Benefits of the Financial System

The Economist summarizes the opening of Martin Wolf’s, Fixing Global Finance, as follows:

Finance allows the creation of vast enterprises out of the combined capital, supplied at modest cost, of millions of people. It permits upstarts to launch companies, challenging the power of incumbents. It allows people to smooth their spending over a lifetime. It facilitates risk sharing and insurance. Empirical studies confirm that these advantages are real.

I take it those empirical studies did not take into account the current economic crisis wherein we are all benefiting from the facilitated risk sharing.
Yes, those vast enterprises, governments and large businesses, have done wonders: count the wars, count the environmental destruction, count the devastated indigenous peoples, notice the vast income and wealth discrepancies.

We do need a financial system but perhaps one that does not facilitate disasters.

Television Viewers Likely to Be Subjected to More Hours of Inanity

MSNBC reports that the us senate has voted unanimously to subject television viewers to 4 more months of increasingly tiresome announcements about and explanations of the upcoming analog to digital television transition:

The Senate on Monday voted unanimously to postpone the upcoming transition from analog to digital television broadcasting by four months to June 12.
The Nielsen Co. estimates that more than 6.5 million U.S. households that rely on analog television sets to pick up over-the-air broadcast signals could see their TV sets go dark next month if the transition is not postponed.

And the national IQ will rise dramatically if this happens.
Apparently these same TV sets have been dark for the past two years. Otherwise their owners, if they really cared, would be prepared. There is nothing in the article that suggests that there is a shortage of converters in stores.
But, really, it is some kind of national emergency:

“Delaying the upcoming DTV switch is the right thing to do,” said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., author of the bill to push back the deadline. “I firmly believe that our nation is not yet ready to make this transition at this time.”

Dear jay, the “nation” is ready. Some folks suffer from extreme inertia; the vast majority of households are ready for the transition.
Are you concerned that all the coupons requested did not get sent out?

The NTIA had nearly 2.6 million coupon requests on a waiting list as of last Wednesday.

First, did you give the NTIA more money so they could send out the rest of the coupons…not mentioned in the article. Second, even if you wait for the backlog of coupons to be sent out what about the other 4 million households that may not be ready? They’ve been bombarded with “public service announcements,” how to connect your converter stories and seemingly more news coverage than the Illinois governor. Exactly what is it that makes you think 4 more months is going to change their behavior?

Get it over with. Help out the obama administration by forcing a little economic activity. Let the transition happen and folks that really care will buy their converter boxes.

Buy Your Roquefort While You Can

Despite what Cookie Jill says, this kind of crap is not unique to the bush administration:

Less than a week before it leaves office, the Bush administration has sparked anger across the Atlantic by tripling the import duty rate on roquefort cheese to 300%, a move which the US hopes will “shut down trade” in the sheep’s milk product by making it prohibitively expensive.

It is a thing of governments and various rent seekers looking for unearned treasure.

In a free country, a free world, there are no tarriffs. Individuals and groups of individuals voluntarily trade goods and services without the interference of third parties unless force or fraud have been used in the transaction

The Truth About Government Contracting

The White House Fence

Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence at the White House in DC: One is from New York , another is fromTennessee and the third, is from Florida .
All three go with a White House official to examine the fence.
The Florida contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. “Well,” he says, “I figure the job will run about $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100 profit for me.”
The Tennessee contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says, “I can do this job for $700: $300 for materials, $300 for my crew and $100 profit for me.”
The New York contractor doesn’t measure or figure, but leans over to the White House official and whispers, “$2,700.”
The official, incredulous, says, “You didn’t even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?”
The New York contractor whispers back, “$1000 for me, $1000 for you, and we hire the guy from Tennessee to fix the fence.”
“Done!” replies the government official.

Via email found in a junk mail folder.