It would be difficult to care less

Since I don’t know anyone who watches the Oscars. Spacebunny likes the red carpet action, but she doesn’t ever watch the actual show. It seems pretty obvious that traditional live-action Hollywood is well along the path already trod by Broadway; a gay ghetto that 98 percent of the men and a large majority of women simply don’t ever think about:

The people who put on the Academy Awards are in a flopsweat panic as the hours tick away before this year’s big broadcast, which is having its major rehearsal and technical run-through today. For weeks now, they’ve been begging me and the other journalists who cover the Oscars not to trash the planning and performances for this year’s telecast like we have in years past. Because their frustration and fear is that, if Sunday’s top-to-bottom reworked show can’t bring back viewers after 2008’s sunk to its lowest ratings ever, then nothing will. And the worst part is that not even Hollywood wants to participate in the Oscars anymore….

One new idea thought up by the producers that will be seen Sunday? Trophy boys. The result is that very handsome young men will now join very beautiful young women on stage carrying out the Oscar statuettes. If that’s not an acknowledgement that viewership for the Academy Awards these days is limited to only females and gays, I don’t know what is.

I concluded very early on that the movie awards were a complete charade when the greatest movie in the history of film-making didn’t win an Oscar for best movie. Since Star Wars was spurned by the Academy voters, I haven’t paid the Academy Awards a speck of notice. Of course, I don’t even watch movies these days; the last one I saw in the theatre was The Return of the King. The next one will be The Hobbit.

The interesting thing is the way that animation, and eventually game-based machinima, are coming to replace the live-action movie. I don’t know about you, but I, for one, tend to think that the inevitable decline in status of the Hollywood actor can’t be anything but a good thing for society.

The comments are hilarious, by the way. Especially those made by California liberals failing to make the connection between labling half the population as mouth-breathing rednecks and the increased unwillingness of American audiences to buy movie tickets. In the immortal words of Chuck D: “Burn, Hollywood, burn!” Or, as one commenter put it: “The best thing that could happen to the USA is that we get nuked in two areas. Hollywood and Washington. They are both full of hypocrites and crooks.”

Throw in New York City and America might actually have a shot at retaining a dominant position in the 21st century too.


EU’s president on the EUSSR

I never thought that I would write favorably of a speech made by the President of the European Union, but Vaclav Klaus’s speech, for all that it falls well short of the much-needed call for an end to the experiment in Continental Communism by stealth, is remarkably intelligent:

We must say openly that the present economic system of the EU is a system of a suppressed market, a system of a permanently strengthening centrally controlled economy. Although history has more than clearly proven that this is a dead end, we find ourselves walking the same path once again. This results in a constant rise in both the extent of government masterminding and constraining of spontaneity of the market processes. In recent months, this trend has been further reinforced by incorrect interpretation of the causes of the present economic and financial crisis, as if it was caused by free market, while in reality it is just the contrary – caused by political manipulation of the market. It is again necessary to point out to the historical experience of our part of Europe and to the lessons we learned from it.

Many of you certainly know the name of the French economist Frederic Bastiat and his famous Petition of the Candlemakers, which has become a well-known and canonical reading, illustrating the absurdity of political interventions in the economy. On 14 November 2008 the European Commission approved a real, not a fictitious Bastiat’s Petition of the Candlemakers, and imposed a 66% tariff on candles imported from China. I would have never believed that a 160-year-old essay could become a reality, but it has happened. An inevitable effect of the extensive implementation of such measures in Europe is economic slowdown, if not a complete halt of economic growth. The only solution is liberalisation and deregulation of the European economy.

And I would never have believed I’d hear a European head of state citing Bastiat with approval. Long live the Czech Republic, sovereign and free! Unfortunately, I think Klaus is far too optimistic in thinking the EU experiment may somehow be salvageable or that secession is not thinkable. It was a trojan horse from the very beginning, a fascist bureaucracy clothed in democratic capitalist slogans.


Temporary measures

Color me dubious in the extreme:

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd said banks may have to be nationalized for “a short time” to help lenders such as Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. survive the worst economic slump in 75 years.

