damnum absque injuria

March 13, 2009

Bailouts on the Cheap?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:54 pm

Via Legal Blog Watch, Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine argue that the cheapest (read: free) way to revive the economy would be to abolish copyrights and allow patents only where the applicant can show that (1) his invention has social value, (2) a patent is not likely to block even more valuable innovations and (3) the innovation would not be cost effective without a patent. I’m not sure this would work for patents and copyrights already out there, as revoking an existing patent or copyright without just compensation strikes me as a pretty clear violation of the takings clause, and revoking one with just compensation would be insane. But for future patents and copyrights, why not?

Comments from anyone who isn’t Justin Levine are welcome. Comments from Justin Levine are, too, of course, just as soon as he gets over his “my posts are too good to be tarnished by comments” mentality. Geese, ganders, etc.

February 3, 2009

Read My Lips

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:15 am

No New Deal.

November 7, 2008

Breakdown: Politics and Stock Markets in the Age of Obama

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 12:11 am

Insta and Say ask why the stock market has done so poorly since Obama was elected. Day 1 I chalked up to coincidence, as the market had fared reasonably well on Election Day itself, and surely investors weren’t in Limbaughesque denial about how the election was going to go? But after a second straight day, with no obvious extraneous events to explain, I can’t help but wonder if Tuesday’s rally depended on two types of denial rather than one. Some investors, the Limbaughs of the world, continued to delude themselves into believing McCain would pull an upset even though every single poll in the country indicated otherwise (I too had advocated methodological denial, but the idea behind that was to vote as though McCain might win, not to throw good money at that prospect). The others saw Obama as a reflection of their hopes and the change they need. Sure, they knew he’d run on a far left platform, but they figured that was just his campaign rhetoric. Once the election was over, he’d return to earth and start talking sense instead.

Only he didn’t.

October 19, 2008

Why Obama Means a Return to the Great Depression and the Warren Court

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:45 pm

Last week I offered an excessively pessimistic premortem to the third and final debate. In response, commenter TGirsch accused me of “sour grapes” for suggesting that the presumably inevitable Obama election would lead to an equally inevitable New Depression and a return to the Warren Court. The discussion focused largely on TGirsch’s incorrect use of the phrase “sour grapes” (repeated here) in that while my post was sour indeed, it had absolutely, positively NOTHING to do with grapes. I did promise a substantive response to the depression and Warren Court issues, however, so here it is.

First, the part most readers care about: the New Depression. If anyone had asked me two months ago whether Barack Obama’s policies would lead to anything approaching the Great Depression, I’d have said no way. Of course his quasi-socialist policies are stupid and counterproductive, and of course they’re going to make the economy’s roar a little more muted in good times, and maybe stretch the occasional and inevitable recession just a wee bit in the bad, but the odds of it actually causing a recession where none would otherwise have existed would have seemed remote, and the odds of it causing a full-blown depression would have been unthinkable.

Then the financial industry imploded and the economy got so obviously bad that even Glenn Reynolds no longer asks “Dude, where’s my recession?” I may be a little pessimistic to use the phrase “new depression” right now (note that I began using it three weeks ago, and not in connection with anything having to do with Obama), but I do believe that under the best case scenario, we’re in a worse than average recession, and possibly a mini-depression.

This is where Barack Obama comes in. During the normal cycles, doing nothing pretty well guarantees us a brief recession every 6-8 years, followed by a recovery that no one acknowledges until years after the fact. Politically, whatever party was perceived to be in power (usually the party that did control the Presidency) at the time the recession was first perceived by the masses (almost never the precise time that it actually occurred, if indeed it did occur) gets dinged, and whatever party was perceived to have been in power when everyone thought times were good again gets rewarded. But barring radical change (e.g., the policies Bill Clinton sought in the first two years of his first term, not the relatively modest changes he actually got), the peaks and valleys come and go as they will, and public perceptions aside, who controls what branch of the federal government plays only a very minor role.

