Commentary

In December alone, 640,000 jobs reportedly disappeared. This number only slightly inflated by all the elves laid off at North Pole Enterprises on the 26 th . There’s a secret reason for these losses, never mentioned in the media. When I was a kid, you got toys if you were a good boy, and only a lump of coal if you were bad . Our politicians have always enjoyed playing at being Santa Claus, but about the middle of 2008, they decided that should be their full-time job. They quickly filled up their sack with $700 billion of gifts and... continue reading
Some associates and I have recently invested capital in forming a new bank. I’m not allowed to give out its name or location here, in this column, as commercial promotion is forbidden thanks to the non-profit status of the publisher – an annoying little oddity, given that I’m writing in defense of capitalism. But, to the point. A Business Week article from Dec. 22 was headlined “This May Be the Ideal Time to Start A Bank.” We agree, or they agree with us. Specific to banking, a start-up with no toxic assets and sufficient capital can borrow cheaply, and can... continue reading
What a difference a year makes. President-elect Barack Obama hasn’t even taken office and we’re experiencing climate change. Not the global warming variety that keeps bypassing the bone-chilling American winter. It’s change in D.C. Obama, who promised a government of “change” unveiled a switcheroo in his Jan. 2 radio address, also available on the Change.gov Web site. Obama is releasing details of his economic recovery plan that includes spending hundreds of billions of dollars. It also entails a major jobs component. “The No. 1 goal of my plan, which is to create 3 million new jobs, more than 80 percent... continue reading
A fellow is ballooning in New Mexico . He miscalculates the wind, somehow floats into a wind-stream that carries him so high he passes out from lack of oxygen, then deposits him out in the middle of the desert. He comes to, disoriented and lost, but cheered by the sight of a passer-by, a hiker. “Hey, where am I?” he asks the stranger. “You are in a basket, sir, way out in the middle of the desert,” the stranger answered. “Say, are you some sort of accountant or investment expert or financial news pundit?” The amazed stranger said, “Actually I’m... continue reading
Christmastime is the time of giving. So we can thank Bernie Madoff for giving Americans some special gifts this holiday season. Yes, I said thank him. OK, maybe not a lot. But the one-time financial wizard’s downfall is a morality tale that provides so many lessons it’s almost impossible to know where to start. If you’ve been living under a rock, the former chairman of the Nasdaq has been charged with securities fraud. Not just ordinary securities fraud, either. Reportedly, Madoff’s sons turned in their father, and who could blame them. He had allegedly confessed to them “that his investment... continue reading
On Sunday, Dec. 14, “Good Morning America” devoted about 10 minutes to a segment about the theft of baby Jesus statues from nativity scenes on church lawns. As they pointed out, these thefts are not a new crime. In fact, once the subject of an entire episode of the original Dragnet television program in 1953. But today, churches are using GPS tracking devices secreted inside their statuary to find the thieves and retrieve their Jesuses. Perhaps we should have installed such tracking devices in the hundreds of billions of dollars we handed out to banks, insurance companies, and assorted Wall... continue reading
News by its very nature is unpredictable. Too bad many journalists don’t seem to understand that fact. Ever since gasoline prices began a wild ride in 2004, the media have been obsessed with predicting future energy prices. Gasoline, we were told, would hit $5 a gallon. Or $6, or $7. Or maybe even $12 or $15. The predictions were consistently wrong. ABC, NBC and CBS, who can seldom get current events correct, are even worse guessing future news. In fact, for most of 2008, network news stories that predicted oil or gas prices were wrong nearly two-thirds of the time... continue reading
A new TV program, loosely swiped from a TV show of long ago, debuts tonight on Fox. As I understand it, in “The Secret Millionaire” we will see millionaires go undercover, work for a week in some poorly paid job and live as the oppressed workers and economically troubled live. The millionaires will find one of the downtrodden they meet especially worthy and, revealing themselves as “secret millionaires,” will whip out their checkbooks and give the deserving individual big bundles of money. It’s sort of a privatized bailout. It’ll be exciting, like Oprah gifting cars. People will cry, just like... continue reading
When the media aren’t talking about the bailout, they’re talking jobs. They should be. Job losses and unemployment are up. A year into what we just heard is an official recession, unemployment hit 6.7 percent. That’s the highest for the Bush presidency. At this rate, it will soon get as bad as it was in 1993 – when Bill Clinton was president. Reporters are leaving out that reality of the “staggering” job losses, as CBS called them. Journalists rarely point out that total unemployment isn’t even as high as it was during Clinton ’s term (and when they do, the... continue reading
Friedrich Hayek wrote of the importance of what he called the rule of law over the rule of man. His point was that in order to be free to act according to our own plans we must know what the rules of the game are, for what reason they are promulgated, under what conditions they will hold, and that these rules are the same for everyone. This is consistent with James Madison’s comments in Federalist #62: “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of our own choice, if the laws be... continue reading