While I understand that the Swedes nationalized their banks for a short time, I haven’t seen any sign that the U.S. government is capable of doing something similar. It seems to me that we are still saddled by a number of “temporary” and “emergency” measures, some of them dating back almost one hundred years. Citi and Bank of America are failed concerns and should be liquidated. $90 billion has already been wasted in attempting to prop up their derivative-ridden corpses; what is the point of wasting even more resources to preserve what are clearly a pair of unviable organizations. And if an institution is supposedly too big to be permitted to fail, isn’t that an indicator that it should be proactively broken up in order to prevent failure in one part taking down the entire institution?

Nationalization won’t work. Throwing more money at the banks won’t work. Given that most people are perfectly capable of understanding when a cancer-ridden patient is inoperable and nothing further can be done, it seems strange that so many them find it hard to grasp that the logic not only applies to medical situations, but economic ones as well.

And if you still don’t believe me about the gravity and scope of the situation, perhaps you’ll believe George Soros and Paul Volcker.


Ron Paul on Bill Maher (Feb 20)

Summary: The 1921 depression ended in a year. The 1929 depression didn’t because the government and monetary authorities chose to intervene. The present depression will last 15 years and the Federal Reserve is responsible for it. End the Empire. Bring the troops home. End the Drug War. Don’t listen to Keynesian economists; they are wrong. Republicans have no credibility because they didn’t practice what they preached. Democrats have made a bad beginning and they will lose their credibility too.

And to think that this is the man that elite, media, and grass-roots Republicans alike rejected in favor of John McCain even as they were plunging into credit-inflated chaos. All I can say is that Republicans richly deserve the contempt in which I and so many other individuals on both the Left and Right hold them.


Open Source economics

This announcement is very cool:

I am pleased to announce that the entire Mises.org website is going open source. We are releasing everything you need to run a complete copy of Mises.org. This includes all the books, all the media, all the journals, all the source code, and the complete database behind mises.org.

This is not a one time release – I have created a public repository so you can get the latest version of everything as soon it hits the site.

Nice to see IP opponents continuing to put their material where their mouths are. And what a fantastic resource! I’d encourage everyone who subscribes to the Austrian school to consider hosting a prominently displayed book or two on their blog. I plan to make a few downloads available here, starting with Thomas C. Taylors’s Introduction to Austrian Economics, and, of course, Murray Rothbard’s America’s Great Depression.


Conspiracy or collapse

Gary North favors the latter thesis:

The senior rulers of the United States — I do not mean politicians — have watched in horror as institutions that had survived since the mid-19th century went down: investment banks. These were banks that did not take deposits from the general public. They pooled large quantities of capital from private, wealthy investors. Within a matter of weeks, that business model collapsed. The investment banks scrambled to restructure their legal operations so as to be defined as commercial banks and therefore become eligible for the federal bailout money. Meanwhile, huge commercial banks almost went bankrupt. They did not go bankrupt only because of government intervention and because larger banks absorbed them. Wachovia went down. Washington Mutual went down. The share prices of the two largest banks in the United States, Bank of America and Citigroup, are still close to penny-share status.

Anyone who does not understand the magnitude of what is taking place is an economic ignoramus. I have plenty of these ignoramuses contacting me, telling me it was all planned by the insiders. The conspiracy has won again! In their worldview, the conspiracy always wins. That is because they believe that the conspiracy has the attributes of God. It is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.

Here is their intellectual problem: they do not believe in the free market. They cannot conceive of a social institution based on voluntarism that can break the backs of government planners and central bankers. They will believe anything but this. They think of themselves as defenders of the free market, but they do not grasp the power of the free market to enforce consumers’ decisions.

The conspiracy of well-placed insiders is now tottering. The whole structure of the national American political system has rested on the solvency of the largest American banks. These banks have all been called into question. They are now gutted.

The thought that commercial-bank insiders actively demolished trillions of dollars of their own equity as part of a conspiratorial plan is so imbecilic, so outrageous, so ludicrous that I am convinced that these conspiracy worshippers have lost whatever remained of their minds.

