Monday, December 29, 2008

Kennedy Inc.

The "Public Service" Business....

The current kerfuffle regarding Caroline Kennedy has had me thinking about the real business behind the “Political Families ” that we’re all familiar with, like the Kennedy’s, Bush’s, Udall’s, the Clinton’s (can’t wait to see where they try to position Chelsea) and now the Biden’s. They all seem to characterize themselves as families with a tradition of "Public Service”.

Unlike other families who's members have a tradition of serving in the military, the Postal Service, or other government funded jobs, where we call them military families, or civil service families, these folks have applied the term "Public Service" to their activities, and by doing so, seem to attempt to cloak themselves in a type of social ermine, elevating and equating their activities to a noble sacrifice that they are bestowing on the rest of us. But, the real ‘business’ that those families are in, and why it’s so important for them to have ‘Family-Branded’ members continue on in office, is that they are fundamentally in the business of selling influence and making rain - or in their parlance, "Public Service".

Just look at the donation lists for Bill Clinton’s Library and his other organizations. If those donors really were concerned about the particular social issues that they framed their donation around, they would have given it to a primary agency involved in the issue, not some tangential gateway that skims off the top. Those ‘donor’s pure and simply were buying influence. And, in order to sell influence, you must be in a position to ‘influence’ the outcome of issues that they are concerned with. The primary way to do that is to hold, or be closely linked to, a significant decision making political office, hence the strong push to get Caroline in the Senate. The Kennedy ‘brand’ is about to be extinguished with Ted on his way to his eternal reward, and when that happens, all the Kennedy’s on all the Corporate Boards will be vulnerable, unless another quickly segues into the Senate, they won't be able to insinuate the potential to close deals, and make rain happen.

The Democrats aren’t alone in this governmental influence peddling industry, there are Republicans families who have also become embedded in the government as well, but the Democrats seem to have the better "nose" for building and running these family businesses, and more importantly, extracting immense wealth from them.

No slouch, Obama, Inc. , and Biden, Inc. are coming on strong, with Michelle having scored a three hundred percent raise upon Barack's election to the US Senate.....nice...., and Joe setting up his son to take over his Senate position upon his return from Iraq.  Oh, there's also Rahm Emanuel and Jamie Gorelick's multi-million dollar compensation during their brief inter-governmental jobs.  No wonder Gov. Blago was getting frustrated.  He knew he was missing out on the payoff's.  But, unlike the other's he just hadn't invested enough yet in building the right "brand".

Well, we'll just have to see if the Kennedy "brand" will sell well enough in NY to keep the family in the "Public Service" business.  Now that I think about it, that's actually an appropriate term, considering what they do to the rest of us in the Public.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Caroline, The "You Know" Kennedy

Caroline, The Gift Who Keeps On 

It's amazing!  Talk about the audacity of hope!  Here's a woman with limited capabilities - those that allow her to cash in on her family name and provenance, who, along with those in her extended family's business (selling influence), believes that she can just announce her interest in being the Senator from NY, and it should, and will, happen.....just like in Camelot!

First suggestion,  work on public speaking ability.  Even the counter ladies in Saks and Macy's articulate better than she does.  And does she really believe that her books were best seller's?

Listen to her weak rational for seeking the office, as well as the distracting and annoying "you know's" in this interview she gave today....ultimately, she will prove out to be an embarrassment to the Democrats, not an asset.

Listen to the interview here , if it does not show up in your email.

Tony Snow - Man Of The Year 2008

Best of the best! 

Tony Snow
Lynch Report's 
Man Of The Year - 2008
Robert Anthony Snow 
June 1, 1955–July 12, 2008

Like many, I've been scanning through the end of year issues published by many newspapers, magazines, and webzines. Many of them drew up and presented lists of the country's and world's notables who passed on during the year; today's NY Times Sunday magazine was the 15th annual "Lives They Lived" issue, devoted almost entirely to individuals who possessed some unique combination of character or talent that made their passing worth noting by the staff and editors of that well-known but moribund publication.

To my amazement, not one media outlet listed the late Tony Snow as a person worthy of special note.  So, to correct that oversight, we've decided to have Tony as the only person recognized by the Lynch Report.  We miss his charming demeanor, and his ability to deal with contentious issues in a most amiable way, while still ensuring that all the facts were covered - despite the politics.

