AlanGustin Blog2

Party of Capitalism vs Party of Corporatism

Posted in news, Politics by alangustin on March 20, 2012
From the Washington Examiner

When President Eisenhower appointed General Motors CEO Charles Erwin Wilson to be Secretary of Defense, many people questioned whether he could objectively serve in Eisenhower’s administration, considering his close ties to GM.

Wilson told the U.S. Senate not to worry “because for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

Wilson’s line, more commonly misquoted as “what’s good for GM is good for America,” has become an aphorism for corporatism in America, a style of governing that has become far too accepted by both parties in Washington.

President George W. Bush was the most recent Republican who governed as an unabashed corporatist. “I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system,” Bush told CNN in defense of his decision to initiate the General Motors and Chrysler bailouts in 2008.

Many Americans see no difference between corporatism and capitalism. This is unfortunate, because in practice they are polar opposites. When President Carter was considering the first bailout of Chrysler in 1980, Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman argued against it.

Friedman’s reasoning was that “the private market system is a system of profit and loss. And the loss part is just as essential as the profit part. It is a disgrace that we should be bailing out Chrysler.”

But we did bailout Chrysler. First in 1980 and again in 2008. And along the way we also bailed out Continental Illinois, the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp., Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns, AIG, Citigroup, etc., etc.

[READ MORE]

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The Unbelievable Arrogance of Obama’s ‘Czars’

Posted in Information, news, Politics by alangustin on July 16, 2011

I have been silent of late. I have grown weary of the political scene in America. Sometimes I think that the only reason politicians exist is to give the media something to talk about.

I saw something this morning that brought me out of my self-imposed, political-commentary exile.  It was a quote from Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, and one of Obama’s economic advisors.  Immelt succeeded Paul A. Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman, who stepped down in early 2011.

It is reported that Immelt said to business owners, “Stop whining and start hiring!” 

Easy for him to say.  GE gets preferential treatment from the Obama administration.  GE has a strong lobby group pounding on the heads of lawmakers, and now, with Immelt as Obama’s right-hand-man on the economy, GE has an even stronger crony relationship with the current administration.

I believe that Obama is becoming more and more desperate with each day we get closer to the 2012 elections.  I believe Obama is becoming progressively more frustrated with his ‘Czars’, who can’t seem to come up with anything concrete  to deal with the debt crisis and the high unemployment rate in America.  I don’t believe anymore that Obama is an intelligent person.  I used to think that he was very intelligent.  But the truth is, his intelligence was exhibited only during his campaign for the office of President of the United States. 

Why else would he immediately appoint all those ‘Czars’ to surround him after being elected?  I believe it’s because he doesn’t have a clue about how to be President, and he knows it.  He was hoping his ‘cabinet’ would save his bacon by coming up with all the ideas to make him look good.  How’s that working out for ya, Obama?

During the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserve provided $16.1 billion to General Electric by buying short-term corporate i.o.u.’s from the company at a time when the public market for such debt had nearly frozen. Having the chief executive of such a company advising the White House on job creation at a time when Mr. Obama is assuming a more deregulatory posture could further alienate liberals and be seen as undermining the White House’s commitment to reducing the influence of lobbyists and special interests.

Another complicating factor is union uneasiness about outsourcing by G.E. Officials at the United Electrical Workers Union say the company has closed 29 plants in the United States and one in Canada in the past two years, eliminating more than 3,000 jobs.

“We understand the logic of asking someone like that to step up and play a leading role,” said Damon Silvers, the policy director for the AFL-CIO. “But there’s a real tension there in making a G.E. executive a central figure thinking about U.S. jobs.” –N.Y. Times

So the guy who is responsible for 29 plant closures in the U.S. and the elimination of over 3,000 jobs has the freaking gall to tell other business owners to “Stop whining and start hiring”? …Really?  What a joke. 

The smell of incompetence is emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and I look forward to 2012 as the election year that ends one of the most damaging presidential terms in American history.

As for Jeffrey Immelt… I hope he can reconcile with American business, because with statements like, “Stop whining and start hiring”, he has certainly alienated himself from any reality-based, business leaders.

For some discussion about Immelt and his disconnect with reality, click here.

Memorial or Pep Rally?

Posted in life, news, Politics by alangustin on January 13, 2011

Very odd…

Is this the most welcomed diversion that America could have hoped for? That question may offend some. It may well be that America needs a diversion, but not at the expense of lost lives. Right?

