URLs du Doom and Gloom

2008-09-30

Lots of hand-wringing and finger-pointing out there today, after the failure of the House to pass the bailout bill. Certainly all the doomsayers might be right, but I'm more persuaded by folks like Iain Murray:

There are all sorts of people today who normally talk about free markets but who have got themselves into a tizzy over the failed bailout. We need to get one thing straight - the bailout was the wrong answer to the wrong question.
Also commenting in the same vein: Kip Esquire (with lots of links and pithy quotes); Michelle Malkin; Harvard econ prof Jeffrey Miron; Steve Chapman; Mark Levin.

Relevant points, summarized from the above, adding some of my own:

  • The bailout was designed by people who either (a) didn't see the crisis coming, or (b) had an active role in causing it.

  • Those same people predicted a 30% drop in the stock market unless their panic-driven emergency plans were enacted posthaste. As bad as things were, that didn't happen, casting further doubt on their powers of accurate prediction and competence.

  • Those same people also have a vested interest in promulgating the myth that the government is able to step in and "rescue" markets that are too stupid to properly value their assets. (Cue the Mighty Mouse theme: Here I come, to save the day! I understand Barney Frank sings that in front of the mirror every morning.)

  • But in fact, the government has only one relevant super-power not possessed by the market: the power to coerce, including the ability to demand tax dollars to fund its schemes, and debauch the currency.

  • There is zero, nil, nada, reason to expect they'll do that wisely. There's no incentive for them to do so. The political incentives dominate:

    • evade (probably deserved) blame;

    • be perceived as "doing something" (even if it's pointless or counterproductive);

    • take (probably undeserved) credit for whatever things go well;

    • exchange goodies and perks with well-connected friends.

  • Market corrections are painful, but sometimes necessary. That's almost certainly the case here. Government action might delay them, but that just pushes the pain down the road and makes it bigger.

I'm kind of a free-market ideologue, more than a little cynical, so discount the above as you feel appropriate.

Street Kings

[Amazon Link] [2.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

Right at the beginning of this movie, we get the feeling that Keanu Reeves is playing a troubled, sensitive soul. He looks at himself despondently in the washroom mirror. He barfs into the toilet. He picks himself up a bunch of those handy airline-size vodka bottles, and starts nipping away behind the wheel.

I'm not often hugely sensitive to subtle personality clues in movies, but somehow I picked up on this right away.

Anyway, Keanu plays police detective Tom Ludlow, who is part of a covert team that administers rough vigilante justice to evildoers. That sort of thing is technically illegal, and in any case never works out well. Pretty soon, his estranged ex-partner winds up dead of extreme lead poisoning, and Tom gets caught up in the investigation.

Good actors Hugh Laurie and Forest Whitaker appear as Keanu's fellow cops. (Laurie keeps his House accent, but not his limp.) There's a lot of violence and the dialog is testosterone-soaked, and it kept me playing along right to the end, even though its who-can-you-trust conspiricism doesn't rise to even semi-plausibility. The guy who wrote this doesn't like cops very much.


Last Modified 2012-10-10 3:37 PM EST