Tony was named White House Press Secretary to replace an inept Scott McClellan in George Bush's administration.This came a bit of a surprise, as Tony had criticized some of Bush's actions. Bush acknowledged that was one of the reason's he was hired, stating that Snow was "not afraid to express his own opinions".

In addition to being a broadcaster, journalist, and White House Press Secretary, Tony was also an avid musician. Playing the trombone, flute, piccolo, accordion, saxophone and guitar, Tony belonged to a cover band, Beats Workin', which featured fellow Washington-area professionals. Beats Workin' played publicly with a number of rock bands, including Snow's friends Skunk Baxter (The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan) and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, and he was featured on an episode of VH1 Classic's Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp.
But most significant of all of Tony's accomplishments, was his ability to demonstrate to all of us on how to live our lives to the fullest, and how to face the end of our life with not only dignity, but love, purpose, humility, and acceptance.  He was the consummate professional, and role model man.  
Here's Tony playing a little Blues....

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt. "Santa Baby" - Thank You

Eartha Kitt has passed away at age 81.  

A true professional, and always entertaining.  You will be missed.

Santa Baby....1954

Here she is at age 79 in 2006....

25 December 1666

It's Christmas Day.
On this day in 1666, Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary :

25. Christmas day. Lay pretty long in bed. And then rise, leaving my wife desirous to sleep, having sat up till 4 this morning seeing her maids make mince-pies. I go to church, where our parson Mills made a good sermon. Then home, and dine well on some good ribs of beef roasted and mince pies; only my wife, brother, and Barker, and plenty of good wine of my own; and my heart full of true joy and thanks to God Almighty for the goodness of my condition at this day. 

Well said....and how is your day going?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Questions for Caroline

So you want to be a Senator from New York State?

John J. Pitney , Jr. has a few questions for you....

Here are some locations in Upstate NY. Pronounce them correctly.....


For extra credit, please spell Schenectady.

The answers are:
kol-on-EE, not “colony”
puh-LAS-keye, not puh-LAS-kee
CARE-o, not KYE-ro or KAY-ro
GREEN-witch, not GREN-itch
water-va-LEET, not water-va-LAY
CORNth, not core-INTH

John J. Pitney, Jr. is the Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College.

Compassionate President

A story not told till now

This is the type of action that a lesser man would have tried to capitalize on for political purposes.  That he didn't, speaks volumes about the man.....

President Bush has sent personal letters to the families of every one of the more than 4,000 troops who have died in the two wars, an enormous personal effort that consumed hours of his time and escaped public notice. The task, along with meeting family members of troops killed in action, has been so wrenching - balancing the anger, grief and pride of families coping with the loss symbolized by a flag-draped coffin - that the president often leaned on his wife, Laura, for emotional support.
"I lean on the Almighty and Laura," Mr. Bush said in the interview. "She has been very reassuring, very calming."
Mr. Bush also has met privately with more than 500 families of troops killed in action and with more than 950 wounded veterans, according to White House spokesman Carlton Carroll. Many of those meetings were outside the presence of the news media at the White House or at private sessions during official travel stops, officials said.
The first lady said those private visits, many of which she also attended, took a heavy emotional toll, not just on the president, but on her as well.
Full Story ....

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Obam's Litmus Test

Use Science not ideology.

President-elect Barack Obama on Saturday named Harvard physicist John Holdren and marine biologist Jane Lubchenco to top science posts, signaling a change from Bush administration policies on global warming that were criticized for putting politics over science.  Speaking in pure Orwellian terms, President -Elect Obama said "ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology," . He then indicated that he had actually employed the Scientific Method in choosing his science advisors - the Litmus test, and both passed with flying colors: Both Mr. Holdren and Ms. Lubchenco are leading experts on climate change who have advocated forceful government response (see picture of Mr. Holden's successful test below).
Mr. Holdren will become Mr. Obama's science adviser as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Ms. Lubchenco will lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees ocean and atmospheric studies and does much of the government's research on global warming.
Mr. Holdren, who at Harvard went from battling the spread of nuclear weapons to tackling the threat of global warming. He's an award-laden scientist comfortable in many different fields.
"Global warming is a misnomer. It implies something gradual, something uniform, something quite possibly benign, and what we're experiencing is none of those," Mr. Holdren said a year ago in a speech at Harvard. "There is already widespread harm .. occurring from climate change."  As a result, Mr. Holdren will not have to employ any budget funds into research on Global Warming, but instead will immediately be able to draft and implement policies that will quickly bring our economy back to the future of the Medieval Dark Ages.  Mr. Holdren was enthusiastic and optimistic about being able to quickly turn things around and achieve his goals, given the current economic downturn's kick-starting his own planned policies that will throttle it even further.
Given the success of employing a litmus test, Mr. Obama indicated that it will now be universally employed in all subsequent selection of all his Administration appointees, so that he can ensure meeting his campaign promises to his constituents. 
In other news, the Dow-Jones feel even lower after news of the latest appointments was announced.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Representatives' Raise Rouses Rabble!