It may well be that the shootings in Tucson have provided our President with just the right diversion at just the right time. It is extremely interesting to watch the Tucson Memorial Service that was re-broadcast over and over again on Wednesday night and into the early hours of Thursday morning.

The event seems to have been ultra-organized… super-planned… choreographed by some higher power that writes immaculate speeches. How in the world were all those people able to attend this event if not for some divine orchestration? Why… it seems that even God Himself showed up at the event. How else could such an outpouring of scripture emanate from the likes of Eric Holder, Janet Napolitano, and Barak Hussein Obama himself? Surely the Spirit of God was hovering over that gathering.

Such a sarcastic view might otherwise be dismissed as partisan grumbling, but this time the hidden cannot help but come out from behind the facade. One expected to see a glimpse of a stage-hand holding up an ‘applause’ sign to the audience. And applause there was. It was so out of place for a memorial service, that it created an atmosphere of political convention. One might easily swap venues and imagine thousands of people in the crowd holding signs displaying the slogan, “Obama: Four More Years!”

Many of us are trying really hard to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. The display of concern and compassion was truly comforting, if one can overlook the weird feel of the event. It seemed like overkill. It seemed like opportunistic, cashing-in.

Again, sarcasm may be clouding reality. H-m-m-m?

It seems that the country has found something to rally around… namely, the squashing of harsh, partisan rhetoric. The shootings in Tucson, were made worse by the fact that a congresswoman was critically wounded, and a nine-year-old girl and federal judge was killed. This tradgedy seems to have released an outpouring of concern across America, the likes of which haven’t been seen since 9/11. If it weren’t for the Rahm Emanuel statement, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste”, many who are, wouldn’t be suspicious of the Obama administration’s motives for giving the Tucson event such attention. But as horrible as the Tucson shootings were, it was a minor event compared to the devastation of the 9/11 event, in which nearly three thousand people lost their lives.

Who’s a Spy?

Posted in Information, news by alangustin on January 12, 2011

This is taken from a comment by Socrates at the wired.com blog:

WikiLeaks actions clearly constitute espionage. In a war-time environment, potentially including the “war on terror” as determined by Congress, such a release of information could be interpretted as providing aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States, which constitutes an act of treason and is punishable by death. In a perfect world, nations would not be needed, and national secrets and other protective measures wouldn’t be necessary. We live in an imperfect and hostile world, where violence and the pursuit of power are still commonplace. The United States is a sovereign nation that must act both nationally and globally to protect its citizens and their interests. Risking the lives and freedoms of Americans in the name of profit-driven journalism is not only fraudulent, it is contemptuous.

This comment was in response to an article titled, “Twitter’s Response to WikiLeaks Subpoena Should Be the Industry Standard” read source article

I don’t know the laws concerning espionage, but someone does. If the commentor, Socrates is correct, then Assange could be held accountable. Certainly Pfc. Bradley Manning (the supplier of the leaks) should be tried for treason.

The opinions on this topic are fairly polarized along political “left” and “right” lines. It should not surprise anyone that the liberal left consider Assange to be some kind of cult hero — ‘stickin’ it to the man’ and all.  And conversely, it doesn’t surprise me that conservative-minded folks would adopt the opinion of Mr. Socrates. I find the conservative view the only one that makes real sense, unless you are hoping for some kind of anarchy-or-nothing world in which nothing is protected — short of protecting yourself. I don’t think I want to live in that world.

The radical leftists, throughout their existence in history, have shouted, “Revolution now!” time after time, believing that their revolution will be the one that brings the ultimate, functioning utopia to the world. They are wrong every time. They still hold out blind hope that other cultures and societies believe as they do, think as they do, and will someday, “all just get along”. But I find it interesting that most of our homegrown radicals are happy to reside right here in the good old USA — where it’s reasonably safe and warm.

Unfortunately, as Mr. Socrates alludes to, the world is not a utopia, nor will it be for a long, long time, if ever. Although I agree that the world could be a much better place, radical revolution of the kind that would usher in chaos and anarchy should never be desired by level-headed people. What might the Assange supporters think of him if the information he leaked facilitated a terrorist attack that affected their home town, or killed a loved one.

There are many loved ones serving in our armed forces overseas. These are the ones that may be directly affected by the Wikileaks, and that is where the rubber meets the road for me in this discussion. As long as our elected officials deem it proper and necessary to wage war on terrorists, John Q. Public must accept and abide by the decisions of their elected leaders. Those who think that the Wikileaks are a good thing should think about who might be harmed by the leaks. If a change in policy is desired, then change policy at the voting booth, not by breaking the law.

