Positive Thinking

I was en-heartened by this article. Any step in the direction of fiscal responsibility is healthy in my estimation. Here is an excerpt:
WASHINGTON - In his first public acts in office, President Barack Obama on Wednesday placed new limits on lobbyists in his White House and, in a nod to the country's economic turmoil, froze the salaries of senior aides.
In an attempt to deliver on pledges of a transparent government, Obama said he would change the way the federal government interprets the Freedom of Information Act. He said he was directing agencies that vet requests for information to err on the side of making information public — not to look for reasons to legally withhold it — an alteration to the traditional standard of evaluation.

Just because a government agency has the legal power to keep information private does not mean that it should, Obama said. Reporters and public-interest groups often make use of the law to explore how and why government decisions were made; they are often stymied as agencies claim legal exemptions to the law.

"For a long time now, there's been too much secrecy in this city," Obama said.
He said the orders he was issuing Wednesday will not "make government as honest and transparent as it needs to be" nor go as far as he would like.

"But these historic measures do mark the beginning of a new era of openness in our country," Obama said. "And I will, I hope, do something to make government trustworthy in the eyes of the American people, in the days and weeks, months and years to come."

PS- Here are some comments from my friend Eric Danley. A sort of counterpoint, presented for your consideration:
I haven't posted in a while, as I am far from an expert in economics of this level. There are, however, a few points I would like to make: 1. The TARP program is mostly condemned by economists of every stripe. Not for the premise of the Bank Bailout, but for the lack of oversight. It is fundamentally wrong that we gave these banks money to lend to consumers and instead they made acquisitions. I trust that in TARP round 2, the Obama Administration will do a better job of mandating what the money is used for, setting guidelines for acceptance and most importantly do a better job of monitoring compliance. 2. The need for stimulus is universally accepted. Now look, I know a statement like that is not 100% true, but the fact is that an overwhelming majority of economists, both Liberal and Conservative, agree that some sort of stimulus is needed. They disagree on the size of stimulus ($700 Billion vs. $1.2 Trillion) needed and the tools of stimulus (Tax Cuts vs. Government Spending). Yes, I'm sure Ron Paul disagrees but more on that in point 4. 3. Obama. I think we have the right man, in the right place, at the right time. Even prior to taking the Oath of Office, even with a massive progressive electoral mandate, Obama has chosen to work with Conservatives and has worked to be cautious fiscally. When Democrats were asking for a $1.2 Trillion stimulus Obama instead listened to the Conservatives who wanted no more than $700 Billion, and asked for $775 Million. Obama recently had a meeting with a group of Conservative journalists about economic policy, and instead of talking about trivial things like earmarks (less than 2% of the federal budget) he actually had a serious policy discussion about reforming entitlement programs like Social Security, and Medicare. A serious conversation that few other politicians have the broad knowledge or drive to have. Last point of number 3. When we look at what is proposed for the stimulus, specifically the rebuilding of the country's energy infrastructure I think we all can agree that Goverment is the only way to solve this problem. Our current electrical transmission system simply cannot work with anything other than a fossil fuel based system, wastes significant power in transmission, and cannot handle demand. Private Industry has shown no willingness to solve this problem as it is just too expensive with little incentive for them to do (monopoly, and as we run out of fossil fuels they get to charge more for less). This is parallel to the historical government incentives needed to bring electricity and phone service to the hills of Tennessee, along with the current need for a forced buildout of high-speed internet broadband. The private sector will not undergo these massive capital projects that the country so severely needs and thus the government must step in.

4. Ok, this might come across as a little offensive (I don't intend to be) but lets take a brief moment on Dr. Ron Paul. He lost. The American People had their chance to elect him, and they didn't feel he was the most qualified candidate. You can argue amount money in politics if you want, but I believe in the system and I think Obama proved that you don't need corporate money when you have a movement of people underneath. Why is that important, well in losing Ron Paul built a following of extreme fiscal conservatives, libertarians, and anarchists. Now, secure in his home district where democrats don't even bother to run against him he can continue to appeal to that group of followers regardless of the effect enacting any of his policies would actually have. Take a moment and think about what the world would be like next year if the following happened: Citibank, Bank of America, Chase, and all of the other major banks failed. GM, Chrysler, Ford, and Toyata (yes Toyata is hurting right now as well) all failed. The Federal Reserve was folded, EPA, Health and Human Services, and other government departments were closed. What would that world look like?

Well, we can make a few predictions with certainty. Almost no one would be able to buy a house, car, or other major item. Without access to credit consumers simply could not purchase these items causing the companies to produce them to fail. Relatively healthy companies would fail adding to the hundreds of thousands if not millions already without work because of the closures listed above. Small and Medium business would be unable to get Bridge Loans (very short term loans, often 30 day) to buy inventory or to make payroll causing Restaurants, Retail stores, and other businesses to collapse. Those without work, and without new small business hiring, would be unable to make payments on the debts they already have, would be unable to pay for medical coverage causing either a. Hospitals to go Bankrupt, or b. the government to pick up the tab, and we can be 100% certain that businesses that rely entirely on disposable income such as Blue Table Painting, and tourism will also collapse. Ron Paul brushes this all off as "it would be painful" but we are talking about a "pain" that will take at a minimum decades to recover and at worst simply never will. The rich elite, well most of them will survive. Might I add, that Dr. Paul himself is in this category with about $3 Million in assets most of which are in precious metals. Now I have nothing against the rich, I do quite well, but the point here is that if Ron Paul did everything he says he wants to then the quality of life would collapse for most American's. Well worse than the Great Depression, and many would never recover.



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