The torches are coming!   The torches are coming!

Angry citizens have taken to the streets in Greek-student style protests against Congressional pay raises.  Screaming "$1 Salaries for CEO's, $1 Salaries for Schmo's", a reference to the humiliation heaped on the Big 3 Automaker's CEO's by the likes of Rep's Barney Farck and Chris Dudd last week, and the lawmaker's subsequent salary raises they granted themselves this week.

There has also been rumors of large, strangely familiar looking wooden devices with gleaming metal blades, being wheeled onto Capital Hill.  President Bush refused to call out additional protection for the lawmakers, citing Executive Privilege, while President-Elect Obama said that on the one hand, he favors supporting the lawmakers, but on the other hand, there's only one President at a time.  He suggests that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speak with his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel because he didn't want her to think that he was triangulating her.  Then he voted "Present", although there wasn't any vote being taken.  (Obama later acknowledged that it's another habit that he's trying to break.)

More to come....
Hat tip to Jack Murray

Caroline's Listening Tour

It's a "grueling" job, but she's up for it!

Proving that she's no slouch, Senatorial self-nominee Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg returned to NYC after a grueling 5 hour trip, meeting with up-State NY Mayors and dodging voters and questions from reporters in a spectacular demonstration of her Senatorial capabilities.

Immediately upon return to the "Big Apple", the winsome Senate aspirant had a serious sit-down, knock-down, political discussion and over-due Kennedy Family rent payment discussion with the prominant African-American leader Al Sharpton.  Al was gracious in accepting the fact that the "rent" due to the Kennedy's for all their year's of supporting the 'hood', was due and payable now, and immediately began coaching Princess Caroline on the art of political donation protocol, explaining how it differed from non-profit donation soliciting.

Ms. Kennedy, as always, was resplendent in her tiara and her new cause-bows, while brandishing her scepter to ward off pesky journalists.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Santa Claus On Verge Of Backruptcy - Bailout Hearings Latest Crisis!

The "unthinkable" has become real!

Elf-Unions and Reindeer work rules are putting untenable pressure on Santa's resources and capital.  The only thing that can save a Global Christmas Eve bankruptcy, and sled shut-down, is an immediate infusion of $25 Billion in TARP money.  Call, email, twitter, or fax your Representative immediately!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Senator Caroline Kennedy ?

Winsome:generally pleasing and engaging, often because of a childlike charm and innocence

She is winsome, and the press is agog with the story of Caroline Kennedy as a potential "successor" (sounds dynastic - no?) to Hilary Clinton as NY's junior Senator.  It's an engaging story with elements of pathos, grandeur, intrigue, history, politics, revenge (against Cuomo), and competition.  The elements of history, pathos, and grandeur play especially well in the news at this time of year, especially the references to Camelot.

Let me state that I don't believe that Caroline's celebrity status as a scion of the Kennedy clan should either qualify, or disqualify her for being selected by Gov. Paterson (himself a scion of the Paterson legend).  And, in addition, I believe that she's as qualified (maybe even more so) than Hilary was when elected.  She may not possesses the hand-to-hand combat skills, or killer capabilities Hilary honed over the years, but I'm sure that she can easily summon an executioner to do the grisly task for her.  Royalty has no need to dirty their hands with such tasks.

I've been attempting to come to terms with what the qualities of an effective Senator would be, and quite frankly, it seems like I've been tapping a dry well, primarily because there's no current example who I can think of.

