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Financial Reform Bill Attacks the American Dream

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The pending financial reform bill authored by lame duck Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) and backed by the administration is another of the massive package of "reforms" we are apparently expected to encourage our representatives to pass before we really get to read it. Republicans are already being lambasted for opposing it while being unable to point to specific provisions which they object to, but as details of the bill begin to be leaked the reasons for opposing it become very clear.

Like previous financial legislation coming from the Democrats, including the disastrous health care bill which has enormous financial implications, this new bill is another exercise in managed corporatism aimed at reducing market freedom by creating a business environment which uses the law to favor select large corporations while shutting smaller companies and new start-up businesses out of the marketplace. The goal is clearly to reinvent American business on a monopolistic model where success is based on a company's relationship with the government rather than the quality of its products or services. It means fewer choices for consumers, fewer jobs, and higher costs, while all the profits are directed to a small and select segment of the wealthy elite in what is coming to be called "crony capitalism."

The model is sometimes called "fascist," but in many ways it is more reminiscent of the practices of mercantilism where corporations could only do business if they had a charter from the government and those charters were granted only to those with the right political connections and came with government contracts, subsidies, and bailouts as well as effective monopoly control over certain industries. This form of managed capitalism played a big role in the start of the American Revolution, as colonists struck out against the British East India Company's monopoly in the tea trade.

The latest example of the efforts of the Democrats in Congress and the administration to return us to this oppressive economic regime can be found in the typically misnamed "Restoring American Financial Stability Act" which uses the excuse of protecting consumers from risk to intervene in the investment market and exclude huge numbers of small and mid-sized investors from what have been the most lucrative investment opportunities of the past several decades, limiting access to those investments only to a very small number of the ultra-rich.

It all revolves around the concept of the "accredited investor" which has been an element of SEC regulation for decades. Traditionally a relatively low threshold was set for this class of investor at $200,000 in annual income or $1 million in assets. Section 412 of the new bill seeks to raise that limit enormously, to $449,000 or more in income and eliminate the value of an investor's home from the property qualification. The effect of these changes would be to eliminate 77% of the pool of accredited investors, prohibiting them from investing in most start-up businesses, initial public offerings, private stock offerings, and other forms of investment where the risk is relatively high but where profits are also proportionally higher. The bill also includes further limitations under "Regulation D" and in section 926 which would limit how start-up companies could raise money and allow state regulators a much greater role in controlling the formation of new businesses and stock offerings.

The problem is that the overwhelming majority of new job creation in the last two decades as well as much of the stock market growth and growth in personal wealth has come as a result of these small scale investors putting their money into new companies. It has driven our last two economic booms which came after the adoption of the original Regulation D in 1982.

As always, the Democrats are trying to take choice away from the public and limit risk for people whether they want it limited or not. Risk brings reward, and by eliminating risk you also eliminate the rewards that can come with it. Traditionally these have been decisions which Americans have made for themselves, using their own judgment to decide how much risk they can afford, and that's a trend which Chris Dodd and the Democrats want to stop dead, no matter what the cost. Their concern is that since 1982 the number of accredited investors has gone from 1.87% of households to 8.47% of households, and that means a larger portion of the economy and a larger portion of the stock market taken up by volatile, fast growing stocks. It has meant great opportunities for start-up businesses and for savvy investors with limited funds, but it also makes the investing environment proportionally more volatile.

Their intentions may be good, but the catch with regulation of this scope is that in addition to taking away opportunities for small investors to take a risk on a new offering and make a big profit, it also takes away a large source of funding for new businesses and established companies which want to go public. They will now have a much smaller class of investors to draw on, and there will be much less capital available in the market to fund the process of establishing new businesses or expanding existing businesses by going public and selling stock.

The impact of this change on the economy could be disastrous. Its stabilizing effect would be to stabilize the economy on a path of much less growth, and it would mean fewer start-ups, slower expansion for new businesses and correspondingly fewer new jobs and contributions to the GDP. It will also reduce the rate of growth of state and federal tax revenues and those losses will have to be made up from other sources, probably more taxes on consumption and income, which will further drive down the economy. For consumers it means less choice in your 401K or IRA or other investment fund, more regulation, and arbitrary limits on the upward mobility which has been the great hallmark of the American dream.

The only winners in this scenario are the established megacorporations who will see less competition and more control of the marketplace and will likely end up being able to buy out small companies when they reach the size that the might have gone public because those companies will have no other way to get the capital they need to continue to grow. It means fewer, bigger companies which owe their increasingly monopolistic power to the government.

This is not a good model of a business environment for the United States or for its people. It's making the rich richer and the poor poorer, stealing opportunity from the middle class and handing it to the ultra-rich. It shows the hypocrisy of the Democrats whose rank and file love anti-corporate rhetoric, yet keep supporting a leadership which is clearly willing to sacrifice the welfare of the people in order to enrich their fat cat corporate allies and buy their loyalty.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    As always, the Democrats are trying to take choice away from the public and limit risk for people whether they want it limited or not. Risk brings reward, and by eliminating risk you also eliminate the rewards that can come with it.

    That’s the laissez-faire way of thinking. But you know what?

    From 1921-1933, we had Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. We had easy credit and wild speculation. We also wound up with the Great Depression that a Democrat had to fix.

    From 1981-1992, we had Reagan and Bush 41. We had relatively easy credit and unregulated thrifts. We also wound up with the ’82-83 recession, the S&L/thrift crisis, and the recession which followed it.

    From 2001-2008 we had Bush 43. We had easy credit and wild speculation. We also wound up with the Great Recession.

    The only Republican presidents who didn’t lead the nation into a major economic crisis were Eisenhower and Nixon (the Arab Oil Embargo doesn’t count). But neither one was a big proponent of laissez-faire, either, were they?

    Dave, on the one hand I’ve seen your claim that it’s a logical error to associate the Republicans with the three worst economic crises of our nation’s history since 1900 that just so happened to occur on or at the end of their watch.

    On the other hand, how many times do we have to watch history repeat itself before we get a clue (human nature being what it is) maybe, just maybe laissez-faire ain’t such a bright idea after all.

    “By their fruits shall ye know them.” Politically speaking, this means we should judge not on rhetoric, but on RESULTS.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    You already know the fallaciousness of this argument, Glenn. If you accept the questionable premise that tax policy can even cause a recession or a depression then…

    The Depression came from Wilson’s policies and the post-war crash. It was delayed by Harding and Coolidge and then made worse by Hoover and FDR.

    The 1983-1985 recession was the result of the Ford and Carter administrations and the arab oil embargo and was reversed by Reagan’s open economic policies.

    The current recession probably was caused by Bush and his monetary policy, excessive spending and not feeble tax cuts. And boy has it been made worse by Obama.

    All depending, of course, if you believe that minor changes in tax policy can actually shift the economy that much. The truth is more likely that recessions are just cyclical and likely not really caused by government policies at all.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that as usual you are trying to distract from the subject of the article, which is not general influences on the economy, but the direct and immediate effect which this new bill will have on investors and businesses, which is something which is much easier to identify clearly.

    Dave

  • Arch Conservative

    Aren’t we supposed to be talking about how anyone that beleives our national borders actually mean something is a racist?

    The economoy? That’s so Monday.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “American Dream,” Dave? I would hope you’d come up with an apter metaphor. That concept went out the window at the turn of the last century, with the Jazz Age.

    Look to Great Gatsby or The Last Tycoon for some of the sub-themes.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “The truth is more likely that recessions are just cyclical and likely not really caused by government policies at all.”

    BTW, I do happen to agree with the above. I haven’t the faintest what possess such as Kenn, and then even Glenn, to imagine and to argue otherwise.

  • Baronius

    Dave, great article. Up until now, the BC articles on the financial reform bill have been short on specifics. Kudos for changing that. Also, great point about mercantilism.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    The truth is more likely that recessions are just cyclical and likely not really caused by government policies at all.

