Watch the video below and listen to Steven Pearlstein argue that Charles and David Koch are too ideologically driven to own a newspaper. His concern is that their ideology will cause them to influence the reporting of news at the eight affiliated newspapers of the Tribune Company if they succeed at buying the media conglomerate.
You can read Pearlstein's article that is the topic of the video discussion here, where he encourages the writers and editors and other staff of the LA Times (and also the other seven affiliated Tribune newspapers) to threaten to quit en masse if the hedge funds and asset management companies that currently own the Tribune Company agree to sell it to the Kochs. In doing so, his theory goes, the Kochs will be deterred from even making an offer and the world will be spared these two undeserving potential newspaper owners having a venue to espouse their ideological drivel.
Now, I don't know if the Koch brothers are too ideologically driven to own a newspaper or not. I do know that many, many writers have complained that the Kochs have too much influence in higher education, with all that money they donate to universities, including George Mason University. Oh, and by the way, GMU just happens to be the university where Steven Pearlstein teaches.
If Pearlstein is truly concerned about the ideological influence of the Kochs on news reporting should they succeed in buying the Tribune Company, then certainly he must be equally concerned—even moreso from my perspective—about their undue influence on the faculty and administration at universities that accept their money and what is taught at these universities. If so, if any university accepts Koch money, including GMU, doesn't Pearlstein's principle dictate that the faculty and adminstrators at these universities should quit (preferrably en-masse) in order to preserve ideological independence and purity. I truly believe Pearlstein to be a man of noble character who holds fast to his principles, so shouldn't he abide by that same advice he offered to reporters, photographers, editors and other staff at newspapers?
The Post's Charles Lane has an interesting story of how AFSCME lobbied for, and won, passage of the "Correctional Officer's Bill of Rights," which greatly hindered disciplining rogue corrections officers. The results were not unpredictable.
Advertised as much-needed procedural protection against unfair accusations of brutality, COBR established elaborate rules — including a guaranteed appeal hearing in front of a three-member board of fellow officers — for correctional officers suspected of wrongdoing. The bill says that prison managers can’t even “threaten” prosecution, transfer, dismissal or disciplinary action during questioning.
It passed the House of Delegates unanimously and the Senate 44 to 2. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signed it into law on May 4, 2010.
In the union’s view, prison administrators had “pulled the trigger too quickly” on discipline in the past, as AFSCME spokesman Jeff Pittman put it.
But according to an FBI special agent’s affidavit attached to the Baltimore indictment, COBR has all but disarmed managers at the Baltimore jail. Discipline “has proven to be very difficult,” the agent wrote, and “the internal review process set up by COBR is ineffective as a deterrent to [correctional officers] smuggling contraband or getting sexually involved with BGF gang members.”
. . . and Stephen Colbert is the only one of the eight that is neither a foundation or the former president's daughter Chelsea.
That's definitely going to get to his head.
It is amazing how cheaply Apple is able to borrow money. Its 10-year bonds issued this week yielded 2.415 percent at a time 10-year U.S. Treasury yielded 1.61 percent. Apple 30-year bonds yielded 3.883 percent, while 30-year Treasuries were at 2.811 percent.
Investors are willing to lend Apple money for three decades for only about a percentage point more in interest than if they lent the same money to the U.S. government.
Well, because the Fed is so busy buying up U.S. government debt and mortgage-backed securities, investors are being squeezed out of these markets and are willing to invest in corporate bonds. That sounds great in that this should spur increased investment, therefore creating jobs and improving economic growth. Or so the story goes.
But for the economy to take off, businesses need to take advantage of those low rates to invest—to invent new products, build new factories, hire new workers. Instead, what Apple is doing is all too typical. It is taking advantage of low rates to funnel money to shareholders in a bit of financial engineering, rather than triggering new investment. And as such, it is a powerful reminder of the limited ability of the Fed’s bond buying to create rip-roaring growth.
Ben Bernanke will turn out to be the greatest genius ever to run the Fed, or its biggest putz. Time will tell.
Remember, in politics there's the stupid party and there's the evil party. Sometimes they join together and do something that is both stupid and evil—we call it bipartisanship.
It's the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt.
Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there's a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.
"If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way," Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army's chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.
Of course, the jobs argument has to come into play here:
Pete Keating, a General Dynamics spokesman, said the money from Congress is allowing for a stable base of production for the Army, which receives about four tanks a month. With the line open, Lima also can fill international orders, bringing more work to Lima and preserving American jobs, he said.
Hmmm?!? Let's ignore opportunity cost, which is the true cost of government. That $436 million could indeed be spent elsewhere, possibly improving social welfare far more than it is by spending it on tanks. Yes, politics gets in the way, which is all the more reason to limit what we do through the political process. If this type of waste prevails in what most people would truly characterize as legitimate functions of government, there's no telling how much waste is encountered in those areas in which government is hardly likely to create any true social value.
But his faith in government combines with a scanty appreciation of the creative and disciplining powers of markets to render his case for active regulation, whether imposed through nudges or commands, less than persuasive. The pages of "Simpler" bubble over with examples of adults' weak capacity to choose wisely, which, in Mr. Sunstein's view, calls for more expansive government.
The author boasts, for example, that "to save consumers money, we required refrigerators, small motors, and clothes washers to be more energy-efficient." Apparently producers are too benighted to compete for customers by offering such money-saving products. And consumers are too distracted by their own weaknesses to choose such offerings. Similarly, Mr. Sunstein believes that huge numbers of people really want to be organ donors but are prevented from agreeing to donate their organs simply by inertia.
I am reminded of this great quote by Adam Smith from An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
What is the species of domestic industry which his capital can employ, and of which the produce is likely to be of the greatest value, every individual, it is evident, can, in his local situation, judge much better than any statesman or lawgiver can do for him. The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted to no council and senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous in the hands of man who fave folly and presumption enough to fancy himself to exercise it.
Anyone who has worked in a political position in Washington has had ample experience with great frustration. Almost everyone in U.S. politics feels that much is essential yet infeasible in the current environment. Many yearn for a return to an imagined era when centrists in both parties negotiated bipartisan compromises that moved the country forward. Yet fears about the functioning of the federal government have been a recurring feature of the political landscape since Patrick Henry’s assertion in 1788 that the spirit of the revolution had been lost.
Although we always bemoan bureaucracy, it has its purposes. With regards to government, rapid and inconsistent fluctuations create too much uncertainty, making life worse, not better. In addition, I believe the worst legislation is passed under the guise of bipartisanship, a common response to crisis (PDF).
Stephen Colbert interviews libertarian and Reason.com's editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie on efforts to legalize marijuana use. At about the 3:50 mark Colbert comments (yes, in jest):
If we stop making it illegal, what happens to our private prison industry? Because those prisons are filled with pot users and those are good incarceration jobs.
Enough to make a good Keynesian proud.
At the end of the last Harry Potter series of movies (and the book), Harry finds himself in possession of the Elder Wand. After Ron Weasley makes some reference to Harry now being invincible since he possesses the wand, Harry breaks it and throws it off the bridge. (In the book, Harry returns the Elder Wand to Dumbledore's tomb.)
If you found yourself in possession (and in control) of the Elder Wand, knowing that it could be taken by someone else in the future who had nefarious intent, regardless of your intent, given the power the holder of the wand possesses, would you, too, break the wand?