Well, let's see what others are saying that her qualifications are.  The NY Times has this to say:

Aside from a 22-month, three-day-a-week stint as director of strategic partnerships for the New York City schools, her commitments generally involve nonprofit boards: the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., the American Ballet Theater, the Commission on Presidential Debates and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
But friends and associates say that Ms. Kennedy, 51, is no dilettante, and that her career is replete with examples of the kind of hands-on policy work and behind-the-scenes maneuvering that could serve her well.
As one might expect, Ms. Kennedy is already a consummate insider: When Rupert Murdoch’s young daughter was applying to the Brearley School, Ms. Kennedy, a board member who had attended the school and sent her two daughters there, wrote a letter of recommendation, a News Corporation spokeswoman confirmed.
Ms. Kennedy’s work with the city’s public schools has won much attention, but has not been widely understood. Hired in October 2002 (her $1 salary meant she did not have to fill out financial disclosure forms) to overhaul the schools’ private fund-raising, A rock concert in Central Park raised $2 million; a tag sale there drew tens of thousands of bargain hunters. By the time she left in August 2004, she had raised more than $70 million for an academy to train reform-minded principals. Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein credited her with bringing in a $51 million gift from Bill Gates’s foundation.
Ms. Kennedy's highest-profile foray into politics came when she joined her uncle, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, in endorsing Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primaries, despite beseeching by Ms. Clinton's camp. And in the fall Ms. Kennedy spent about six weeks barnstorming battleground states for the Obama campaign and took to it with gusto.

OK, I get it.  She's a fantastic mendicant.  We can use her on the Foreign Relations Committee to beg money from the sheiks and any other folks who have money left after this global economic meltdown. 

Along with contemplating Caroline's qualifications, it seems that the Democrats are enthralled with dynastic and "group credential" succession.  Hilary's seat is now presumed a "Woman's" seat, Obama's seat a "Black" seat.

Hilary became the presumed Senator from NY because of her "Co-Presidency" with Bill; then the "Presumed Democrat Candidate for President; and now the selected Sec. of State....based on her "accomplishments".  Joe Biden’s Senate seat may go to his son Beau (Biden has set it up so that a seat warmer will take his place until Beau comes back from Iraq). Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, Obama’s pick for interior secretary, could end up being replaced by his brother, Rep. John Salazar. Jesse Jackson Jr. was presumed on track for Obama's seat (which is now presumed a "Black" seat.  I guess once it goes Black, it never goes back).  Then you have the Western Kennedy's, the Udall's: Mark from Colorado and Tom from New Mexico.  

The Republican's are not immune, just much less of it.  The Bush family is the most current example, with Jeb surveying a Senate run.  The difference seems to be more that he Republican's run for office, while Democrats horse-trade for it.

Despite the exclaimed shock over Blagojevich's "selling" Obama's Senate Seat, the same thing is going on in NY.  The real question as to what her qualifications are will be determined by how she can help Gov. David Paterson get re-elected.  

In the final analysis, she seems to be without any known legal, social, or political impediments for NY voters, and she's got the money connections to be the pay to play requirements for Paterson.  She's a shoe-in!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wall Street Journal Confirms Lynch Report Opinions

 I want to thank the Wall Street Journal for confirming the Lynch Report post yesterday.

Today's WSJ published three commentaries that affirm opinion from yesterday's Lynch report.  They are:

  • Barack Obama-san recount of the history of the last major country that tried to spend its way to "stimulus" -- Japan during its "lost decade" of the 1990s. Now we're told that a similar spending program -- a new New Deal -- will revive the U.S. economy. How do you say "good luck" in Japanese?
  • How Blackwater Serves America    The U.S. government sets comprehensive standards for the selection and training of security guards. Blackwater's competitively awarded contract contains dozens of pages detailing requirements for each position and specifying hour-by-hour training for each individual. This is all before they set foot in Iraq.  Our teams are not cooking meals or moving supplies. They are taking bullets. They are military veterans who have chosen to serve their country once again. Very few people know someone who would voluntarily go into a war zone to protect a person he has never met.
  • Accountability Journalism  
    This is what now passes for "news" at the Associated Press:
    When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, global warming was a slow-moving environmental problem that was easy to ignore. Now it is a ticking time bomb that President-elect Barack Obama can't avoid.

    USA Today has a smart op-ed piece today noting the similarity between global warmism and religious myths of apocalypse. There seems to be a basic human need to believe the end is nigh. Perhaps it somehow diverts us from contemplating our own inevitable demise.
    I am humbled by their flattery....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's A Wild And Wacky World....And That's Just In The US

Why are the Newspapers going bankrupt?

You'd think that they'd be able to focus a lot of eyeballs on their pages and advertising, with all the riveting stories they could print, if they'd just be a little journalistic.  It's gotten to be that the real difficulty is what topic to comment on, as there's so many to chose from.  