    Ah. So it JUST SO HAPPENED that the worst three economic crises since WWI were during or in the closing years of Republican administrations of 8-12 years in duration.

    And it JUST SO HAPPENED that these particular sets of Republican administrations were also the ONLY Republican administrations that were firm believers in laissez-faire economics.

    And it JUST SO HAPPENED that all three sets were alike in that they enabled easy credit and were against financial regulation.

    And it JUST SO HAPPENED that the economy was able to recover after a Democrat took over in all three cases (it just got announced today that we’ve had three straight quarters of economic expansion).

    And what didn’t happen? NONE of these crises happened in the four decades following the Great Depression until 1982…when every one of the presidents – including Eisenhower and Nixon – were NOT adherents of laissez-faire economic theory. Despite the fact that we had greatly-increased regulation and top marginal tax rates at 70% and above for three of those decades!

    When, oh WHEN will you pay attention to HISTORY, Dave?

    …and btw – it’s not so much the government policies that caused the economic crises – it was the deliberate lack of regulation that brought them about.

    Moderation in everything, Dave. Too much regulation is a bad thing, I think you’ll agree. But too little regulation is ALSO a bad thing, and anyone who really pays attention to American economic history should understand that.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Dave –

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that as usual you are trying to distract from the subject of the article, which is not general influences on the economy, but the direct and immediate effect which this new bill will have on investors and businesses, which is something which is much easier to identify clearly.

    So it’s wrong – “distracting” – to point out what’s happened with lack of regulation before?

    Dave, you’ve given your qualifications on history before…which means that you of all people should appreciate the wisdom of George Santayana’s maxim, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    You’re against increased regulation of the financial markets (or if you’re FOR it, I haven’t seen you (or any Republicans or Libertarians) put forth any ideas to that effect)…but you’re ignoring not only what happened after three sets of Republican laissez-faire economy administrations, but you’re ALSO ignoring what DIDN’T happen during ANY of the non-laissez-faire administrations.

    LEARN the lessons of history, Dave. It’s not enough to just know history – one must also understand it.

  • Baronius

    The weather’s beautiful today, Roger. You could go for a walk, clear your mind.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The goal is clearly to reinvent American business on a monopolistic model

    Misleading distortion, aka bull puckey.

    The principal goals of the bill are
    – to set up an orderly system of dismantling large failing financial institutions,
    – to require more transparent trading of derivatives, and
    – to protect consumers from predatory lending practices.

    If you devoted even one syllable of your article to those main provisions, I guess I missed it.

    You concentrate on one relatively obscure provision of the bill having to do with the regulation of “angel investors.” The SEC had requested this change long before the Obama administration, and the point apparently was to limit investing in hedge funds by less-wealthy investors.

    Dodd has already said he was open to amending this portion of the legislation — and there almost certainly will be many amendments proposed over the next couple of weeks. Your interpretation of the motivation for the proposed changes is just wacky. Do you have any backing evidence?

    Someone reading just your article would get a very incomplete and distorted picture of the bill.

    Are you deliberately trying to mislead? [Wouldn’t be the first time.] Even your headline is outrageous and false.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #11,

    You’ve been overbearing of late, Baronius, on the other thread. Try to tread more lightly in the future, and all will be fine. Needling, the right kind of needling, is an art, take it from me.

    The object is not to estrange your opponent but to win him/her over. You were doing nothing of the kind.

    I’d like to believe you have good impulses left in you; otherwise, I wouldn’t try. So let’s get it on, shall we?

    I’ll drop my biting comments if you’ll drop yours. Believe it or not, I do like you and would like to meet you in person.

  • Mark

    Interesting piece, Dave. Following up on Handyguy’s #12 — some documentation of the history. The SEC began looking closely at the consequences of hedge funds and pooled investment in 2000 culminating in this staff report in ’03 (pdf). In ’06 the Commission made recommendations (pdf) including the redefinition of ‘accredited investor’ based on what they held as their mandate given the intent of law to ensure that “only such persons who are capable of evaluating the merits and risks of an investment in private offerings may invest in one” p17…or at least only those who can afford the possible loss involved.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Mark, that’s a terribly difficult criteria to enforce and it’s not in the bill. I can’t imagine the stink which would be raised if there was some sort of mental and/or educational test for accredited investors.

    IMO it’s pure nanny statism, as are the restrictions which are addressed in this article. People need to be free to make decisions for themselves. They should address issues like Goldman Sachs selling utterly bogus investments which are designed to fail and treat that kind of behavior as fraud and punish it. If the SEC actually performed its supervisory role this sort of draconian law which restricts the right of citizens rather than going after the malefactors, would be unnecessary.

    In any situation like this it is far more desirably to punish the wrongdoers and prevent further wrongdoing than to take liberty and choice away from consumers.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Handy, I’m sorry I didn’t write an article about the aspects of the bill you wanted someone to write an article about. Why don’t you write it yourself? I wrote about an aspect of the bill which concerned me. I wouldn’t have written an article at all if it had to be about the aspects of the bill which don’t concern me.

    to protect consumers from predatory lending practices.

    By restricting consumer choices rather than by actually regulating the industry. Again, punishing the innocent rather than the guilty. Nanny statism.

    If you devoted even one syllable of your article to those main provisions, I guess I missed it.

    Again, why would I write an article critical of the parts of the bill which aren’t abusive?

    You concentrate on one relatively obscure provision of the bill having to do with the regulation of “angel investors.” The SEC had requested this change long before the Obama administration, and the point apparently was to limit investing in hedge funds by less-wealthy investors.

    But this is not what the bill does. It limits ALL investment in IPOs and start-ups. In fact, it contains no provisions specific to hedge funds.

    Dodd has already said he was open to amending this portion of the legislation — and there almost certainly will be many amendments proposed over the next couple of weeks.

    So good thing I wrote this article to help raise awareness of the need to amend the bill.

    Your interpretation of the motivation for the proposed changes is just wacky. Do you have any backing evidence?

    I didn’t write about motivations, I wrote about the obvious effects of the bill and drew obvious conclusions. The evidence is in the text of the bill.

    Someone reading just your article would get a very incomplete and distorted picture of the bill.

    But they would get an accurate picture of what the effects of this section of the bill would be, and that’s the point.

    Are you deliberately trying to mislead? [Wouldn’t be the first time.] Even your headline is outrageous and false.

    Again, Handy, that’s just your rather biased opinion. As always, I’m writing an editorial opinion based on facts, which you haven’t tried to dispute (because they are true). If your conclusion from those facts is different, then that’s your opinion, but it doesn’t actually negate mine.

    Your black and white view of the world is tedious.

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I wouldn’t have written an article at all if it had to be about the aspects of the bill which don’t concern me.

    So, Meester Nalle, you admit zat zere are aspects of ze bill vhich don’t concern you. Hmm…

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    …aspects of the bill which don’t concern me…

    …Such as big Wall St firms threatening to drag the economy down with them;
    or dangerously underregulated derivatives that might drag the economy down with them;
    or credit card and payday loan companies preying on vulnerable people.

    Sorry, but I don’t believe you don’t have an opinion about those issues. And if it weren’t for those issues, there wouldn’t be a big national discussion of finance reform.

    For the record, I wasn’t agreeing or disagreeing with your opinion on the quite arcane subject of changing the definition of “accredited investor.”

    But saying the bill is an exercise in “managed corporatism” and then using only that example is weird. Not everyone who has analyzed that portion agrees with your interpretation of how many investors will be affected and what the results will be for venture capital.

    One of the main reasons for changing the definition is that it’s never been adjusted for inflation. But implying that Chris Dodd is doing it to help megacorporations at the expense of smaller companies is an unsupported stretch.

    And using that whopper of a headline is downright embarrassing if you want your piece to be taken seriously.

