Category Archives: Natural Liberty

Thugs and Intolerance

Most of the friends I made in graduate school would probably be placed on the liberal wing of the American political spectrum. They’re awesome people and I like them a lot.

But I often struck by how intolerant and hate-filled many liberals are. Certainly, more so than conservatives that I meet, or see on the news.

For instance, take this thug, Mona Eltahwy. After seeing speech she disliked, Mona’s response was to vandalize it. When someone attempted to place her own body between Mona’s spray-paint and the speech Mona despised, Mona sprayed her too.

And now on CNN, there is a puff piece support Mona, talking about how she “brought attention” to an important issue, blah blah blah.

So why are so many liberals hate-filled and intolerant, when explicit rejection of hate and intolerance is generally seen as a “liberal” virtue?

My assumption is that people generally self-select friends, co-workers, and opinion leaders who they are already politically agree with. So political intellectual diversity is rare in almost everyone’s life. But the high-visibility media clearly shares more of the world-view, perspective, and priorities of “liberals” than “conservatives.” This means that it’s rare for liberals to hear any serious voice with a fundamentally different perspective (outside the existing liberal political coalition). It’s very common for conservatives to do so.

Therefore, when a thug like Mona Eltahwy encounters speech she disagrees with, of course she reacts violently. And her friends in the media likewise are very sympathetic: who wouldn’t censor speech they dislike?

The Goldman Sachs Bonuses

From CNBC, I gather that Goldman Sachs received $10 billion in TARP funds, and paid out $10 billion in bonuses.

Of course, the typical CNBC crew resorts to this news with shouts of ‘class warfare!,’ but I think there’s an interesting problem here.

I was under the impression that the TARP was to stabilize institutions whose failures were otherwise unavoidable and whose downfall would lead to massive jolts to the global economy.

Instead, it appears that Goldman Sachs faced a choice between going bust and perhaps losing those employees who could other jobs in this bad economy, and of course would face higher rates of employees quitting in the years ahead.

How “needed” are these TARP funds if the choice is not between bankruptcy and TARP, but between reduced marginal ability to retain staff and TARP?

Right out of Zimbabwe

Marketplace: Miami’s homeless inhabit vacant homes
KAI RYSSDAL: We were talking around here today about how the sour economy is changing the way this country looks. There are more vacant storefronts or, in stores that are still open, huge signs practically begging customers to come in.

And it’s not just cities and businesses. Foreclosed houses are falling apart. Lawns are overgrown — the ones that aren’t dead because nobody’s watering them.

But in Miami, homeless activists are using those vacant homes to solve the problem of neglect — and to solve another problem too as Marketplace’s Dan Grech reports.

DAN GRECH: Marie Nadine Pierre is a 39-year-old mother of four. Today, she’s moving into a renovated three-bedroom house.

GRECH: Are you nervous?

MARIE NADINE PIERRE: Yeah.

She’s nervous because what she’s doing is illegal. Her new home, in a middle-class Miami neighborhood, is a foreclosure owned by a bank. By moving in, she could be arrested for trespassing, breaking and entering, possibly even burglary.

As I said back in November, only suckers pay their mortgage.

The Financial Crisis, or, The Power of Nightmares

With a word-change here and there, and of course different visuals, BBC’s The Power of Nightmares works remarkably well for the current Financial Crisis.

Of course, a nightmare can manifest itself in reality. It is possible that the cries of Wall Street of Money, the cries of the Administration for Trust, and the cries of Congress for Power are well founded and not just a reflection of their perpetual desire for money, trust, and power.

We’re not given logical arguments for why such a thing might be true, other than vague arm waving, secret documents we can’t access, and the deeply held beliefs of truly incompetent people. Then again, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Maturation and Regulation

I received an email from a tdaxp reader who noted with alarm the shake-outs in the financial industry the consolidation, and the coming regulation. The reader emphasized to me the productive value of the financial industry to the country, and expressed concern that the financial industry that comes out of this crisis will be less innovative than the financial industry was before.

This cycle happens over and over again. The growth days of an industry fade, the industry fills the ecological-economic niche available too it, and as it can no longer grow as a share of the national economy the number of firms in the industry is sharply reduced. Likewise, as the now too-big industry threatens the national economy with the right-sizing it needs, the government steps in to make sure the industry’s transition from growth to maturity happens in a way that does not threaten everyone else.

It is likely that the financial industry is no longer a “growth” sector, at least not to the extent it once was. It is once again mature. It will become less risky, more regulated, more cautious, and less innovative.

The same thing happened to the automotive industry, the railroads, and even steel. Now finance feels the burdens of growing up.

The American author H.P. Lovecraft once wrote, “adulthood is hell.” Or in context:

Then I perceived with horror that I was growing too old for pleasure. Ruthless Time had set its fell claw upon me, and I was 17. Big boys do not play in toy houses and mock gardens, so I was obliged to turn over my world in sorrow to another and younger boy who dwelt across the lot from me. And since that time I have not delved in the earth or laid out paths and roads. There is too much wistful memory in such procedure, for the fleeting joy of childhood may never be recaptured. Adulthood is hell.”

Growing up is hard to do. Real people on Wall Street have lost their jobs, real speculators have lost fortunes.

It’s happened before, and it will happen again.

I am glad I live in a country where, even in such a crisis, creative destruction is still possible. A now mature industry shakes out surplus players, destroys shareholder value in those firms, and even syncs up our financial sector with the financial sector of others.