Random thoughts, 23 March 2009

2009/03/23

The President’s new proposal for buying up so-called “toxic” assets will be unveiled today. I probably won’t comment on this for a little while, mostly because I still have no good understanding of the assets that caused this problem in the first place. I’ll attempt to educate myself a bit more on the subject before issuing comment (unless I really can’t figure out what these things are, and how they led to the current crisis; no promises, though…I’m not an economist, after all). On a related note, what happened to the original TARP funds? [1] Weren’t these funds supposed to do what Geitner is proposing today? Just wondering.

On a somewhat related note, MSNBC has been reporting about laid-off workers protesting outside the homes of AIG executives who received bonuses from the company. Two thoughts come to mind here. First and foremost, unless these workers were employees of AIG or their affiliates, they are entitled to nothing from the AIG executives; yes, the actions of the AIG Financial Products division contributed heavily to the current mess, but nothing about what they did was illegal at the time. Prior to the massive bailout, AIG was also not a government entity; it may have been a publicly-traded company, but in such cases, the comany is only responsible to their shareholders, not the general public. [2] Secondly (and more mundanely), is protesting outside the houses of these executives the best use of time for someone who is unemployed? Perhaps their time would be better spent looking for new jobs. Just saying.

On a mostly unrelated note, I’m wondering if President Obama has figured out yet that he won the election. Mind you, I don’t have a problem with him trying to build support for his agenda (in all likelihood, he’ll need all the help he can get as his ambitions continue to grow), but his actions over the past week or so look more like a continuation of his pre-election campaigning, and less like the actions of a sitting president.

On a positive note, it appears that the President does not support the excise tax on bonus payments that passed the House last week. [3] I’ll be more impressed if he vetoes the legislation (assuming it passes the Senate, of course).

On a supportive note, we really are hypersensitive as a nation, aren’t we? [4] I know that as the head of state, the President is supposed to always be on his best behavior, but he’s also human, for those of you who’ve apparently forgotten. Sometimes, people make mistakes; sometimes, they say things that can be interpreted in unsavory ways. Given our current hypsersensitivity, it is practially inevitable that someone will take offense, whenever a public figure opens their mouth. Get over it, already. At least he didn’t mime being a retard while he was making his comment.

On a totally unrelated note, Mount Redoubt has erupted in Alaska, and the cloud of ash and smoke rose to 50,000 feet. [5] I find this extremely cool, though I hope no one gets hurt by the subsequent fallout and/or future eruptions. Also, I’m fairly certain that this isn’t divine retribution for the existence and stupidity of Sarah Palin, but who knows…God works in mysterious ways, after all.

And for today’s WTF?!? moment, apparently, South Africa thinks that soccer is more culturally relevent than the Dalai Lama’s thoughts on peace. Seriously. [6] Try as I might to be outraged, though, I can’t make it work; this is just too absurd to generate the necessary level of aggravation. Besides, the Dalai Lama being who he is, I doubt he’ll hold a grudge.

Notes:

[1]: Description of the original act (Public Law 110-343) from the Library of Congress; the original intent of the $700 billion allocation was to “purchase and insure certain types of troubled assets for the purposes of providing stability to and preventing disruption in the economy and financial system and protecting taxpayers…” Of course, the legislation “evolved” since then, but the question remains valid: why didn’t the original TARP legislation work?

[2]: One wonders if our government should allow companies to grow to a size where they become “too big to fail” and require public funds to artificially prop them up. I plan to explore this matter, so I may have some further thoughts at a later date.

[3]: CNN Political Ticker article, 22 March 2009.

[4]: People Magazine online article, 20 March 2009.

[5]: CNN article, 23 March 2009

[6]: CNN article, 23 March 2009

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