  • Mark

    handyguy, there have been other similar pieces lately. And for another sympathetic presentation see these guys and their report.

  • Baronius

    Roger, this race discussion has been crossing too many threads. I just posted an explanation for my words on the Boyd thread on Christine’s thread.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    If Dave’s article had the reasonable tone and title of the Xconomy article Mark links to in 19, I probably wouldn’t have even commented on it.

    What I object to is the unrelenting propagandizing, gratuitous Dem-bashing, and idiotic apocalyptic rhetoric.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I read your response to zing, Baronius; still thinking about it.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The truth is more likely that recessions are just cyclical and likely not really caused by government policies at all.

    Like Roger, I agree with this.

    If Dave actually means it, it doesn’t seem to stop him and others on here from yelling about government policies that will “destroy our freedoms” or lead to economic apoclalypse, or turn the US into Argentina, or “attack the American dream.”

    All together now: roll your eyes and sigh. You may now rejoin the real world.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger and Handy –

    The cause of the recessions and Depression were NOT the government policies…but the lack of proper government regulation. It’s just like having a road network without speed limits, stop signs, traffic signals, lane markers, and road shoulders. Such might make for faster travel for some, but for most will end up in a traffic jam of epic proportions.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The problem with government regulation is that they get it wrong as often as they get it right. Motives are mixed, bills get compromised, bills have unintended consequences [which is Dave’s point here, although I think it’s written through the wrong end of the telescope].

    That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have regulation, just be skeptical.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That’s another point entirely, Glenn. Indeed, I’d tend to agree that deregulation started by Reagan led to the creation of the bubbles and the present crisis. So yes, when you allow capitalism run amok, shit happens.

    An extreme example which proves the point: in a planned/managed economy (e.g., such as under the old Soviet system), there aren’t business cycles to speak of.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Gentlemen your ever-widening algebraic arguments are adding leafs to the book that are not needed.

    It all comes down to whom I wish to sign over control of withdrawals and deposits into my chequing account without first informing me of their purpose.

    On one side if you are sufficiently foolish enough to trust anyone regardless of their reputation to gamble with your funds, then you get what you deserve in terms of the results.

    On the other hand if you want safeguards put into place to guarantee your safety against someone who is dealing crooked hands in Monte Carlo you must assume that the rich proprietors are going to put up quite a fight and employ overwhelming financial pressures to keep themselves from being regulated.

    In the amount of time it takes to legislate regulatory change, you must always be ready to assume that the wealthy and powerful have well-educated people looking for any loopholes in it that can be exploited before they are even passed, making the regulations useless and the process that was needed to pass it a complete waste of time.

    Mr. Forsythe of Utopia

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, we’ll all be treated to an illusion that something is being done.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Indeed

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Your Cynical Duo act has only been going for a day and it’s already old. Yawn.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    An expected reaction deserves an appropriate reply

    (chuckle)

    Mr. Forsythe of Utopia

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Handy,

    Once I see politics and politicians sufficiently divorced from moneyed interests, I’ll change my tune, not until then.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    A fairly challenging article, Dave. If you’re correct about the unanticipated consequences of this bill, I would tend to agree with you. Why should there even be a category of “accredited investor” to begin with is something I fail to understand.

    Notice, however, that you’re accusing the originators of the bill of motives which are precisely contrary to what they publicly avow. It is being sold to us as a measure designed to control the unsavory practices of mega corporations.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    “Accredited investor” is a concept that originated in Depression era reforms. The current definition that may be updated in the bill dates from the Reagan era.

    I guess the idea is to limit investments by people who are financially less likely to be able to handle the losses.

    And not being an accredited investor doesn’t literally keep you from investing, but being accredited limits SEC oversight of the process, which means companies prefer accredited investors.

    At any rate, it is a side issue in the bill, not a central one. It’s mostly the venture capital community that is alarmed by it. It hasn’t been prominently featured in GOP talking points critical of the bill that I’ve seen.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Thanks for explaining it, Handy. And I do appreciate the concern underlying the general idea – which would be akin, in mind mind, to discouraging some folk from gambling.

  • Clavos

    In #8, Glenn yet again commits the logical fallacy of “correlation implies causation.”

    In fact, his every argument seems to be predicated on it — regardless of the article on which he’s commenting — or writing.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, he sort of backpedaled in #23.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I do understand your point about a logical fallacy…but when one sees enough examples of the highway without speed limits having more fatal crashes than the highway with enforced speed limits, then one can see that there is a correlation.

    I would say that while “causation implies causation” is indeed a logical error, exactly how many times do we have to relearn this particular historical lesson before we figure out that hey, maybe, just maybe, we DO need some sensible regulations to keep Big Finance from gambling away the life savings of Main Street?

    The causation, mind you, would be the lack of regulation…and you see the same HUMAN tendencies in unregulated finance that one sees when ANY human is presented with lots and lots of opportunities to commit other peoples’ money to risk while bearing little or no risk to himself at all.

    Is this really that hard to understand?

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    #26 said it all, They’ve got their people looking into loopholes in the legislation before it’s even passed, so it’s sort of a moot converstation.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Quite right, Jet. Whatever will pass will end up as just another dud.

  • John Wilson

    “Accredited investor” and variations like “sophisticated investor” signings are quite fraudulent. Usually, the people signing are innocents who are joining some kind of startup company who envision themselves getting rich from the Employees Stock Option ESO plan.

    They are just designed to remove even more culpability from the bigshots who write up the contractual documents. The weenies who are signing up have NO discretion in what any of these documents say, and at the same time they are deluded into thinking they are Really Smart Accredited Investors.

    But they are not. Just sheep for the slaughter.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    #’s 38, 39, 40 —

    It may make you guys feel better to make these Absolutely Certain Pronouncements and blow off a little steam. But unless you can provide some kind of back up for your unsupported assertions, it’s just more not-very-useful hot air.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t understand your faith, Handy, in the political system. What are you basing it on?

    Double-check Richard Marcus’s excellent article, in Politics, to get in touch with reality.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I object to generalizations without supporting evidence.

    There are plenty of corrupt and/or idiotic and/or just plain wrong politicians. But they aren’t all the same, so just saying, “what does it matter, they’ll just pass a crooked bill anyhow” is bogus.

    I prefer a more even-handed, evidence-based viewpoint. You know that by now. It’s not either/or.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Handy,

    You yourself admitted: twenty-five lobbyists per every congressperson. You don’t think now they’ll be sitting still.

    Again, until they remove money interests out of politics, that’s my underlying view.

    Why should I embark now on investigative reporting to prove to your satisfaction what I take to be a truism? If my cynicism bothers you, I’ll try not to aggravate you in the future.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Don’t be silly.

    It’s just that some senators and congressmen [and presidents] do a better job than others in pushing back at, or acting in spite of, the lobbyists.

    And not all lobbyists are on the same side, either. There are liberal lobbyists and labor union lobbyists as well as corporate lobbyists. And businesses have every right to protect their interests. When they overstep, they should be called out on it.

    And, increasingly, they are. Pelosi and Obama, not because they are virginally pure, but because they are smart politicians, have both made very visible efforts to reduce some of the most visible excesses of lobbyists. Johnny-come-lately Republicans have followed suit. More can and will be done.

    What’s the point of having a discussion of this if you don’t want to look into specifics and bring them up? “Investigative reporting”?! It’s called being an informed person and having an informed opinion. Facts and information are readily available.

    There are entirely too many uninformed opinions out there already, eh?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “And businesses have every right to protect their interests.”

    Not when they ought to be shut down or broken up for anti-trust violations. I’m sorry, I don’t believe capitalism and liberal democracies are compatible any longer. Your problem seem to be to underestimate the extent to which corruption has permeated every level of government. It’s beyond fixing.

    My opinion is not uninformed just because it doesn’t correspond with yours. It’s nit a knee-jerk reaction either. As to my justifying it to you, there is no point as long as you persist on presenting a rosy picture.

