(Thanks to C. Jerry Kutner Jr. on Bright Lights After Dark film-comment blog)
One of the characters in the classic 1939 film "Stagecoach" is a banker named Gatewood who lectures his captive audience on the evils of big government, especially bank regulation -- "As if we bankers don't know how to run our own banks!" he exclaims. As the film progresses, we learn that Gatewood is in fact skipping town with a satchel full of embezzled cash.
As far as we know, Jamie Dimon, the chairman and C.E.O. of JPMorgan Chase, isn't planning anything similar. He has, however, been fond of giving Gatewood-like speeches about how he and his colleagues know what they're doing, and don't need the government looking over their shoulders. So there's a large heap of poetic justice -- and a major policy lesson -- in JPMorgan's shock announcement that it somehow managed to lose $2 billion in a failed bit of financial wheeling-dealing.
-- Paul Krugman, in his NYT column today,
"Why We Regulate"
[T]hey make money-losing mistakes all the time. That in itself is no reason for the government to get involved. But banks are special, because the risks they take are borne, in large part, by taxpayers and the economy as a whole.
Because history tells us that banking is and always has been subject to occasional destructive "panics," which can wreak havoc with the economy as a whole. Current right-wing mythology has it that bad banking is always the result of government intervention, whether from the Federal Reserve or meddling liberals in Congress. In fact, however, Gilded Age America -- a land with minimal government and no Fed -- was subject to panics roughly once every six years. And some of these panics inflicted major economic losses.
So what can be done? In the 1930s, after the mother of all banking panics, we arrived at a workable solution, involving both guarantees and oversight. On one side, the scope for panic was limited via government-backed deposit insurance; on the other, banks were subject to regulations intended to keep them from abusing the privileged status they derived from deposit insurance, which is in effect a government guarantee of their debts. Most notably, banks with government-guaranteed deposits weren't allowed to engage in the often risky speculation characteristic of investment banks like Lehman Brothers.
This system gave us half a century of relative financial stability. Eventually, however, the lessons of history were forgotten. New forms of banking without government guarantees proliferated, while both conventional and newfangled banks were allowed to take on ever-greater risks. Sure enough, we eventually suffered the 21st-century version of a Gilded Age banking panic, with terrible consequences.
It's clear, then, that we need to restore the sorts of safeguards that gave us a couple of generations without major banking panics. It's clear, that is, to everyone except bankers and the politicians they bankroll -- for now that they have been bailed out, the bankers would of course like to go back to business as usual. Did I mention that Wall Street is giving vast sums to Mitt Romney, who has promised to repeal recent financial reforms?
Enter Mr. Dimon. JPMorgan, to its -- and his -- credit, managed to avoid many of the bad investments that brought other banks to their knees. This apparent demonstration of prudence has made Mr. Dimon the point man in Wall Street's fight to delay, water down and/or repeal financial reform. He has been particularly vocal in his opposition to the so-called Volcker Rule, which would prevent banks with government-guaranteed deposits from engaging in "proprietary trading," basically speculating with depositors' money. Just trust us, the JPMorgan chief has in effect been saying; everything's under control.
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I'm not fond of Hilary Rosen being put out there as a pundit or a spokesperson for the Democratic side of the aisle for a whole lot of reasons, a good number of which can be read about in Susie's post here which lays out who she's worked for or represented. That said, when it comes to the issue of gay marriage, she was exactly right with her comments she made as a member of the panel on This Week over the weekend and her noting that "straight people don't need any help tearing down the institution of marriage."
I've got a co-worker that has been Jesus-ed into believing that gay people being allowed to get married might somehow interfere with him not being allowed to get divorced again and maybe remarried again, since he's on his second marriage now and is terribly frightened by those evil gay people are somehow breaking down the institution of marriage. And when you try to talk to him about it, it's about as productive as talking to a box of rocks. He's stuck and stubborn on his stance that gay people being allowed to get married is some sort of abomination.
My fellow liberals at work along with myself haven't had much luck with him, but I remain hopeful that more people making the points that Rosen did here will eventually get through to some of them even if we never manage to change my friend's views. The real damage to the institution of marriage has not been gay people wanting to get married. It's the number of divorces and broken families we've seen with straight couples. And as she noted, getting married, or serving in our military, which are issues the gay community has been pushing for where they would like to have equal rights, are what would normally be considered "conservative" issues or values.
If "conservatives" really cared about the so-called institution or marriage, they'd care more about the issue of divorce, which of course they will never do since they'd have to drive the majority of their members out of their party. They're much happier fear mongering and gay-bashing instead while ignoring the fact that they really don't care that much about the institution of marriage at all, unless it means their fellow citizens they'd like to discriminate against can't have access to it.
Transcript of the clip above below the fold.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You had an interesting on your blog yesterday in Politico from a Republican pollster, George W. Bush's pollster, showing how Republican attitudes have changes on this issue.
