Quick Roundup 370

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Possible Light Blogging

As a medical resident, my wife hasn't much say in when her vacation occurs. One of her three week-long breaks of the year is this week. She really deserves and needs the break, and we really are enjoying being together. We're headed off to Florida for a few days for a trip her parents are giving her to celebrate her finishing medical school.

If we even have an Internet connection, I may not have time to post as usual on Thursday and Friday. But I will be back Monday.

A Silver Lining

Paul Hsieh notes a possible silver lining to the financial crisis: It may grant us a temporary reprieve, due to cost, from socialized medicine and economy-sapping environmentalist legislation. He also notes, however, that at least one columnist has argued that the current crisis might be used as a pretext for hastening those things along.

I could see this shaking out either way. To the extent that a culture abandons the principle of individual rights, it is at the mercy of chance and the whims of its would-be slavemasters.

Some Aren't Waiting for Obama

Check your credit card statements! Some of Obama's supporters aren't just sitting on their haunches and waiting for him to "spread the wealth around" after he takes office and starts stealing from the productive: They're sitting on their haunches and committing credit card fraud instead.

Steve and Rachel Larman say a strange credit card charge appeared on their statement this month -- a $2300 donation to Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
The story doesn't comment on how the theft occurred, but it reminds me of a new, low-tech method I learned about through a security alert at work recently. It's called "shaving".

Your Mileage May Vary

Through Lifehacker, I learned of a web site that can make bearable slow Internet connections -- or web pages that take minutes to load even over broadband due to misuse of JavaScript. It's called Finch, and nominally, you can just plug in the URL of interest to see a stripped-down, text-only version of the page.

In my hands, Finch has functioned very inconsistently with blogs, though. Tests of this blog result in anything from snappy performance to strange error messages, including that the blog was "not found".

If you're willing and able to install a text-only browser, you can get more consistent results (as one commenter at the above post notes) with a text-only browser like Lynx or w3m, which I prefer.

When Finch does work, I like the results, and it's nice to have a way to strip down bulky web pages when I am not using a computer that already has a text-only browser.

Fascism Comes to Banking

The more I learn about the recent moves by the government to "rescue" the economy, the worse things sound. A commenter to yesterday's post pointed out the following passage from a news story:
Some of the big banks had to be pressured to participate in the program by Paulson, who wanted healthy institutions that did not necessarily need capital from the government to go first as a way of removing any stigma that might be associated with banks getting bailouts.
In other words, so that nobody looks bad, even (all?) healthy banks are going to get "bailed out", too. I'm sure this will come with the same reduction in executive benefits and "oversight" from the architects of the current crisis.

I guess an integral element of the "bailout" is that the consumer be denied the opportunity to seek out a bank with strong fundamentals. Instead of us having the opportunity to do business with the best bankers we can find, we will all have to suffer from government mismanagement.

Some bailout!

-- CAV


Dismuke said...

"Some of the big banks had to be pressured to participate in the program by Paulson, who wanted healthy institutions that did not necessarily need capital from the government to go first as a way of removing any stigma that might be associated with banks getting bailouts."

Yes. The very LAST thing we would want would be the marketplace to differentiate between healthy banks and unhealthy banks and to discriminate accordingly.

Think of all the other areas this could be applied to as well:

"Housing Secretary Barney Frank pressured prominent, affluent members of the community who already owned their homes outright and told them they had to move into the city's new government housing project for the middle class in order to remove the stigma that middle class people have traditionally held towards public housing."

"Education Secretary Bill Ayres announced that students who score in the top 10% of the standardized IQ tests administered by the schools will be placed with the slow kids in Special Education so as to remove the stigma that has traditionally been attached to Special Ed. Ayres made the announcement at a rally for the inauguration of the new Obama Youth initiative which places all existing public and private schools under Federal control. Ayres added that the measure was essential in order to promote and preserve social discipline in the classroom noting that students in that top 10 percent of IQ scores also tend to be the most anti-social and frequently interfere with learning by asking too many questions and challenging their teachers."

