the post about banking regulation that gets angry for a while and then ends in a big group hug

    I thought Paul Krugman made some good points on the current investment banking situation in today’s “New York Times.” Here’s a clip:

    …Traditional, deposit-taking banks have been regulated since the 1930s, because the experience of the Great Depression showed how bank failures can threaten the whole economy. Supposedly, however, “non-depository” institutions like Bear (Sterns) didn’t have to be regulated, because “market discipline” would ensure that they were run responsibly.

    When push came to shove, however, the Federal Reserve didn’t dare let market discipline run its course. Instead, it rushed to Bear’s rescue, risking billions of taxpayer dollars, because it feared that the collapse of a major financial institution would endanger the financial system as a whole.

    And if financial players like Bear are going to receive the kind of rescue previously limited to deposit-taking banks, the implication seems obvious: they should be regulated like banks, too…

    The Bush administration, however, has spent the last seven years trying to do away with government oversight of the financial industry…

    For example, there was a 2003 photo-op in which officials from multiple agencies used pruning shears and chainsaws to chop up stacks of banking regulations. The occasion symbolized the shared determination of Bush appointees to suspend adult supervision just as the financial industry was starting to run wild…

    Just how fucking long is it going to take for us to put our country back together again, if it’s even possible? 20 years? 50 years? I wouldn’t have thought it possible to so thoroughly bankrupt our nation in 8 short years, but we’ve done it, and we’ve done it on every level — from economic to moral. But, I guess that’s what happens when two branches of government get scared shitless in the face of magnetized yellow ribbons and refuse to do the checking and balancing that they’ve sworn to do. I’m sorry, but I’m pissed off tonight. 4,000 dead Americans in Iraq, countless Iraqi lives ruined, financial collapse at our doorstep, soured international relations on every level, and for what? Higher dividends at Exxon and Haliburton?

    I’ve said it before, but what really eats at me is the fact that it could have played out so much differently. If Gore were in power when the 9/11 attacks had taken place, he could have brought the nation together around an equally ambitious plan, but one that would have put our nation on a path to a better future. He could have taken the global goodwill that was extended to us, and used it to build a real international coalition to strike back at the Taliban and al-Qaeda. He could have taken the willingness to sacrifice for the greater good that all Americans were feeling, and channeled it into energy conservation and community building. Instead of spending billions on a misguided war in Iraq, he could have invested in solar projects here at home, creating hundred of thousands of new jobs in the process, and putting us on the path to energy independence. Instead, we squandered everything on a pitiful grab for what’s left of the earth’s oil. And, as if that weren’t enough, in the process, we abdicated our role as the moral leaders of the free world by disregarding our once sacrosanct constitution and embracing torture.

    So, it’s not just that I detest Bush – it’s that I think about what might have been. That’s the part that really kills me. But, there is hope. Just now, I watched video of high school kids in the South Bronx talking about Barack Obama, and I feel optimistic. In spite of all the shit. Even with all the missteps. I look at these kids talking about how they feel that they can contribute to making our world a better place, and I can’t help but think there’s hope for us yet. We’ve got an unbelievable amount of work to do, but maybe we’ll make it.

    Posted in Observations | 28 Comments

    isolation, longing, and man as unsuccessful octopus

    Because no one else on the internet was going to see the beauty of it and connect these two things in a post, I felt as though I had to. I suspect some won’t share my fascination, but I find them, when looked at together, to be quite beautiful and poetic… I’m imaging the two films playing endlessly on a split screen in a modern art museum… I should have been an artist.

    Posted in Art and Culture | 7 Comments

      why do they call it concentrate?

