Sunday, May 15, 2011

Libertarian Links

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere: Used cars get rarer and more expensive, natch, though this Wall Street Journal article today on the phenomenon of surging prices in used cars--$1,500 to $3,000 more than six months ago--never once mentions the words "cash for clunkers"--a program that removed 690,114 cars from the potential secondary market.

FDR on Social Security: In early 1935, as FDR reviewed the initial draft of the legislative package which established Social Security, he discovered the plan would result in projected cash deficits beyond 1960 and that the system would require outside funding beyond the payroll tax by 1980. He felt that it would be “dishonest” to set up a program that would create burdens for future congresses and presidential administrations to deal with, burdens that would limit their ability to manage the government’s fiscal operations or other obligations. He understood the fundamental truth of any publicly-financed, universal retirement system: the government’s costs ultimately would have to be borne by workers. FDR therefore demanded that his own administration’s Social Security proposal be altered so the program would be fully financed through the end of the projection period, then 1980, and be balanced at that time.

On Standard Oil: But Standard Oil had no initial market power, with only about 4 percent of the market in 1870. Its output and market share grew as its superior efficiency dramatically lowered its refining costs (by 1897, they were less than one-tenth of their level in 1869), and it passed on the efficiency savings in sharply reduced prices for refined oil (which fell from over 30 cents per gallon in 1869, to 10 cents in 1874, to 8 cents in 1885, and to 5.9 cents in 1897). It never achieved a monopoly (in 1911, the year of the Supreme Court decision, Standard Oil had roughly 150 competitors, including Texaco and Gulf) that would enable it to monopolistically boost consumer prices. So it can hardly be argued seriously that Rockefeller pursued a predatory strategy involving massive losses for decades without achieving the alleged monopoly payoff, which was the source of supposed consumer harm.

Revolving door at the SEC: Over the past five years, 219 former SEC employees filed disclosures with the SEC saying that they planned to represent clients or employers in dealings with the agency, POGO found. Many of those former SEC employees were appearing before the agency on multiple matters; altogether, they filed almost 800 disclosure statements, the private watchdog group reported.”

Davey Crocket against gov. forced charity: Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week's pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks." He took his seat. Nobody replied.

Another stupid-ass potential GOP Presidential candidate
: Jon Huntsman is backing away from his support for a cap-and-trade system for Western states that he once championed as Utah governor.

 Something is fucked up in the health insurance industry: The nation’s major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, [...]In 2010, about 10 percent of people covered by their employer had a deductible of at least $2,000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research group, compared with just 5 percent of covered workers in 2008. [...]In Oregon, for example, Regence BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit insurer that is the state’s largest, is asking for a 22 percent increase for policies sold to individuals. In California, regulators have been resisting requests from insurers to raise rates by double digits. [...]Some observers wonder if the insurers are simply raising premiums in advance of the full force of the health care law in 2014. The insurers’ recent prosperity — big insurance companies have reported first-quarter earnings that beat analysts expectations by an average of 30 percent

Crazy DOJ positions.

Holy cow: While Medicare won’t have sufficient funds to pay full benefits starting in 2024, five years earlier than last year’s estimate, Social Security’s cash to pay full benefits runs short in 2036, a year sooner than the 2010 projection, the U.S. government said today in an annual report.

From the new Taibbi: But beginning in the mid-Nineties, when former Goldman co-chairman Bob Rubin served as Bill Clinton's senior economic-policy adviser, the government began moving toward a regulatory system that relied almost exclusively on voluntary compliance by the banks. Old-school criminal referrals disappeared down the chute of history along with floppy disks and scripted television entertainment. In 1995, according to an independent study, banking regulators filed 1,837 referrals. During the height of the financial crisis, between 2007 and 2010, they averaged just 72 a year. But spiking almost all criminal referrals wasn't enough for Wall Street. In 2004, in an extraordinary sequence of regulatory rollbacks that helped pave the way for the financial crisis, the top five investment banks — Goldman, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns — persuaded the government to create a new, voluntary approach to regulation called Consolidated Supervised Entities. CSE was the soft touch to end all soft touches. Here is how the SEC's inspector general described the program's regulatory army: "The Office of CSE Inspections has only two staff in Washington and five staff in the New York regional office."

Police state: Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.

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