Deregulation??

Lately, I haven’t been able to turn on TV news without the talking heads therein telling me the country’s financial state is terrible because of deregulation. The Republicans, it is alleged or explicitly stated, deregulated the financial sector, and those greedy businessmen and bankers took full advantage. Now, the bottom has fallen out of the stock market and financial institutions are having to be bailed out by the government.

Then, what to my wondering screen should appear, but the following:

http://cei.org/articles/%E2%80%98hidden-tax%E2%80%99-rules-hits-economy

The heart of the matter:

“The Federal Register, which lists all new rules, ran to 72,090 pages in 2007. This was down 3.8% from 2006. The record year was 2004, which saw 75,676 pages.

“Out of more than 60 federal departments, a mere five accounted for 45% of new rules. The departments of Treasury, Commerce, Agriculture, and Homeland Security, along with the EPA, instituted a combined 1,741 new rules in 2007.

“Some rules cost more than others and deserve special attention. Of the new rules, 159 are “economically significant,” meaning they will cost at least $100 million a year. ”

So, it’s difficult for me to see just what has been “deregulated,” and how it’s caused all this financial destruction.

–Ken

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Terrorism vs. Freedom of Speech

Here we go again.

Sherry Jones, an American journalist, wrote a book entitled The Jewel of Medina. She got and advance of $100,000 from Random House, and the book was scheduled to come out in August of this year. It reportedly concerns the love story of Muhammed and his child bride.

A professor who was asked to read the book and perhaps provide a blurb for the cover, instead panned the book. Her derogation of the book as “softcore pornography” was leaked to the press.

The result was to cause Random House to withdraw. Jones responded, “That one of the biggest publishing houses in the world refuses to publish a book because of warnings is a sobering comment on the state of freedom of speech in the USA.” http://tinyurl.com/4b5osy

What Jones said is true; freedom of speech is eroding in this country. That is happening, not because of any conspiratorial suppression, but because of our government’s defaulting on its job of protecting this freedom.

The default, ongoing for years now, was highlighted when American publishers and book sellers were terrorized from publishing Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, and the government did nothing. It’s hard to blame Random House for being scared off.

Sherry Jones was able to find another publisher, Gibson Square, an independent in Britain. The threats followed the book across the ocean. The home/office of this publisher, Martin Rynja, has been firebombed, lending credence to Random House’s fears. At least, the British authorities acted quickly and well, arresting the perpetrators and charging them with terrorism.

–Ken

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Hard to Imagine

You gotta feel sorry for ‘ol Bill Gates. He has been the richest man in the world since 1998. He’s worth $50 billion now, down from $90 billion in 1999. About being the richest he says, “I wish I wasn’t. There is nothing good that comes out of that.” His reason? “You get more visibility as a result of it.”

Hard as it is to imagine being the world’s richest man, even after dropping $40 billion, it’s even harder to conceive being so put off by the inevitable public awe.

Poor baby….

— Ken

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Getting to Essentials

Harry Binswanger exemplifies a method for thinking about an issue that helps one get at its essentials. The issue he deals with is the current contention over placing a Dubai company in charge of U.S. ocean ports. He asks a question ignored/evaded by pundits and politicians (or anyone else, so far as I know). “Why is it an issue at all whether or not a Middle Eastern company runs our ports?” A marvelous set of answers and further questions follows:

“Because we are afraid of the very real possibility of Islamic terrorists doing something like detonating a nuclear bomb in New York harbor.” And “Why is that a very real possibility?” Well, “…we haven’t crushed the jihadist movement.” Why not, since we certainly have the means? “We lacked the moral certainty of the rightness of that course. …the will uncompromisingly to assert our right to self-defense.”

As to the next question, why we lack the will, “…America lost the knowledge that men have rights and that therefore the nation of rights is right. For a long, long time, our intellectual leadership has regarded America as evil. No nation whose intellectuals are solidly against it can act with moral certainty…”

And at last, ” Why have the American intellectuals been anti-American for all this time? Because of the altruist morality and the anti-reason epistemology.”

So, it comes down to philosophy — the essential — the prevailing ethics and epistemology this country has absorbed. If, instead, America were still the country of egoism and reason the question about who should be in charge of the ports would be moot. Harry Binswanger puts it to words:

” You fear a nuclear bomb going off in New York Harbor? Then crush the enemy. End the mullahs regime in Iran. Crush Syria. Whip the Saudis into line. And tell the world that self-sacrifice is evil and religion is a lie. Which means: tell the world that man is an end in himself, that his life on this earth is the only thing that is sacred, that the individual has a right to exist for his own sake, and that reason, not faith or force, is man’s only means of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.”

And thus, through a series of common sense questions and answers, he disposes of the “issue” of what company should be in charge of the seaports and brings the discussion back to the essentials — the ideas behind the “issue.”

–Ken

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Google’s Appeasement of China’s Dictatorship

The other day, Michael Swanson wrote on HBL about Google’s capitulation to China, “…it seems to be alright with them to stop
showing pages about freedom, human rights, Tibet, and several other topics, and rather redirect people to the Party controlled
government pages on these topics.” I sent the following to Google (I doubt that I will get any reply):

Your recent policy of kowtowing to the government of China’s suppression of information for its people is shameful and disappointing. There is no need for Google, given its stupendous achievements, to abase itself by supporting a dictatorship’s efforts to keep its people in ignorance.

–Ken

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