    I see you as an apologist, Handy; same as Glenn. Jet is somewhat freed of the POV, as some of his remarks indicate. And so is Silas. So don’t congratulate yourself on thinking that you have a monopoly on the truth. Many people would disagree with you.

    Perhaps you ought to get hold of Naomi Klein’s “Disaster Capitalism” and give it a thorough read. You are a logical person with good command of facts. Well, there is a whole bunch of other facts that you fail to consider. Perhaps you ought to, and we might find yet a common ground.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    So Mr. Handy is asserting that these behemoth financial concerns do not employ lawyers pouring over pending legislation to find ways of meandering around them prior to their enactment unless I provide proof?

    The man is off of his trolley at the very least or jolly naive.

    Mr. Forsythe

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    You guys are pretty funny.

    My point was simply that the lefties on here sometimes make the same kind of wild generalizations our right-winger friends do.

    It’s not a sound way to argue. It’s just pontificating.

    This is a completely separate matter from whether I agree with what you are saying, or at least part of it. As I say, it’s not all or nothing.

    If you want to keep spouting your hot air, fine. I am happy to keep pointing it out.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Oh well it’s horses for courses I suppose

    Mr. Forsythe

  • STM

    Handy: “Your Cynical Duo act has only been going for a day and it’s already old. Yawn.”

    Don’t tell me Mr Forsythe is Roger (off his meds) … I suspected as much from the spelling of “concourde” (you meant Concorde, right, which didn’t fly to Ascension anyway?), despite at first thinking it might be Doc or Rosey having a lend.

    If this is so, Rog, expect severe retribution for spinning me along, the form of which is yet to be decided :)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    It’s not Roger, Stan. Unless Roger is borrowing someone else’s laptop in Starbucks…

    Not me or Chris either.

    Still haven’t quite figured out where Bruce… I mean Jeff… is commenting from, though. The Moon seems just as likely as anywhere else.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    I am suspect for mistyping a word? If you read carefully you will notice I said that I would have hired a concorde had it not been for the runways being too short.

    My word – you ozzies are suspicious.

    Mr. Forsythe

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Gentlemen, I was not aware I had to complete an application to become e-friends on this website.

    Very well:

    History: Mr. Jeffrey Harrison Forsythe IV – Current Age 35
    Born May 1, 1975 in Longwood, St Helena (Heh-lee-nah)
    Father Jeffrey Harrison Forsythe III – (deceased 1945-1994 age 49 killed in car crash)-Salesman in the flax industry on St. Helena, then a laborer in Scotland, then as an executive in a manufacturing firm in Ontario Canada.
    Mother Nellie Spencer Forsythe 1957- lives off large life insurance pension in Cleardale Ontario Canada
    No siblings

    Travels: Father gave up after the collapse of the flax market and questions of British citizenship, and moved us to Morningside near Edinburgh Scotland in 1980 when I was 5 during the row over British Sovereignty of the island. He worked as a day laborer and mother worked as a tourist guide. In 1985 father saved up enough to leap the pond and we moved to Philadelphia Pennsylvania U.S. when I was 10, and in then in 1988 when I was 13, we moved to Cleardale in the suburbs of London Canada. I attended Kings University College at The University of Western Ontario class of 1997, where I studied architecture, philosophy, and political science. Using a large insurance grant from my father’s death I’ve traveled around the world, settling briefly near Bruxelles in the city of Mechelen, In Nyborg, Danmark near the bridge, San Diego California where I enjoyed surfing and my birthplace of Longwood St. Helena. I hated the island of my birth because transport off of it meant waiting for an every other week boat trip on RMS (Royal Mail Ship) The damned Italians are still trying to build a proper airport. I recently fled to Utopia with the ever-increasing invasion of the intolerable Jehovah’s Witnesses. I used to love Concording across “the pond” from Heathrow and watch the sunrise in the west. I like island hopping from Ascension Island just northwest of my home.

    I have also visited Scotland, England, Tokyo, India, Sydney, Switzerland, and Mt. Everest

    At the age fo 5 my father moved us to Scotland to Morningside at Edinburgh. At 9 we moved again across the pond to Philadelphia Pennsylvania
    And then to Cleardale near London Canada. He has lived briefly near Bruxelles in Mechelen. In Danmark I lived briefly in Nyborg.

    Personal life
    My fondest memory of my father was when he told me not to come home until I decided what accent I was going to use. My one problem with people is that I get “infected” by their accent and they invariably think I’m mocking them. I see my mother on occasion when I’m in the states or in Canada on business. I became wealthy on wise investments from my father’s inheritance and am free to travel or settle as I please. I consider myself free-sexually and take pleasure where I may regardless of sex. I became briefly engaged to a woman in Bruelles, but it didn’t work out.

    I have a very loud sneeze and (though I deny it) snore. I was once blamed for causing mid-Atlantic Hurricanes with my sneezes. I visited Sydney in 2010 and was blamed for a huge red sand storm.

    Utopia is an invisible island on a peak 127 km west north west of St. Helena. For satellites the peak appears to be submerged… we planned it that way.

    Good day chaps
    Mr. Forsythe

  • zingzing

    forsythe’s on some good drugs. i might be as well, but i’ll never let you no no no no no no no no

  • Jeff Forsythe

    No MR. Zing; just too much coffee

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Doc, I’m using a clamshell and a satelite to communicate from Utopia. I was of the understanding that critisizing ones spelling on line was a breach of protocol?

    Who is Chris?

    Mr. Forsythe-formerly of the moon-Sea of Tranquility I believe.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    As for tracing where I am, I believe the connection goes through Sweden and through Jolly old England as well.

    If I was sending from Monte Carlo would that make me less of a likable chap worth conversing with you blokes?

    Mr. Forsythe

  • STM

    “My word – you ozzies are suspicious.”

    You can’t con a nation of cons … forever.

    You would be suspicious too JF if you’d been on here as long as I have and smelled the corresponding number of rats … if you haven’t been, that is.

  • STM

    It doesn’t hurt to have the “rorters” radar switched to extreme on BC.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    A pity really Stan, I rather enjoyed conversing with you. Brings back memories of my youth.

    Mr. Forsythe

  • STM

    Lol.

    Don’t tell me we were mates in a previous life JF??

    Geez, where’s this going to end??

    You didn’t answer my perfectly reasonable questions on the other thread Jeff.

    I’m actually interested in St Helena (and yes, I DO know how to pronounce it), even if all this does turn out to be a load of brown stuff.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    I am getting more cheesed off than I should with you lot, perhaps tomorrow after a few pints and I get harder than I should I will check in.

    I should be in a better position for a row.

    Cheerio
    Mr. Forsythe

  • STM

    “A laptop in starbucks …”

    Of course, why didn’t I guess that. He mentioned coffee the other day.

  • STM

    I’m voting for Silas …

    Lol. This is fun. Let’s guess Jeff’s real identity. No, not his real identity, the one he uses on BC.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    What are you on about mush, I mentioned coffee because St. Helena is known for having the best and most expensive in the world.

    Mr. Forsythe

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Completed your shufti yet?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    So now I’m an “apologist”?

    I’ll tell you this much – as I’ve watched you since before the election, you’ve become more and more the cynic, and now you seem to share the conservatives’ opinion that all government is hopelessly corrupt so why even push for what’s right when it’s all out of our control.

    Is that indeed your opinion now? So it indeed seems. But I will not now and not over allow myself to be so cynical.

    As to my being an “apologist”…if Obama has a good doctrine (or at least a better one than we now have or is being offered by the Republicans), then I’ll defend him on that issue. What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing.

    I really do wish that y’all would get a clue that I’m not here to defend Obama just to defend Obama. It doesn’t work that way. There’s several issues on which I strongly disagree with him…but we’re not discussing those issues, are we? That’s why you only see me defending him.

