Monday, June 13, 2011

Krugman’s Awakening?

By Bill Wilson
It’s second time within a month, but I agree with the New York Times’ Paul Krugman. This time, he writes that “bankers and wealthy individuals with lots of bonds in their portfolios” can count on the government to “protect the interests of creditors, no matter the cost”.

Now, we would certainly disagree on which policies are intent on preserving creditor interests and therefore do not deserve to be enacted. Krugman is primarily concerned with opposition to deficit-spending, which he says is because officials believe such spending unbridled “might hurt the interests of existing bondholders.”

Only if it leads to a catastrophic default, I would note, because the national debt became so large that it could not be refinanced, let alone be repaid. But then, the reason to avoid a complete default is because it would presumably be harmful to everyone, not just creditors.

Leaving that aside, it must be noted that Krugman doesn’t completely hold the high ground when it comes to propping up creditors. He was a supporter of the 2008 bank bailouts, which on their face protected bankers who bet poorly on housing, because, he wrote, “the danger of financial panic if it doesn’t go through, makes it worth passing”.

When the first draft of the plan was released, he warned that “it seems all too likely that a ‘fair price’ for mortgage-related assets will still leave much of the financial sector in trouble”. Instead, Krugman advocated that if the plan was for government to buy mortgage-backed securities, that it “will only work if the prices Treasury pays are much higher than current market prices”.

His major gripe with the initial plan was that it was not clear if the government would take equity in troubled firms. In the end, equity was a part of the deal, and so Krugman agreed to the bailout. With a government stake in the firms that took TARP money, he had no problem with propping up investors who bet poorly on an asset, in that case, mortgage-backed securities.

Get full story here.

Austan Goolsbee Steps Into The Team Obama Spotlight

Video by Frank McCaffrey
Get permalink here.

Does government protection of intellectual property harm the free market?

By Adam Bitely

Many advocates of free markets believe that a government-run system to protect intellectual property is necessary for free market capitalism to thrive. Contrary to that false belief, when government protects intellectual property using patents and copyrights, monopoly power is granted to the person that is able to purchase such government protections from competition for a fixed period of time.

Having the government protect your idea or product from competition is counter to the ideas of free market capitalism. When competition is prevented, the consumer loses and innovation grinds to a halt. The producer, due to lack of a competitive market, loses all motivation to innovate his or her product. After all, there is no one competing against them, why would they need to update their product?

Many advocates of patents, copyrights, and other protections that are offered by the government argue that such protections are necessary to prevent theft of ideas. Further, these advocates also suggest that without such protections, innovation would grind to a halt. Why? These people believe that without protections, producers would lack the motivation to innovate without protection. According to those who believe this to be true, producers would never invest the time and resources if there were a risk that ideas would be stolen before products make it to market.

However, such advocates of the government providing producers with monopoly powers in the marketplace are misinformed when they assume innovation is halted by a lack of government protections. As it was explained above, innovation is stunted during the period of time that the monopoly exists.

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Gov. Chris Christie Deserves a Second Bite at the Apple on Global Warming

By Kevin Mooney

Thanks to Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, the Regional Green House Gas Initiative (RGGI) that imposes Kyoto-Treaty type restrictions on energy use in the Northeast may now be in the early stages of unraveling. This is a huge victory for taxpayers and the free market. Even though, federal level “cap and trade” schemes have been held at bay over the past two years, environmental pressure groups have successfully arranged state level regulatory agreements in cooperation with compliant government officials.

This process began with the Global Warming Solutions Act Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) signed into law almost four years ago on Sept. 26, 2006. A state ballot proposition that would have blocked implementation of the law failed last year. However, Susana Martinez, the new Republican governor of New Mexico, has made it clear that she will resist anti-energy measures like “cap and trade.” The actions of Martinez in combination with that of Gov. Christie strongly suggest that anti-regulatory efforts are beginning and are gaining momentum.

However, Marc Morano, who runs the Climate Depot site, a former staff member to Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), has argued that opposition to “cap and trade” on the basis of economics alone is insufficient. Environmental schemes will not be uprooted until after the “junk science” underpinning alarmist claims has been exposed and discredited, he has said. That is why Gov. Christie’s mixed messages have been a point of consternation to many on the right.

Get full story here.

Total lunar eclipse to take place on June 15

by Sumit Yayavar on Sun
Total lunar eclipse to take place on June 15The Earth will pass through the path of the Sun and the Moon on June 15 to cause a total lunar eclipse.

A lunar eclipse takes place when the three celestial bodies get aligned and sunlight is blocked by the Earth and its shadow falls on the moon. This is going to happen sometime between Tuesday midnight and the wee hours of Wednesday.