Not a surprise is that all the news is "old news", in that we've seen it all before.
Please, spare me the shock.... 
  • Surprise that Gov. Blagojevich awarded lucrative state contracts to large donors, in addition to "selling" Obama's open Senate seat?  
  • Rahm Emmanuel "discussing" Obama's replacement with Gov. Blago? 
  •  Raised-eyebrows over Obama selecting nominees for Cabinet positions who are married to big-time lobbyists, despite demonizing them throughout his campaign?  
  • Bill Richardson facing a Grand Jury probe on the awarding of contracts to donors (this issue is getting redundant).  
  • Ponzi schemes like Madoff's work, especially with the wealthy.
  • The UAW blaming the Republicans for not getting a Senate agreement on the Big 3 Bailout.
But, there are a few topics this week that deserve further comment.  

  • The Democrats are thumbing through those old worn pages of their play book to come up with today's plan.  They, and Obama, are particularly fond of the old idea of "make work" jobs.  They're proposing a Trillion Dollars worth of wealth redistribution, primarily from non-union workers to union workers and their unions, all in the name of infrastructure.  This issue took center stage in the Democrat's campaign to "let no crisis be wasted" as Rahm Emanuel phrased it,  when the bridge in Minneapolis crashed; not due to lack of maintenance or decrepitude, but just poor initial design.  But, who cares about that, or the fact that the Federal Excise Tax on gasoline, collected to maintain the highways, has collected more than $1.34 trillion since 1977 (after adjusting for inflation), in gasoline tax revenues— by the way, that is more than twice the amount of domestic profits earned by major U.S. oil companies during the same period.
The fact that this approach to Government spending it's way out of a recession has never worked, not even in the Democrat's Golden Period during the "New Deal", is immaterial to them.  When the Government sucks capital out of the market, that capital is put to inefficient and wasteful ends, and deny's capital to more efficient and economically beneficial opportunities.  I can't think of anything that the government does better than the private sector except make war (and even there, Blackwater has been producing some effective competition)

  • Along the same path, the Democrat's attempt to create an "Auto Czar" who would wrestle the Big 3 back to profitability, is just another version of Socialism.  We've had Democratic Socialism in Western Europe, totalitarian socialism in Eastern Europe, Fascist Socialism in WWII Germany and Italy, atheistic socialism,  and "scientific socialism" in the Soviet Union.  None of which was ever effective in anything but in destroying wealth.  So, if we wanted to be accurate, the Democrats should really call this position the "Auto Commissar" .  It would be much more fitting.

    Can you imagine the dismal prospects of the Big 3 Auto Companies if Congress starts to play with managing them....and they will, if they have the slightest chance.  Our product choices will come right out of the "Green" Catechism.  We'll have cars that look like a Citroen 2CV with solar collectors on the rear.

    Even French President Sarkozy has had to dodge a report his government produced that found that....there is not much future in the much vaunted developed of all electric-powered cars. Instead, it suggests that the traditional combustion engine powered by petrol, diesel, ethanol or new biofuels still offers the most realistic prospect of developing cleaner vehicles. Carbon emissions and fuel consumption could be cut by 30-40 per cent simply by improving the performance and efficiency of traditional engines and limiting the top speed.  Overall, the Syrota report says that adapting and improving conventional engines could enhance their efficiency by an average of 50 per cent.

  • Of course, in order to pay for this proposed $Trillion in Government "Newer Deal", taxes need to be raised on business and "on the rich".  But we all know that never happens, because businesses don't pay taxes - they just pass them on, and the rich can structure their affairs so that they don't pay it.  The actual impact falls on the 'not-rich'.  And, when that happens, tax revenues fall, because remember, we tax things that we want less of.  So, whatever is taxed, there will be less of, and of course fewer of the people who made those items will be employed, so we'll need even more tax revenue to support those can see where this is going, can't you (As an aside, think about the results of the Democrats' [who support workers] absurd demonization of the Auto Exec's private planes.  The companies who make those planes will sell less, thereby losing revenues, laying off workers, buying less from other businesses where the same effects will now be felt; the workers who maintained those planes will be laid off; and all the stockholders, including Union pension plans, will lose value.  Great job, guys!  Keep it up!)