I’m sympathetic to North’s view here, but one thing that history also teaches is that there is not one massive conspiracy weaving itself throughout the governments of Man. Instead, there are dozens of conspiracies, scores of seen and unseen alliances that merge and diverge according to the momentary circumstances. I have no doubt that the present rulers of the USA are in disarray, but I also have no doubt that there are others who foresaw this situation, perhaps even helped bring it about, and at the very least will attempt to take advantage of it. It’s certainly interesting to see how quiet the global governance lobbyists so noisy back around the turn of the century have fallen….

Of course, it’s becoming increasingly hard for anyone to seriously argue that the principles of continuing globalization are going to bring about a higher standard of living for anyone anymore. Which presumably leaves them with little more than the fake science of global warming to justify continued centralization. Anyhow, I don’t think it’s necessarily the binary situation that Mr. North posits here.


No note, no mortgage

It’s quite interesting to see what was once considered borderline economic conspiracy theory in the New York Times:

Kathy Lovelace lost her job and was about to lose her house, too. But then she made a seemingly simple request of the bank: Show me the original mortgage paperwork.And just like that, the foreclosure proceedings came to a standstill.

Lovelace and other homeowners around the country are managing to stave off foreclosure by employing a strategy that goes to the heart of the whole nationwide mess. During the real estate frenzy of the past decade, mortgages were sold and resold, bundled into securities and peddled to investors. In many cases, the original note signed by the homeowner was lost, stored away in a distant warehouse or destroyed.

No note, no mortgage. And since this isn’t necessarily a foreclosure-related issue, I suspect the mortgage banks may find themselves in even deeper water than anyone suspected. Remember, we should expect to see more and more frauds and scams uncovered as the contraction continues.


Bill Moyers: Fairy Hunter

Somehow, it’s totally unsurprising to learn that of the most despicably sanctimonious members of the liberal media elite was a professional character assassin:

Bill Moyers, a White House aide now best known as a liberal television commentator, is described in the records as seeking information on the sexual preferences of White House staff members.

Moyers is playing forgetful, of course, but it’s obvious from this 2005 Wall Street Journal article that he remembers exactly what he did. Given the surprising number of extant examples, from Robert Byrd’s KKK membership to Bill Moyers’s queer hunting, it’s pretty clear that when white male liberals accuse conservatives of being intolerant, they’re psychologically projecting and inaccurately attributing political opposition to personal issues akin to their own.

It’s delightful to know that the fact that these revelations were made in the Washington Post will not only permanently taint the reputation of the self-proclaimed St. Moyers, especially in PBS-listening circles, but Moyers knows it will. And it’s more than a little ironic that people who make personal judgments based on religion and ideology tend to assume that someone like me, who quite happily worked with an openly gay music label, is intolerant or even hateful, while the man who was paid to hunt out closeted gay men and destroy their careers is a paragon of tolerance.


The Rantmaster sums it up

CNBC’s Rick Santelli explicates the most fundamental problem with Keynesian economics:

At the end of the day, it’s simple. A lot of the president’s advisers are saying that there’s a multiplier effect to the government money, and it’s over one. Now if that’s true, then the government should spend non-stop for the rest of our lives, because we’ll get a positive return. And it makes no sense.

None at all. And do check out his on-air apostasy. It’s got to have a few folks in the White House rattled.


Redneck vs Harvard Business

It’s a bloody massacre, albeit not the way you might assume:

You must understand that the vast majority of the talking heads are Keynesian. That is.. they subscribe the few remaining theories postulated by John Maynard Keynes that have not quite been 100% proven incorrect just yet.

Now the Keynesians describe a recession like this… “demand no longer equals productive capacity because people have started storing up large cash reserves.”

So… recessions are bad… and they are what happens when companies are making stuff that people aren’t buying.. because those bad people have decided to save some of their money. Out of curiousity… Do you remember any massive rash of unified saving among your friends and family recently?

It’s always amusing to me when explaining the different economic theories to non-economists. Almost uniformly, they find themselves aghast at the absence of thereness at the heart of mainstream economic theory. In a delicious and apropos addendum, Nate goes on to kick the quants just for good measure.

[C]an someone explain why we should trust anyone that is off by 800% to even measure inflation.. much less predict it?