Saturday, February 14, 2009

Congress Passes Obama's "Stimulus Bill," and Prepares to Dump Another $1 Trillion (More or Less) Into the National Money Hole

Added bonus: Sage words of warning about socialism... from somebody who knows a little something about the subject

Well, it's signed, sealed and delivered. Our Democratic Party president has now rammed his "very important" $787 billion economic stimulus bill through both houses of congress; and it awaits the president's signature as we're typing this. This "historic" bill was likewise so important to congressional Democrats too, that nobody in the legislature was given a chance to take even a day or two to read it. And this is just the "beginning," Obama says:
President Barack Obama, savoring his first major victory in Congress, said Saturday that newly passed $787 billion economic stimulus legislation marks a "major milestone on our road to recovery."
Speaking in his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said, "I will sign this legislation into law shortly, and we'll begin making the immediate investments necessary to put people back to work doing the work America needs done."
At the same time, he cautioned, "This historic step won't be the end of what we do to turn our economy around, but rather the beginning.
We don't know about the rest of our readers, but we do have a painful recollection of the last notable congressional bill that was rammed through congress and signed into law "sight unseen." From our point of view as lovers of the U.S. Constitution, we don't believe that one worked out so well at all.

And while we'd "prefer to think" that our congressional Democrats have at least some slight clue what they're doing, we confess we're not at all convinced of that. Troublingly, it appears to us it's the same lame approach that's repeatedly failed in the past.

But what do we know? We're just the lumpentaxpayers, the ones whose only role in this game will be to pick up the tab for this latest crass display of Big Government Largesse.

And while we're on the subject of randomly dumping a possible $3.7 trillion into the giant money hole, and as we launch headlong into the biggest experiment in American Socialism ever, we thought we'd segue into some choice recent comments by ex-KGB Chief and current Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin, a worldly fellow who knows more than a little bit about socialism:
Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin has said the US should take a lesson from the pages of Russian history and not exercise “excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state’s omnipotence”.
“In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state’s role absolute,” Putin said during a speech at the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated.”
Sounding more like Barry Goldwater than the former head of the KGB, Putin said, “Nor should we turn a blind eye to the fact that the spirit of free enterprise, including the principle of personal responsibility of businesspeople, investors, and shareholders for their decisions, is being eroded in the last few months. There is no reason to believe that we can achieve better results by shifting responsibility onto the state.”
Keep your fingers crossed gentle readers... and hold on to your wallets. The Democrats who now stand at the helm of our national "ship of state" are merely "sailing out of the harbor" here.

So what say our readers about all this, this wintry Saturday afternoon? Lodge your comments on this topic, or consider this an open topic thread. We don't care what you say... just say something.

21 comments:

Gerry said...

Good one Rudi. I hear the phrase "What's wrong with socialism?" more and more often these days. Putin's comments ought to put everyone on notice, that in the long run, socialist solutions DO NOT WORK. Thanks for the article, and especially the Putin quote.

bullet sponge said...

It's a question of socialism vs regulation. The markets cannot be completely left to police themselves, but a giant government program is even worse. The government's job is to oversee the country and act as a framework within which free markets work, not dictate every decision and own the market.

We don't need socialized health care, state-owned banks, etc. We need private institutions that are made to adhere to tighter regulations that stop abuses.

Dorothy Littrell said...

President Obama came into office promising no more government as usual.

He then promptly surrounded himself in his cabinet with all the "has-beens" of past Democrat presidencies.

I hope that everyone of you saw the documentary on CNBC Thursday night, "House of Cards", done by David Faber, which traced how the beginning of the housing debacle began 10 years ago.

He interviewed several mortgage brokers to present their version of their side of the disaster and he also interviewed several home owners who acknowledged the greed on their side.

The picture emerged very quickly of home owners who used the inflation in their homes to live on credit cards for years by refinancing their homes every year.

The whole financial mess was caused by greed -- Greed by homeowners who wanted houses they could not afford.

Greed by the sales people who sold the houses. Greed by uninformed and unsupervised sales people who sold the Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) mortgages all over the world -

Greed by the banks that used volume with no supervision to make millions off the sales of homes to non-qualified buyers.