HABERMAN: Absolutely. They shifted dramatically. And one of the things I was going to say, actually, counter to what Ralph said -- although you're right, that Mitt Romney has always been for traditional marriage. There's been a shift among the donors on the Republican side. It's not just Democratic donors who support Barack Obama who are in the gay community who wanted to see a move. There are a number of prominent Republicans, like hedge fund executive Paul Singer. Ken Mehlman is out there raising money for a gay marriage movement. Romney is in a sort of a rock and a hard place between his base and his donors. This is not something he wants to be talking about. I would actually disagree with you. I don't think we're going to hear him being forceful about this at all going forward.
MATALIN: There's one sort of -- do I agree he doesn't want to talk about it? This is -- I'm going to agree with Hilary. I think we should talk about it, and I think if the president really was bold, he would urge tolerance for the advocates, the views of advocates for either religious reasons or traditional reasons to support multi-millennial traditional definition of marriage. Why should we talk about this?
This is bigger than the economy. It's about our entire culture and where are we and the disintegration of families. Both the conversations worth having, worth having civilly, and worth hearing each other's views.
I don't think Hilary loves her children any less or any differently. I completely know what's in her heart. We should be able to talk about all that stuff, and I think he will talk about it, but I think the other side has to be -- and the president should urge a tolerance of the views of people who hold this. I say it that whatever, instead of calling them right wing extremists, Christian evil people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It did seem that the president was trying to signal that this week in his interview with Robin when he really did say this is going to be a states issue, not a national issue.
ROSEN: Here's one more sort of nonpolitical point, which is, you know, sorry, but straight people don't need any help tearing down the institution of marriage. You're doing just fine as it is. One in three divorces. You know, come on.
The irony is that really, gay people are looking to do the most conservative thing. They want to fight in the armed forces, you know, to protect our country, and they want to join the institution of marriage, loving committed couples raising children. That, you know, I don't know that that's a conversation that the president ought to have on the campaign trail every day, but I do think it's something we ought to recognize and acknowledge.
Hello, human diary! It is again I, Mitt Romney, your better.
The process of selecting a vice presidential unit is now fully underway. I must confess the process is very taxing, which is the worst thing something can be. My advisers are insistent that I select a Caucasian fellow, preferably one that is as dull as possible. Unfortunately, as this describes the vast majority of my party, this has so far done almost nothing to whittle down the list of potential candidates.
We are certain that we do not want a human female. That would be an unnecessary complication, and would conflict with our core message as to the natural decision-making inferiority of human females. There was an ethnic fellow in Florida that my advisers were briefly considering, but we all agree that American campaigns have far too many ethnic people involved already, and are loathe to add one more. The litmus test suggested to me was that I choose someone I would desire to consume an alcoholic beverage with, supposing I was able to consume alcoholic beverages; upon hearing this I immediately suggested perhaps someone who owned a prominent sporting franchise? Sporting franchises seem rife with alcoholic beverage consumption. Potential inquiries to my old Bain chums were nixed, as Eric F. demands I refrain from socializing with them for the duration of the campaign.
There is also the problem of durability. Eric F. has clarified that once a vice presidential unit is selected, they cannot then be terminated or replaced with other candidates. He seems insistent on this. This seems preposterous to me; one of my features I am most proud of is my ability to revise past decisions on an expeditious timeframe. I have been rated at upwards of 5.2 rvs, or revisions per second, well in excess of nearly all of my peer units. I had been under the assumption that once choosing a vice presidential unit, I would then condemn that unit and choose another, then perhaps another still, before eventually revising my previous condemnations of one of the early units. Eric F., however, is of the opinion that there are overriding reasons not to do this. I repeatedly inquired as to why; Eric F. gave a host of unconvincing answers before I asked whether such moves would be against insider trading regulations, at which point he confirmed that this would indeed be the case. This answer I find easier to comprehend, although I have some suspicion he is merely humoring me.
Regardless, the search for an adequate and sufficiently dull Caucasian continues. Most have already been rejected due to their religion, documented political history, or suspicions of closet ethnicity: I can best compare the process to the application process at a golf or yachting organization. Once we purge the lists of undesirables, we may be better able to judge the relative dullness of the remaining candidates. One would think one could simply choose whichever human had the highest net earnings during the last few business quarters, but the necessity of extreme dullness would render this algorithm insufficiently restrictive. More time will be needed.
Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder of Facebook whose falling out with the company and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg was the subject of the 2010 blockbuster The Social Network, renounced his US citizenship last week, and the right has wasted no time labeling him a hero.
Saverin, who owns a roughly four percent stake of Facebook, announced that he was expatriating last week, just in time to avoid paying a federal capital gains tax on the fortune heading his way when the social site files its IPO.
