Done vs. Done Well

January 26th, 2009

The major intellectual failing of conservatives and libertarians is a deliberate inability to understand the difference between "government" and "government done poorly". Any endeavor, any field can be done well or poorly or anything in between; private industry can and does fail as spectacularly as any government program, and government programs can succeed as well or better than anything done by private industry.

I may rant more about that later. Heck, I'm almost guaranteed to. But really all I wanted to do was to pass on the following posts from Slashdot.


And yet, there are those who actually need TEMPORARY help (such as me, a few years ago, when I had a debilitating condition that precluded work until I could get treated) that get turned down because I wasn't a slut with 8 kids or a lazy scumbag. I paid my fucking tax dollars into the system and yet, they weren't willing to help me with a medical bill and food for a month; not even food stamps.

I managed to survive, but I learned a valuable lesson: government won't help those who can't help themselves at the moment, but will be able to eventually. You have to be a true loser for them to even talk to you.

So now I claim as much as possible to avoid having my tax dollars from becoming an interest-free loan for a year, for the government to blow at their discretion. And I now vote Republican whenever I discover a true one running for office (as rare as that is these days).


Hahaha, as a European I find it amusing how your half-baked, badly implemented safety nets are taken as evidence that there shouldn't be any at all. And we always get flak for being wasteful socialist commies.

I had to visit a welfare office, too, at one stage. It was embarrasing but helped me get through that bad period. It's not like our system is perfect but I'm grateful and now happily pay my taxes to help others in the same position. It also helps to know that only the absolute minimum is spent on non-productive stuff like defence.

Person A, of course, posted anonymously, and there's a non-zero chance they aren't even real. Person B used an actual account.

Reviews: Benjamin Button, Shakespeare: The World as Stage

January 22nd, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 8/10

This was a movie about a life. It was very well written, well acted, and exceptionally well filmed - although the young/old (or is that old/young?) Benjamin Button smacked a little bit of Peter Jackson's Gollum, the reverse-aging was on the whole incredibly well done. The story was compelling, and as a history buff it was loads of fun to pass through the twentieth century: the style of each era was meticulously and enthrallingly presented.

Benjamin himself was a fine central character, human and likable; other characters were equally interesting and real.

I was seriously annoyed by an unrealistically foolish decision that brings the film to its conclusion, and felt that the film would have been stronger had it taken a different (but harder) path. And, as any film about a human life must, the movie ends with death, and thus one comes out on a very downbeat note. It is, all in all, kind of a depressing film.

But one well worth watching.

Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson 9/10

Bill Bryson should write more. This is a great albeit short book, detailing everything we know about William Shakespeare. Which is, in sum, very damn little indeed. Hence the size of the book. But it lacks none of Bryson's wit or verve - I read the entire thing in one sitting in the bookstore. And then bought it as a gift for someone for Christmas, and when they were staying with us I read it again. It's that good.

I broke Google!

January 21st, 2009

What do I win?

Note: After thirty seconds the same search ran just fine.

Nationalize them already!

January 20th, 2009

Get this:

RBS, worth £75 billion only two years ago, is now valued at £4.5 billion, even though it received £32 billion from taxpayers and shareholders less than three months ago.

(from the Times Online)

Now look. I have a degree in economics and an MBA from a prestigious university; I'm no wild-eyed communist. Private enterprise is both the greatest creator of wealth and human happiness and a positive moral endeavor.

But come on. When the government puts more money into an enterprise than it's worth, the enterprise should become property of the government. Previous shareholders need to be wiped out - entirely - because that's how capitalism works. If there's no risk there's no incentive to behave as shareholders must behave in order for the whole corporate-capitalist machine to function properly.

And to argue that the government can't run things well is facile (and flat-out wrong but that's another issue), given that it would not be possible to do worse than the previous management. Sure, as soon as feasible the government should sell the enterprise(s) off again into private hands. But if we the taxpayers are bailing out General Motors for more than the market value of General Motors, or bailing out AIG or staving off bankruptcy at Citibank or whatever - we should wind up owning the companies, 100%, and the previous shareholders and management should be out. Period. That's how capitalism works: if you fail, you go under.

You and I are pouring $700 billion into these financial titans and getting what, exactly? If these companies are necessary to prop up the current financial system, well then they can prop it up under our ownership.

I say again, prior owners/shareholder and prior management should be wiped out, taken off the board. A bailout ought to be a buyout. And then, in two or three years, the government can privatise the companies again, hopefully to shareholders with a little more interest in oversight.

Bankruptcy Watch II

January 15th, 2009

Today - Black Angus! Founded in 1964.