Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sobran Column --- Remembering Gene McCarthy
Session shows what ails Congress

Typically fine reporting from Robert Novak.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

In Hoc Anno Domini

Vermont Royster's annual Christmas message.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

In Sign of Conservative Split, a Commentator Is Dismissed - New York Times

Bruce Bartlett gets some publicity for his upcoming book on the Bush presidency.

Monday, October 17, 2005

OPENING ARGUMENT: Does Miers Have What It Takes To Excel On the Bench? (10/17/2005)

Stuart Taylor in the National Journal has a good summary of the Miers nomination: quite a "Bush-lite" action.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Wall Street Journal -- John Fund on the Trail I hired John Fund for one of his first jobs out of school, and I trust his judgment. Interesting take on Harriet Miers. Read and weep for the prospects of restoring the lost constitution.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Katrina exposes the Republicans as socialists

Bush tries to out-do FDR domestically.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State

Hurricane Katrina triggers time extension relief. The relevant IRS Rev. Proc. is here. (pdf file)

The relevant material begins on page 1073 and provides for an 120 day extension to either the 45 day or 180 day deadlines.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis - Consumer Price Index Calculator

Let's see now. A $100 bill would buy about $20 in 1971 goods; about $5 in 1913 goods (the year the Fed was created). Not a great track record. It is reasonably clear why the savings rate is near zero: persons who save the monetary unit have their savings wiped out.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Jude Wanniski: "Starvation and Death in Niger"

Monday, August 01, 2005

1031 Question

The question is: Can a piece of property identified and contracted for, but not yet closed on, be used in the exchange of the proceeds from the sale of an original property which would be sold after the date of the new properties contract but prior to the closing on the new property?

Yes. The dates of the contracts are not relevant. The relevant dates are the dates of transfer of title of the respective properties. As long as prior to the closing on the relinquished property an exchange agreement is executed calling for the proceeds of the first closing going to the qualified intermediary and then a second closing within 180 days from the first whereby the funds are paid into closing and the exchangor receives the repalcement property, the requirements of the safe harbor regulations are met.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

John G. Roberts and the New Federalism: William J. Wadkins Jr.

Roberts will get skewered over this. It will be interesting to see if he can face this issue straight on: Such as "Well, Senator So and So, are you suggesting that the commerce clause which to quote the constitution gives Congress the power 'to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes' grants Congress the right to regulate non-commerce, not among the states?"

Friday, June 24, 2005

To Confirm Their Judge, Republicans Abandoned Their Ideas Interesting take on Janice Rogers Brown (of Luvene, Alabama).

Monday, May 23, 2005

LOCO-FOCO: Library of Economics and Liberty

I have been asked about the name of my boat, Loco-Foco. Its roots lie in the factionalism of the old Jeffersonian Democratic party: the group standing opposed to special privilege and funny money.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Internal Revenue Bulletin - January 31, 2005 - Notice 2005-3

Here is link for 1031 exchangors who had their exchanges affected by Hurricane Ivan -- or one off the other recent hurricanes -- in reference to the IRS extending the 45 and 180 deadlines for identifying and closing on replacement property. It provides for at least a 120 day extension.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Catastrophic success Read and weep. Michael Lind deconstructs Wolfowitz.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Wolfowitz at the World Bank Great analysis by Wanniski:

Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: A Perfect Fit

If you really don’t know what the “World Bank” is all about, you would think that President Bush was joking in nominating Paul Wolfowitz to be the new president of the Bank, replacing Jim Wolfensohn. One of the chief architects of the Iraq war, Wolfowitz is a political theorist, a 61-year-old man who spent most of his adult life at blackboards and lecterns teaching students about international politics. He may know how to operate an Automatic Teller Machine when in need of ready cash, but he knows absolutely nothing about banking. Wolfensohn, who was a New York investment banker before President Clinton named him to the post a decade ago, at least knows something about banking. His partner in New York, to which I suppose he will return, is Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, our nation’s central bank. Wolfie the Warrior, by contrast, is the lifetime sidekick, even protégé, of Richard Perle, probably the most important intellectual in the service of the military-industrial complex. If you want to know how Professor Wolfowitz got the job, follow the money.

