Sure, You Say That Now…

Ron Paul on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:

Despite the long-term damage to the economy inflicted by the government’s interference in the housing market, the government’s policy of diverting capital to other uses creates a short-term boom in housing. Like all artificially-created bubbles, the boom in housing prices cannot last forever. When housing prices fall, homeowners will experience difficulty as their equity is wiped out. Furthermore, the holders of the mortgage debt will also have a loss. These losses will be greater than they would have otherwise been had government policy not actively encouraged over-investment in housing.

Of course, he said this in 2003.  The guy really is a kook, huh?

Without Being Told (or Forced)

I drove up to the boonies to help a friend move today.  Actually, I drove up through hell Gatlinburg to get to his new place on top of the mountain.  On the way back I took the backroads in order to avoid the traffic and enjoy the scenic drive.  Something really cool happened on the way back, and it didn’t really strike me as strange until a half hour or so afterwards.

A large tree had fallen across Highway 416, blocking the road in both directions.  I was about 5 or 6 cars deep in one of the stuck lanes, but several of us got out of our cars and started disassembling the tree and moving the branches out of the way.  Then a couple of guys (presumably locals) pulled up with their chainsaws and started cutting pieces for us to drag off.  We had the road cleared in less than 10 minutes, jumped in our cars, and kept going.

This is a great example of why people work and government doesn’t.  Sure, there were some people who sat in their cars and watched as everyone else cleared the road for them (“It’s not my job” types).  But there were plenty of people who would rather roll up their sleeves and do some work to get where they want to go instead of waiting around on someone else.  The guys who had chainsaws did the cutting.  The rest of us did the moving.  We didn’t have to have someone coordinate it, and we didn’t have to be forced into doing the work.

How long would it have taken for the road to be cleared if we’d all sat in our cars and waited for some gov’ment agency to take care of something we were perfectly able to handle ourselves?

We all saw a benefit in cooperating and working together to achieve a goal.  Those of us who were moving limbs sure were happy some people had chainsaws, and I’m sure the guys with the chainsaws were happy they didn’t have to drag big pieces of tree–all they had to do was run the saw.

Notice how everyone, even the people who weren’t willing to help, benefited from the fact that each of us was acting out of 100% pure selfishness? We just wanted to get where we wanted to go.

Thinking Games Useful For Corporations

Most video games hold my attention for about 3 hours. That’s not 3 hours at a time, that’s 3 hours total. The one exception is strategy games, which I can play into the wee hours of the night. Civilization is my all-time favorite, mostly because it absolutely destroys me, but there are several other “thinking” games out there, and now they are being used to do good instead of evil–unless of course you find corporations evil, in which case they continue to do evil.  Then again, that probably makes you a communist, so evil in your eyes is probably good in mine.

Now video games are making their way into corporations. These “serious games”—the term that’s been kicking around the last few years to describe games that are learning tools—use the same technology as the latest PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 titles, but they’re not targeted at Doritos-munching 14-year-olds

The Rise of Corporate Games.

Oh yeah…Rock Band 2 Comes out in September.

Let’s Call it Two Million Hundred Dollars

Maybe that would have been an easier PR sell for the UT Athletic Department. Then they’d only be dealing with hundreds of dollars instead of millions. That may be a little easier for people to swallow.

And this facility is used how many times a year? Seven? Let’s be generous and call it ten since the Knoxville Marathon finishes in the stadium and there’s a chance Kenny Chesney may play there. And let’s assume that the investment is stretched out over ten years, or 100 days of use.

That means these upgrades will only cost $2,000,000 for each day they are in service.

“We’re being as careful as we’ve always been to make sure we spend these dollars wisely that Tennessee fans and donors invest,” Currie said.

It must be nice to have money.  I’m just glad it’s not my money they’re spending.

Neyland face-lift: $200M.

Mortgage Aid is a Waste of Money

$300,000,000,000.00 in funds for mortgage aid.  I hope this doesn’t get passed for several reasons.  First of all, it’s such an obvious attempt by both Democrats and Republicans to pander.  This probably wouldn’t be happening were this not an election year.

And why does the gov’ment need to do this?  Can’t financial institutions (who are in trouble if they don’t get paid) work this out with borrowers (who are in trouble if they can’t pay) on their own?  They got on this boat together, both knowing its hull was full of holes.  Why should everyone else have to come to their rescue now?

The mortgage aid plan would let the Federal Housing Administration back $300 billion in new, cheaper home loans for an estimated 400,000 distressed borrowers who otherwise would be considered too financially risky to qualify for government-insured, fixed-rate loans.