Forbes Magazine, the conservative-leaning and business friendly magazine, ran an article with the headline ?For De-Friending The U.S., Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin Is An American Hero.? John Tamny writes:
Saverin?s departure is also a reminder to politicians that while they can obnoxiously decree what percentage of our income we?ll hand them in taxes, what they vote for won?t necessarily reflect reality. Indeed, as evidenced by Saverin?s renunciation, tax rates and collection of monies on those rates are two different things. Assuming nosebleed rates of taxation were a driver of Saverin?s decision, politicians will hopefully see that if too greedy about collecting the money of others, they?ll eventually collect nothing.
Tamny seems to be convinced that Saverin?s departure will open the floodgates for dozens of US executives, investors and other wealthy businessmen who have made fortunes off of stocks and bonds to dramatically renounce their citizenship, break through the shackles of big government and book a one-way ticket to wherever in an attempt to hold on to every last penny they?ve earned. What Forbes and The Heritage Foundation ignore is that the capital gains tax is at a historically low rate, and even proposals to increase it slightly would still fall well short of approaching the rate during the 1970s.
Saverin?s decision to flee the United States is also remarkably shortsighted. As Farhad Manjoo notes on PandoDaily today, Saverin?s life story in particular is one that is quintessentially American.
The Family Guy does the Tea Party.
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I support Lissa Squiers in the Democratic primary for the 7th Congressional district of Texas. Primary Day is May 29. Early voting is taking place now and runs through May 25. The primary is for the right to challenge incumbent Republican John Culberson. Here is Ms. Squiers’ Facebook page. I asked Ms. Squiers if she [...]
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AN IMPORTANT ARTICLE on trailblazing women in the military worthy of your time.
Any time a woman is held back in the work place, which includes the U.S. military, we are hurting our strongest economic booster.
I loved the original ?Showgirls? for its utter Showgirls-ness delivered by screenwriter Joe Eszterhas and director Paul Verhoeven. The classy nail artistry of the heroine Nomi Malone; ?Goddess? star Cristal Connors? drawling "darlin? " and of course the[...]
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Peter joins the Tea Party to get rid of the annoying government, only to find the "grassroots" organization run by his billionaire father-in-law Carter Pewterschmidt for his own evil ends. (SPOILER ALERT: After dispensing with their local government --and the ensuing chaos which results from that-- the residents of Quahog invent a new system which looks strangely familiar to their old one.)
While more attention will undoubtedly get paid to the presidential numbers today (including nearly a half-dozen new state polls that broke over the weekend), there are two sets of numbers downballot that ought to command quite a bit of attention, both with real implications for the battle for the balance of power in the United States Senate.
If it is true that Claire McCaskill has dug herself out of a hole in Missouri, and it is true that little-known state legislator Deb Fischer is about to teabag her way to the GOP Senate nomination in Nebraska, those would potentially be two additional blows for the GOP in their quest for a Senate majority. And, as anyone who reads this Wrap and the other offerings at Daily Kos Elections already knows, the GOP has taken plenty of blows on that front in the past few weeks.
First, the numbers:
PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION TRIAL HEATS:
NATIONAL (CBS News): Romney d. Obama (46-43)DOWNBALLOT POLLING:
NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Obama d. Romney (46-45)
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (48-44)
GEORGIA (Landmark/Rosetta Stone): Romney d. Obama (51-40)
MAINE (Critical Insights): Obama d. Romney (50-42)
MICHIGAN (Glengariff Group): Obama d. Romney (45-40)
MINNESOTA (SurveyUSA): Obama d. Romney (52-38)
NEW YORK (Siena): Obama d. Romney (57-37)
AR-04--D (Talk Business/Hendrix College): Q. Byrum Hurst 23, Gene Jeffress 22, D.C. Morrison 11A few thoughts, as always, await you just past the jump ...
AR-04--R (Talk Business/Hendrix College): Tom Cotton 51, Beth Anne Rankin 33, John Cowart 6
IN-SEN (Global Strategy Group for Donnelly): Joe Donnelly (D) 40, Richard Mourdock (R) 40
MO-SEN (Mellman Group for Majority PAC): Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) 44, Todd Akin (R) 39; McCaskill 46, John Brunner (R) 38; McCaskill 45, Sarah Steelman (R) 36
NE-SEN--R (We Ask America): Deb Fischer 39, Jon Bruning 34, Don Stenberg 18, Sharyn Elander 4, Pat Flynn 3, Spencer Zimmerman 2
NY-SEN (Siena): Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) 59, Bob Turner (R) 25; Gillibrand 60, Wendy Long (R) 26; Gillibrand 60, George Maragos (R) 25
NY-SEN--R (Siena): Bob Turner 15, Wendy Long 12, George Maragos 6
WI-GOV (We Ask America): Gov. Scott Walker (R) 52, Tom Barrett (D) 43
5:08 PM PT: The Polling Wrap was updated shortly after it published to Daily Kos Elections to reflect the new CBS national poll. Please note that this is a "panel-back" poll. Simply put, this is a re-interview of folks who were already surveyed in April by CBS. It also has one hugely curious underlying stat: a one-point gender gap. According to this sample, women favor Romney, albeit by just two points. That should invite, one would think, some pretty hefty skepticism.