CEI Makes Waves in Climate Change Debate

I receive a lot of e-mails every week.  They come from individuals and groups, including nonprofit organizations in the nation’s capitol.  One of the best e-mails I received this week came from Charles Huang at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and has to do with one of my pet-peeve subjects, climate change (a.k.a., GLOBULL WARMING).  It appears below:

Last week CEI made available documents obtained from the Treasury Department that contained the Administration’s predictions on the costs of cap and trade. This week coverage of the costs continue, as recorded in ABC News and The Washington Times. Additionally, CEI’s Chris Horner has responded to rebuttals attempting to downplay the significance of the documents.

As climate change has become the focus of the United Nations, CEI’s Iain Murray has taken on the science presented at the UN. Also, CEI’s Myron Ebell has stated that climate change is a fantasy in numerous news sources such as in The New York TimesFoxnews.com, and The Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

[VIDEO] CEI’s Lee Doren on Glenn Beck

CEI’s Lee Doren was invited onto the Glenn Beck show to talk about his video response, “The Story of Stuff,” to a video being shown in elementary schools across the country. See all of Lee’s responses on on his YouTube channel, How the World Works.

Shaping the Debate

Cap-and-Trade Will Depress Home Prices — Ryan Young’s op-ed in Politico

Car-Free Crusade is Absurd — Sam Kazman’s quotation in the Detroit News

Is the FCC Neutralizing Innovation? — Ryan Young’s op-ed in the Washington Examiner Opinion Zone

Swift Response to Net Neutrality Proposals — Ryan Radia’s quotation in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In short, I found CEI offered a full buffet of current topics well worth reading this week.  Thanks, Charles.

‘Economic Stimulus’ Passes on Friday the 13th

I’ve never been a big fan of horror films, but a lot of similarities exist between history’s most-successful horror-flick franchise, “Friday the 13th,” and the so-called  “Economic Stimulus Package” approved by both houses of Congress on Friday the 13th and expected to be signed by President Barack Obama next week.

POOR REVIEWS

In much the same manner as the original “Friday the 13th” movie received poor reviews from critics and still managed to rake in big bucks at the box office, the stimulus package — officially known as the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” — received poor reviews from discerning critics (i.e., conservatives) but still managed to garner enough votes from the Academy (i.e., Democrat-controlled Congress) to succeed at the box office (i.e., Treasury Department).

BIG MONEY

Despite being the highest-grossing horror franchise in the United States and earning approximately $591.5 million during it’s first 28 years ending Jan. 17, 2008, according to Box Office Mojo, Friday the 13th pales in comparison to Congress on the money front.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (as cited in this article), the pork-laden stimulus bill is expected to total more than $3.27 trillion over the next decade.  For the math-challenged, that’s more than 5,500 times the earnings generated by the movie.

BAD ACTORS

Despite the movie franchise’s three-decades run, most American horror-movie buffs cannot name a single actor who has appeared in a “Friday the 13th” movie and will not likely be able to identify the stars of the just-released version (i.e., Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker and Amanda Righetti) after its relegated to Blu-Ray.

Similarly, most American taxpayers do not know how members of their own Congressional delegations, the elected officials purporting to serve their interests, voted on the stimulus bill.  Still, they keep re-electing these “bad actors” based upon disingenuous campaign trail performances, direct mail pitches and online presence (i.e., YouTube videos, Twittering, social networking, etc.).

FUTURE GENERATIONS

Since the first “Friday the 13th” movie hit theaters in 1980, hundreds of millions of Americans have made decisions to pay money to view the blood-and-gore movies put out by the movie franchise.  Following yesterday’s release of yet another revenue-generating film, I have no doubt millions more will do the same during years to come if they can afford it.

Unfortunately, several generations of voting-age Americans might soon find themselves unable to afford such luxuries as viewing a “Friday the 13th” film as they will be hamstrung with paying off the trillions of dollars of debt created by the gargantuan spending measure.  Likewise, millions more — our children, grandchildren and future generations yet to be born — will be forced to help pay the tab for the irresponsible largesse of the 111th Congress despite having had no say in the matter.

There, unfortunately, is where the similarities between the movie franchise and so-called “stimulus” end.

To view the trailer of “Friday the 13th,” click here.

Paulson Among Buyers of Failed IndyMac Bank

The FDIC issued a news release Friday to let the world know the agency’s board had approved a letter of intent to sell IndyMac Bank to a thrift holding company controlled by IMB Management Holdings LP.  Though one of the men involved in purchasing the bank shares the same last name as Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, members of the mainstream news media have failed to acknowledge that fact.

A Los Angeles Times report Saturday listed John Paulson as one of two hedge-fund operators (the other being billionaire George Soros) among a small group of owner-investors, while an article published Friday in the San Jose Business Journal noted that the limited partnership includes John Alfred Paulson, the same man.  Neither article, however, deemed it worthwhile to report that the man involved in purchasing a large failed bank shared the same last name as the man who oversees the nation’s banking system, Secretary Paulson.

Noticing that, I decided to see if any other news outlets had seen fit to address the nagging question, “Is John Alfred Paulson related to Henry M. Paulson?” After all, even the pseudo-journalists behind the desk at ESPN Sports Center know enough to toss in an occasional “No relation” upon noticing that two unrelated players who share the same last name.

Surprising me again, none of the articles I found — neither the above-mentioned articles nor others published in the Wall Street Journal Jan. 5, at Bloomberg.com Jan. 3 and via Associated Press Jan. 3 — addressed the question.  That’s when I decided to ask people who should know.

