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Two Words.

Due process?

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How Green is too Green?

During the Superbowl, I was surprised by an ad. The Audi “Green Police” ad was both shocking and attention getting. Probably to the delight of the marketing executives at Audi, this ad has demanded significant attention across the web. My first reaction to the ad was shock and dread. If you love freedom, this sort of idea is stomach turning, and unfortunately believable. Of course, the left argues that this is mere histrionics and hyperbole, but with mandatory recycling in some localities and regulations on lightbulbs, how far are we from this reality?

In review, the links below all have the video for you to watch.

  1. Here is a review from the right.
  2. Here is a review from the “supposed” center.
  3. Here is a review from the left.
  4. Here is a ‘bonus content’ review and global warming interview.

The infamous Tim Tebow ad debuted tonight with little controversy. Sure, if you go to the Focus on the Family website, you will get more information that would have been provocative for a national audience, but few could argue there was anything dangerous about this ad. Here is the link to the video.

Now for a real controversy. Within an hour of the Superbowl ending, YouTube had all the ads in a slick voting setup…except this ad was not there. Huh?

I have just a few quick thoughts on Sarah Palin’s keynote speech for the National TEA Party Convention.

  • It was not difficult to notice what the primary concerns of the delegates of the Convention were. Whenever Mrs. Palin spoke of fiscal conservativeness the crowd erupted with applause. I see this as a continuing trend throughout the next year with implications for the 2012 election as well. Hopefully, people will latch on to the necessity of reforming government spending.
  • The speech touched on a lot of topics that were expected, but a pleasant development of the speech was the idea of an independent TEA Party that does not necessarily propose candidates. I think the watchdog model of the movement should be emphasized. Keep the fire under the feet of both parties so that positive change will be demanded of Congress.
  • The Beltway is strongly against a Sarah Palin Presidency, but middle America is strongly considering it.
  • Simplicity can be a beautiful thing. Just imagine a booklet instead of a novel for a budget.
  • During the Q & A session, Sarah Palin mentioned what she would look for before endorsing a candidate. She gave a “litmus test lite” response that I thought was appropriate for a movement such as the TEA Party. This movement needs to stay focused on a few core principles and not a laundry list of dos and don’ts.

All-in-all, it was a very enjoyable speech, and I hope that the Congress that are snowed in watched and payed attention. Talk about a captive audience.

Where is the Equality?

I have a few serious questions about the government takeover of GM and Chrysler. First, how can a government that owes so much debt to Japan keep objective in its ownership of the US automakers. The push back could go like this:

  1. The transportation secretary tells people to stop driving Toyotas, and the government starts investigating the brakes on the Prius.
  2. People listen to the regulatory chatter coming out of Washington when they are looking for a new car. They end up buying from a car maker other than Toyota.
  3. Japan pushes back on our debt obligations and threatens to stop buying our debt without concessions as a retaliatory measure against the unfair advantage that GM and Chrysler have.

My real objection here is that US meddling in the auto industry could have serious financial ramifications.

Second, as the stakeholder in these companies, the US has a vested interest in how they perform. How then can the public, and investors in banks, Ford, Honda, etc. not recoil at the unfair taxation that is being proposed to prop up the automakers and AIG. Unbelievably, the banks will be taxed, (because that is ok with the public) to pay back the debts of GM, Chrysler, and AIG, which the government benefits from. In the end, the government gets its money and their companies don’t have to pay. What other companies have these amazing benefits?

In the end, if this isn’t corruption it sure smells of it.

The populist outrage over the banks has reached a fevered pitch in recent weeks. While I understand the outrage over bonuses and executive compensation, the banks are not the real problem. The President and Democrats have continually decried the lack of government regulation, but in reality, it is the government itself that is the problem.

Forget about blame, forget about party affiliation, forget about denials to the contrary, the government is the source of the disease that we find ourselves afflicted with. Allow me to explain.

Fannie Mae is a strange compilation of government and corporate elements that purchases and guarantees home mortgages. This process has been going on for a long time. The reason that this presents a problem is that the markets view these GSEs (Government Sponsored Enterprise) as implicitly guaranteed by the United States Government. While they are publicly traded companies, they were created by the government and supervised by a board that includes 5 members appointed by the President of the United States. In addition, at their creation the government allowed itself to purchase securities to a certain limit as a guarantee against default. All these are reasons why the markets trust these companies.

Over time, the executives of Fannie have accumulated mortgage positions that have caused the debt to asset ratios of the company to balloon to ridiculous levels. The banks continued to write mortgages to high-risk mortgagees because they knew that Fannie and Freddie would buy them on the secondary market, thereby reducing the risk for the bank. If the bank does not have to assume the risk, of course they will continue the profitable practice. This government induced mortgage frenzy is responsible for the glut of debt from which our country is desperately trying to keep from drowning. Without reform of these government companies, our market will continue in the death spiral started decades ago.

Yesterday, President Obama spoke to Senate Democrats about their questions and concerns. During the one interesting exchange with Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, President Obama offered a summary of his response to her question. Here is that summary;

So the point I’m making — and Blanche is exactly right — we’ve got to be non-ideological about our approach to these things. We’ve got to make sure that our party understands that, like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning, so we can’t be demonizing every bank out there. We’ve got to be the party of business, small business and large business, because they produce jobs. We’ve got to be in favor of competition and exports and trade. We don’t want to be looking backwards. We can’t just go back to the New Deal and try to grab all the same policies of the 1930s and think somehow they’d work in the 21st century.

I just have a few points on this loaded paragraph. First, what is the deal with “like it or not”? Who would not like a healthy and functioning financial system? Who is the President assuming would not like it?

Second, if we can’t be demonizing every bank out there, why is the President demonizing every bank out there? The bank tax he has proposed, and the populist anger of the State of the Union address belie the fact that he is doing the opposite of what he is suggesting.

Third, the sentence, “So the point I’m making — and Blanche is exactly right — we’ve got to be non-ideological about our approach to these things. We’ve got to make sure that our party understands that, like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning, so we can’t be demonizing every bank out there. We’ve got to be the party of business, small business and large business, because they produce jobs. We’ve got to be in favor of competition and exports and trade. We don’t want to be looking backwards. We can’t just go back to the New Deal and try to grab all the same policies of the 1930s and think somehow they’d work in the 21st century” is not what worries me, because we have survived 80 years in spite of the “Bad Deal”. I am scared, however, of what the 21st century plans are, and how exponentially they will grow our ballooning debt.

I could go on, but as you can see from this brief excerpt, our President is looking every bit the radical that we thought he was two years ago.