    Since we'll now have to increase taxes on business, our goods will be more expensive to overseas customers.  They'll buy less, and the previous aside will kick in once again.
  • Nicholas Kristof, writing in the NY Times , had a fantastic suggestion for Obama in his selection of a candidate for a new Secretary of Agriculture, change the title to Secretary of Food! This is the best suggestion that I've heard yet, for as we all now know, "word's mean things".

    Maybe this title change and re-focus would also help get rid of Al Gore's mandates to produce ever-increasing amount of corn ethanol, a prime factor in this past year's food inflation, as well as fuel cost increases.

A Department of Agriculture made sense 100 years ago when 35 percent of Americans engaged in farming. But today, fewer than 2 percent are farmers. In contrast, 100 percent of Americans eat.
Renaming the department would signal that Mr. Obama seeks to move away from a bankrupt structure of factory farming that squanders energy, exacerbates climate change and makes Americans unhealthy — all while costing taxpayers billions of dollars.
 An industrial farm with 5,000 hogs produces as much waste as a town with 20,000 people. But while the town is required to have a sewage system, the industrial farm isn’t.
“They look profitable because we’re paying for their wastes,” notes Robert P. Martin, executive director of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. “And then there’s the cost of antibiotic resistance to the economy as a whole.”
One study suggests that these large operations receive, in effect, a $24 subsidy for each hog raised. We face an obesity crisis and a budget crisis, and we subsidize bacon?
And, last but not least.... 

  •  Seth Borenstein and Associated Press writer Dina Cappiello wrote a piece bemoaning the fact that the incoming Obama Administration has little time left to thwart Global Warming.

Since Clinton's inauguration, summer Arctic sea ice has lost the equivalent of Alaska, California and Texas. The 10 hottest years on record have occurred since Clinton's second inauguration. Global warming is accelerating. Time is close to running out, and Obama knows it. "The time for delay is over; the time for denial is over," Obama said on Tuesday after meeting with former Vice-Pres. Gore.

 The following from the National Weather Service ...


And this from the Great Fall's Tribune :

White Sulphur Springs reported 29 degrees below zero to the National Weather 
Service today, stretching way beyond the last daily record low of 17 degrees 
below zero set in 1922.

The actuality is that Obama has little time to act on 
Global Warming and CO2 because the obvious reality 
of that scam is begining to be effectively exposed.

We'll leave the topic of Caroline Kennedy replacing Hillary 
as Senator from NY for a later post. Too much hilarity in 
that for right now.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tribute To A Real Chicago Madman

Can you imagine the fun that John Belushi would be able to have with Blagojevich?

Our loss....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ayn Rand To Blame For Economy?

Ayn Rand was one of the four authors who had the most impact in forming my world view in the early sixties when I was in High School.  
(The others were Aldous Huxley, William Golding, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  I had a penchant for dark outlooks, when I wasn't trying to find the latest copy of Playboy. )  

So it's not a surprise to me to see her name frequently being mentioned as either a philosophical antagonist or protagonist of Government redistribution of wealth, during the ongoing discussions regarding bailouts and economic stimulus packages.  Many haven't actually read her works or understand her positions, but instead use her name to express a perspective of unbridled and callous capitalism. 
NEWSWEEK's Barrett Sheridan spoke with the head of the Ayn Rand Institute, Dr. Yaron Brook, about why he defends free markets while much of the rest of the world has turned away from them, and what he thinks of Alan Greenspan today, given that Greenspan himself was a friend of Rand's, and a devotee of her extreme  (Sheridan's word - see what I mean) free-market philosophy.
NEWSWEEK: Lack of regulation is being blamed for our current crisis, and free markets are in disrepute. Has Objectivism been dealt a deathblow? 
Yaron Brook: No, not at all. From a public-relations perspective, it's been hurt. But in the long term there will be a backlash against what's going on in the markets today—the heavy government involvement, the nationalizations and the move toward socialism. If the free-market advocacy groups position themselves correctly, they can benefit from it.
How can they do that? 
What we need to do is really make the case to the American people—and I think it's an easy case to make—that this is not a failure of free markets, this is not a failure of capitalism, but this is a failure of the exact opposite. It's a failure of the regulatory state. It's a failure of all the government policies of the last eight years. Actually, the last 95 years.
Why do you say the last 95 years? 
I believe that the No. 1 cause of the current crisis is Federal Reserve policy. [The Federal Reserve was created in 1913.] The Federal Reserve, by necessity, creates economic problems; no matter how good a Federal Reserve chairman is, he's going to create cycles of booms and busts.

