top of society – ‘psychotherapists, social researchers, climate change activists, eco-psychologists’ – who will analyze those at the bottom of society, as if we were so many flitting, irrational amoeba under an eco-microscope. The organizers say the conference will explore how ‘denial’ is a product of both ‘addiction and consumption’ and is the ‘consequence of living in a perverse culture which encourages collusion, complacency and irresponsibility’

This is a totalitarian approach worthy of the failed Communists of the Soviet Union or Hilter’s propaganda machines from WWII. This would be comical if these people weren’t dead-serious in their approach on this topic. I mean, what’s the only escalation left to handle those you’ve deemed mentally-ill, denying stooges? Commit those people to gulags- er, I mean progressive, re-education institutions- for their own good…

Filed under: Environment, , , , ,

New University Study Says Climate Shift is Natural

A new study at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee approaches climate change with objective science instead of the political and social activism so common today. The study applied a new mathematical application (“Synchronized Chaos”) with surprising success in modeling our multiple warming and cooling periods of the last 100 years (yes- there’s been more than just warming!).

Researcher Dr. Anastasios Tsonis at the university noted (in a dramatic burst of common-sense):

“But if we don’t understand what is natural [in climate change], I don’t think we can say much about what the humans are doing. So our interest is to understand — first the natural variability of climate — and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural,” Tsonis said.

I would highly recommend seeing the 2 minute video in the upper right corner of this same page.


Filed under: Environment, , , , ,

America Equals the Free Market

America’s founding ideals are robust individual liberties, free market capitalism, and the rule of law. Those that are creatures of the moment, power seekers, or social activists seek to ‘transform’ our country into something that is unrecognizable. Our enshrinement of individualism is reflected financially in our free market approach to our economy. Neither can survive without the other.

This concept was aptly put in the article “The Search for Crisis Leadership” today in the American Spectator:

The most serious repercussion of a continued crisis comes in a threat to America’s free market moorings. America owes more than just its prosperity to it. Our attachment to free enterprise distinguishes us as a nation as much as does the Constitution. The two are pillars, each bolstering the other. The Constitution, by creating free individuals, ensured free economic agents. Conversely, it is impossible to see the Constitution being created by other than free economic individuals. It is hard to imagine either surviving the demise of the other.

 Forget the above title-statement at your own risk, political leaders.

Filed under: American Values, Economy, , , , , , , ,

Why Rush Limbaugh Really Wants Obama to Fail

Private citizen and radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is still at the top of the news. Why? Because he is a more coherent and principled threat to Obama than the Republicans or anyone else.

Many people (or at least the mainstream media) seem shocked and angry that anyone could say such a thing about our progressive, multi-racial (or just black if you are ignorant of his heritage), tingle-inducing President. Why did Rush say such a thing? Isn’t saying you wish the President to fail mean you want America to fail?!

The simple answer upfront is no, Rush Limbaugh does not want our country to fail. But why did he say what he said?

First, he is a public figure. He is an employee and celebrity figure for a national radio talk show. Publicity equals ratings. Limbaugh will take a topic and be provocative to jolt people out of their typical, philosophical stupor and garner attention for his show. The same thing is done by public celebrities and politicians all the time to promote their role and expand their influence.

Second, what Rush really meant by his comments is that if Obama’s Socialist/Leftist policies succeed in being enacted, we will no longer recognize America as we know it. Our country will no longer be based on fundamental individual liberties, but on failed collectivist policies.

What Limbaugh could have said is that Obama’s rehash of failed leftist policies will fail because of their lack of alignment with the rational self-interest of human nature. That is way too intellectually complex to catch the attention of today’s attention-deficit inhabitant. Instead, he has provoked a national discussion on Obama’s policies and anti-American values. He is being responded to by the White House like he is his own political party.

Apparently one man, in the classic American sense, can still make a difference in this world.

Good for you, Rush.

Filed under: American Values, Politics, , , , , , , ,

Obama and Democrats Keep Changing the Rules

I can’t believe I just heard this on the news! In the biggest assault ever seen on the rule of law and free enterprise, legislation is now in the Senate to allow bankruptcy judges rewrite the terms of mortgages! This was something they (the judges) were properly prohibited from doing before.

The ‘logic’ appears to work like this:

1. The banks are ‘guilty’ of doing too many ‘predatory’ loans (even though the Government and Leftist ‘Social Justice’ created this situation) and they paid their execs too much, so they deserved punishment.
2. Now that the government has pumped billions into these failed financial institutions, they have to do ‘business’ the way that the Administration and Democrats feel is ‘good’ and ‘proper’ to them- not according to the free market.
3. In that vein, now they feel that the mean banks haven’t felt bad enough and ‘helped’ the ‘poor’ people just scraping by and in danger of losing their $500,000 homes. The ‘people’ have a ‘right’ to a house whether they can afford it or not!
4. So, Congress is trying to pass legislation that will allow bankruptcy judges to rewrite not only the interest rate, but also the PRINCIPAL amount of a previously, completely legal mortgage contracts!

So everyone, or at least politically designated victim groups, get a do-over? Ally, ally in free! – as children would say. This is nothing less than a whole scale un-doing of the rule of law and a deconstruction of our free market economy.

