Showing posts from May, 2008


If you opened today's Los Angeles Times Op-Ed section you'd've seen two opposing titles along the crease at the top. Just to the right was "Assessing Prop. 13," a piece advocating gutting California's Proposition 13 which passed in 1978 to prevent soaking homeowners with excessive taxation. To the left was a pull-quote from a letter to the editor. It said, "Rome is... responsible, and Rome should pay." This was from a group of letters commenting on how the Catholic Church is finding funds to pay off its sexual abuse victims. The irony comes in the fact that Rome is truly not just the Catholic Church, but the overarching governing body of the World System set in motion from the time Cain committed the first murder. Cain was then ordained the first governor, and by erecting a city from which to rule he instituted grand religious, political, and economic organizations to administer his prosecutorial authority over sinners. Unfortunately shortly thereaft

Making a Law Against Adverse Selection

One of the books I'm reading now is The Logic of Life by Tim Harford, one of the latest in a string of Freakanomics- type breezy treatises on what the subject of economics is really about. I enjoy them, and I admit there are some nifty insights to be gleaned from someone looking at life from a key principle Harford addresses. It is a point that I've made before, but one which I believe most people chafe at. That point is Everything anyone does is rational . Yes, that's right. Harford says it in pretty basic econ terms: People make a decision when the benefits derived from that decision equal or exceed the costs required. Even the looniest decisions are made this way. Another point Harford makes is that it is very difficult to value things, a fact that was a linchpin of my webzine's latest home page piece . The reason I bring up these two laws of economics is because this week George Bush signed into law a bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress called the Genetic Inform

Shortselling People

One of the items I left out of the most recent home page piece on my webzine was a note about how John Paulson got his boffo paycheck. Paulson, if you remember, was the hedge fund manager who took home $3.7 billion last year. It'd've been nice to squeeze it in there, but it wasn't necessary. Again, as I pointed out in my last blog entry, I'm not making these notes to pout about someone else looking richer than I do. I just want to point out things that just aren't being pointed out, and I think there may be a few who are interested, that's all. I share it also because it does parallel a recent current event that some are opining about. That in a moment. First, Paulson got his take mostly on the strength of deft shortselling in the housing market. He took advantage of dip in home values by shorting those infamous collateralized debt obligations, or mortgages-turned-into-bonds. It's a bit complicated how he did it, at its core having to do with the concept of

What Does Go Well with Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti?

After writing the latest home page piece in my webzine "The Catholicist Nation," I thought I had offered a pretty good anecdotal example of what it is like for the highest ranking value extractors to do their thing. Money managers are so obsessed with hacking out the souls of spiritually dead people, I likened them to the hordes coming to worship the propped-up remains of a popular 20th century Catholic saint. Wow. I feel so behind on things. Turns out a few years ago a mortgage dealer actually did use dead people in a scam to defraud investors. This year in my webzine I'd been focusing on the economic conditions that arise from those committed to human sacrifice in some form. Sometimes an act of sacrificing another on the altar of the World may take place with a simple unkind word, other times it may be widely and intractably institutionalized, such as that which occurs in the financial markets. Words and markets are in an of themselves of no matter, they become a p