My Friends

by Kieran Healy on September 26, 2008

Let me be clear. As I say, inaction is not an option. We have got to shore up our economy. This is crisis moment for America, really the rest of the world also, looking to see what the impacts will be if America were to choose not to shore up what has happened on Wall Street because of the – the ultimate adverse effects on Main Street and then how that affects this globalization that we’re a part of, in our world. So, the rest of the world really is looking at John McCain, the leadership that he’s going to provide through this, and if those provisions in the proposal can be implemented and make this proposal better, make it make more sense to taxpayers, then again, John McCain is going to prove his leadership. … But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping the – it’s got to be all about job creation too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reigning in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we’ve got to see trade as opportunity not as a competitive, scary thing, but one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today. We’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

Thank you, and on to your Debate Thread.

Classroom Advocacy

by Brian on September 26, 2008

My university (Rutgers) is fairly actively encouraging students to register to vote. And I’ve occasionally done a bit to help, hosting students who do a spiel on voter registration and personally encouraging students to vote.

Now I think this is all a good thing. Voting is a good thing, and a healthy democracy requires a decent turnout of voters, so doing our little bit to help democracy is being on the side of the good. It’s not exactly related to the courses we’re teaching, but spending 45 seconds before class is officially scheduled to start encouraging voter registration, or putting voter registration ads on course management software as Rutgers has done, seems far from an abuse of official positions.

Still, voting isn’t the only good thing in the world. It seems to me that voting in the upcoming election for Obama/Biden over McCain/Palin is pretty close to a moral requirement. (For those who are eligible to so vote. I of course won’t be voting for Obama, because that would be illegal, and undemocratic.) But it seems it would be seriously wrong for either Rutgers, or for me, to use our positions of authority to promote voting for Obama. And I think this isn’t a particularly controversial position.

But it’s a little hard to say just exactly why it’s OK for Rutgers (and me) to do what we’re doing, and not do what we’re not doing. Below the fold I have a few thoughts on this question.
[click to continue…]

But the seizure and the deal with JPMorgan came as a shock to Washington Mutual’s board, which was kept completely in the dark: the company’s new chief executive, Alan H. Fishman, was in midair, flying from New York to Seattle at the time the deal was finally brokered, according to people briefed on the situation. Mr. Fishman, who has been on the job for less than three weeks, is eligible for $11.6 million in cash severance and will get to keep his $7.5 million signing bonus, according to an analysis by James F. Reda and Associates. WaMu was not immediately available for comment.

Link. Just imagine that WaMu was caught in a moment of uncharacteristic forthcomingness. Was inclined to wax metaphysical about the great comedy that is both Life and the Universe.

Free markets: a proposed trade

by John Quiggin on September 26, 2008

Since the collapse of the US financial system became undeniable, I’ve been struck by the number of people insisting that this has no implications for free-market policies because the US (and particularly its financial sector) is not truly a free-market economy. [1]

In the spirit of market economics, I want to offer a trade to all such people. I will agree that
(a) the US is not a free-market economy, and its failures do not constitute evidence against the claim that a pure free-market economy is the best possible form of social organization
(b) no other actually existing society is, or has ever been, a free-market economy, and no actual or conceivable events anywhere constitute evidence against the claim that a pure free-market economy is the best possible form of social organization
(c) In discussion with parties to the agreement, I will not contest the claim that a pure free-market economy is the best possible form of social organization

All I ask in return is that the counterparties to the deal agree not to advocate, oppose, criticise, or comment on any policy or political position that might actually be implemented, to ensure that the purity of the free-market ideal is not compromised by actual experience.[2]

fn1. Since I haven’t checked, I’ll assume that this set of people has zero overlap with those I once debated who insisted that the supposedly superior performance of the US economy over social-democratic competitors demonstrated the superiority of free market economics.
fn2. I’m willing to make the same offer to Marxist-Leninists and (two for the price of one) to combine both offers for free-market Marxist-Leninists