As for the topic of the original article at Wired, which discusses the bravery displayed by Twitter.com in trying to protect their users from having their accounts given over to subpeona, I think the requested information should be considered on a case-by-case basis. If the Law enforcement agency can show reasonable cause to suspect a crime was comitted by a Twitter user, then that user account should be accessed by law enforcement, but only to the extent that information pertinent to the case at hand is turned over. I don’t believe law enforcement should be able to issue a subpeona for multiple accounts, unless the law makes provision for that action.

Tucson Shootings and the News: The Frantic Race for Exclusivity

Posted in Information, life, news by alangustin on January 11, 2011

In our ever-increasing, “speed-of-life” pace to know what’s happening before it happens, our society has become reckless in its acceptance of — what I call — news splatter.

What has brought this to a head for me, was the recent shooting spree by the obviously deranged, Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson, Arizona. The shooting that resulted in the deaths of six people and the critical wounding of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was a horrible tradgedy.  But it was made even more horrible by the unprofessional reporting by several major news outlets, including NPR, Reuters, CNN and Fox, that Congresswoman Giffords had died.  What ensued was a veritable cornucopia of confusion and back-peddling, once it was determined that Giffords was still alive.  NPR issued an official apology, which should have included a disclaimer that stated, “We take no responsibility for those other news organizations who were so focused on scooping each other that they simply parroted our initial, erroneous report.”

The culture of the news industry has always included “being the first” to report a newsworthy event.   The news media morphed along technological lines.  It was required that they stay on top of advances in personal communications, such as radio, television, the world-wide-web, and lately, mobile devices.  Smart phones have literally changed the face of the news industry.  It is common these days to see a cellphone video included in a television news story.  And “reporters on the street” are recording events as they happen, and broadcasting the information on the Internet hours before anyone in the news media even hears about the event.  It’s amazing what is taking place in the world today, and how news is reaching people.

I was tweeting with my Android what I heard on my car radio the day of the Tucson shootings.  Something took over and compelled me to tweet each new development as I heard it reported on Fox News Radio.  I was driving,  and pulling over every thirty seconds to tweet the news as I heard it.  I was splattering unsubstantiated news reports left and right in a mad frenzy. Looking back, I realize how twisted that was.  But after thinking about it for a couple days, I realize what caused me to do it.

Something in us humans drives us to be “the first to know”.  And then… “the first to tell”.  Like the housewife in the supermarket checkout line who whispers to the person next to her, “Did you hear about Maggie Smith? She’s getting a divorce”. 

Maggie’s not really getting a divorce.  A neighbor overheard Maggie’s husband, George yelling at Maggie during an argument about burnt pancakes that morning. 

Gossip…  right?

What’s the difference between the gossip about Maggie, and the erroneous report by NPR that Congresswoman Giffords had died at the supermarket in Tucson?  Not much.  Unless you’re the family of Gabrielle Giffords. Gossip is almost always harmful.  Look at how fast gossip travels throughout a community.  It doesn’t matter how fuzzy the facts are, the gossip spreads faster than a viral YouTube video on meth.

The evening of the Tucson shootings, the Twittersphere was rife with tweets and links about the shooting, the shooter, the sheriff, the accomplice, the condition of Gabby Giffords, (I was sickened by Obama’s reference to Congresswoman Giffords as “Gabby”) …etcetera, etcetera…

What really tore me up though, was the subsequent barrage of cow manure that emanated from all news outlets from every corner of the country regarding the motive of the deranged killer, Jared Loughner.  The news media couldn’t get enough about the irresponsible statements being made by people whose desire for the limelight hobbled their ability to think before speaking.  Everyone was splattering everywhere.  It was disgusting.  And the news media couldn’t report it all fast enough.

At the start, I had been a willing participant in this ‘information orgy’ with my ‘uber-tweeting’.  Disgusting?  Perhaps.  Becoming the norm?  Definitely.  Soon, every wannabe journalist with a 5G, camera-equipped iPad will be broadcasting the end of the world as it happens.  In 3-D!

What remains to be seen, is whether or not this phenomenon of communications will self-regulate, and become a viable way for humans to be informed, or decay into an anarchistic, free-for-all that benefits only those whose desire for attention takes over all the bandwidth on the planet.

What will be the result of this parody of the press?  Only time will tell.  But consumers of the news, from now on, will have to deal with filtering what they get.  Either that, or simply relax and slow down…  give it a day or two before putting a nail in the coffin of any story.