      I’ve agreed to write a few guest posts for the new Washtenaw County-centric web magazine Concentrate. It’s the most recent spin-off from the Detroit-based Issue Media Group, the folks who produce MetroMode and Model D. As with the other new-media creations jetisoned by the IM mothership, Concentrate will be focused on that sweet spot where economic development and culture collide. And, assuming the logos at the bottom of the page come with pricetags attached, it looks as though folks in government like what they see. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Ann Arbor SPARK, MSHDA, and the Ann Arbor DDA are all represented. I’m somewhat inclined to complain about our precious tax dollars being spent to do something like this, but the truth is that it’s necessary, and the folks at Issue Media are doing a pretty good job… And I’m not just saying that because they’ve said positive things about the Shadow Art Fair in the past.

      Some might complain that it’s too positive. I just read a comment at Arbor Update that said Concentrate has a “Chamber of Commerce for the under-40 set feel,” and there’s something to that. Personally, I’d like a little muckraking. But, maybe that’s coming. They may not be breaking news about the crimes of Kwame Kilpatrick now, but who knows what the future might hold, once advertising reveues start coming in. They may begin hiring reporters and giving the print dinosaurs around here a run for their money. But, for now, I think it’s probably enough just to draw people’s attention to the good things happening in the area, which is what they’re doing. There is, of course, a risk. If people begin to see them as an official propaganda channel, they may stop paying attention. It seems to me, however, that they’ve been able to walk the line pretty well so far. They aren’t saying that things are “Dandy in the D” — they’re just saying that we can learn from the few successes we have. At least that’s my take on it.

      So, they asked me to write for them for a week, and I said, yes. I thought that it would be good to plant the Ypsi flag in the ground right at the outset, before the new site got crawling with Ann Arborites. So, look for some of my stuff to appear there in the next few weeks. I suspect I’ll write about all the usuall stuff, like the Shadow Art Fair, the role of Ypsi in the local ecosystem, our responsibility as John Dingell’s constituents to hold his feet to the fire on global warming, and the importance of supporting local business and agriculture. I may even use the space to sell Ypsipanties, back issues of Crimewave, my comics, and severed unicorn head merchandise…. Oh, and I also plan to use to space to rally support for the rehabilitation of Ypsi’s Freighthouse, and my pedal-powered film series in Riverside Park. If you have other thoughts on what I should cover, leave a comment.

      Posted in Media | 7 Comments

      severed unicorn heads are still for lovers

      The “Severed Unicorn Heads are for Lovers” stickers were so popular, we thought that we’d make a new t-shirt. Ours are cool and really soft, but if you don’t have the $15, you can make one yourself out of fabric scraps and medical waste. Contrary to what our attorneys may have told you, we like it when people make their own severed unicorn head stuff. It’s a lot easier than packing up boxes and lugging them to the post office.

      And I don’t know that medical waste was used to make this shirt. I’m scared to see how t-shirts are made, so I say away. Melissa tells me that they used something called “non-STD discharge ink” to make this one, though. As bad as it sounds, I guess it could be worse. It could be made from a regular old “STD discharge,” like Chlamydia ooze or Gonorrhea slime, the way the rest of our product offerings are.

      Posted in Pop Culture | 6 Comments

      bad moon rising

      Reading today’s post on the Daily Kos about cult leader and stalwart of the Republican party, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, it occurred to me just how fucking lucky he is that Scientology exists. If it weren’t for Scientology, and the whacked out antics of Tom Cruise and his fellow attention-grabbing celebrity cult members, I have to think that, at the very least, we’d be rick-rolling the Unification Church right now. I mean, for cristsakes, the Reverend Moon had himself coronated as king of the world in a U.S. Senate building. That’s got to be worse than being led by men and women in pretend military uniforms, and believing that we’re all carrying around the parasitic, tortured souls of space aliens. According to the following film, Moon even has a team working on a machine that will allow him to communicate with the dead.

      [This is part-2 of a short web documentary on Moon and the Unification Church. Part-1 has been pulled from YouTube, but you can find it here.]

      For those interested, a new book on Moon by John Gorenfeld, entitled “Bad Moon Rising: How Reverend Moon Created the Washington Times, Seduced the Religious Right, and Built an American Kingdom,” is available now. An excerpt can be found here.

      Posted in Other | 5 Comments

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