No More Bailouts: Appearance with a Super Genius

John Villarreal captured me on his YouTube show. The topic is the “Porkulus” bill going through the senate right now.


How I’m Voting and Why

I thought it might be interesting to run down how I plan to vote next month. Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to decide which way to vote. I think the government, local through federal, ought to keep away from providing welfare and entertainment and stick to law enforcement and defense. The candidates in the presidential race have made it extremely difficult to choose this time around.

B Martinez Unified School District: This is an increase in property taxes in Martinez. I’m almost always against raising taxes. I’d much rather have parents contribute as much as they can, which seems to be what goes on at Tre’s school. Voting No.

H City of Martinez: This is a $30m bond to be used to improve parks in Martinez. I’d love for the parks to be better, and it would be especially nice if the pool were renovated. If we can’t get a charity to gather the funds, then a private enterprise should be given the chance. Voting No.

WW Extend Existing East Bay Regional Park District Bond: This is an extension of a bond measure to maintain regional parks in the East Bay. My reasoning is similar to measure H. Voting No.

1A Safe Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train: This authorizes the state to sell $10b in bonds to fund a new train system. The government should never be doing junk like this. Furthermore, the state government has behaved so badly for years with regard to passing a budget, everyone should know that given all this money they would surely fail. Lastly, with the governor publicly contemplating asking the federal government for bailout money, it’s ridiculous for them to start a project like this. Voting No.

2 Standards For Confining Farm Animals: This is a law to force people who raise livestock to provide cages that allow the animals move around. The government should not tell businesses how to operate. Animals don’t have rights. Voting No.

3 Children’s Hospital Bond Act: This is another bond act to fund hospitals. The government shouldn’t be messing around in this area, either. Voting No.

4 Waiting Period And Parental Notification Before Termination Of Minor’s Pregnancy: The government shouldn’t be in the business of helping parents. A notification service like this should be opt-in not opt-out. Also, this measure is undoubtedly based on a motivation to erode Roe v. Wade. Voting No.

5 Nonviolent Drug Offense, Sentencing, Parole And Rehabilitation: While I don’t think drugs should be illegal or regulated by the government, this law creates a new bureaucracy while blindly limiting options for judges. Voting No.

6 Police And Law Enforcement Funding: This law forces the state to spend a certain amount on law enforcement. It also enforces tougher penalties for crimes associated with a gang. The first part is interesting and latter part is wrong. The definition of a gang member is being on some list compiled by some other government bureaucracy. The Bill of Rights allows people to peacefully gather and this law seems to intrude on that right. Voting No.

7 Renewable Energy Generation: This law forces industry to generate energy in a certain way. The government should not be messing with the free market. Voting No.

8 Eliminates Right Of Same-Sex Couples To Marry: This reverses a court decision to allow gays to get married. The proper role of government is to enforce contracts uniformly. Marriage is a contract between two people that the government should enforce, regardless of the gender of the participants. Proponents of this measure disagree with same-sex marriage for moral reasons and would like the government to enforce their morality. The most irritating aspect of this proposition is how such money has flowed in from out of state. Voting No.

9 Criminal Justice System Victims’ Rights, Parole: This law seems to give more protection to victims of crimes. I like the idea that money collected goes to victims first. It seems like it causes mostly minor changes but at least orients things towards victims more than they are now. Voting Yes.

10 Alternative Fuel Vehicles And Renewable Energy: This is the type of law I would never vote for. It’s a bond to give money to people to make it easier to buy stuff. Not only do I disagree with the government increasing taxes so that it can interfere with the free market, I specifically don’t want the government promoting the alternative fuel movement. Voting No.

11 Redistricting: This law changes the way districts are set for electing representatives to the house. I like this law because although adding a new layer of bureaucracy, it should tend to disturb corruption. Voting Yes.

12 Veterans’ Bond Act of 2008: This is a straight bond issue for veterans in California. In general, I approve of the government using money for civil defense. However, the federal government maintains our armed forces, not California. Also, the federal government has plenty of money to help veterans that it wastes on entitlements. Voting No.

President of the United States: Voting for a person as compared to a law is hard. You have to judge the person by their actions to predict how they will promote the ideas you agree with. It’s often about choosing someone who’s not as bad as the rest. This year has been particular bad as neither candidate seems particularly qualified. The war in Iraq is important to me. Despite many mistakes, I think it was morally right to go in and it can still be strategically right. Earlier in the year, I figured that McCain would probably keep the war on track better than Obama. However, the past two months have demonstrated to me that McCain has no principles. He has a strong love of America but has no clue about how to act. He also seems to be a sincerely believer in religion who would impose his religion on the entire country. Two ways he has expressed this recently is with regard to same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Obama on the other hand seems to use religion as a political tool. His dropping of Rev. Wright was clear indication to me of his cynicism, which while isn’t particularly admirable, it’s a better approach than McCain’s.

So, overall I consider McCain unpredictable and willing to take away rights to further this religious convictions. I see Obama as cynical and unoriginal in his thinking. I expect President Obama to promote anti-capitalist economic policy and self-destructive negotiation-based foreign policy. That’s exactly what we’ve seen in the last 8 years. Voting for Obama.

United States Representative: George Miller is the incumbant who’s been there forever. He grew up in Martinez and went to school with my dad and uncle. I went to school with his son. We have sometimes been to parties at the homes of mutual friends. I helped him with the virtual swearing-in of Pelosi two years ago. It’s easy to vote for him for sentimental reasons, even though I probably disagree with most of his politics. There’s a really good chance he’ll win. Miller voted in favor of the bailout plan. He should not have. While I don’t expect a vote against him to lead to his defeat, I hope that voting for his Republican opponent will send him a message that we didn’t want that plan to pass. Voting for Roger Allen Petersen.

State Senator: In this race, I plan to vote against the incumbent due to the poor performance of the state government with regard to passing budgets. Voting for Christian Amsberry.

State Assembly: Again, I’m voting against the incumbent. Voting for Elizabeth Hansen.

City Council: There are two council seats open in Martinez. I am happy that the council balanced the budget and even had a surplus. Voting for Mark Ross and Janet Kennedy.

City Treasurer: The work of this office is mostly invisible, which is probably an indication that things are going well. Voting for Carolyn Robinson.

Business Politics

No Bailout. You Fail? Out!

I suspect (hope!) we’re headed towards a tar and feathering of two jokers who have attempted to pull one over on us: Paulson and Bernanke. Both are urging swift action with no time to think. Bernanke is quoted in a New York Times article as saying “There are no atheists in foxholes and no ideologues in financial crises.” In fact, there are many atheists in foxholes, brave soldiers who risk their lives despite not believing in an afterlife. And ideas are precisely what’s needed now, not a rush for a fresh grab of power by the government.

Paulson is quoted as saying, “There was only one way that we could reassure the markets and deal with a very significant and broad-based freezing of the credit market. There was no political calculus. It was overwhelmingly obvious.” To call the solution obvious is to insult your intelligence and bully you into not responding. It’s a great tactic if you’re selling used cars.

George Will has a brilliant piece today, in which he states “The essence of this crisis is lack of knowledge, including the inability to know who owes what to whom, and where risk resides. In such a moment, government’s speed should not vary inversely with its information.” He goes on to argue that handing over such a gigantic sum to Paulson for spending as he wishes, answering to no one, essentially creates a fourth branch of government.

This is exactly what what I was warning of in my last post, Don’t let this “crisis” be another excuse to give away your rights.

Congress has been handing over responsibility to special appointees of the executive branch for many years, which is arguably unconstitutional. Congress passed the laws that created this crisi. Congress approves the appointments of Bernanke and Paulson. Congress has failed and should be replaced unless they somehow get the guts to stop this insanity right now.

Bush has failed, too. His team has been meddling with the market and created this immediate crisis. Recall that they argued that they needed to bail out Bear Sterns in March 2008 in order to avoid what we’re going through now. Given that it hasn’t worked, why are we even considering more of the same?

I sincerely hope that our elected officials do not hand over the power and responsibility we’ve given them to these unelected, anti-thinking hucksters. I hope they wake up and realize most of us do not want a bailout for failures. What we need now is careful, thoughtful deliberation in public.  If congress chooses to fail, there should be no bailout for them either. We should sweep them all out of office.

Update: Is this crisis even a crisis at all? It’s possible that banks are simply measuring their worth according to misguided regulation. Read Maybe the Banks Are Just Counting Wrong from Saturday’s WSJ. That makes me hope there’s deadlock on this bailout plan for long enough for everyone to figure out we don’t need it.

News Politics

Don’t let this “crisis” be another excuse to give away your rights

Have you seen this pattern before?