    Apologist. That’s usually not an insult – and you probably didn’t mean it to be. But as for myself, I see the word “apologist” in the same light as “doctrinaire”, “sycophant”, “acolyte”, and so forth. I’m no apologist. I simply stand up for what I think is right.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Well said Glenn, well said

    Mr. Forsythe

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s got nothing with defending Obama, Glenn. That’s where you’re missing the point.

    The system is broken, it’s polluted with moneyed interests, the party-line divide is more apparent than real. Capitalism is still unchecked, and neither is the financial sector – close to forty-five percent of our GNP. None of those things got fixed – regardless of some individuals’ good intentions.

    So yes, you are an apologist for the system.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Which part, Dreadful, isn’t me? Curious to find out.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Two relevant articles in today’s NY Times:

    Senate Financial Bill Misguided, Some Academics Say
    Economists criticize the bill — but not for being weakened by lobbyists — just for being off-base.

    Battle Over Bailouts Shifts Oversight Debate
    Political populism on this issue may actually outweigh lobbyists and push a bill through — though it may not be a better bill because of it.

    Just food for thought. And possibly more useful/instructive than sweeping generalizations about “the system” based on someone’s gut feelings.

    Inform yourself before drawing a conclusion. Too lazy to read a newspaper? Shame on you.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Not to worry, Rog. It’s just that Stan was casting nasturtiums on our friend Mr Forsythe’s provenance, and suggesting that it might be you using an alter ego.

    As an all-seeing, all-knowing comments editor, I was able to inform him that Jeff’s IP address does not match your IP address. Therefore, unless you had access to a computer other than your usual one, it couldn’t be you.

    Now that Mr Forsythe has divulged everything about himself including his underwear size, I think the matter should be considered settled.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The very definition of TMI!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    LOL.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad,com/ roger nowosielski

    Gut feelings. Handy. What frickin’ world are you living in? Can’t you see this country has been taken to the cleaners? And you keep on cheering.

    You stick to your newspapers, bud, I’ll sick to thinking. And good luck because you’re gonna need it.

    And BTW, you should reserve your venom for the purveyors of reactionary thinking. That’s what you’re best at and you should stick to your field of expertise. You’re waisting your efforts on me.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Well now that I seem to have passed muster with the initiation process, what else do you want to know? If so please provide a link to the questionnaire site post haste before I lose the satelite again.

    You chaps have an odd way of making a chum feel welcome!

    Mr. Forsythe

  • Jeff Forsythe

    It is my impression that the English sense of humor does not translate well there in the states, however I shall make an attempt.

    I appear to have been “rogered” by Roger.

    In your corner of the woods is that considered humorous or an insult as it was meant to be humorous?

    Also in the future I pledge to not use confusing and extranious “u”s in words such as colour or Concourde as not to insult anyone.

    Mr. Forsythe

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    “The system is broken”.

    No, it’s not. The system IS broken when it gets to the point of the Weimar Republic or modern Zimbabwe. Last week it was reported that we’ve just had the third quarter of strong economic growth in a row. Today it was just reported that manufacturing grew at its fastest pace in six years.

    Roger, it is wildly unrealistic to expect that we could rebound so quickly from the worst economic crisis since the Depression. In fact, I defy you to find a significant recession since WWI where we’ve rebounded so quickly…despite the fact that this was a much worse recession than ANY of those (save the Depression).

    In other words, in the big picture we’re rebounding quite nicely indeed – and, considering the severity of the Great Recession, the more you should be impressed. We’re not out of the woods yet, but we can see the edge of the forest already.

    No, Roger, our financial system is NOT broken. Its problems are legion indeed…but it’s certainly not broken. With proper (and properly-enforced) regulation, we’ll not only avoid fiascos such as the Depression and the Great Recession, but we MUST have proper regulation, properly enforced…which, if you’ll think about it, applies to nearly every form of human intercourse outside of the family.

  • John Wilson

    Good points, Glenn.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Rest assured Mr. Glen, that Roger and his ilk shall always find some bloody fly in the ointment to exploit and overshadow any progress or positive news that go contrary to the conservative’s beliefs. The unemployment situation or the unrest of the barmy, ridiculous and brassed off “teabaggers.” There will always be those who put an anti-clockwise spin on anything to make your President Obama look quite ineffective as a leader despite his having more bottle than any recent leader to date.

    The question is who is doing the loudest shouting in order to capture the powerful American press’ attention.

    Mr. Forsythe

    Mr. Forsythe

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Jeff, most of us here are not what you’d call monocultural.

    Roger, for instance, hails originally from Poland, spent some time in Israel as a youth and came to America in the 60s just in time to fail to avoid getting drafted.

    Glenn was raised as a good ol’ southern racist, went to sea, had an epiphany, married a Filipina and is now a staunch defender of the weak and defenceless.

    STM – Stan, to give him his real name – is an Australian newspaper reporter with British and Irish roots, whose father was in the (ahem) employ of the (ahem) British government and who lived in Iraq and England as a boy.

    I’m British, moved to California nine years ago and tend to use American expressions and speech patterns in everyday life because I’m tired of having to translate. Even my wife doesn’t understand what I’m saying sometimes.

    Handyguy, bless him, is probably the most honest-to-goodness ethnic American on this thread.

    I’m unclear as to the etiquette of correcting people’s spelling online – we do have a resident spelling and grammar Nazi by the name of Clavos who takes care of that sort of thing – so I’ll just say that ‘concorde’ – whether you’re referring to the aeroplane or the French word meaning a spirit of harmonious cooperation – never had a U in it in the first place.

    For myself, wherever ‘Utopia’ happens to be, I’m gathering from your use of certain words and expressions that you are slightly more comfortable with the North American vernacular than with that of Blighty.

    I’m sorry that you feel you’re being given the third degree. To complete the initiation process, if you’re interested, the virtual interrogation chamber is easily locatable on the home page. Just make yourself comfortable on the waterboard, strap yourself in, help yourself to any electrodes which may happen to be in reach and one of us will be in to have a chat with you shortly.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Actually Doc the “o” being next to the “u” on the keyboard I quite simply got fumble-fingered and pressed both simultaneously while entering “concourde” and neglected to notice it until after I had already clicked “post”

    My early education was in Scotland, but my latter was in America and then Canada so yes I am what you would refer to as multicultural.

    In my travels I take on different accents but when I try to make a valid point I tend to favor my beloved father. You would laugh your arse off if you conversed with me while on business in the Southern U.S.

    As for the mystery, I am located in the mid-Atlantic and use a rather undependable satelite to communicate. This means employing proxy links through either Great Britain or Sweden, and I believe another proxy that has a location I haven’t fathomed. You will notice that St. Helena’s website has a Swedish surname.

    You of all people “Dr. Dreadful” would know the advantage of being up front yet holding back identity wise.

    Does this make my opinions any less welcome or valid? If so I’ll peacefully leave your conversational sandbox with regrets

    Mr. Forsythe

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    I was going to suggest he was JOM but now I’m not sure, that’s not his style to be so… civil?

  • Jeff Forsythe

    JOM?

  • Cannonshop

    Glenn, I don’t think Stan has shifted a bit to the right-it’s just that the things you and he agree upon aren’t current fodder for this cycle of articles (including this one).

    Generally, I’d say that “Reform” (as opposed to what’s being offered) would focus on regulating the big-boys and it would follow the concept of “Don’t make a Law you Can’t Enforce Equally”.

    Loopholes come from over-detailing, this is how gaps come about, because a lawyer can take a misplaced comma, and completely change the law away from what it was intended to do, or changing a trade-name or minor detail and instead of an illegal trust, you’ve got a multinational corporation, get it?

    in the case of a REAL reform, the regulation has to be aimed not at limiting the consumer, but at regulating the supplier of the investment products-a move that hasn’t been popular with Congress since CARTER deregulated the Savings and Loans (an action that led directly to the S&L crisis of the late eighties.)