How did the Federal Reserve create today's mess?
The current crisis was caused by the housing bubble, and the primary cause of the housing bubble was the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates at 1 percent in 2003. They were asking people to borrow money, basically begging them. The financial problem we face today was a problem of overleverage, of too much debt—but that's exactly what Federal Reserve policy encouraged.
But during that time, the head of the Federal Reserve was Alan Greenspan, a close friend of Ayn Rand and the world's most famous Objectivist.
Yes. Alan Greenspan was quite close to Ayn Rand in the 1960s and 1970s. But from pretty early on, Greenspan was a part of economic policies that I don't think Ayn Rand would have approved of. Yes, he wanted less regulation, but he never talked about rolling back regulation. He never talked about significantly meaningful ways to cut spending, cut taxes. I believe he sold his soul to the devil. Power corrupts, and absolute power—which I think is what you have at the Federal Reserve—corrupts absolutely.
So it sounds like you're not bothered by his admission that he found a "flaw" in his "free-market ideology." 
No, the only thing that bothers me is that the press took it to mean, "See, capitalism has failed, even according to this guru of capitalism." He was never a guru of capitalism! At least he hasn't been a guru of capitalism since the 1980s.
Do you have any contact with Greenspan? 
No, I don't.
Have Objectivists largely disavowed him? 
I think so, but I think he's disavowed us, as well, so it's mutual. I don't think he would have dinner with me if I asked.
What do you think of the various and numerous bailouts? 
They're horrible. I think that the biggest mistake that was made was probably the bailout of Bear Stearns. I think they should have let Bear Stearns fail. The fact that everybody else now wants a bailout makes complete sense. Why bailout AIG and not General Motors? General Motors employs more people.
But scholars like Ben Bernanke, current head of the Federal Reserve, says one reason the Great Depression was so severe was that government waited three years before intervening, and let scores of banks fail before then. 
Unfortunately, just because economists understand what caused the Great Depression doesn't mean they understand what needs to be done to prevent one. People today mistakenly think that FDR saved us from the Great Depression. But from 1932 until at least 1940, the U.S. was still in a depression. Government grew during the 1930s more than in any decade in history, and yet at the end of the 1930s, we still had more than 15 percent unemployment. So government growth and regulation is not a solution to a depression. I would argue it's the exact opposite.
What does that mean for the current situation?
Everything that [Treasury Secretary Henry] Paulson and Bernanke have done since day one of this crisis has made things worse, not better, if only because they have been so panicky and hysterical, and changed their minds so many times and offered so many different plans. The market has come to the conclusion that they have no idea what they're doing.
You want to do away with the Federal Reserve, but something that radical isn't going to happen, at least not anytime soon. In the meantime, wouldn't more regulation of the financial sector make sense?
No, I think quite the opposite—more financial regulation would be a disaster. Financial regulations created this mess. The Community Reinvestment Act, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae—they're the institutions and proposals that got us into this. Regulators are not good at managing financial institutions. Think about the [savings and loan] crisis: the S&L industry was the most regulated industry in the United States. Did that stop the crisis from happening? No. Regulations don't prevent crises; they cause them.
But AIG's downfall was due largely to credit-default swaps. 
There's nothing wrong with credit-default swaps. If they'd let AIG fold, we would have discovered that. There's been no problem with the credit-default swap-market to date. It's actually working better than the securitized mortgage market, which is a government creation through Fannie and Freddie.
But AIG had too many credit-default swaps on its books, and almost collapsed as a result. Shouldn't we prevent that level of risk-taking? 
Yes, AIG made mistakes. And the company should suffer for those mistakes. But do you think that if federal regulators were regulating the credit-default-swap market, things would be better or worse? I suggest that things would probably be worse.
With free markets now in disrepute, what's going to happen to the popularity of Ayn Rand's most famous book, "Atlas Shrugged"? 
I think it's going to go up dramatically. I think it already has. [People] are saying, "We're heading toward socialism, we're heading toward more regulation." "Atlas Shrugged" is coming true. How do we get out? How do we escape? Unfortunately, there is no escape. Businessmen are panicking, and I think they should be panicking. Many of them understand that this was not a crisis of free markets. There was no free market to fail. What we have is a regulated market, and the regulated market has failed.
By the way, here's a "Atlas"  that has shrugged....

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