Cutting taxes is again in vogue in a Washington, D.C., increasingly dismayed by the utter inability of the massive Obama stimulus package to jolt the economy back to life. President Obama himself has become a grudging disciple of the Bush tax cuts, and is now advocating an extension of the tax reductions beyond their expiry at year’s end — but only for Americans earning less than $200,000.
It was news to many when Scott Powell announced that an obscure novel published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged, “may be second to the Bible as the most influential book read in America.” His statement that BB&T, the 12th largest bank in America, which resisted taking TARP bailout funds, requires reading of that same book as part of its management training program astonished many more.
Economist Niall Ferguson of Harvard wrote an article entitled “Complexity and Collapse” for the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs, a publication of the Council on Foreign Relations. Ferguson uses the visual image of a series of paintings by Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire, which currently hangs at the New York Historical Society, to illustrate his point that every society goes through five stages. He says that Cole “beautifully captured a theory of imperial rise and fall to which most people remain in thrall to this day.”
When Kevin Hall, writing for McClatchy Newspapers, said “the Obama administration got what it was looking for at its summit on the future of housing finance,” he was very close to the truth: No matter who spoke at the summit or what “new” ideas might be proposed, nothing would change — the government would remain fully in charge of mortgage financing for the country.
Infowars.com, the website founded by self-described “aggressive constitutionalist” Alex Jones, published an article by former Reagan Treasury Department official and co-author of Reaganomics, Paul Craig Roberts entitled “The Ecstasy of Empire.” With such an alluring title, it is little wonder that the article has attracted a volume of comments. Roberts brings to bear all the entries of his impressive resume in diagnosing the illness afflicting the American body politic, particularly the economic might that is its lifeblood.
Item: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said not long ago that unemployment insurance is “one of the biggest stimuluses [sic] to our economy.” Fox News.com reported on July 1: “Unemployment benefits are creating jobs faster than practically any other program, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday. Talking to reporters, the House speaker was defending a jobless benefits extension against those who say it gives recipients little incentive to work. By her reasoning, those checks are helping give somebody a job.”
When John Stossel of Fox Business Network wrote his recent “Memo to Alan Greenspan” column, he recounted many of Greenspan’s failings while Chairman of the Federal Reserve, including especially Greenspan’s relentless expansion of the money supply and lowering of interest rates that set in motion the housing bubble that burst in 2007.
Most people — except possibly the American political class — know that one of the prime causes of the current economic crisis was government policies that resulted in countless people taking out mortgages that they couldn’t possibly pay back. Then financial firms who had made the bad mortgages issued securities backed by these shaky loans. When the borrowers defaulted, the whole house of cards came tumbling down — or at least it would have come tumbling down if the federal government hadn’t bailed out so many firms, delaying the day of reckoning.