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    You don’t want to know… I’m gonna feel like an idiot of this is who I think it is.

  • http://takeorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “Rest assured Mr. Glen, that Roger and his ilk shall always find some bloody fly in the ointment to exploit and overshadow any progress or positive news that go contrary to the conservative’s beliefs.”

    Interesting take, Jeff. A question though: who is the conservative here and who is progressive?

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Here roundabout the line appears to be quite blurred.

    Mr. Forsythe

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “in the case of a REAL reform, the regulation has to be aimed not at limiting the consumer, but at regulating the supplier of the investment products-a move that hasn’t been popular with Congress since CARTER deregulated the Savings and Loans (an action that led directly to the S&L crisis of the late eighties.)”

    Great point, Cannon. At least we’re on the same page here – unlike Glenn or Handy who mistake motion for action.

    And BTW, why not bring the old anti-trust laws into effect. Perhaps the two patriots mentioned above will venture on an unconvincting explanation.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, Jeff, I don’t find either Glenn’s or Handy’s ideas progressive.

    As far as I am concerned, they could join hands with Archie Bunker.

  • Irene Wagner

    77 “Also in the future I pledge to not use…”…split infinitives?

    Welcome to BC, “Jeff-o.” I think you’re a hoot and a half.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Jet, you’re WAY off. For one thing, the two are nothing alike intellect-wise.

    To wit: Jeff has one. :-)

    Jeff, JOM (or Just One Man) was a trollish creature who could be relied upon to annoy everyone and lower the tone of any given discussion, but took particular delight in being obnoxious to Jet.

    He’s long since been banned from the site, but occasionally finds a way back in using an alias and creates greater or lesser degrees of mischief until he is detected and re-banned. So I don’t blame Jet for being a little bit jumpy.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I’m sure Dave Nalle, Clavos and Baronius will get a laugh out of hearing me and Glenn compared to Archie Bunker. I know I did.

    Back in the day, Archie was driven purple with hilarious sputtering rage by liberals like Maude, Gloria and the Meathead…and Glenn and I are their spiritual descendants.

    The definitions may have shifted a bit since the 70s, but if I’m a reactionary then what the heck is Baronius?

    And for the record, none of my recent comments have intentionally included any venom. Some mild teasing and some chiding for people who apparently prefer posturing to having meaningful, fact-based discussion.

  • STM

    Glenn, don’t worry mate … I haven’t shifted to the right. I’m where I’ve always been … on the conservative right wing of the Left :)

    Which probably explains why I don’t believe in a lot of things American latte “liberals” might believe in (not saying you’re one of them).

    Mostly we’re on the same page though …

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Usually a huge bill contains some effective parts, some ineffective parts, and some real boneheaded mistakes.

    Why should this one be any different? It’ll be a mix of good and bad.

    Is it not worth defining and debating those distinctions? Or is that too difficult and boring?

  • STM

    I agree with Glenn on the need for prudential regulation, however. We have it here, and this the only developed western economy not to go into recession during the GFC, largely as a result of that clever regulation by the previous conservative government (might have been the other one of the only two good things they did).

    It IS important … because it puts the brakes on the cowboys.

    The GFC had an epicentre … and unregulated Wall St and a second one across the pond in an unregulated City of London.

    Perhaps we need to learn our lessons from that. We’re the ones who paid for that greed.

    Mornin’ Jeff!

  • STM

    Handy: “Is it not worth defining and debating those distinctions”.

    Yes, bingo … democratic government requires more than one participant.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Interesting to see that women are the same all over the world Irene which is something I had already surmised.

    Jeff Forsythe

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Doc I really appreciate the introductions and the information as well as the welcome. I might just loosen up a bit and sign

    Jeff

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Sorry Stan but we are right on the GMT line and haven’t pushed into morning yet, but thank you for the thought.

    Jeff

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Back to the discourse. My impression is that regardless of the merit of any legislative efforts by your Mr. Obama, the republicans will oppose it before they have even read the thing; indeed before even the ink dries.

    It seems to be very counter-productive. With the liberals in the majority you would think that would not be a problem. It mystifies me how a group in the minority appears to have so much power.

    It is almost as though you have democrats that are really secretly republicans and vise versa.

    This can only result in chaos

    Only an observation of course

    Jeff

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The comparison, Handy, was only along the conservative quotient. I sure hope you didn’t mean to suggest there was any reference to bigotry.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    ” . . .The definitions may have shifted a bit since the 70s, but if I’m a reactionary then what the heck is Baronius?”

    You don’t want me to use Baronius as a yardstick, do you now?

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Whilst perusing your politics section I noticed that the description for this piece reads “Democrats prepare to sell out the middle class to enrich their fat cat corporate allies.” I thought all large corporations were republican in nature. Did the American oil; auto and bank industries all abandon the conservative while I was not looking?

    Jeff

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Don’t take seriously Dave’s highfalutin claims. It’s his specialty and it’s being done for effect: he doesn’t engage in any political debate on these here pages, only in forms of political action.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Most of the bill is aimed at banks, and also at the nonbanks that helped make the recent crisis worse. Cannon and Dave say the bill limits consumer choice, but that’s just conservative doublespeak for any kind of regulation. You will notice that neither of them offers any examples.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Paul Krugman [is he also “conservative” by Roger’s inscrutable new definition, like Glenn and me?] wrote this in his blog last week, and it’s very relevant here:

    “What’s frustrating is the way people who favor reform keep getting pulled off into side issues and obvious misinterpretations.

    “If you want to push too-big-to-fail as a key issue, fine; but please don’t say that resolution authority is encouraging too-big-to-fail, because we don’t have anything like that for smaller banks. Aside from the fact that you’re lending aid and comfort to Mitch McConnell, it’s just not true: the whole point of resolution authority is to recreate for shadow banks the same kind of authority the FDIC already has for smaller, old-fashioned banks.

    “If you want to argue that Wall Street is corrupt, fine; but don’t use emails showing Goldman employees crowing over their success in shorting housing — which is ugly but doesn’t amount to wrongdoing — to make your point. (Use the rating-agency emails instead; S&P may not be a vampire squid, but it did enormous harm).

    “If you want to condemn Obama administration officials for being too Wall-Street friendly, fine — but don’t charge those officials with outright corruption, of sharing private information with Wall Street, unless you have some real evidence; and don’t pretend that potential Greek default, which has many fathers, proves your point.

    My sense is that too many people are taking the easy route of going for the cheap slogans instead of thinking things through; and some people are pushing their signature issues even when the evidence clearly shows that they’re wrong. And we can’t afford that kind of self-indulgence.”

    Couldn’ta said it better myself.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    OK, Handy, I’ll postpone my judgment if it’ll make you happy and wait until we the verdict is in.

    Fair enough?

  • Cannonshop

    #95 maybe it should be LESS of a “Huge” bill, then, Handy? The fewer parts, the fewer parts to break, fewer loopholes to close, and fewer outright abuses and mistakes to exploit, see?

    The REAL problem, as Roger noted, is that we’ve GOT the laws in the books, they’re just not being enforced, or enforced with any vigour when they ARE enforced.

    in a way, the financial laws are like mine-safety regulations-that accident in W. Va was probably preventable, had the people responsible for enforcing the regs actually been doing their jobs (as it’s now been revealed, they weren’t.)

    Same thing here…but with the added flavour of contradictory acts in the same legal structure. Repeal, simplify, then Enact-we don’t need a huge bill for that, we need a smarter congress…

    which, regardless of party, we probably won’t get. (after all, if Barbara Boxer or Harry Reid are the best their home states can put up…not to mention Chuck Rangel-geez, is he REALLY the best representative they can find in Harlem??)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    We need a smarter president, too. But then I forget: they’re all stinking lawyers.

