Paul Volcker, former head of the Federal Reserve Board . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A great quote from Brian Collins’ article “The Great Shock” in the October 17, 2011 edition of the Los Angeles Review of Books.
What clearly separates Volcker from many of those advising the current President (Rubin, Geithner, Summers, et al.) is his riposte to financiers who defend deregulation as a great innovation of the times. “The only financial innovation I recall in my long career,” Volcker responded, “was the invention of the ATM.”)
Deregulation is no more innovation in finance than it is on a school playground. The minute you take the rules away, people are going to get hurt. Will some do very well? Absolutely. But that same dynamic worked in the jungle as well, and I’m in no rush to go back there.
Admiral Luke McNamee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of our biggest causes is that of citizen involvement. Captain Luke McNamee, USN, at the time serving as Director of Naval Intelligence, put it better than I could when he said the following in the May 1923 issue of Proceedings:
If popular government is not to fail, our voters cannot take up too soon the earnest study of their duties and responsibilities as citizens of America. Our country has become so vast and so diversified in its interests that those voters capable of taking a broad national view of our necessities are in danger of sharing the fate of the dodo. Yet statesmen can accomplish little without your support.
In a compelling read in The New Republic, editor John B. Judis notes in his responsa to the Occupy Wall Street crowd:
First, the primary focus should be on reviving American industry, which includes everything from machine tool factories to software producers and from auto companies to biotech labs. Doing that will entail modifying our arrangement with Asia. Making these kinds of changes can be difficult, but it has happened before—during Reagan’s second term and in the first two years of Clinton’s presidency, when the United States got tough with its trading partners and subsidized innovation and growth.
Despite the title, Judis’ point is not that we should ignore the need to re-regulate the financial sector, but that shackling the Wall Street beast alone will not be enough to return America to competitiveness.
The business of America is business.
Let me qualify that. The business of America is business, but that truism ends when collusion between commercial interests and legislators creates a plutocracy that undermines democracy.
America is and must ever be a nation of yeomen, not of oligarchs.
To support an ethos that can be exploited to justify oligarchy is to be anti-democratic, and a closet fascist. As conservatives, it is time we recognized the thin line between “pro-business” and “pro-plutocracy,” and how the latter is death to the very values we hold dear.
AF Religion Memo up on Billboard Near Academy | Military.com.
As if the US Air Force didn’t have enough problems, the service continues to face challenges related to the overzealous evangelicals on the campus of the Air Force Academy.
The protestant chapel in the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel. This occupies most of the top floor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We are all for faith in the cockpit, in the foxhole, and on the deckplates. We just don’t think anyone should have faith foisted on them, especially in an environment where they could be under the mistaken (or correct) impression that their religious views could affect their career. That’s harassment.
The leadership of the Air Force needs to make it clear to everyone, especially at the Academy: America is a nation of many creeds, and the Air Force must reflect that.
Review & Outlook: Amtrak’s Banner Year – WSJ.com.
If this editorial was not such a naked appeal on behalf of petroleum-dependent passenger transportation industries, we would have enjoyed it a lot more.
Amtrak P40DC #832 pulling the now-discontinued Desert Wind. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The editors are right: there is something wrong with a passenger rail system that loses a half billion dollars after enjoying a banner year.
Where the editors are wrong is in condemning passenger rail altogether. Buses and airplanes are fine substitutes for passenger rail when Brent crude is selling at $88.34 a barrel. Once that price begins to rise – and it will – rail is going to become an essential mode of travel for a growing number of people.
The way I look at Amtrak – right or wrong – is as the seed corn for a new passenger rail industry that we will need at some point in the foreseeable future. That said, it is time we started digging into how to make Amtrak more efficient – even if it means dropping some money-losing routes.
GSA executive traveled to Hawaii, South Pacific after warnings – latimes.com.
Amid all of our partisan debates about big government vs. small government, we are missing out on the most important opportunity we have to get more out of our taxpayer dollars: eliminating FAT government.
Fat Government is our term for taxpayer money that is used to pay for activities that neither contribute to nor support the broader goals of government and the nation, that is wasted due to inefficiencies, that is lost to corruption, or that is siphoned by government employees who are “working” the system.
Paying for a GSA employee, regardless of his level, to take non-essential travel is wasteful. Paying for him to travel on what were essentially junkets is worse. Where he went is irrelevant: if he spent the government coin to go goof off in Bethesda would have been morally every bit as reprehensible as flying off to Napa Valley, Hawaii, and the South Pacific.
There is now a bipartisan tide of fury growing around the “culture of excess,” wastefulness, and entitlement at the GSA. The system is not working and it needs to be fixed.
It would be delusion to believe that the waste ends there. We need not only to hunt down such institutional cultures and practices wherever they may exist in government, we must replace them with positive cultures of frugality and service.
The same applies not just in the federal government, but at every level of government in the US. Where is the fat?
American government needs a liposuction. Where else can we look?
As moderate and progressive conservatives, our focus should not be dominated by the bread and circus of the 2012 elections. Instead, it should be dominated by the desperate need to give voice to the silent majority of Americans whose convictions and interests lie nearer the to the center of the spectrum of our political debate, and perhaps a wee bit to the right.
We need to agree on the principles that will guide the future of our limping (yet still resilient and robust) republic, and on how those principles will determine what we must do to repair our dysfunctional institutions and reclaim our future.