Greed by the three rating companies who graded the mortgages and bonds, Standard and Poors, Fitch's and Moodys, with triple AAA ratings so that mortgage packages could be sold all over the world. Only the rating was done deliberately without proper investigation of the creditworthiness of the security.

These 3 agencies have ruined the credit rating of the United States with what they did. The top people should go to the pen for what was done.

U.S. securities with an AAA triple rating have been sold all over the world because the AAA triple rating means they are first class securities.

Alan Greenspan was interviewed several times in the film. Greenspan acknowledged that he didn't understand what was going on and couldn't do anything about it any way which is a crock of garbage. He didn't even try to find out what was going on.

The Secretary of the Treasury wasn't asking any questions because he was part of the mentality that was saying that housing prices could never come down.

The logarithms that were used to price the stuff were based on the premise of there never being a decrease in prices which any mathematician worth their salt knows is a lie.

The only one asking questions was Lyle Bass of the Bass Brothers group out of Texas. No one at Bear Stearns was paying attention to his
questions so he started his own hedge fund to short the housing bubble and made billions.

So now to ask the American taxpayers to bail out this bunch of greedy yayhoos who have caused this disaster is a little much for me to swallow.

Why isn't the government going after some of the people that knowingly violated the law and who made their own billions out of this and recover some of those billions that they earned?

This thing of wanting us to do something for the poor homeowners is a lot to swallow. They helped create the mess.

The concept that every person in the U.S. is entitled to own a home is simply unworkable for anyone who understands economics and free enterprise.

I hope this is a wakeup call for those of our government officials who think the rest of us can furnish a lifestyle comparable to what we have worked years to attain for those citizens who have not reached that lifestyle by their own efforts. We cannot furnish equal housing for all. Nor equal anything for all.
It comes only through individual effort.

RJ Svengali said...

We have watched with glee as the house of cards collapsed.

We planned it this way. Really.

Note to the running scared: no money was lost. No fortunes erased. 99.9 % of oomans just received that which they had actually worked for.
As is right and just.

How long did Americans think they could ride around on couches on wheels, flipping houses for a living, socializing individual character out of existence, feeding fat asses, while half the planet starves?

It is in our long term plans for the global economy to collapse.
We called it in 1983:

"We will see the global economy collapse before we repay these student loans".

Also, in 1987:

"...since stuff is only worth what people believe it is worth, with the exception of water, we will forgo owning stuff, except that which pleases our senses to the point of distraction. We will purchase experiences and hand made items, owning no mass produced goods. When one day the house of cards collapses as it surely must, we will still have our experiences, and water, whilst others will have a lifetime working their bodies into dust, for a house full of cheap plastic crap. By this way shall we live, selling no one our time, doing what we will every day."

We hope that our current administration succeeds with their agenda.
It could not be better for us.
It will create a world of less humans, a real economy, rugged selves reliance, and total Laissez-Faire capitalism.

Once you get past the couple of dozen smoking craters, it is all good.
In a long term historical perspective meaning of "good".

We love this town.

Harpo said...

Strange that so many hard core anti-socialists on this website have fought so hard against the mayor's attempt to privatize the city's socialized golf course. Why aren't you with the mayor on this one????

RudiZink said...

Harpo: "Why aren't you with the mayor on this one????

Okay. I'll bite, Harpo. Which "one" are you referring to? When did Boss Godfrey EVER reveal a plan to privatize the city's "socialized" golf course? Granted, he's floated a couple of trial balloons recently, which seem to presage $8-10 million in proposed public subsidies. And there was that whole "Peterson Plan" fiasco, which never really amounted to anything more than a vague "concept," yet had at its apparent core the prospect of the "selling" of tens of millions of dollars worth of public lands to one of Godfrey's cronies, for pennies on the dollar, and building a publicly-financed "flatland gondola" to feed Peterson's pipedream Malan's Basin "development" All of these concepts are of course facially objectionable, as gross breaches of public fiduciary principles.