  • Mark

    Why is government regulation necessary in the first place? Perhaps we’d do better avoiding the same old same old regulation/evasion dance and address underlying causes. We’ve got the wrong ‘class’ of people making decisions at all levels political and economic.

    The system isn’t broken (it’s just in crisis); ‘snafu’ better describes the situation.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Right, nationalize all banks and financial institutions and run it on the model of Fannie Mae. Break up the politics-business connection. Exclude all lawyers from running for office. Develop a cadre of disinterested, impartial people to run the economy and the country.

    The system definitely ain’t broken!!!

  • Mark

    ……well, that would be one approach, I guess. But hasn’t statism been an abysmal failure?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, given the existing composition of forces, the result is status quo. But I was being facetious.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Where the heck did anyone get the idea that I said Stan shifted to the right?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    You can be facetious if you like…but can you address what I posted showing that our financial system – though it does have serious flaws – is not broken at all?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Glenn, my comment was to Mark, so I don’t see why you’re harping on it.

    As I stated to Handy, you can read my last BC article to get a gist of my thinking. I’m not going to be rehashing the argument on the thread, especially since I’d gone to great lengths to present it in the form of an article.

  • Mark

    What has been fixed (as in neutered) by our decision makers and is the cause of ‘the latest mess’ is the relationship between labor productivity and labor compensation. Are there proposals to regulate that?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Do you mean – as a regular feature of America’s economic picture?

  • STM

    Jeff, I left some questions on the other thread regarding the RMS. I’d like to know whether it’s any good. I notice it also puts in at Walvis Bay, which might be one of the most bizarre destinations on the planet outside of, say, Tristan da Cunha.

  • Mark

    #120 – a regular feature of the first 2/3 of 20th century US economics when rising productivity corresponded with rising wages.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Indeed. And that was the formula for building the wealth of nations and spreading prosperity, if not worldwide at first, than at least one nation at a time, times, in short, when capitalism was still “working.”

    So yes, it’s imperative to put one’s finger on what had changed.

  • Cannonshop

    #123 I suspect we may find that “what changed” is the shift from long-term planning to quarterly thinking in our “Business Schools” (resulting in management and executives whose entire perception is limited to a three month window corresponding, interestingly enough, to when the taxes are due…)

    It’s probably not the whole of it, but that there is probably one of the big contributors. add in the fallacy of shuffling reports being equivalent to actual production, and adding government activity as part of GDP figures (’tis not, you know, it’s a cost, not a profit) and the change from holding money to an objective standard (set value in Silver or Gold) to a subjective one (Whatever people are willing to believe it is) and the advent of Easy Credit Terms, no requirements to apply (your NINJA Loans are an example of this- “No Income, No Job, Approved”, as well as many credit-card offers…)
    and finally, the idea that a “Service Economy” can somehow match a “Production Economy” for creating prosperity and wealth.

    And don’t ignore cultural issues, either-shifting from “Adopting the best and abandon the rest” Melting pot model to a “All cultures, no matter how brutal, savage, repressive or outright insane, are equal” Multiculturalism, the subsequent devaluing of the work-ethic, and the artificial inflation of the role of government into nearly every aspect of daily life. (and no, I’m not just bitchng about Republicans and their stupid “Defense of Marraige” or “Abortion is murder” crap here…) and then, there’s the expanding universe of “Entitlements” for everything…and I mean Everything, often without requiring any earning at all.

    all of which, taken individually, probably doesn’t look so bad, but when you look at the whole, it’s the Hecatocheire-the hundered headed monster, devouring without producing anything but shit and wasteland.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The REAL problem, as Roger noted, is that we’ve GOT the laws in the books, they’re just not being enforced, or enforced with any vigour when they ARE enforced.

    I missed the part where Roger said that, but if he did, both you and he are quite mistaken.

    Here are two important examples:
    “Shadow” banks and derivatives.

    Shadow banks are non-depository financial companies. Examples were Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. They weren’t regulated like banks, but they were lending as much money as banks right before the crisis in 2007-2008.

    Probably the biggest part of the current bill seeks to establish an orderly way to liquidate such an institution if it fails. The lack of such an orderly process, the need to improvise quickly on a large scale, is what led to the panicky bailouts of 2008.

    Derivatives are largely unregulated — thank Phil Gram, Robert Rubin and others for pushing this lack of regulation about 10 years ago.

    The use of complex derivatives to leverage gigantic mountains of debt securities turned a bad problem much worse.

    The bill seeks to put all derivatives trades in open exchanges, to prevent banks from using derivatives to bet with other people’s money for profit, and requires that companies making large derivatives investments set enough money aside to cover potential losses.

    This is the part of the bill getting the most push-back from banks and from Republicans.

    Neither of these are laws we currently have on our books. Both are badly needed. Please take time to inform yourself before making such big unsupported statements.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    A pretty good start, Cannon, I’d say, except for some of the talking points.

    For one, I don’t think that “the idea that a ‘Service Economy’ can somehow match a ‘Production Economy’ for creating prosperity and wealth” was in anybody’s mind, or a conscious decision at any rate, just a natural and unintended consequence of shifting the production function of the economy to Third World countries. What else could you expect. But yes, you’re right in that this decision was indicative of “short-term planning.”

    I think you’re right, overall, on identifying the technical features. But I think a deeper analysis must delve into the mindset and the underlying philosophy of “doing business.” It’s that, more than anything else, that set us on the present course. So the question remains, what brought it about?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Handy,

    With all due respect, why are the anti-trust laws no longer enforced? They haven’t been for years.

    Once again, we’re up against one of the biggest mergers in the airline industry, and mark my words, it will be approved. Do you think it serves national interests to have fewer and fewer companies control the lion’s share of the market?

    On one hand, we are against “too big to fail” philosophy and on the other we’re approving monopolistic practices and formation of cartels. So what’s going on, Handy? Perhaps you’d care to explain.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Airlines are hemorrhaging money — that particular merger is a scramble to survive.

    Which companies do you think should be called monopolies or trusts? Are they actually breaking laws, or do you just not like them very much?

    We’re coming out of a deep recession, so the government would think twice about any action that might clamp down on economic activity or spook the markets.

    The most prominent possible monopolies right now are Google and Apple. Do you think the country would benefit if the government sued them?

    You have repeatedly called for the breaking up of big banks, but I don’t think antitrust law as it stands really applies. There are still a lot of big, medium size, and small banks. No monopoly comparable to AT&T, IBM or Microsoft, to name 3 famous antitrust cases [only one of which resulted in breaking up a company].

    Better to regulate their behavior.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Also, watch to see whether Dems succeed in incorporating “the Volcker rule” into financial reform. The big banks hate it.

    It would prevent speculative investments whose only goal is increasing the bank’s profitability — no benefit to customers.

    This would basically prevent banks from owning or taking big positions in hedge funds, and would probably stop the kind of outrageous risk taking that preceded the 2008 crisis.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “We’re coming out of a deep recession, so the government would think twice about any action that might clamp down on economic activity or spook the markets.”

    Where does it all lead to, Handy, concentrating more and more power and wealth in the hand of fewer and fewer firms – from banks, automobile companies, communication giants, etc. Do you really think that’s the solution?

    Silicon Valley business is a different story. It’s our cutting edge, the technologies are still evolving, almost daily, so there’s always a chance for smaller or start-up firms.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The first thing, investment banking should be off limit to banking business in the traditional sense of the word.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Turns out the government is scrutinizing the proposed merger of Comcast and NBC/Universal, as well as looking at Monsanto for antitrust violations.