Burgess Laughlin said...

> "I could see this shaking out either way."

Of course, another possibility is both ways.

Two factors might cause seemingly contradictory actions by a new administration: (1) an ethics of pragmatism (based on its epistemology of disintegration and metaphysics of a randomly behaving reality); and (2) the fact that any group reflects a confluence of different, even contradictory currents. God knows the Democratic Party is a circus nearly out of control.

I would not be surprised to see deregulation in area x and confiscation in area y.

Gus Van Horn said...

As you indicate, the whole purpose or a marketplace is to permit people to discriminate the good from the bad, and act on that distinction in order to gain the necessities of life.

When emotions and social status are elevated above the objective considerations for man's life, as they are now, the results are absurd, and dangerous to our well-being.

The only real bailout will be done by the voters -- when enough of us reject the idea that the government ought to protect us from having to make discriminations or facing the consequences of those discriminations.

Gus Van Horn said...

You are absolutely right, Burgess.

Andrew Dalton said...

What a great concretization of the principle that force is anti-mind.

Paulson wants to trick the proles into thinking that all banks are equally doubleplus good. He is at war with the mind-numbingly obvious fact that--in light of the recent failures of some banks--some banks are vastly more financially sound than others.

I'm not fooled. I'm keeping my money in Wells Fargo.

Gus Van Horn said...

But it's worse than that. I haven't had time to check on this, but he might harm Wells-Fargo by forcing it to accept federal oversight, too.

In the short-term, Wells-Fargo will remain better, but after a decade of such "temporary" "supervision", it might not.

I get more angry the more I learn or think about this foolish scheme, which you and I are being forced to participate in for the sake of saving a bunch of damned deadbeats from themselves!

Paul Hsieh said...

Even if Wells Fargo is better off for now, they're apparently chomping at the bit (and in the midst of a legal struggle) to acquire the failing Wachovia.

Either Wachovia is a bad investment, in which case you don't want to be part of Wells-Fargo. Or Wachovia is a "good" investment because of government incentives. In which case, WF will be in bed (and beholden to the government) far more than before.

Either way, I wouldn't be too optimistic about any money I had in there. It might not be in immediate jeopardy, but long-term I'd be a bit nervous.

This doesn't mean that any other bank would be necessarily better, which is part of the problem.

(If only John Allison were still in charge of BB&T, then that might have been an option...)

Jim May said...

I get more angry the more I learn or think about this foolish scheme, which you and I are being forced to participate in for the sake of saving a bunch of damned deadbeats from themselves!

And yet, as an idiot named Joseph Marshall said here in comment #140, it's Objectivism which "is not a philosophy for grownups".


Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks for that comment, Paul.

Regarding Allison, if nothing else, we'd know just how bad the pressure was at the moment, for whatever that would be worth.

Of course, even if we did not, say, hear about him resigning after BB&T were added to the scheme, it would be just a matter of time before the government took things down yet another notch.

This scheme will not work. The pragmatists running it will be unable to understand why it doesn't work. And since they are unwittingly following the (unevaluated) principles of altruism and collectivism, they will feel even more urgency to "do something" collectivistic the next time.

All men act on philosophical principles, whether they understand and admit it or not, the game of denial known as Pragmatism to the contrary notwithstanding.

Gus Van Horn said...


Your comment popped up in Blogger, but not in GMail, as happens from time to time.

Your idiot is fairly typical of why the world is as screwed up as it is.

He speaks of "do[ing] a little observation and eavesdropping and learn a little about the real people who are the 'last hired–first fired', whom Ayn Rand dismissed so disdainfully," as if being concerned for how the economy that we all depend on is supposed to work whn its most productive members are chained down isn't actually better for them, even if incidentally!

I bet saying that made him FEEL good about himself. Too bad feelings don't make the world go 'round.