What they (Obama and Dems) think will happen: Social justice will be served and those predatory banks will be put in their place. The collectivist wisdom will hold that this will somehow create a better, overall economic outcome because a foreclosure on a house (only selected victims) makes everyone lose in a neighborhood. It’s more important to preserve an unviable status quo than for those exercising bad behavior getting punished by the market.

What objectively will happen:
1. Foreclosures will explode. With the option of keeping the same asset and getting a free, feel-good write down of the interest rate and principal by a judge, millions will rationally quit struggling to pay. It is a certainty of human nature. Those in danger would be stupid not to take advantage of the legislation. Obama and Democrats will be baffled by the whole scale collapse of the housing market due to a ballooning of foreclosures.
2. Banks will avoid or stop doing mortgages. They will sell-off or create separate entities that focus on ultra-risky ‘mortgages’ that can be changed at will by fiat of Congress and the stroke of a judge’s pen. Obama and Democrats will be baffled again by the incredibly bad outcome of this policy. They will shrilly call for the hated banks to lend according to their political needs, but won’t get that the banks thrive or die according to objective markets concepts like risk, legal contractual agreements, and profit.
3. The stock market will crater even farther than it is now. With the legal and market rules being changed at will and whim by political despots, capital dollars will flee the market. Obama and the Democrats (as they are now) will give increasingly strident pleas, then demands that hated investors risk their money so that their feel-good ideology will quit being increasingly trumped by the reality of a devastated economy.

Never did I think I would see such a unwise, anti-American policy come from the highest political ‘leadership’ in our land. If this goes through, we will not be the land of the free and the brave, but one of the the ‘victims’ and the politically correct.

Filed under: Economy, Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,

A 2-Minute Primer on Free Enterprise

Why is capitalism good? Why is it the main-stay of our American ideal of free enterprise?

Below is a brief, but eloquent explanation by Milton Friedman of this wise and prosperity-building concept on YouTube.  Hear his great responses to the slanted questions of Phil Donahue:

YouTube: Milton Friedman – in Defense of Capitalism

Filed under: Economy, Philosophy, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama Declares War on Economic Growth

Larry Kudlow dispenses some gems of economic wisdom in analysing Obama’s ‘State of the Economy’ address that the President recently gave. First, he recognizes the what a whole-scale blast of Socialism will do to our free market economy:

Let me be very clear on the economics of President Obama’s State of the Union speech and his budget. He is declaring war on investors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, large corporations, and private-equity and venture-capital funds.

Those of us that have are students of history and current events have seen the effects of total collectivism on the Soviet Union and the strangled growth of not-so-economic-powerhouse of the EU. Kudlow recognizes this same objective outcome:

Study after study over the past several decades has shown how countries that spend more produce less, while nations that tax less produce more. Obama is doing it wrong on both counts.

Now we hear that, despite the damage to our economic recovery that the Democrat spending bill will do, Obama is intent on further shackling us with the universal growth killer of a cap-and-trade scheme. This will hurt everyone, especially those that those that work in ‘eco-incorrect’ industries (pretty much all of them):

And as far as middle-class tax cuts are concerned, Obama’s cap-and-trade program will be a huge across-the-board tax increase on blue-collar workers, including unionized workers. Industrial production is plunging, but new carbon taxes will prevent production from ever recovering. While the country wants more fuel and power, cap-and-trade will deliver less.

As I’ve noted in past posts, this is a massive lurch toward socialism/collectivism and an attempt make a dynamic US free market economy into a low/no growth model similar to the EU. Kudlow sees the same:

Essentially, the Obama economic policies represent a major Democratic party relapse into Great Society social spending and taxing. It is a return to the LBJ/Nixon era, and a move away from the Reagan/Clinton period.

Read the Kudlow article in its entirety:

Filed under: Economy, Politics, , , , , , , , ,

The Emotionalism and Irrationality of Today’s Liberalism

I’ve often noticed that Leftism and Liberalism appear to be more about emotion than fact. The primary tenant seems to be if your intention feels good, then no matter how poor or unworkable the method of trying to enact it, you move ahead. It also doesn’t matter if the feel-good intention has any ties to scientific reality. If it feels good- just do it!

Since the science of the patently scientific issue of climate and weather is completely unsettled (un-reproducible and therefore unusable for future predictions), no other topic today seems more emotionally driven and less rational.

Occasionally, the real mindset and unwise worldview of today’s Liberals are revealed to the public. Like Obama revealing his collectivist desire to redistribute wealth, so has a major UK climate bureaucrat revealed the ignorance and irrational emotionalism of today’s eco-zealots. John Ashton is the British foreign secretary’s special representative for climate change. He was recently quoted on his real feelings about engaging in the next round of ill-timed, international climate-negotiations at Copenhagen this year.

Climate experts added that the United States did not need to have in place national legislation to limit greenhouse gasses, a process that could take months, to negotiate in Copenhagen. “It’s not just about analyzing a piece of legislation,” Mr. Ashton said. “It’s about the feeling you get if you’re a leader sitting in Beijing. It’s like love; you know it when you feel it.”

Making major political decisions for our society without any provable science borders on criminal negligence or else its naked ambition and power-seeking. Without science, rationalism, and critical thinking, we are no longer a rationally enlightened society. Instead, we are one of subjectivism and emotion and the whims of the moment shall rule.

Filed under: Culture, Environment, Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

March 2009
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