Sunday, August 31, 2008

Do Principles Matter?


Yesterday, I asked whether liberal women could vote for Sarah Palin. Implicit in that question was the assumption that having a woman on a presidential ticket was an important factor for women... just as having a man with black heritage was important to blacks. But underlying the question about Sarah Palin was whether women who felt strongly about women achieving parity with men on all levels could embrace a woman who has achieved such success even though they may have strong differences about some issues.

That same question can be asked of conservatives who disagree with some of John McCain's positions or progressives who are not ready to move as far left as Barack Obama.

To what degree do principles matter over special interests?
There are personal principles and political principles. Ideally, they should align. It is disingenuous to hold that you believe in certain principles, but that you don't feel it is important that others do also. Either you don't hold to those principles or you think that one position is as good as another... as long as you adhere to that position. What is not disingenuous is to say that certain issues are not as important as others... that given hard choices, you would not accept certain compromises.

Perhaps that is why Ronald Reagan achieved the level of success and adherents... followers... to his viewpoints. There were certain principles he would not abandon. He knew it. His rivals knew it. His enemies knew it. Sure, some people came to hate him for his successes. He didn't always have a "white paper" for every position he took. He didn't seem to work hard to get more power or get his way. He simply let everyone know what he stood for and he stood his ground.
It wasn't the "Washington Way." He put his principles before political expedience. And American felt in their guts that they could trust him to do the right thing... even if he seemed unconventional or a political "maverick."
Maybe that is why many people are drawn to Obama. He believes that government is the answer for all human ills. His primary principle seems to be that government should grow and manage personal and societal challenges for the good of all. He draws people to himself who believe that. But there is a side of Obama that isn't aligned with his apparent political principles.
He has a history of work and social interaction with Bill Ayers, a notorious criminal [who admits he got away with murder] and anarchist [NY Times article]... but one that provided money and political connections. Expect a lot more to come of this.

He aligned himself with black-racist, America-hating preacher, Jeramiah Wright to help establish his political credibility with the black, Democrat, Chicago populace [ABC News article] even though he belatedly abandoned that relationship.
Sen. Obama has shown a characteristic of expedience... a willingness to be other than he claims.

Compare that with what we already know about Sarah Palin... a woman with at least an equal level of political leadership and a greater level of business leadership than Sen. Obama. Examine her alignment of principles and conduct with Sen. Obama's. There is a distinct difference.
There are distinct differences in the "contents of their characters." Does that mean that any of them are "perfect?" Obviously not. But integrity of principles is a significant part of any progress toward perfection.
Still, you may disagree vehemently with the principles held by any of them. In that case, you may be inclined to accept a far greater level of "imperfection."


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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
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- O. Henry
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Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)