So enlighten us. When did Godfrey actually propose a formal plan? We've been watching fairly attentively these past four years. If Godfrey had ever offered such a plan, it seems to us that we'd remember it.

Give us a little help on this, Harpo.

disgusted said...

ridi hope you get your explaination from harpo. could be fun to read.

but back on the topic of the article. seems to me that obamas bale out program and the rest of washington just want to return things back to the way they were a year ago rather than addressing the real problem which imho is the american population and businesses living beyond their means by the use of financial leverage. rather than addressing the heart of the problem the politicians want to take the easy route and avoid the needed tough actions. this country is not really producing much of anything any more other than being the consumers for what the rest of the world produces. at some point the rest of the world is going to stop taking our fiat currency. when that happens we are not going to have the ability to just throwing more us dollars at the problem. we as a nation are going to be asked to provide something of actual value for the rest of the worlds goods. until washington realizes that this day is coming and we start producting something of value we are just kidding ourselves and the fall is going to be that much greater.
the stimulus package is simply meant to turn the clock back 12 to 18 months and not meant to move us into the new reality of the future.

Harp said...

Please read posts more carefully. I did not write that the Mayor had a plan, put forth a plan, proposed a formal plan. I wrote that he has been attempting to privatize the golf course.
Whether he had a "plan" or not, all along his argument has been that the city owned - read socialist - golf course should be sold off. You complain that he has floated trial balloons about selling off public - read socialist - lands for pennies on the dollar to his cronies. Ok, that might not be the free market at work. What he ought to do, and what you ought to be encouraging him to do based on these posts is to sell off these socialist lands to the highest bidder. My point is what appears to be a lack of consistency on the part of you hard core free market types. You seem to have no problem with socialism when it comes to golf courses, public lands, and so forth. So please enlighten me: when is socialism ok? And just so we can avoid a terminology back-and-forth I consider socialism to be governmental ownership and control. Hence public schools, roads, water service, parks, golf courses ... you name it. All socialized.

RudiZink said...

Ahem, Harpo.

Your latest: "I wrote that he has been attempting to privatize the golf course."

Here's the question you originally proposed: "Why aren't you with the mayor on this one?

Which one, Harpo? I'm not aware of any actual attempt on Godfrey's part to "privatize" the golf course, although I'll concede that he's "mentioned it," although only in the vaguest of fashions.

In the absense of some concrete and detailed plan, scheme, proposal, concept, etc. (call it whatever you like)... something that can be clearly articulated as a mayoral plan of action, how can you expect a serious response to your question? How can we all get aboard something which hasn't yet been articulated?

Having a conversation with the average Godfreyite is akin eating jello with a fork, I swear, Harpo.

Enlighten us on the complete details of the mayor's "attempt," and then come back and try us on again.

Surely the mayor's putative "attempt" is coupled with a concrete plan?

It is... Right?

Let's properly resolve the answer to your first question, before we move on to the next.

bullet sponge said...

Harpo... There is something liberals and conservatives can agree on and we do on this site. That is that the Mayor is a crooked weasel. Opposing his plans has nothing to do with being socialist and everything to do with being decent and looking out for Ogden.

As for his plans, hiring a string of corrupt and incompetent developers is not my kind of privatization.

Now that I've once again allied myselves with Democrats on this site, if you'll excuse me I need to go shower. ;)

harpo said...

For the record, I not only voted for Van Hooser, Wicks and Gochnour in the last city-wide election, I contributed to each of their campaigns.
My mistake for attempting to get at a larger point by bringing the mayor into it.
Here is a straightforward question for you Rudi. Leaving the mayor and what he would or wouldn't like to do out of it, are you in favor of the city government owning and operating a golf course? If so, please explain to me (because I really would like to know) when do you think socialism is ok?
Bullett sponge, I appreciate your response. But I am sorry you felt the need to shower after it.

Bill C. said...

