Monthly Archives: April 2010

Comment to NPR story: Experts Say Bills Won’t End ‘Too Big To Fail’

Comment to NPR story:  Experts Say Bills Won’t End ‘Too Big To Fail’

I disagree. The new legislation uses higher capital requirements and lower leverage limits to control systemic risk. This is the right approach. It makes the entire financial industry less risky and more insulated from downturns. “Break up the banks” sounds more anti Wall Street and sounds tougher, but remember in the Great Depression 5000 banks failed in the early years. It is no better for 5000 small banks to fail than it is for 10 large banks to collapse. What counts is that all banks are more regulated with stronger restrictions. Canada has superbanks, among the largest in the world, but suffered no financial crisis and required no bailouts. Canada’s banks incurred losses, but they were small compared to resources of the banks, because regulators there expect banks to be better capitalized and they can demand bigger banks, which pose more risk the system, to meet higher requirements than small ones. For a comparison of Geithner’s plans and Canadian approach: https://marcivanseltzer.wordpress.com/2010/01/29/what-can-canada-teach-us-about-banking/

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Comment at NPR Planet Money about the Ugly Comment Trail There

Second comment on:

Experts Say Bills Won’t End ‘Too Big To Fail’

As to the comment trail here, I want to say that I respect the earnest Conservative vision of free-market capitalism and small-government individualism, but those who call President Obama a Socialist or Maoist simply illustrate their lack of education about the historical references they make and undermine the credibility of political arguments for libertarianism and against Progressive or Democratic-party principles. Obama, viewed reasonably, is no different than most Presidents who have attempted to solve problems of their time.

The differences between practical Republican and practical Democratic platforms, on the role of government and its financing, are not so different as they are made out to be in the public debate. There are differences and there are merits to Conservative and Liberal positions, but the key is to learn about the real distinctions and make the best choices among them. Instead, the current anti-Obama hatred is parroted from talking points for partisan political purposes, without getting the analysis, or as I say, even the terms, correct. It’s a shame, because good policy is a mix of Libertarian, Conservative, liberal, bureaucratic ideas put to practical use to meet specific real world challenges. http://wp.me/pm5qY-ig

Stinginess with public dollars

Stinginess with public dollars (comment to US News story April 16, 2010)

I externed for the federal district court judge Harry L. Hupp a few years back. I still remember that when it came time for the annual judicial conference, which took place at the Dana Point Ritz Carleton that year, Judge Hupp disapproved of the extravagance for a government meeting. I do not begrudge such judges anything as they are remarkable high-achievers, accepting far less in salary than they would receive in the private sector, but I will say that his attitude made an impression on me, as does that of Clarence Thomas, reported here.

The public purse is a strange beast, where it is all but impossible for the spenders of it to feel the pain of those who give it through their taxes. It is not just these two judges who exemplify careful stewardship of public funds, but we would be well to have this attitude infect our congressional leaders, rather than the ethic we have now, which is still, The more you bring home the bacon by steering public funds into your district, the more likely you are to get personal support in your re-election campaign.

If Justice Thomas’ ethic were pervasive, the public would feel much better about paying its share of taxes and about the government those taxes fund.

Hate That Obama’s Near the Middle? Think Again

(Photo:  Obama speaking in Europe, where his views are well received and highly regarded)

By Marc Seltzer; originally published on April 13, 2010, at care2.com

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Contrary to all the talk of disenchantment with the state of the nation, there is reason to be optimistic that President Obama is leading the government in exactly the right direction.  While his critics voice disappointment and outrage, calling on Mr. Obama to govern to the left and to the right, President Obama governs by judgment, not ideology.  This will always disappoint ideologues who see the world through conservative or liberal glasses, but do critics have credible political ideas behind them?

At the outset, a few things need to be set straight.  First, the biggest thing President Obama has done since taking office is not health care reform.  (Complete Story)

Our discussion of current issues continues here:

Redefining America:  Constitution and Leadership 2010

Podcast, April 12, 2010 (Click to hear)

With the November congressional elections in mind, we discuss the Democrats’ efforts to regain momentum after the passage of health care reform legislation and Republicans’ attempt to champion a rally against the incumbent majority government.