Free Markets, Free People


Questions And Observations #6

For new readers, Questions and Observations is, in full, what QandO means.

  • Still pining for that “public option” Bunky? Well you might want to take a gander at a public option our government has been operating for quite some time. That would be the Indian Health Service for Native Americans. It would be no pun to say the natives are restless about the service they get.
  • Irwin Stelzer lays out 7 lessons learned from Cash for Clunkers. My favorite is “government forecasters are really bad at their job”. Wow, there’s a surprise. Anyone – can you name a single major program that was touted by government at one cost that didn’t actually end up costing far, far more than their estimate?
  • It appears that President Obama’s pledge that “95% of Americans won’t see their taxes go up one dime” is being modified to add “but I didn’t say anything about a nickle – or a bunch of nickles”. Yes, given the rosy deficit projections that we’ve seen it appears higher taxes – much higher taxes – are now in the “when” not “if” category. As the Brookings Institute’s William Gale said:

    “If you rule out inflating our way out of the problem and defaulting on the debt, there are two ways: Cut spending or raise taxes”.

    Of course, I’m on the “cut spending” bandwagon personally.

  • Here’s an announcement that should warm the cockles of your heart – Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc., the California Housing Loan Insurance Fund (CaHLIF) and Freddie Mac, have put together a program that allows teachers working within the state to purchase a home with a downpayment of just $500. Wait a minute – isn’t that exactly the sort program that supposedly got us into this mess in the first place?
  • Investors Business Daily finds that its rather roundly panned claim that Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have fared well under the NHS is, in fact, correct, but certainly not for the reason that he isn’t British. In fact, Hawking didn’t fare well at all with the NHS which didn’t even provide what anyone would call minimal care for his condition. His care ended up being provided for by private donations and private health care providers.
  • Apparently Democratic Colorado Representative Betsy Markey didn’t get the talking points memo in which President Obama claims there won’t be any cuts to Medicare benefits. Either that or she’s actually read the bill and in a fit of honesty said, to a constituent asking about that very point:

    “There’s going to be some people who are going to have to give up some things, honestly, for all of this to work. But we have to do this because we’re Americans.”

    Actually we don’t have to do this and for precisely the same reason.

  • The real astroturfing of townhalls has begun in earnest as Organizing For America – the successor to the campaign’s “Obama For America” – begins to finally stage a supposed “grassroots” push back against the rabble from the other side. Of course OFA claims they’re all about grassroots movements. BTW, if you’re wondering which side is which at a townhall, OFA is the “grassroots” organization with same color t-shirts and the preprinted signs.
  • Wandering through Europe, Roger Simon is hardly surprised that the predominant English language news channels carried there are the BBC and CNN International. What did surprise him was discovering English language Al Jazerra and finding it more balanced and better than the BBC or CNN International.
  • Anyone know who or what really saved the whales? Well it wasn’t Greenpeace – whales were saved well before Greenpeace ever became an organization. No it was actually capitalism and the petroleum industry which saved them. When petroleum became available in large quantities and at a low cost, the whale oil business went extinct almost over night. You’re not likely to read that in any environmental, animal liberation, “man is an eco-tumor” literature you might pick up. But think about it …

~McQ

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13 Responses to Questions And Observations #6

  • teachers working within the state to purchase a home with a downpayment of just $500
    Is this really going to be a problem if teachers can’t lose their job (as is often argued around here)?

    • We’re talking California JWG – everyone in government or working for the government is likely to lose their job there, and not because of performance or lack thereof.

  • Al Jazerra English language is a very solid television news network, and I tend to watch it for my daily news — that or German news. It does a good job internationally. Also, the films about it — “Control Room” and a sequel to it whose name I forget show that it’s been a heroic little station, taking on governments in the Mideast who don’t want democracy or openness. I daresay it’s reporting on the Gulf War (the subject of “Control Room”), while showing its Mideast perspective, was better than the American cable stations.

    • Al Jazerra English language is a very solid television news network, and I tend to watch it for my daily news

      ***

      of course you do.

  • Nigerian e-mailer’s delight …

    Scammers pumping out emails that try to trick recipients into parting with large sums of cash are getting a helping hand from the Democratic National Committee.

    According to a researcher with anti-spam company Cloudmark, 419 fraudsters have been relaying a “significant” amount of messages through the democrats.org domain name. The abuse, which dates back at least to the beginning of this month, helps evade filters that internet service providers employ to block the messages.

  • Al Jazeera seems fairly balanced and accurate, except when they cover Israel-related news which is transparently, although not unexpectedly, biased.

  • Anyone – can you name a single major program that was touted by government at one cost that didn’t actually end up costing far, far more than their estimate?

    The Medicare Prescription Drug Program.

    Link

  • The California teachers mortgage program was announced in 2000. It is defunct. Why are you posting about a defunct, nine-year old program?

    • You know, you’re right JB – I missed the date completely.

      However despite that, it is a very handy bit of proof, despite denials to the contrary, that government both at the state and federal level (see Freddie Mac) were just as responsible as private lenders for the mess we ended up with, wouldn’t you say?

      I mean are they incentivizing the sort of behavior that supposedly got us into trouble and the left tries to lay at the feet of “deregulation” or are they not with this program?

      • However despite that, it is a very handy bit of proof, despite denials to the contrary, that government both at the state and federal level (see Freddie Mac) were just as responsible as private lenders for the mess we ended up with, wouldn’t you say?

        Well, no. Proof that this was the sort of thing responsible for the mess would be if this program had led to a default rate that was higher than the default rate that would have been expected absent government interference. Neither your post nor the linked article contains any such thing.

        • But there’s plenty beside this article that provide more than adequate proof that Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae were into programs like this up to their ears. This simply adds more proof the pile already available.

        • I didn’t think the question was that they were interfering. I don’t see how any rational person could deny that. I think the worst interferences, though, weren’t the targeted micro-programs like this, but the folks like Barney Frank using the threat of CRA-like regulation unless the lenders conformed to the new government approved lending programs to cow the lenders into loosining their standards.

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