But, areas at west of the International Date Line will see the upcoming lunar eclipse during the morning early hours of Thursday, June 16.

As the moon will cross the path through the central part of the earth’s shadow, it will appear darker what it usually appear during other eclipses.

As the moon will climb higher in the sky, watchers will be able to witness it slowly getting free from the Earth's shadow beginning at 2102 GMT.

Speaking about the upcoming lunar eclipse, MP Birla Planetarium director Debiprosad Duari said, "The duration of the eclipse, the time when the Moon passes through the Earth's umbral shadow will last for about 100 minutes, is a pretty long interval given lunar eclipses in general.”

The next total lunar eclipse of exceptional length of 106 minutes will take place on July 27, 2018.

An inconvenient question about Syria

These attacks by the government:
Heavy shelling and gunfire has rocked the Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughour, two days into a military assault that has caused more than 5,000 refugees to flee into neighbouring Turkey.
The continued assault suggests some groups in the town are resisting the armed forces as the regime tries to crush a sustained challenge to President Bashar al-Assad.
Now yes, it’s not a democracy, Assad is a dictator, the regime is a shitty and oppressive one.
However, it’s very difficult to see that they’re doing anything wrong in law.

They are the de facto and de jure government of the country. One of the rights that such a government has is the putting down of armed rebellion.

As we did in 1916 in Dublin for example, or Weimar did with Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, Kerensky’s Government could have (should have!) shot every Bolshevik with a gun in their hands.

If you win you’re freedom fighters of course. And we might well decide that we prefer those would be freedom fighters to the thugs who currently rule the place and thus support them. For example, Ghadaffi…we support those who would overthrow him but it’s difficult to see that he’s illegally putting down an armed rebellion: it’s the most basic “right” that a de jure government has, to defend itself against armed overthrow.
So the inconvenient question is: just what is the Syrian Government doing that is wrong in law?

BY Tim Worstall

U.S. Blocks North Korean Missile Shipment

A U.S. Navy destroyer intercepted a North Korean ship suspected of carrying missiles and other weapons to Myanmar, according to the New York Times.

The Times said in an article published yesterday that a maritime standoff began in the South China Sea two weeks ago with the American military vessel blocking the passage of the North Korean cargo ship, the M/V Light.
Washington made no announcement about the operation, which paralleled a similar, far more public confrontation with North Korea two years ago. But in response to questions about what appears to be a growing trade in missiles and missile parts between North Korea and Myanmar — two of the world’s most isolated governments — American officials have described the episode as an example of how they can use a combination of naval power and diplomatic pressure to enforce United Nations sanctions imposed after the North’s last nuclear test, in 2009.
The Times called the incident a “rare victory” and noted that a similar missile shipment made it to Myanmar last year before the U.S. could act.

COL GADDAFI refuses to step down, playing chess instead – Telegraph

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, an eccentric Russian envoy who has claimed to have spoken to aliens, plays chess with Col Gaddafi in Tripoli  Photo: REUTERS TV

Col Gaddafi refuses to step down, playing chess instead

Col Muammar Gaddafi rebuffed the latest international appeal to step down, instead playing chess with the eccentric Russian multi-millionaire envoy sent to convince him that his end was near.
By Nick Meo, Tripoli5:45PM BST 13 Jun 2011

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the Russian head of the World Chess Federation who has claimed to have once visited an alien spaceship, was the latest, and perhaps strangest, international figure to arrive in Tripoli appealing for Gaddafi to go.

Like all the others, however, Mr Ilyumzhinov’s message appeared to fall on deaf ears. Instead the unlikely pair played chess together as the television cameras rolled. Colonel Gaddafi used the occasion to send out a propaganda message of calm, although ordinary Libyans may have felt slightly queasy at seeing their leader sacrificing pawns on the chessboard.

In the clip broadcast on state television, which appeared to have been shot in a government building somewhere in the capital and not in a bunker, Gaddafi appeared unsure how to play the board game. But, dressed all in black and wearing his trademark sunglasses, he did look surprisingly relaxed after four months of uprising, civil war and a Nato onslaught from the air. He is thought to spend his time constantly on the move, driving around Tripoli, and sleeping in hospitals and religious places that Nato would never dare bomb.
via Col Gaddafi refuses to step down, playing chess instead – Telegraph.