Harpo, if you'll look around a bit you'll find that Utah is shining example of how socialism works, with some capiptolistic free enterprize as a kicker. Who, I ask, is by far the most significant employer? Government. This is using your definition of socialism. And to pose the question back to you, we have just witnessed what happens when we tried to encorporate free market systems into our military, Blackwater, Haliburton, and many other buddies of Cheney and Rumsfeld.
But more to the point, there is no perfect example of free enterprize void of any socialistic undertones in exsistence. So what's your point, anything approached for the good of the people is bad when someone stands to make a buck on providing the service and profitting themselves? Does this apply to soccor, softball and all other traditional forms of recreation?
It's safe to say that these activities would disappear or be greatly reduced, I won't seek your take on public parks, there would be none.

Harpo said...

Bill,
I'm in agreement with you.
My point is simply this - actually it is more of an inquiry. I often hear self-professed opponents of socialism rail on and on about how we can't have government involvement in health-care, or government subsidized industries, etc. etc. I simply want to know if they accept socialism in other aspects of our lives. And if they do, why is it that socialism is only bad when it comes to certain economic ventures.
I myself am all in favor of city owned golf courses and parks. I just find it interesting that when it comes to something like health insurance or medicine or unemployment we call government involvement socialism. But when it comes to education, parks, roads, and so on, we don't. That's all.

RudiZink said...

Harpo: "...are you in favor of the city government owning and operating a golf course?

Here's my take Harpo, which is my take alone, and isn't intended to represent the opinion of any other poster on this board.

We have to play the cards we're holding now, and at this juncture we (the citizens of Ogden) are owners of a valuable piece of east bench property which a previous generation developed, in part, as a municipal golf course. Obsessing over whether building a golf course was a good idea in the first place is a question we can know longer address. It's past history; and we must deal in the present.

In my own opinion, this real estate asset sould be managed and stewarded prudently, just like any other asset in the city's portfolio. We should attempt to obtain the greatest return on capital possible, by continuing to operate it according to its present use. This means we should maximize its potential for income, promote it to the extent prudently possible, and even advance such monies as are necessary to prevent deterioration and asset waste. This doesn't mean however that we should commit millions more dollars for a makeover.

Nor should we auction it off to the highest bidder, or sell it to the first prospective buyer who walks in the door with a low-ball offer.

And I believe Bill C. is entirely correct in his above comment, when he says, "...there is no perfect example of free enterprize void of any socialistic undertones in exsistence." There truly is no bright line which can be drawn between public spending (or asset ownership) which represents the consual agreement of the citizenry to pool their resources for projects which contribute to the general benefit of the community, (consensual and traditional public "goods" such as schools, roads and public safety) and those which represent the random plunder by government of one segment of the citizenry for the benefit other citizens, (which is the "evil" we fear in "socialism" in the first place.)

As for expanding and redesigning the golf course, at the cost of more millions in taxpayer funds, for my own part I'll say its a terribly bad idea from a business standpoint, and offensive from my "anti-socialist" philosophical perspective as well. If a well-heeled buyer steps up at some time to make a fair offer, we should consider it, just as any other prudent property owner would do. Nevertheless, The Mount Ogden Golf Course is a valuable property, as I said... and definitely not a hot potato which needs to be unloaded at a fire-sale price simply because it conflicts with a tenet of our "ivory tower" philosphy.

latecomer Sam said...

I am just getting around to catching up on this Forum.

It is now February 15th at 5:10 p.m.

Please turn on your television set tonight or tomorrow night to catch the "House of Cards" documentary which shows tonight on CNBC at 7:00 P.M.

It wil show again tomorrow night at 6:00 P.M. and again at 10:00 P.M.

I think you will become better informed about our financial crisis as Dorthy indicated that she was by watching it. I know I am going to watch it again to make sure I didn't dream the whole thing as a nightmare.

For that matter, I saw it on Thursday and I was fascinated by the true story of corruption and greed which the U.S. government officials completely ignored for 10 years.

How do you think our government supervision of the Trillion Dollar Bailouts will be compared to the House of Cards debacle??????

I will bet money that it will incur greed and mismanagement like we have never seen before just due to the size of the handout.

Anybody wanna start a pot? I'm game for a bet.

RudiZink said...