That’s what the World Bank is all about. It was created as an adjunct of the United Nations at the end of World War II, along with its brother institution, the International Monetary Fund. On paper, its function was to lend money to developing countries to help them grow. Its real job has been to serve the interests of the major money-center banks and the multinational corporations who make the big bucks in World Bank development projects. The Bank, which is really a “fund,” persuades a poor country like Ghana, for example, to build a new industrial complex in order make stuff for export. It will lend the money to Ghana -- which it gets from global taxpayers including you and me -- and arrange for the complex to be built by one of the favored corporations in the military-industrial complex. The list always includes Bechtel Corporation, Halliburton, and Kellogg Brown & Root, a division of Halliburton. These outfits go in and build the projects because the locals have no expertise.

In my January 23 memo in this space, ”Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” , I remarked on the recent book by John Perkins, who explains in some detail the mechanics of this gigantic money machine. It not only promotes unnecessary industrial complexes in Ghana, which rust away in bankruptcy when they prove to be uneconomic. The aim of the military-industrial complex is not only “industrial,” but also military. The name most closely associated with Halliburton, of course, is Vice President Cheney, who was Defense Secretary in the first Gulf War, with Paul Wolfowitz even then at his side (urging all-out war with Iraq even after Saddam put up the white flag and retreated to Baghdad before the war began!!) Rats.

The name most associated with Bechtel is George P. Shultz, once its top dog, now a mere director. Shultz was Treasury Secretary under Richard Nixon (helping talk him into floating the U.S. dollar), Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, and currently a member of the Defense Policy Board, which until last year Richard Perle chaired.

Shultz also introduced Governor George W. Bush to Condoleezza Rice, who in turn introduced Paul Wolfowitz to Governor Bush back in 1999. Shultz of course knew at the time that Wolfie and Perle and their neo-con Cabal were planning a war in Iraq, and we know nice, little “doable” wars (Wolfie’s word), are meat and potatoes for the military-industrial complex. Instead of squeezing nickels and dimes out of the taxpayers to persuade Ghana to build a steel mill it doesn’t need and can’t run, even little wars run into the billions. And everyone gets into the act. The arms makers who produce airplanes, tanks, guns, jeeps and humvees get to blow up a country (like Iraq) and Bechtel and Halliburton come in right behind to rebuild it. In announcing the Wolfowitz appointment today, President Bush said the World Bank is a big organization and Wolfowitz has experience running a big organization, the Pentagon!! As far as the military-industrial complex is concerned, Wolfowitz did a FANTASTIC job. He was only expected to plan for a $30 billion war and he screwed up so badly that it is now a $200 billion war, and counting. Anyone who can screw up that badly deserves a promotion, to the World Bank.

So you see it doesn’t really matter that Wolfowitz doesn’t know the first thing about banking or the economics of development projects. He will sit behind the biggest desk at the Bank and take the telephone calls from the Big Banks and the Multinationals, telling him what to do, and providing him with experts like John Perkins, who did the actual dirty work as an economic hit man, and now writes his confessions. When the White House needs a big favor for one of its big hitters, it need only put in a call to Wolfie, who will throw the right switch. That’s exactly the way it worked with Jim Wolfensohn these past ten years, and if you don’t believe me, look around and you will note how many poor countries got poorer during his reign, and how many big bucks were made at Bechtel and Halliburton.