    And the Continental/United merger has not been approved yet. So let’s see what happens.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    As I said, I’m willing to wait but tell you what. Given the state of the economy, I’d be dead set against any merger and acquisition, no matter how sweet, just as I was during the Reagan era. If you want capitalism to work – and I don’t because I think it had had it! – you’ve got to let it compete; and if they die by attrition, it’s only as it should be.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    120-Stan, Those who depend on her have a little tool we use to regularly track RMS Helena wherever she is at any given moment – here

    If you are planning a trip to St. Helena proceed here

    Walvis Bay was really not my cup of tea, I was there briefly on business and found it rather unpleasant and rife with poverty and many hands extended for any coinage I could spare because I was well dressed. I concluded my transactions and departed post haste. I’m sure some tourist website can update you with the latest rubbish, but I have no intentions of revisiting nor recommending it.

    Jeff

  • STM

    Nah, no plans to visit Walvis Bay Jeff. Couldn’t thibnk of a more bizarre place to go. Tristan could be fun for a week though.

    To be honest, I wouldn’t even spend too long in Cape Town these days. If – big if – I went to St Helena, I’d work it so I arrived the day before the boat’s departure.

  • STM

    I just used that little web tool. She’s south-east of Jamestown, obviously heading for Cape Town.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I had no idea where Walvis Bay was, so I just looked it up. Does look like rather a strange place, but then that seems to be true of Namibia in general. I definitely mean to go there one of these days.

    One thing Walvis Bay has going for it is that the local football team is called Eleven Arrows, which has to be just about the coolest sports team name ever.

  • STM

    Lol. Yeah, real cool Doc.

    Eleven Arrows in your hat … if you’re lucky.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I figured they probably got it from the name of the pub across the road from the stadium.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    About to lose the satelite. Did not realize it was that close to sunrise.

    Cheers then
    Jeff

  • STM

    Doc: “Across the road from the stadium.”

    What stadium? Walvis Bay is sand on rock and gets about 80mm of rainfall a year. If you can find more than dozen patches of nice green grass outside the nice suburbs, where they’d need to be watering all the time, you’d be doing well. Namibia isn’t noted for its lush, verdant anything.

    Germany’s most famous colony!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I don’t think grass is regarded as a necessity for a footie ground in Africa, Stan.

    Or even in parts of Europe, not so long ago. Back in the 70s, the national stadia in both Malta and Cyprus had dirt pitches, and the big countries like England, Germany and Italy used to dread going there for World Cup qualifiers. Quite a few teams came a cropper because they just couldn’t play their usual game.

  • STM

    Windhoek is the capital. It’s not so bad, apparently, and very quanit and German looking, but with more and more informal settlements springing up as a result of migrations into urban areas, the population has boomed. I’ve not been but some of my mates have been there a as part of trips they’ve made to south africa to watch rugby.

    I just had a look at some pictures and they’ve tried to dress the place up as much as possible by the looks of things.

    If you wanted to hide from anyone after WWII, it might have been a better place to go than Argentina.

    Provided you could get in undetected or under a false name, no one would go looking for you there.

  • Cannonshop

    #127 Which companies, Handy? I work at one-Boeing. Having one competitor who’s off-shore is like Carnegie vs. Krupp, and we KNOW Carnegie’s U.S. Steel was an illegal trust, Handy.

    The very concept of “Too big to fail” indicates a near-monopoly environment in and of itself-because that’s one the cheif hazards of allowing monopolism in the first place.

    The soviet union provides an excellent real-world model for what you get with an economy NOT rooted in competition-long lines for bread, shoddy, overpriced, and rare goods, and a levelling down into mutual misery and de-facto (though not de-jure) poverty for the bulk of the population.

  • STM

    Yeah, Cannon’s right … I was there in the early 80s. People were provided for so no one starved or was really in poverty (in places like Moscow and Leningrad at least; rural area were something else) but forget about life’s essential little luxuries.

    Like toilet paper. I was lucky enough to have a supply – but Dave tells me Pravda provided an excellent supply for most Russians. I suspect Dave had to resort to that as well on occasion from the way he mentions it.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Cannon is right…about a government [USSR] that hasn’t even existed for 20 years.

    And comparing the USA in 2010 to the Soviets is meaningless hyperbole that gets us exactly nowhere.

    If the US government sued your employer for antitrust violations, would it make your life better? Would it improve the economy?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Not to mention that complaining that the government doesn’t do enough — and then in the same breath comparing the government to the Soviets [who did way too much] — makes no sense.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Handy,

    It’s a tough issue and there are many pros and cons. The worst part is – it’s hard to tell what will work and what with not. I myself am rather conflicted about the right course of action, sometimes leaning one way and sometimes another, and I’m kind of surprised that you’re free of all ambivalence.

    But if capitalism is to work, there’s got to be a viable competition; stifle that and you’re into monopolies and carters (sanctified by the state) and therefore a kind of Soviet form of government (from the economic standpoint),

    Hence the problem – to navigate between capitalism running amok when left entirely to its own devises and the present version when it gobbles up all the competition and the winner takes all.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The set of choices (above) are poorly expressed, but I hope you get my intended meaning.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Hey, ambivalence is my middle name.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well excuse me, but you do come across as anything but.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    140-Or worse, the populace complaining that their government doesn’t do enough, and in the same breath going on about how that same government is too big.

    Jeff

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Roger, my tendency toward balancing viewpoints is ambivalence — it’s why I get irritated when you and others make sweeping generalizations.

    You often want to make things sound all bad. I think politics and the economy tend to be a mix of good and bad elements, and I don’t like the extremes of the left and right.

    Centrists are inherently ambivalent.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    C-shop –

    I agree with you that Boeing is effectively a monopoly – but a necessary one.

    Why? Because there are some industries where the industrial base is so huge, the infrastructure requirements are so massive, that it becomes less of a business and more of a national effort.

    IIRC, Boeing’s our largest export. The only way that Airbus (or is it EADS?) can compete is by being a consortium of efforts by European nations – complete with (possibly illegal) subsidies.

    The industrial base and infrastructure requirements for major aircraft manufacturers is an example of what lay behind great national efforts such as the Manhattan Project, NASA, our interstate freeway system, and our military (particularly the hideously-expensive Navy, I note with some pride).

    You’ll note that China is only now beginning into the business of building airliners…but the financial wherewithal required to compete with Boeing and EADS is daunting – even to China.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You’re always full of excuses, Glenn. I’m tired of your constant genuflecting. Try it in church rather than here.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m not a centrist, Handy – funny you should see me that way. But that’s OK. I’m happy for you and for your spitting image there – good ole Glenn – that you’re seeing the light in the tunnel, for I surely don’t.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    at the end . . . (goes without saying).

  • http://jetssciencepage.blogspot.com// Jet Gardner

    I agree Glenn, there’s no way for boeing to compete worldwide with foreign subsized companies.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Do you have any shares, Jet? And what the fuck does it matter, anymore, since they’re all multinationals?

    I don’t take you for a political hack. Glenn is a lost cause (until he converts again, to what, I have no fucking idea). And Handy, we’re still talking.

    So yes, Jet – I’m banking on you. Don’t be a yes man just because it’s liberal dogma. No dogma is good, and we should all try to debunk it.

    Are you with me?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I was referring to myself as a centrist, not you, Roger. I thought I was expressing myself clearly, but apparently not.

    I don’t like the extremes, I don’t like sweeping generalizations, I am a centrist, and that implies ambivalence.

    And Glenn’s comments on Boeing seem perfectly sensible. What’s your argument with what he’s saying? “Genuflecting”? To what/whom?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Sorry, impatient reading on my part on account of such as Glenn.

    I left a more extensive comment about Glenn on John Lake’s “Halliburton” thread. Don’t really want to discuss now such as him. As far as I’m concerned, it’s people like that who are the greatest detriment to this country and a better future.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And do me a favor, Handy. Do watch the video, as per Cindy’s link on Dan Miller’s latest article – just before Franco’s lengthy comments featuring Milton Friedman.

  • John Wilson

    The anti-trust dept. was largely de-funded by the Bush admin. Easier to re-allocate budget funds to other departments than to pass new legislation.