Thanks for the heads up, LS. Here's a preview clip from the CNBC website:

House of Cards Preview

disgusted said...

rudi,

i agreed with everything you said above with the exception that “if a well-heeled buyer steps up at some time to make a fair offer, we should consider it”.

i dont play tennis but i like having the courts available and i dont play soccer anymore but i like having the fields available for those in the community that do or who have children that do. i do play golf occasionally but not as much as i would like but its nice to have a course available in addition to the aesthetics value that the open space provides to the community. not everything should be about the value of the property in some other application nor should its sole value be the reason for its transition to a higher valued use. in this case of the golf course it adds value to the area around the course and for that matter to the whole community and its absence may negatively effect the surrounding property. if the course were converted say to townhomes who is to say that it may not adversely effect the values of the surrounding properties in such a way that the net value of the whole area to the community is less than it is today.

imho what makes any community a desirable place to live is relative to what amenities and what lifestyles the residents in the community value or stated another way people gravitate to a certain community for the lifestyle that it provides. ogden residents value these assets and view these assets as adding value and desirability to the community and their lifestyle. not that its the only reason people live in ogden or near the course but its a lifestyle that attract people to live in one community as opposed to another community.

ogden is not alone when it comes to communities that offer golf as a recreational amenity. part of the reason is because its a lifestyle issue. but like you i dont think we need to fund a major expenditure to make the course a world class resort type of facility. i too do not think that it would be cost effective as do people outside the administration that have much more knowledge about the subject than he does. we as a community would be better served by modest improvements and better management. a course that is so to speak sized to our community.

Rafiki said...

I also like the library (socialism) and I like the parkway by the river (socialism). I live here for the access to trail system (socialism) and I love all the "public" land that surrounds us (socialism).

When was the last time a "Private" owner decided to allow all the public to use "his/her" land. Oh ya that doesn't happen. e.g. if I'm not mistaken - some of the best rock climbing in Ogden (which is located in warm water canyon) - is on private land. Ya I've never even seen the rock (Capitalism).

Norman Thomas said...

Some of us are old enough to remember Norman Thomas. We thought him a wild
radical with strange, un-American ideas, but it appears he may have also been
a prophet.

A PROPHETIC 1944
SPEECH

Norman Mattoon Thomas (November 20, 1884 - December
19, 1968 and some of us are old enough to remember him running for
President) was a leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time
presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.

Norman Thomas said this in a 1944 speech:

"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of "liberalism," they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened." He went on to say: "I no longer need to run as a Presidential Candidate for the Socialist Party. The Democratic Party has adopted our platform."

harpo said...

Rudi,
I agree - you play the cards you are holding. And I also agree that the Mt Ogden golf course is a valuable asset.
I guess my main point of contention is with the following distinction:
projects which contribute to the general benefit of the community, (consensual and traditional public "goods" such as schools, roads and public safety) and those which represent the random plunder by government of one segment of the citizenry for the benefit other citizens, (which is the "evil" we fear in "socialism" in the first place.)
While you did say that there is no bright line which differentiates the two, arguments can be made that each of the items you listed as contributing to the general benefit of the community could also be said to represent plunder by the government to force one part of the citizenry to benefit another part. Also, "traditional public goods," of course have not always been traditional. Many used to be governed by the free market.
Anyway, I enjoyed reading your response and the comments that have followed.

Bill C. said...

Harpo, glad to hear that you're in our camp. I get alittle touchy when our golf course gets brought up, it's a jewel.
I've worked long and hard over the last few years trying to create solid alliances to stand up for our course, and some actually seem to be to be an odd fit, but they're with us. I get edgy when folks are challenged in their support, that's all.
If you eliminate the funny accounting, you'll find that in the worst of years the course has cost us less than the stupid totally censored mayor's call in show, where he won't field live caller questions. I'm sure the time is near to rally the troups against whatever insane propositions arise from the skippers' pre-ordained negativity campain championed by of course, lying little matty.
Why, given all that's screwed up under these current conditions he's still agressively going after the course is beyond me. But this is the idiot that publicly and officially proposed just letting the property go to seed, what an idiot.

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