There will of course be complaints from various global diplomats about the obvious incompetence of Wolfowitz, just as there were puzzled head-scratchings around the world about the incompetence of Condi Rice as Secretary of State or John Bolton as UN Ambassador. But money talks in all the places where the directors of the World Bank live, and they will be advised to clam up by the local military-industrial money machines. Perle will also have his pals at The Weekly Standard and Fox News speculate that when Condi is President, Wolfie will be her veep (which is how it happened we've seen talk of Condi for President in 2008). Nor can we expect any complaints from Congress, because in one way or another there is too much money at stake, too many reputations looking toward bigtime lobbying jobs when its time to give up a seat in Congress.

If this seems harsh, as if I’m writing about something new under the rocks on which our Uncle Sam perches, I suggest you read my 1978 book, “The Way the World Works,” which describes how the British Empire worked in exactly this fashion. My best example was the first multinational corporations, the British railroad builders. Once they ran out of places to build rail lines in the U.K., they persuaded Parliament to promote railroads in the colonies, and were enormously successful in talking the Raj into criss-crossing India with railroads in the mid-19th century. It was one thing in England, where the companies could only build where there was a clear sign the line would be profitable, because it was their own money at risk. In India, the locals borrowed the money from the Bank of England and hired the builders to put in rail lines that couldn’t possibly be profitable. India was burdened with debts from these schemes well into the 20th century.

Even after it gained independence in 1948, India was persuaded by British and American economists to keep tax rates high and to devalue the rupee, to keep them poor and unable to compete with the big guys. Who did the British and American economists work for? Why the World Bank, of course, and also the IMF, whose job is to go into the poor countries when they can’t pay back their loans, and lend them the money to do so -- as long as they agree to raise taxes again, devalue their currency, and build new industrial complexes that are constructed by Bechtel and Halliburton.

So you see why it makes perfect sense to have Wolfowitz at the World Bank. He’s terrific at doing wars, and wars are much more profitable than nickel-and-dime industrial projects. That’s the way the world works. Always has been.

* * * * *

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

From the Wanniski website:

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

Freedom of press is limited to those who own one.

Those who can -- do. Those who can't -- teach.

Imagine the Creator as a low comedian, and at once the world becomes explicable.

Nature abhors a moron.

Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them.

Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who would want to live in an institution.

Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing.

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

Hanging one scoundrel, it appears, does not deter the next. Well, what of it? The first one is at least disposed of.

Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice.

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.

Capitalism undoubtedly has certain boils and blotches upon it, but has it as many as government? Has it as many as marriage? Has it as many as religion? I doubt it. It is the only basic institution of modern man that shows any genuine health and vigor.

Jury - A group of 12 people, who, having lied to the judge about their health, hearing, and business engagements, have failed to fool him.

...the great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom respectable. No virtuous man--that is, virtuous in the Y.M.C.A. sense--has ever painted a picture worth looking at, or written a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading...

The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is the Christians.

The cosmos is a gigantic flywheel making 10,000 revolutions per minute. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.

A man full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic thought. He is not a mere ass; he is actually ill. Worse, he is incurable.

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for. As for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.

Remorse--Regret that one waited so long to do it. teachers, taking them by and large, are probably the most ignorant and stupid class of men in the whole group of menial workers.

Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.

One seldom discovers a true believer that is worth knowing.

Suppose two-thirds of the members of the national House of Representatives were dumped into the Washington garbage incinerator tomorrow, what would we lose to offset our gain of their salaries and the salaries of their parasites?

We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody is looking.

A poet more than thirty years old is simply an overgrown child.

A man may be a fool and not know it -- but not if he is married.

Truth would quickly cease to become stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it.

Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage.

The basic fact about human existence is not that it is a tragedy, but that it is a bore.
John Fund on the Trail

"High Taxes Wither Away
Former communist countries lead the way in abandoning progressivity."

Don't hold your breath, but an interesting story.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Friday, January 14, 2005

GOP willing to take hike for reform

Novak writes that Sen. Lindsey Graham's proposal to raise the social security tax as part of a compromise in order to secure some private accounts is getting legs. Once again the stupid party is about to get rolled.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Shady Origins of Social Security

This is important stuff. More later. As I have time.