I called IMB’s corporate offices early this afternoon and was told to send an e-mail inquiry to Armel Leslie at Walek & Associates, IMB’s Madison Avenue public relations counsel.  Twice given the opportunity to respond to the question, “Is John Alfred Paulson related in any way to Secretary of the Treasury Henry M. Paulson?” the PR specialist responded by e-mail as follows:  “No relation” and “Yes, no relation.”

Though I had an answer, I was not yet convinced; therefore, I called the Treasury Department Public Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., and asked them to field a nearly-identical question, “Does Secretary Paulson have any immediate relatives by the name of John Alfred Paulson?”

With true bureaucratic efficiency, the buck was passed at least twice during my phone call before I was dispatched with a promise that someone would call me back with the answer.  Unfortunately, that was almost five hours ago.

Is John Alfred Paulson related to Henry M. Paulson? Perhaps not, but that’s not what motivated me to write this article.  Instead, my chief concern was the news media’s seemingly-collective decision to ignore any possible connection between the men.  That kind of collusion, I fear, might portend a much greater problem for our nation’s future than banking failures.

Is Big Three Bailout Plan Another ‘Ponzi’ Scheme?

It’s understandable if some Americans find themselves confused as they try to understand the financial headlines making news this morning:

  • An enormous “Ponzi” scheme, allegedly perpetrated by a long-trusted Wall Street legend and former chairman of the NASDAQ, continues to make headlines since becoming public four days ago.
  • Other news articles focus on the possibility of news coming from the White House about a Big Three bailout plan.

After I read articles on both matters, I began to wonder if there is a difference between the two or if the Big Three bailout plan is just another “Ponzi” scheme?

Bernard L. Madoff’s scheme used the classic “rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul” principle that involved taking money from new investors to pay off earlier investors until, eventually, the whole scheme collapsed.  According to a Securities and Exchange Commission news release issued Thursday, Madoff admitted his firm was insolvent and had been for years, and he estimated the losses from this fraud were at least $50 billion.  Soon after the news broke, a laundry list of victims, ranging from individual investors and charitable organizations to hedge funds and banks, began to surface.

Similarly, the automaker bailout scheme — it doesn’t really deserve to be called a “plan,” does it? — appears destined to make victims of American taxpayers.

Having already robbed current and future taxpayers of hundreds of billions of dollars via bailouts — all within the span of a single calendar year — for the likes of Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG and CitiGroup, the federal government appears poised to do more damage.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the Bush Administration is trying to determine how much money it will take to help the car companies, and is discussing a rescue totaling $10 billion to $40 billion or more.  Further, the newspaper reports, one possible source of funding is the Treasury Department’s $700 billion fund set up to rescue the financial industry.  We should learn today whether this robbery is successful.

So why shouldn’t we allow the federal government to rob Peter (a.k.a., “taxpayers”) to pay Paul (a.k.a., “the Big Three”)?  Myriad reasons exist.

In a piece published today, The Heritage Foundation’s Andrew M. Grossman offers his anti-bailout opinion:

The U.S. auto industry is in dire need of a shakeup. All of the Big Three are beset by plummeting sales and market share, high labor costs, aging fleets, and a surfeit of innovative automobiles in the pipeline. With General Motors, and perhaps Ford after it, fac­ing looming liquidity crises, staying the course is no longer an option.

In a well-written letter to the editor published in the Las Vegas Sun yesterday, North Las Vegas resident Bob Jack offers another point of view:

Sen. John Ensign was totally correct to have asked President George W. Bush to show some courage in light of the U.S. automaker bailout proposal. The use of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Fund (TARP) for an auto industry bailout is a breach in faith with the American people.

TARP was intended to be used to ease the financial and credit markets, not to bail out other U.S. industries. In the event TARP is misused by the Bush administration in this manner, then Ensign and other members of Congress, with the courage to deny the auto industry bailout without significant UAW concessions, should investigate what legal recourses are available to bar the Bush administration from using TARP funds for this unauthorized purpose.

Finally, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz offers yet another viewpoint.  In a piece published Friday in the Financial Times, he wrote:

It is more plausible that confidence will be restored if the industry is freed of the burden of interest payments and is given a fresh start. Modern cars are complex technological products and the US has demonstrated its strength in advanced technology. US workers, working for Japanese carmakers, have shown their hard work can produce cars that are desirable. America’s managers too have demonstrated their managerial skills in many other areas.

The failure lies with the managers of US carmakers and America’s financial markets, which failed in their oversight and encouraged short-sighted behaviour. The “bridge loan to nowhere” – the down payment on what could be a sinkhole of enormous proportions – is another example of the short-sighted behaviour that got us into this mess.

It’s time for all of the “Pauls” in this country — including people in both the financial markets and in Detroit — to realize “Peter” is tired of being robbed.  And Peter is running out of cash.

Bailout Raises 700 Billion Questions

Call it an example of the power of positive thinking or something else, but the economic bailout package expected to gain House approval today is raising at least 700 billion questions in my mind.  In particular, I’m concerned about the origin of the dollar amount being kicked around and the “legs” that seem to keep it running.

Click to view Forbes article.

One week ago, the writer of a Forbes article quoted a Treasury Department spokeswoman as saying the $700 billion figure was “not based on any particular data point” and that “We just wanted to choose a really large number.”  So how is it that a huge, dreamed-up dollar amount remains in play today as part of the economic bailout package expected to gain House approval today?

The power of positive thinking?  I think not.

I’m more inclined to place the blame on political thieves (a.k.a., “members of Congress”) who use a special type of fabric known as “steal wool” to cover the eyes of their victims (a.k.a., “taxpayers”) as they rip hard-earned dollars out of their wallets, bank accounts, pockets and even piggy banks.

[Note: As of this posting, the U.S. House of Representatives is voting on the bailout bill.]

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UPDATEBAILOUT GOES BUST — NO PLAN B!