Wednesday, March 19, 2008

For an extensive coverage of "Pastorgate" -- the story that the media are desperate to downplay -- see my OBAMA WATCH blog

Democrats misrepresenting the financial disturbances

President Bush on Monday welcomed the Federal Reserve's sweeping intervention in the nation's financial markets as his administration faced accusations that it had supported the bailout of a prestigious investment bank while doing little to address the hardships of Americans facing foreclosures on their homes...

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois declared the economy "in shambles," but he and his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, trod carefully, expressing concern about the broader market and, in Mrs. Clinton's case, for the employees of Bear Stearns, based in her home state, New York.

"There is no doubt that we are teetering on a potential crisis on Wall Street that could have ramifications all across the country," Mr. Obama said at a news conference after meeting with voters during a campaign stop in Monaca, Pa., a town near the Ohio border. "We have a credit market that is locked up."

Mrs. Clinton said that Main Street was as important as Wall Street, but like many Democrats, she did not directly criticize the government's intervention in the sale of Bear Stearns. In a statement, she noted that she had spoken with Mr. Paulson and the president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, Timothy F. Geithner. She urged that the administration do more. "We have blown it," she said at a news conference in Washington in which she linked the economic turmoil in part to Iraq. "And one of the reasons why we must end the war in Iraq is we cannot afford it. We have got to get control of our economic destiny. There are so many danger signs on the horizon." .....

Both Clinton and Obama are talking through their hats. Many of the employees of Bear Sterns have had their fortunes disappear with this "bailout." Those who invested in the compan's stock have losses similar to the employees of Enron, yet the Democrats are treating them like fat cats who got saved from a huge loss. In fact their losses were probably significantly greater than those who have walked away from upside down mortgages because they have little to lose. It was those who were walking away from houses because of a declining market who caused the huge losses that Bear Stearns incurred, yet Democrats act like the defaulters are the victims.

Harry Reid is as bad as Clinton and Obama. Wall Street has taken the big hit from peoples failure to live up to their obligations and Democrats have mischaracterized these firms as "predatory lenders." What a bunch of worthless demagogues. Meanwhile Obama and Clinton's prescription is Smoot-Hauley light by reneging on NAFTA and on top of that raising taxes in a down economy which is just the sort of prescrpition that led to the great depression.

Democrats should be working to try to resolve this situation rather than trying to take advantage of it, but that maybe asking too much.



Sweden shows the corrupting influence of welfare

In the Western world, Sweden is often considered a Social Democratic paradise, the irrefutable proof that the welfare state can transform society for the better. But outsiders, and still too many Swedes, tend to overestimate the gains and underestimate the costs of social engineering.

To start with, homogenous Sweden was already an egalitarian society with few social problems before the expansion of the welfare state. It is often forgotten that in 1950 Sweden had lower taxes, fewer trade restrictions and more hours worked per working-age person than contemporary U.S. -- and yet was already blessed with essentially the same flat income and wealth distribution it has today, half a century after the expansion of the welfare state.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the integration of migrants worked quite well. The foreign-born had a 20% higher employment rate than native Swedes in 1950. Half a century later, in the mature welfare state, the picture has dramatically changed. According to the latest figures, only 48% of non-Western immigrants are gainfully employed, which is 30 percentage points below the average. For this group, originating from places such as Turkey, Chile, the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and North Africa, welfare dependency is nine times higher than for native Swedes.

No doubt, a generous welfare system initially helps many immigrant families, cushioning the transition to a new country. However, the combination of high taxes, a regulated labor market, the world's highest union-imposed minimum wages and the lavish transfer programs effectively keeps out immigrants from the labor market.

Last year, the OECD advised Sweden to pursue labor-market and welfare reforms to tackle immigrant unemployment. The OECD recommended policies such as "substantial easing of job security rules, more individual wage flexibility and considerable reductions in benefit levels."

Sweden's powerful unions and the left-leaning intellectual elites work against such reforms. Swedish voters, though, are beginning to have mixed feelings. In 2006, they ousted the Social-Democratic government and elected a center-right coalition that promised to cut taxes and benefits. Labor-market reforms, though, were missing from their election campaign.

High unemployment among immigrants is of course not confined to just Sweden or Scandinavia. Throughout Europe, governments have found that well-intentioned social insurance policies can lead to lasting welfare dependence, especially among immigrants. Belgium is the European country with the highest difference in employment rates between the foreign-born and natives. The images of burning cars in the suburbs of Paris that were broadcast around the world illustrate the kind of social and economic problems France is facing with its restive immigrant population.

Given the high barriers to entry, many immigrants in Europe no longer start accumulating essential language and labor market skills. This is in stark contrast with the situation across the Atlantic. For example, in 2000, Iranians in the U.S. had a family income that was 42% above the U.S. average. The income of Iranian immigrants in Sweden, however, was 39% below the country's average...

More here



Iraq polls: On the day that Sen. Clinton promises a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Real Clear Politics highlights a new poll showing significant increases in the number of Iraqis who say that life for them is better and security is improving. Meanwhile, Jim Geraghty of National Review Online highlights a new poll that shows most Americans want Sen. McCain on the other end of the phone when it rings at 3:00 AM.

The "experts" get it wrong again: "Bear Stearns Cos.'s shell-shocked investors may want to scuttle the investment bank's sale to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. for $2 a share, but in the absence of another viable bidder they may have only one real option -- to grin and bear it. Bear Stearns shares fell 84% yesterday but still closed at $4.81, well above the offer price. Speculators flooded into the stock betting J.P. Morgan would ultimately raise its offer to keep the deal from falling apart..... Still, with government regulators prodding the investment bank into J.P. Morgan's arms and in the absence of another bidder with a strong balance sheet, a better deal is unlikely, analysts say. Big Bear holders recently included the $45 billion Vanguard Windsor II Fund that is subadvised by well-known managers including Jim Barrow, the $13.3 billion Legg Mason Value Trust run by Bill Miller and funds from Fidelity Investments, MFS Investment Management and Putnam Investments. The funds declined to comment on their positions. One of the most surprising and well-known fund managers getting burned is Mr. Barrow. Seeing Bear's stock trading below the firm's book value, or its assets minus liabilities, and thinking "it would emerge from the crisis," Mr. Barrow added to his position in a big way for Vanguard last year" [I never touch merchant banks, managed funds and the like]

Death coming to Jews in America too: "A fire bomb attack on the home of Jewish Agency emissary Yossi Knafo in Providence, R.I., was likely a spontaneous attack, Israeli security officials say. While Israeli officials are viewing the incident as a spontaneous act by a single group, they are concerned the attack marked an unprecedented assault on U.S. soil, The Jerusalem Post said Sunday. "This is unprecedented," Jewish Agency executive member Amos Hermon said. "A Jewish Agency emissary hasn't been attacked in America for decades, and we've never known a Molotov cocktail attack that came from anti-Israel or anti-Semitic groups."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race and IQ.


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"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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