But that’s the key: “barring radical change.” Obama’s raison d’être is “change.” And not just any old change, mind you, but specifically changes in the direction of ever more regulation and the downright Marxist goal of “spreading the wealth around” rather than creating and maintaining opportunities to generate wealth anew. If Obama had a remotely centrist record in the past, I might chalk up the hopey-changey talk to empty campaign rhetoric, and harbor a fair amount of hope that once the election was over and he was actually in power, he’d “triangulate” his way into a more palatably boring and centrist approach. But given the radical record he has had on just about every controversial issue there is – not to mention endorsements and memberships in the openly socialist New Party in two past election cycles – I don’t see him operating on the (post-Morris) Clinton model. Rather, I see him adopting FDR’s New Deal as the goal, with similar results. We probably could have afforded Obama four, eight, twelve or even sixteen years ago. I don’t believe we can today.

As to the Supreme Court, Tom does have a decent point on one count: to the extent that the Justices most likely to be replaced in the next four years are the two most liberal ones, the effect of an Obama Presidency on the Supreme Court may be more of the same, rather than a radical shift to the left. With a little luck, this may be the one branch of government where Obama will have to settle for audaciously hoping for change, seeking it at every turn, and concluding in the end that “no, we can’t.” Maybe, but it’s not something I’m willing to bet the Constitution on. Scalia’s up there in the years, too, and too many critical issues hang in the balance. In 2003, the “conservative” Supreme Court upheld McCain-Feingold, the grossly unconstitutional “reform” that may well have guaranteed that neither McCain nor Feingold will ever advance beyond the Senate, by a 5-4 margin. Today’s Supreme Court would likely side with the First Amendment by exactly that same margin, just as it did do this past term on the question of whether or not the First and Third Amendments had anything else lodged in between them – expect a similar split if when the “truth” squads use their Presidency and filibuster-proof Senate to bring back the infamous “Fairness” Doctrine. McCain voted to confirm both justices, which by itself says very little. Obama opposed both, joined an attempted filibuster against one, and sought a filibuster against the other, not because anyone with an IQ above room temperature in Wasilla, AK entertained the slightest doubts as to whether either Roberts or Alito was qualified, but simply because both were deemed too likely to interpret the Constitution to mean what it says rather than what liberals might prefer it to say.

At the risk of sounding like Joe Biden: let me say this again. During Obama’s brief tenure as a U.S. Senator, he has had exactly two opportunities to weigh in on who should sit on the Supreme Court. If Obama had gotten his way either time, the First and Second Amendments as we know them would not exist. Affirmative action? Forget the close cases that nearly struck it down; watch for the new cases that mandate it outright. Forget about Roe v. Wade; once Stevens and Ginsburg are replaced with ideological clones who will remain for decades to come, it’s there forever.

October 9, 2008

A Silver Lining

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:17 am

At least we now we aren’t seeing any more Instaposts with that annoying tag line, “Dude, where’s my recession?” We found it.

Burning Down the House

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:10 am

This video is required viewing for everyone who is thinking of voting next month.

October 8, 2008

On the AIG Junket

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:33 pm

This certainly doesn’t look good politically, but I think there’s less than meets the eye. The infamous junket involved the life insurance companies, which are doing fine, and not the unregulated entities that were the subject of the bailout. Right now, people working for any company with the letters “A.I.G.” in its name could use some morale boosting, albeit maybe not to such extreme levels.

Politically, though, this was just dumb, matched only in dumbness by Obama’s argument that the execs in question should be fired. Perhaps they should be, but the federal government has nothing to say about that.

[Full disclosure: I work for an insurance company that competes with some AIG companies, but not the ones that were the subject of the bailout, and not the ones that were involved in this junket, either.]

UPDATE: AIG weighs in. Apparently, this was not an executive junket at all, but a sales conference to pamper 100 of their top agents, with only 10 AIG employees (and no HQ employees) even attending. If this is correct, then as far as I’m concerned AIG didn’t do anything wrong here. Shame on Henry Waxman, Barack Obama and the MSM for suggesting otherwise, and shame on me for believing them.

September 28, 2008

Financial Insecurity: It’s Not Just for ‘Mercuns Anymore

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 8:04 pm

Two major European banks, Bradford & Bingley and Fortis, teetering on collapse. I blame President Bush, and the European leaders who voted with him 9% of the time.


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