In case you’re too happy and need a downer for this weekend, here are some political and fiscal notes. I drew the inspiration for doing another of these from this post.
– Newsflash: we don’t know where government dollars go. Hank Paulson promised us that it would be meticulously followed and one of Obama’s campaign themes was transparency. Obviously, this has turned out to be totally different than anyone with a modicum of knowledge of public choice theory could ever have guessed…
– Remember that whole thing about Barack Obama not signing up lobbyists? Yeah, uh, just forget that one… That was probably just some rapscallion messing with his teleprompter.
– There is a Corner conversation going on about modern bills of attainder. These guys are right: this is the kind of stuff that goes on in banana republics, not lands run by the rule of law. Ratchet down your expectations, business owners.
– Also ratchet down the next set of Freedom House index figures. We’re in for some global pain, because stupid just keeps getting elected. [Well, to be fair, poor incentives lead to poor decisions.]
– Lots of stuff on AIG, too. Nancy Pelosi’s got no idea how the Porkulus conference committee slipped in AIG bonus money, blaming it on the Senate and White House. Arnold Kling, meanwhile, has what may be the real problem: AIG appears to have been used as a way of getting money to firms that cheated regulations. Score that Arnold Kling, 384; politicians, 7. Also note this Scrappleface satire of the whole situation.
– In case you were afraid the nonexistent-American community would be underrepresented in the next census, don’t worry—ACORN’s on the job.
– Megan McArdle criticizes Republicans for going after Obama nominees. There are two problems with her argument. The first is that Republicans aren’t the ones tanking them (as several commenters point out), and the second is that we’re talking about serious issues here, like, say, tax fraud. If McArdle wants Obama to get sanctimonious about his nominees, maybe he should start nominating ones who aren’t corrupt. Like Richard Holbrooke! Oh, wait… [P.S. – He still would have been a better Secretary of State than Hillary. But seriously, aren’t there _any_ Democrats who aren’t corrupt and Barack Obama knows? Well, okay, he is from Chicago, after all…]
– I still like Megan McArdle, though, even if I do think she’s totally off-base on the above issue. Here’s her on “shovel-ready” projects, noting that, like any government project, “shovel-ready” actually means “ready to shovel money into the furnace.”
– How dare Wal-Mart pay bonuses! Don’t they know it’s an economic crisis and the only people whose wages should go up are in Congress? I love CRC’s comment: “When…for God’s sake, WHEN will Wal-Mart finally be unionized so that this madness, cruelty and clear exploitation of its workers can come to an end?!?!”
– Arnold Kling says we should shut down zombie banks now and take the financial hit, rather than having zombie banks plague us over the next several years. I agree and only wish that this had been going on rather than the Hank Paulson Cash Explosion. Bryan Caplan, meanwhile, is surprised that dinosaur Keynesianism is ruling the land, including from Ben Bernanke (who was a pretty good economist until he became Chairman of the Federal Reserve). I’m not as surprised. Dinosaur Keynesianism was economic clothing on political ideas. Politicians wanted reasons to increase spending and regulation, and economists who could give them the cover of plausibility were given favors, the equivalent of tossing your scraps at mangy dogs who do your bidding. Given that we know that the Federal Reserve is owned by government officials, it makes sense for Bernanke to drop his legitimacy and dance for his Congressional and executive masters.
– Robert Gibbs needs a teleprompter. Seriously, Scott McClellan was Frank Sinatra compared to this guy.
– Finally, I end this post with the man who will steal David Brooks’ job.