There are about 7.5 million subprime mortgages floating around in the USA right now. These are at the root of the current financial crisis, for which Paulson has proposed a $700 billion bank
Note that he wants to give the money to the banks. After the banks get that money, the borrowers are still going to be in default.
I realize the situation isn’t as simple as this, but just for grins, let’s attack the problem from the other end. The bailout amount works out to a little over $90,000 per subprime mortgage (not all of which are in default, but let’s include all of them anyhow). Imagine if the government forced the banks holding all those toxic loans to rewrite them as fixed-rate mortgages at reasonable rates, and set up what Republicans like to call a “personal account” for each homeowner with a subprime mortgage. Stick that $90,000 in the account, let it accrue interest, and use the principal and interest to supplement the amount that the homeowner can pay. Suddenly the mortgages look a lot more viable to the banks, which would restore liquidity to the market. And people don’t get thrown out of their homes.
I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical reason why this kind of welfare is bad, but the kind of welfare Paulson wants is good.
Apparently it comes as news to nobody that Apple announced the second-generation iPhone yesterday. This is interesting.
I’ve got plenty of friends who were aware of the rumored announcement for weeks before it came. And not just pathetic geeks who spend all their spare time huddled over Apple rumor sites–these are regular people who use technology but aren’t obsessed with it. One such friend referred to her own phone as a “Fisher-Price Phone,” which cracks me up. A few hours after the announcement, another friend dropped me a line asking “so are you going to buy an iPhone now?”
I’m guessing most of these people heard from their nerdier friends the rumors that a new iPhone was imminent. It’s not unusual that nerds would know the rumors, or that they’d discuss the rumors about the new phone with less nerdy friends, but it is interesting that so many people would have heard it, been interested enough to actually file it away mentally, and bring it up in conversation unprompted. That a rumor about an announcement to be made at a developers conference, would just become part of the zeitgeist.
Incidentally, yes, I am going to buy an iPhone now. T-Mobile’s service has been going down the crapper lately. I’m conflicted (to put it mildly) about doing business with AT&T, but in this case I’ll compromise my principles for teh shiny.
How did I miss this before? Apparently Fox has a reality-tv show called Solitary. Contestants endure dehumanizing, Gitmo-style confinement and stress. The last one to cry Uncle wins.
And the rest of us are supposed to consider this entertainment.
I’ll occasionally entertain conspiracy-theory thinking, but I try to keep it in check. A show like this makes it hard to avoid. One can imagine the current administration saying to its buddy Rupert Murdoch something like “We need to find a way to make torture seem more palatable to the American people. Can you help us out with that?”
Familiarity breeds contempt. What better way to trivialize institutionalized torture than by turning it into a game show? A child growing up watching this show might look at sleep deprivation, etc, as something they do on game shows, and be inured to it.
I can’t think about this without feeling like the whole human species has gone off the rails.
For the last eight years, I and a lot of other Americans have looked at our president as the unembarrassed standard-bearer of so much that is wrong with American politics: privilege, dynastism, cronyism, corruption, secrecy. He’s even managed to borrow some of the unseemly aspects of East German politics. And we have felt ashamed of our country.
And then there’s Barack Obama. Just the existence of a candidate like Obama says that American ideals like plurality, tolerance, and opportunity still mean something. Perhaps some of Obama’s popularity is not because of his potential as a president, but because he lets us feel better about ourselves.
When I vote for Obama in two weeks, it won’t be because of that. But it’s a nice bonus.
As I understand it, the position of the Writer’s Guild of America is that writers should be compensated for online distribution. The studios’ position is that media distributed online has no value.
So when I download a TV show over bittorrent, I’m supporting the studios’ position. They should thank me.
Racy pictures of Miss New Jersey? That shouldn’t even rate as news.
I’ve been thinking lately about the 2008 presidential campaign. Not so much about the Democrats as the Republicans. All the Dems in the race seem like decent and competent people, so I’m just not that worked up about it. Admittedly, I don’t want Hillary to get the party nomination, but that is because A) I’m afraid she’ll be a lightning-rod for GOP dirty tricks (yes, more than the other candidates), and B) and someone else put it, future historians should not look at the list of U.S. presidents and see “Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton.” Politics in this country is already too near to an aristocracy.
But if the Democratic candidates are boring for their lack of problems, the Republican ones are interesting for their problems. Romney has an extensive record as a comparatively progressive Republican from the People’s Republik of Massachusetts, and he’s trying to live that down. Giuliani just last week reiterated his support for state-subsidized abortions. McCain, after cultivating an image as a straight-talking maverick in 2000, has spent the last seven years carrying water for the administration, and has painted himself into a corner with flatly ridiculous statements in support of America’s ongoing debacle in Iraq. There are plenty of other candidates running for the GOP nomination, but not many have really risen above the background noise.
I have been speculating about the role that Karl Rove may play in the 2008 campaign. Rove has been considered a solid-gold political asset for a long time now. And at some point before January ’09, Bush may decide to bequeath Rove to one of the Republican campaigns. And so I wonder: Will this come during the primaries or general election? If it comes during the primaries, who will be the lucky recipient? And will that guy really be so lucky? After all, any campaign with Rove on board is going to be treated as a nuclear-grade threat, so his presence could create more problems than it would solve. Something interesting to keep an eye on during this interminable campaign.
Via TPM, I learn of this LA Times story on our upcoming war with Iran.
The Bush administration has postponed plans to offer public details of its charges of Iranian meddling inside Iraq amid internal divisions over the strength of the evidence, U.S. officials saidâ€¦some officials in Washington are concerned that some of the material may be inconclusive and that other data cannot be released without jeopardizing intelligence sources and methods. They want to avoid repeating the embarrassment that followed the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, when it became clear that information the administration cited to justify the war was incorrect, said the officials, who described the internal discussions on condition of anonymity.
For most people, “learning from your mistakes” means learning how to avoid that mistake in the future. For the Bush administration, it means learning how to make the same mistakes more effectively.