Family Radio’s Harold Camping suffers stroke

The man who sparked international pandemonium and ridicule with his May 21, 2011 rapture prophesy has been hospitalized after he suffered a stroke at his home.
Harold Camping, age 89, was taken by ambulance from his Alameda home on Thursday night.  According to his neighbor, Camping’s wife Shirley was very distraught as her husband was rushed away.  The neighbor says Camping’s speech is now slurred, but beyond that he seems ok.
Charles Menut — the regional manager for Family Stations Inc. posted a message in a Yahoo group stating:
Please just pray for him and do not try to contact anyone at his home or Family Radio.  He and Shirley have enough family members to handle the situation. I’m sure we’ll be able to publicly update everyone on Monday.”
harold camping stroke Failed Doomsday Prophet Harold Camping Suffers StrokeNo word yet as to whether Camping will indeed take the mic for his Open Forum radio show tonight or at all this week.  Certainly, his now famous gravelly voice will sound quite different post stroke, but something tells me he won’t miss the chance to get back on air if at all possible.  He’s been steadily doing the show for 52 years.  It is likely that it will take more than a stroke to stop him.  Staff members say they will be playing pre-recorded programs by Camping until he is well enough to get back on the air.

Of course, in light of his failed doomsday and rapture prediction, and his unapologetic tone after the prediction proved false, has made the general public pretty unsympathetic to the plight of the Camping family.  Comments on the Inside Bay Area website have ranged from “serves him right” to “I wish he would have died”.

As for me, regardless of what the man has done, a stroke is no laughing matter.  And if we are put off by Camping’s cold and callus attitude toward his disillusioned followers after May 21, then we accomplish nothing by being cruel toward him.  It is easy in times like this to wish ill upon those who have done wrong.  What is difficult is compassion.  Taking the high ground is rarely easy.

I was very troubled and VERY critical of Harold Camping throughout the ordeal of his prophesied End Times and the resultant revised doom-date of October 21, 2011.  But I will wish him well, and hope for peace for his wife Shirley who is surely suffering as much as her husband.  For his children and his loved ones, I hope he has a successful recovery.

Saxophonist Clarence Clemons Suffers Massive Stroke

ROLLING STONE: Bruce Springsteen’s famous E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons suffered a serious stroke Sunday night at his home in Florida. He was reported to be very ill and in critical condition. Clemons has since had two brain surgeries and is now, according to The Star-Ledger, “responsive and in stable condition“, but is sadly paralyzed on the left side of his body, reports Fox New York. MORE

BACK STREETS: The latest out of Florida has Clarence Clemons in better condition than anyone expected, a close friend tells Backstreets: “Yesterday, it did not look good at all. Today… miracles are happening. His vital signs are improving. He’s responsive. His eyes are welling up when we’re talking to him. He was paralyzed on his left side, but now he’s squeezing with his left hand. This is the best news we’ve heard since [the stroke] happened — it’s nothing short of miraculous. The next five days will still be critical. But he’s a fighter.” MORE

Dallas Mavericks Captured First NBA Title

San Francisco residents who are sports fans are learning today that the Dallas Mavericks managed to beat the Miami Heat 105-95 in what was Game 6 of the NBA Finals. The Dallas Mavericks have now won their first title in franchise history.

San Francisco resident, Keith Unger, a big fan, said: “This is wonderful news, I’m just delighted.”
Another resident, David Michael, said: “That was sooo sweet 105-95 victory for many of the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.”

So who did the scoring? San Francisco residents are learning that Jason Terry scored 27 points and then Dirk Nowitzki added 21 points.

Other important points: LeBron James scored 21 for Miami, but was mostly quiet after the first few minutes, says ABC 7 News in San Francisco.
Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game Six
In Miami, Dallas led the series 3-2 on its way in Game 6.
When it was over, Mav’s owner Mark Cuban, who had been a bit quiet in the final, running onto the court to give a huge hug for coach Rick Carlisle.

Emotional Dirk Nowitzki runs off court right before Finals win

Dirk Nowitzki a great player called a choke artist for much of his career, is now an NBA champion. It’s been a long road for the best European player in NBA history, and he’s finally at a point where no one can criticize him for having an incomplete career.

In most cases, you’d expect a player to celebrate a moment like this one by soaking in the moment on the court. However, an emotional Nowitzki declined a public celebration and ran off the court to gather his thoughts in the locker room with still 1.2 seconds showing on the clock. It was a very touching moment that the ABC TV crew was lucky enough to capture in the video. Click here to see the video
After the game, Dirk explained his walk off the court in an interview with ESPN’s Hannah Storm:
“I had to get a moment. I was crying a bit. I was a little emotional. … I actually didn’t want to come out for the trophy, but the guys talked me into it.”

It would’ve been interesting to see David Stern present the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy to an absent Dirk, so it’s probably a good thing that he ended up coming back out. Plus, while Nowitzki didn’t have a stellar game on Sunday (21 points on 9-of-27 shooting from the floor), this championship was his moment at the top. Dirk is Dallas’s best and most talked about player, and he deserves all the praise that will come his way after this accomplishment.

Congratulations to Dirk, the Mavericks, and all their fans. They earned this championship. Source: