jeudi 2 octobre 2008

Today, I looked out my window

And I saw the evening sun touching the field and the reeds
in the fish basin,
the watering can, and
the hose trailing off to the bottom garden,
where I had been watering my new hydrangea border
the other evening,

and, I saw that it was good.

The sign was safe with its watchers,
happy in one another's company, and
I was free to go clean the car.

Maybe I'll add my own hand-made sign,
tonttuu and hirvi.

I have the birds.
No oravas, though.

They're down the street in Méricourt.

Except, that it didn't start. Battery dead.

Who was supposed to be watching the battery? Hunh? Audouin had a micro-crise when I got home from the grocery store and told him. He always does.

"It's that stupid system, that stupid thing, that -- button that -- never works; you know, that button --"

"You're supposed to learn to work the lights and stuff."

"Yeah, but it's, --"


"Poorly conceived." He says that every time. Every time.

"Yes, but you love that car. Now learn how to work it."

"But, it's --"

All together now, stu-pid.

My neighbor en face had even stopped his car and backed up toward me, seeing that I was hurrying up the street past where he was heading. I saw the backing lights come on, and laughed. The car stopped. The window slid down and his head stuck out.

"T'es si gentil, Jean-François, mais tu ne dois pas!"

"Je t'ai vu, et je me suis dit que tu allais à ta voiture, mais je ne la voyais pas." [Trans: I saw you, and I thought you were going to your car, but I didn't see it.]

"Mais non! Vas y. Elle n'est qu'à la mairie." [Trans: No! Go ahead. It's just up at the town hall.]

Chivalry carried the day. I was driven the 50 meters.

It was the first time in two days I had left my laptop, unshowered, dressed in gym clothes that hadn't seen the gym since Saturday, but clothes me every day since. I have no pride. It takes no vanity to watch the sign, to wath over the 1st amendment from my home half a world away from Teach and SignKid Fosback in Portland, Oregon. My new friends, the fellow watchers of CHAOS are cutting their showers short, too. We can no longer leave one another. We laugh until we cry, we hunt trolls, we meet and greet, we explain the sign and what it -- and we -- mean to democracy.

We talk, about politics and policy. Yesterday, the senate version of the bail-out. StillHARDRock had just gone to find a copy online and came back stunned, announcing that it was some 467 pages long, while it had been not more than somewhat over 100 in the congress. How, he wondered, could they have done that? I suggested they had tacked some other bills on, and he said, "It looks like there is a lot on the environment, and at the end, there's alternative tax relief."

"100 pages of bailout and 350 on the environment and tax relief for the upper middle class and wealthy," I scoffed. I am starting to get the hand of this congress thing.

The discussion:

StillHARDRock: Renewable energy, @ page 113
StillHARDRock: looking
StillHARDRock: well, on page 150 it talks about carbon mitigation and coal -- sheesh
StillHARDRock: page 181 starts in on biofuels
StillHARDRock: page 190 refers to plug-in electric cars
Merrycricket: ok, what does all the renewable energy stuff have to do with the bailout?
martel: nothing.
SuzyCHAOS: they want to pass that legislation before the election, as well.
fleur_de_paris: that's exactly what I was saying.
StillHARDRock: I am at page 250 and STILL about the energy stuff
SuzyCHAOS: supposedly constituents are calling and asking for a "Boone Pickens" deal
AlaskaLiberal: makes dems happy to to think about getting off oil, makes companies/repubs happy with tax break
martel: as usual, everyone has to get their piece of legislation attached to the bill
fleur_de_paris: take it all and get it done before the electionm with the usual intelligent consideration
fleur_de_paris: I told you SHR, it's 350 pags of environment and tax breaks for the wealthy added to the same language as before!!!
StillHARDRock: okay, the renewable stuff goes from page 113 to page 261
fleur_de_paris: "But you voted against the environment," they'll screamwhen the bailout gets voted down in the senate
martel: Pickens ads
StillHARDRock: and then page 261 starts in with alternative tax relief
SuzyCHAOS: hm... I think they are very effective, and like that big-eared old man who ran as an independent... what was his name... little squeaky guy...
StillHARDRock: so basically the senate bill added 3 pages to the house version of the bailout and then tacked on 2 other bills at the end
StillHARDRock: and part of the 3 pages would be the header
SuzyCHAOS: Ross Perot!!
StillHARDRock: and then I guess the wording for raising the FDIC ceiling
martel: RP, who could ever foget him?
fleur_de_paris: I told you SHR! I am getting good at politics-as-usual
SuzyCHAOS: I nailed him in my description though
StillHARDRock: or if you are a real bailout buff -- here is the senate language of the bailout bill: http:/
Swedishlady: even more scary stuff
StillHARDRock: the senate merely added 2 other bills (about 350 new pages that had nothing to do with the bailout)
StillHARDRock: just to mix it up
Swedishlady: why do they always do that?
StillHARDRock: good question
fleur_de_paris: can we make our own country for thinking Americans?
StillHARDRock: hahahaha
StillHARDRock: yeah, that would be something, wouldn't it?
Swedishlady: an I be an honorary American?
StillHARDRock: sure thing
fleur_de_paris: sure, Swede
Swedishlady: yay!
fleur_de_paris: you already are more than many
StillHARDRock: ooooo
StillHARDRock: we went [lost transmission of live streaming video of the sign, joewinkle and the gnome, and the Obama rocks]
Zvezda-3349: off air?
Swedishlady: I love America
StillHARDRock: those dang papparazzi
FilterSkateinCO: what happened
FilterSkateinCO: whose watching the sign now?
Zvezda-3349: not me, says "off air"
SuzyCHAOS: this must be the default photo for them
Zvezda-3349: there it goes
SuzyCHAOS: whew!!
FilterSkateinCO: sign still there

Other better opinions exist
they say

September 26, 2008

"The administration is once again holding a gun at our head, saying, "My way or the highway." We have been bamboozled before by this tactic. We should not let it happen to us again. There are alternatives."
-- Professor Jospeh E. Stiglitz, "A Better Bailout"

Joseph E. Stiglitz is University Professor at Columbia University. He received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001 for research on the economics of information. Most recently, he is the co-author, with Linda Bilmes, of The Three Trillion Dollar W ar: The True Costs of the Iraq Conflict. more...

A Bailout We Don't Need

By James K. Galbraith
Thursday, September 25, 2008; Page A19

"No country in this situation is broke, or insolvent, or even in much trouble. For once, Wall Street's own markets speak the truth. The financially challenged customer isn't Uncle Sam. He's up on Wall Street, where deregulation, greed and fraud ran wild."
-- James K. Galbraith, "A Bailout We Don't Need"

James K. Galbraith is the author of "The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too."

Economists' open letter to congress

I know, I know, there are names we don't like much here.
We'll worry over their agendas later.

The letter:

We, the undersigned economists, write to strongly advise against the proposed \$700 billion bailout of the financial services sector as a response to current trends in the market. Granting the Treasury broad authority to purchase troubled assets from private entities poses a significant threat to taxpayers while failing to address fundamental problems that have created a bloated, over-leveraged financial services sector.

Such a large government intervention would create changes whose effects will linger long into the future. The Treasury plan would fundamentally alter the workings of the market, transferring the burden of risk to the taxpayer. At the same time, the \$700 billion proposal does not offer fundamental reforms required to avoid a repeat of the current problem. Many of the troubles in today’s market are the result of past government policies (especially in the housing sector) exacerbated by loose monetary policy. Congress has been reluctant to reform the government sponsored enterprises that lie at the heart of today’s troubled markets, and there is little to suggest the necessary reforms will be implemented in the wake of a bailout. Taxpayers should be wary of such an approach.

In addition to the moral hazard inherent in the proposal, the plan makes it difficult to move resources to more highly valued uses. Successful firms that may have been in a position to acquire troubled firms would no longer have a market advantage allowing them to do so; instead, entities that were struggling would now be shored up and competing on equal footing with their more efficient competitors.

Although it is clear that the financial sector has entered turbulent times, it is by no means evident that providing the U.S. Treasury with \$700 billion to purchase troubled assets will resolve the crisis. It is clear, however, that the federal government will be facing substantially higher deficits and taxpayers will be exposed to a significant new burden just as the looming crisis in entitlement spending appears on the horizon.

For these reasons, we find the proposed \$700 billion bailout an improper response to the current financial crisis.


Dick Armey, FreedomWorks Foundation
Wayne Brough, FreedomWorks Foundation
Alan C. Stockman, University of Rochester
Ambassador Alberto Piedra, Institute of World Politics
Arthur A. Fleisher III, Denver Metropolitan State College of Denver
Bryan Caplan, George Mason University
Burt Abrams, University of Delaware
Cecil E. Bohanan, Ball State University
Charles N. Steele, Hillsdale College
Charles W. Baird, California State University East Bay
D. Eric Shansberg, Indiana University Southeast
Donald L. Alexander, Western Michigan University
Douglas K Adie, Ohio University
E.S. Savas, Baruch College/CUNY
Ed Stringham, Trinity College
Erik Gartzke, University of California, San Diego
Frank Falero, California State University, Bakersfield
George Selgin, West Virginia University
Howard Baetjer, Jr., Towson University
Ivan Pongracic, Jr., Hillsdale College
James L. Huffman, Clark University
James McClure, Ball State University
Joe Pomykala, Towson University
John P. Cochran, Metropolitan State College of Denver
Kirk Dameron, George Mason University
Kishore G. Kulkarni, Metropolitan State College of Denver
Lawrence H. White, University of Missouri-St. Louis
M. Northrup Buechner, St. John’s University
Melvin Hinich, University of Texas, Austin
Nikolai G. Wenzel, Hillsdale College
Norman Bailey, Institute of World Politics
Paul Evans, Ohio State University
Randall Holcombe, Florida State University
Richard W. Rahn, Institute for Global Economic Growth
Robert Heidt, Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington
Robert Stanley Herren, North Dakota State University
Rodolfo Gonzalez, San Jose State University
Roy Cordato, John Locke Foundation
Samuel Bostaph, University of Dallas
Scott Bradford, Brigham Young University
Soheila Fardanesh, Towson University
Stephen Shmanske, California State University, East Bay,
T. Norman Van Cott, Ball State University
Walter Block, Loyola University New Orleans
William Barnett, II, Loyola University New Orleans
William F. Shughart, II, University of Mississippi
William Niskanen, Cato Institute

200 Economists
September 24, 2008

"For these reasons we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the U.S. economy for years to come. "

(This letter was sent to Congress on Wed Sept 24 2008 regarding the Treasury plan as outlined on that date. It does not reflect all signatories views on subesquent plans or modifications of the bill)

To the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate:

As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson to deal with the financial crisis. We are well aware of the difficulty of the current financial situation and we agree with the need for bold action to ensure that the financial system continues to function. We see three fatal pitfalls in the currently proposed plan:

1) Its fairness. The plan is a subsidy to investors at taxpayers’ expense. Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses. Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise.

2) Its ambiguity. Neither the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear. If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards.

3) Its long-term effects. If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, America's dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.

For these reasons we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the U.S. economy for years to come.

Signed (updated at 9/27/2008 6:00PM CT)

For signatories and additional references supporting this point of view, see link.


And then, I received this email

A few minutes ago, the Senate, in the form of a 451 page substitute for an old pending House bill (a legislative maneuver making it in order to consider a bill which has never been referred to a committee of the body voting on the bill), passed a Christmas Tree bill to (1) address the credit crisis, (2) enact the most progressive mental health parity provision ever to pass the Senate, (3) enact solar and other renewables tax credit extensions galore, and (4) finally deal with the Alternative Minimum (Income) Tax biting on middle-class taxpayers.

To give you some idea of the cacophony surrounding this bill, the massive title containing renewable energy tax credits is not even listed in the frontmost table of contents. It is listed separately on page 115 of the bill as "Division [legal section] B - Renewable Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008."

The solar energy tax credits due to expire December 31, 2008 have been renewed through December 31, 2016, but the wind energy credits were extended only 1 year, through December 31, 2009.

Folks reading this post now have an interesting choice: you can support the renewables provisions, which are much more than we had a right to expect after the collapse of G-10/G-20 negotiations September 19, and in so doing support the massive if now strengthened Wall Street bailout, or you can oppose both.

It is clear to me that that was exactly the intention of Sens. Dodd and others to gain more liberal Dem and also conservative Repub support.

With mixed feelings, I am going to call my Rep (Cummings, D-MD) tomorrow to ask him to switch from 'nay' to 'yea.'

The bill as passed is available for download through C-SPAN and other sites; it is not yet up on GPO or Thomas.

I say, no, no, no. I say no.

It's time for change in the way we pass legislation and do business on Capitol Hill, and I'm talking about things far more important than scapegoated earmarks; I am talking about the separation of legislative bills.

They had this bill waiting around.

No more legislation under Bush. No deals. No throwing out bones in the form of environmental and tax appeasement in a rush to throw money to Wall Street. Lehman didn't fail in a weekend. Wachovia's share value didn't collapse in an afternoon two weeks ago. This was no surprise requiring the NYFD and the White House and the congress to rush in.

No more.

Author's note: This is an exploration. I am trying to work through my gut reaction with what I am told on the various sides of the issue. I assemble this information and draw my own feeble conclusions.

You will draw your own.


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