“How Much Does an A-list Actor Make… and Spend?”
While we’re out there campaigning for everyone to pay their fair share of taxes, let us not forget that our dear friends in Tinseltown often live in their own tax-sheltered Nirvanas.
Think about that the next time you allow a celebrity of any political stripe urge you to vote on anything. And talk a look at the graphic in this superb Vulture post.
The Conservative Case For Bank Break-Ups – The Dish
The Daily Beast
Reading Mr. Sullivan this morning, there appears to be a growing conservative groundswell behind the idea of breaking up America’s “too-big-to-fail” mega-banks, specifically BankAmerica Corporateion, JPMorgan Chase & Company, and Citigroup Inc. Not only does Sullivan like the idea, proposed by MIT professor Simon Johnson at Bloomberg, but also Erick Erickson from The Red State endorses it, as does Michael Brendan Dougherty at The American Conservative.
Where I part ways with these gents is that they are approaching this more as a campaign tactic than a matter of principle. And a matter of principle it is (or should be) for every Republican with a functioning cerebral cortex.
The case, as I see it, is this:
1. The mega-banks have become so large that they stifle competition in the marketplace. That’s monopolistic, and that’s not legal.
2. The mega-banks have become so large that they have the ability to manipulate policy. That’s anti-democratic.
3. The mega-banks have become so large that they operate above market forces. This explains why they can charge high fees and behave in a way that earns them preposterously low consumer satisfaction ratings.
Republicans are pro-business. This is not the kind of business I think most of us signed-up to get behind. The simple reason to break up these banks is to make them subject to market forces, customer demand, and the rule of law.
Surely we can all get behind that?
Formula 1™ (Photo credit: LGEPR)
Video – Daughters of Formula 1′s Bernie Ecclestone Spend $150 Million for Two Houses – WSJ.com.
The tabloid press (including, interestingly, the Wall Street Journal) has been making a load of hay about how the two daughters of Formula 1 mogul Bernie Ecclestone are spending tens of millions of dollars buying up trophy real estate around the world.
To some, the very idea of two single twentysomethings using trust fund monies to buy $80 million homes is repugnant. We at the Bull Moose have nothing against wealthy young people spending their cash, because we believe that it is better for all of us that they should spend it rather than sit on it.
Where we have an issue is that to some degree those fortunes were built with public subsidies. Promoters are keen to hide government assistance, but two examples are notable. The U.S. Grand Prix, to be held in Austin beginning this year, is getting a $25 million annual gift from the people of Texas for the next 10 years. The Singapore Grand Prix is carried by a $90 million annual shot-in-the-arm from the republic’s government. In the case of Austin, the money raised from the taxpayers goes directly to Ecclestone’s F1 organization as a “sanctioning fee.”
Again, we have no issues with racing events or of Ecclestone’s fortune. But if these events cannot be supported by private funds, they should not be held. That goes for the Olympics, the World Cup, the Major League All Star Game, and the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.
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.
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.
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?
Preet Bharara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“The bigger and better question may not be whether insider trading is rampant but whether corporate corruption in general is rampant; whether ethical bankruptcy is on the rise; whether corrupt business models are becoming more common.”
– Preet Bharara, Deputy United States Attorney, Southern District of New York
Commit a crime, collect a pension – latimes.com.
I was dubious about the return of Governor Moonbeam, and frankly remain so, but this measure coming out of Jerry Brown’s office warms my conservative heart.
Under current California law, public employees and retirees continue to receive their state pensions even if they are convicted of a felony and sent to jail. In essence, the taxpayers are paying the former public servant twice: the pension, and the $50,000 or so that it costs to keep that individual incarcerated.
As bad as it is to spend $5ok a year on a convicted criminal, it is good money after bad to pay the pension on top of that. Brown’s move makes great fiscal sense and should be supported.
Americans’ Debt Cutting Hampers Growth – WSJ.com.
Jon Hilsenrath and Ruth Simon of the WSJ echo and fortify what David Brooks was saying in The New York Times last week: three years after the start of the global financial downturn, Americans are starting to liquidate their consumer debt, down 8.6% in over the past 38 months. Any fiscal conservative would take that as good news: the people of the United States have taken a small but important step toward becoming a nation of savers and investors again.
But for some reason, the article (starting with the headline) seems to take a negative view of the trend:
Consumers are starting to squeeze back. Wall Street is not happy. (Image by alancleaver_2000 via Flickr)
The national belt-tightening, known as deleveraging, comes as the U.S. economy struggles to fend off a double-dip recession. Paying off bills slows consumer spending on appliances, travel and a slew of other products and services. Home sales, the engine of past economic recoveries, remain depressed.
This is all true, no doubt, and a lot of us are revisiting our Keynesian roots these days. But short-term pain is better than long-term pain. The sooner American consumers learn to live within their means and stop competing with enterprises for increasingly tight credit, the faster we can begin to rebuild an economy that need not rely on financial manias to drive prosperity.
What is more, it is still an exaggeration to say that Americans as a whole have rediscovered the virtue of thrift. Much of the “de-leveraging” is the result of credit default. It will take some time before we can really judge the extent to which behaviors have changed for the better, or whether Americans will return to their spendthrift ways just as soon as they think they can afford it.