Does this mean I can look forward to being offered aid when I make a bad financial decision as well?  What  about the guy who started piling up cash years ago when people were getting interest only and adjustable rate loans because he knew there would be an opportunity to buy foreclosed property cheap in a few years for cash?  Why isn’t that person, who made a good financial decision, being rewarded?

Your Mom Gave Me Her Number

Kids TattooSVD has made a great find. No need to keep up with your kid anymore, just give them some ink and you’re done.  I can already see where this is headed–kids running wild in zoos, amusement parks, shopping malls, and strip clubs.   Wait, I meant shopping clubs and strip malls…sorry.  Meanwhile their moms will all be sitting on park benches reading books or taking naps on cots waiting for their cell phone to ring and tell them their kids have broken something–again.

You know, parenting gets easier and easier every day. Who knows, maybe one day, when someone develops the technology, there will be a box you can put your kids in front of that will hold their attention for hours on end.

One less thing to worry about, ya know?

Hillary Clinton and the Economy

I can’t believe she said this:

“It’s time for a president who is ready on day one to be the commander in chief of our economy,” the New York senator said, reframing her leadership campaign theme. “Sometimes the phone rings at 3 a.m. in the White House, and it’s an economic crisis.”

So what is the solution at 3 am? Do you get on the phone to the Chairman of the Fed and beg him to drop interest rates 0.75%? Do you decide to take away buy people’s property and pay other people to flood it? Do you log into your online account and borrow millions billions trillions from China to write out checks to the American people that are just big enough to allow them to buy some stuff from…China?

Do you then go back to sleep after one of these snap decisions, resting easy that the situation has been resolved?

To be fair, it’s not just Clinton, and the American people are encouraging them to stick their noses where they don’t belong. I can’t remember where I read this (thanks to public education), but it describes the powers and duties of the President of the United States pretty clearly.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Where does it say the President is in charge of the economy or even has anything to do with the economy? And seriously, do we want one person to have that kind of power? Wasn’t that exact situation a major factor in that war fought a couple hundred years ago?

And One More Thing…

I have just one last thing to say about the axing of Volunteer Voters.

If you own a big chunk of any media market (television, print, web) and it isn’t profitable, you have a management problem. The solution to your problem isn’t to let go of the reigns and crash the cart. The solution to your problem is to hand the reigns over to someone who knows how to steer the cart.

Give me Volunteer Voters’ traffic. I’ll cash some fat checks. But as I said before, I can’t see how a regional media outlet could afford to give up such a valuable asset whether it is profitable as a standalone entity or not.

Wine At The Grocery Store?

HT to Michael Silence for this.

Sen. Bill Ketron and Rep. Randy Rinks introduced a bill (SB3139/HB3451) at the beginning of the legislative session. The proposed legislation would allow wine sales only in municipalities that currently allow package sales.

Just another one of the many things I don’t understand:  we need legislation to allow wine sales in grocery stores?  I understand the concept of legislation that disallows something, but I don’t get the need for laws that allow things.  Why not just repeal the law that keeps grocery stores from selling wine in the first place?

And what was the original purpose of keeping wine out of groceries?  The only benefit I can see is for the liquor stores have the market cornered currently.

Yeah, I know we live in the Bible Belt and that’s just the way things are, but was there a problem with people showing up to church wine-drunk on Sundays because they stopped to get bread and eggs on their way and were seduced into buying a bottle of cabernet?

Apparently there’s a mini-movement going on to expand wine sales to food retailers.  I’m not much of a wino–the headache just isn’t worth the great taste, but I wouldn’t mind being able to buy some high gravity beers now and then without having to make an extra stop.  Either way, what do I care if someone else buys wine?  How does that affect me?

Microsoft to Buy Yahoo!?

From the WSJ:

The offer, $31 a share in cash and stock, is a 62% premium to Thursday’s closing price. Microsoft said Yahoo holders would be able to trade their shares for cash or 0.9509 Microsoft shares a piece, with no more than half of the overall purchase price paid in cash.

Seems too good for Yahoo! shareholders to pass up. What would it mean for us?

It could have a big affect on bloggers and site owners. Currently Google dominates the pay per click advertising market with AdSense. Microsoft getting control of Yahoo’s advertising network could mean a higher payout for publishers and maybe even some transparency in just what percentage of the cost of an ad a site owner is paid for a click. Currently, there is no market force to compel Google to pay out higher rates or to disclose their payout percentages.

Microsoft can actually afford to operate a division at a loss for a while in order to change the market. For proof, look no further than Internet Explorer and the X-Box.

Of course, Google could always counter with an even better offer. It’s a good time to hold Yahoo! stock, huh?