Archive for January, 2009

I like this.  People justly mock Republicans who lecture the rest of us on the sanctity of marriage and the importance of family values, then have marital affairs and solicit sex in public restrooms.  It’s well past time to mock Democrats who lecture the rest of us on cronyism and financial management problems, then obtain special “Friends of Angelo” mortgages and fail to pay their taxes.

Moral principles are universal, and apply equally to all people.  This business of applying one standard to government officials and another to everybody else is more like the relationship between feudal aristocrats and their serfs than anything that should exist in a free society.  At least they haven’t resurrected the droit de seigneur — so far, they’ve restricted themselves to screwing us economically.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya, President Obama commented that “the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there’s no reason why we can’t restore that.”  30 years ago, in 1979, the relationship between America and the Muslim world was dominated by the Iranian Hostage Crisis.  20 years ago, in 1989, it was the first Gulf War.  In other words, the “respect and partnership” that America had with the Muslim world 20 or 30 years ago was characterized by a virulent Islamic totalitarian movement waging a terror war against the United States, and a large-scale American invasion of Iraq.  Sounds familiar.  What exactly needs restoring, again?

Those ignorant of history…

Update: Sorry, brain fart.  The first Gulf War was, of course, in 1991 — not 1989 as I said above.  I think I conflated it with the fall of the Berlin Wall for some bizarre reason.  ‘Those ignorant of history’ apparently includes me.  Ok, so it was 18 years, not 20, and the irony only holds 50%.  Still, I think the basic point — that the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world over the last three decades has been a pretty consistently bloody and violent one — stands up.

Oftentimes people respond to a crisis by claiming that it could not have been foreseen.  (Government officials said this in the wake of 9/11, as one example.)  With regard to the housing crisis, I have an answer: Henry Hazlitt.  From his 1946 book Economics In One Lesson:

The case against government-guaranteed loans and mortgages to private businesses and persons is almost as strong as, though less obvious than, the case against direct government loans and mortgages [for homes]. … Government-guaranteed home mortgages, especially when a negligible down payment or no down payment whatever is required, inevitably mean more bad loans than otherwise. They force the general taxpayer to subsidize the bad risks and to defray the losses. They encourage people to ‘buy’ houses that they cannot really afford. They tend to eventually to bring about an oversupply of houses as compared with other things. They temporarily overstimulate building, raise the cost of building for everybody (including the buyers of the homes with the guaranteed mortgages), and may mislead the building industry into an eventually costly overexpansion. In brief, in the long run they do not increase overall national production but encourage malinvestment.

Over sixty years ago, and he nailed it.  What a shame nobody was listening.