  1. The government enacts new laws that subvert natural behavior for the good of society
  2. The government waits for this subversion to create a crisis
  3. The government rushes in to trade your liberties for security from the crisis

We saw this pattern seven years ago. Leading up to 9/11, the government willfully ignored the threat of terrorism. I suppose the excuse was to keep people of the world happy with America. We wouldn’t want to upset other countries by responding to attacks by terrorists. Unfortunately, this timebomb went off in the most spectacular way. And many of us rushed to hand over out liberties to protect us from another attack.

We’re seeing it again. About 16 years ago, the government started enacting policy to force lenders to stop “discriminating” against high risk borrowers. They appealed to a sense of egalitarianism and argued that everyone deserved a chance to own their home. They made it so that it was impossible to be a lender and refuse to lend to people who obviously could never pay back the loans.

The fruit of this misguided vine began to ripen over the past year or so as we’ve seen defaults rise.  The government has been trying desperately to push back the tide with mountains of interference in the markets. In recent years they have been pushing the prime rate down in an effort to draw capital into the market and cover for mounting losses. Now we’ve reached the end of the line. The waiting is over and we’ve got the crisis.

Naturally, our most visible representatives of government, presidential candidates McCain and Obama, are offering the bargain that always comes in part three of this pattern. They spin a story about how businessmen have acted like gamblers, recklessly risking everything on higher profits. And now is the time, they say, when government must step in and take control. McCain went so far as to call for the firing of the head of the SEC, a position that the president cannot hire or fire. Furthermore, when both parties are offering the same solution with only degrees of severity to distinguish them, it’s likely they are wrong.

The people who need to get pink slips work in the House of Reprentatives and the Senate. They are the real source of this crisis. They pass the laws that screw up the natural market forces. They approved Greenspan and Bernake as successive chairmen of the Federal Reserve. It was under their watch that the Fed published guidelines such as Closing The Gap:A Guide To Equal Opportunity Lending. On page 15 of this document, there are the following guidelines for lenders, including this insane paragraph about sources of income (emphasis mine).

Sources of Income:  In addition to primary employment income, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will accept the following as valid income sources: overtime and part–time work, second jobs (including seasonal work), retirement and Social Security income, alimony, child support, Veterans Administration (VA) benefits, welfare payments, and unemployment benefits.

Any reasonable person would conclude that being on welfare or drawing unemployment is a sure sign of someone who will likely not be able to make mortgage payments!

What we desperately need now is a swift pullback of control of the markets. Losers need to fail now, more than ever. We should not be swayed by the creators of crisis offering to bail us out. We should not believe them when they say, “we just need to suspend the constitution until we fix this.”


Palin detractors insult dads when they criticize her pursuit of a career

There’s a meme being tossed around as a criticism of Sarah Palin, runningmate to John McCain in the upcoming presidential election. The idea is that since Palin is a mother with a family, she shouldn’t be spending time in politics. This is the type of rhetoric we used to laugh at when I was growing up in the 1980s as old fashioned, conservative thinking. It’s remarkable that these criticisms are coming from Obama supporters who must be self-described liberals.

The insult to women is obvious. Michelle Malkin launched an attack on the media who would continue this line of argument while failing to question the many successful mothers we see every day on news programs.

What struck me is the implied insult to fathers packaged up in this meme. When I was growing up, the culture typicall accepted that fathers spent their time working, came home expecting dinner and flopped down in front of the TV for the rest of the evening. Mother’s took care of raising the kids, preparing meals, cleaning house. A mom was liberated if she had a job in addition to all of this.

It doesn’t work that way any more.

Every father I know works his ass off participating in the family. Yes, most of us have full time jobs, but we come home to help out with the cooking, cleaning and nuturing. Perhaps it’s just the crowd I associate with, but we understand that being a father includes getting up in the middle of the night to change a diaper. And if my wife is busy with some other obligation, I am perfectly capable of caring for our two little kids.

When I hear the argument that Sarah Palin’s family is somehow suffering for lack of attention from her, it implies that any contribution from her husband is discounted. Futhermore, it implies that fathers, in general, make no contribution. We do.

I am proud that made it through washing out cloth diapers in the toilet! There’s hardly a more macho job for a dad than dealing with the dirtiest jobs. Ultimately, it’s this meme that ought to be flushed down the drain.